After 30 years of boundary pushing, insane sound experiments, audience provocations, alienating shifts, flirtations with ambient noise–and even folk and country–Oakland’s Neurosis are back to the basics. After expanding the palette that is acceptable for doom and sludge metal artists and creating some of the most starkly consuming albums produced over the past two decades, the band deserves a chance to remind people that they do in fact play a version of rock & roll.
It helps that producer Steve Albini remains at the nobs for this stomper. He turns the sound of each tom and kick drum into the footsteps of an approaching army; every scrape of the guitar into thunder and lightning.
If Neurosis played arenas, Fires Within Fires would be their arena album. There are few variations here, only brief dramatic interludes before the sturdy, stomping, layered sludge metal surges forward, dripping with Scott Kelly’s gravel-pocked vocals.
Fires Within Fires is in many ways a respite for Neurosis fans who are used to being challenged, prodded and confronted with each successive release. With doom and sludge metal warranting reviews on the hippest of review sites, it might just be the perfect time for Neurosis to have released an album this accessible. Neurosis diehards can take the disc as another challenge: shut up and bang your head.