Sumac, YOB, & Neurosis at Neumos

The nice thing about living in New York City, for SGM’s purposes, is that we tend to get a lot of shows passing through.  One could argue that the tradeoff is, say, Chinatown in the dead of summer and the stench of fish and garbage, large rodents and indestructible insects, and subway cars ripe with all sorts of heavy air and unpleasant odors.  But let’s not think about summer in the city just yet.

There are also times, however, when a band or bands do a short run of dates in other parts of the country and the tour looks so tempting that you find yourself on travel websites at odd hours of the night looking for flights to places like Seattle, Washington so you can see the trifecta of Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  

Is this scenario hypothetical?  In this case no, that is exactly what I did.  My only regret being that I inadvertently stumbled upon that gross gum wall while I was wandering around Seattle.  Note to self, enticing stairs descending to pretty cobblestone streets don’t always result in mysterious Diagon-like alleys.  Sometimes they lead to a lot of people, mostly tourists, chewing gum, blowing bubbles and taking selfies while you awkwardly twitch in revulsion and try to push through while inexplicably holding your breath for no reason.




So yeah, Sumac, YOB, and Neurosis at Neumos.  It was really something I wanted to experience, especially having heard so much about Neumos as a killer venue.  Sumac played first and compared to when I saw them at Saint Vitus, I felt like the energy at this show and for this particular set was on another level.  Maybe Seattle feels like home and the vibe is different, but it was palpable.  I always like watching the dynamic between bandmates and seeing these guys joking like brothers onstage and playing such intensely dynamic music together was really endearing.  The entire set had a very climactic feel to it, and when they struck their last chord it was like being snapped back to reality after a deep meditation.  Even the gentleman next to me couldn’t help but smile, look over at me and say “Man, that was transcendental!”  I could not have agreed more.

Up next was YOB, beautiful YOB.  One of the most zen metal bands ever to exist.  It’s so clear they love what they do and they love being on stage sharing their music with all of us.  Bathed in a warm kaleidoscope of light, guitarist Mike Scheidt removes you from the venue and the crowd and brings you into a rhythmic trance with him.  The unique mixture of worldly sounds, sludgy doom, and distorted vocals all creates the ethereal experience known as YOB.  It’s a feeling few bands are able to accomplish so sincerely.



Last but certainly not least, as we all know, was Neurosis.  I’m still kind of amazed at what a difference the venue made.  I’d never been fortunate enough to see Neurosis in a venue this size and it was really refreshing.  I could tell the crowd felt very connected to the band and hopefully the band felt the same.  A low stage also meant they were basically standing right in front of me, so close it was almost difficult to shoot at some points, which I found comical.  As I’ve  come to expect from Neurosis, their set was well crafted, with a natural ebb and flow.  Their recent anniversary show in San Francisco is still in the forefront of my mind as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, but this show was a close second.

Check out the photo below!

-Skc Photo-






On the Turntable – Neurosis ‘Fires Within Fires’

Ayee, Neurosis fans — this one’s for you. Thirty years running, the post-metal pioneers have just released their 11th studio album, Fires Within Fires, on the band’s Neurot Recordings. Do not expect any crazy experimentation or deviation from their classic doom metal sound; this album, in a nutshell, is classic Neurosis.  The album is a true testament to the originality and skill of a band considered one of the first to ever combine hardcore/crust punk with atmospheric and psychedelic sounds, leading to the subgenre post-metal. While striking the band’s signature balance of light and dark, the album sounds completely relevant and up-to-date, despite their massive discography, and, dare I say, age? Fires Within Fires proves how experience and sheer talent can break down barriers of what could be exhausted sound and stretched-out creativity. These guys still have it — in fact, it seems as though they are only just beginning.

This forty-five minute LP is comprised of just five songs, each raining heavy with guitar, drums, and bass, creating a thick sound that carries effortlessly throughout the entire album. Pretty and mostly instrumental, the album relies greatly on chaotic guitar riffs to drive the sound forward. Mixed with the stomping beat of the drums, much of this record could be the soundtrack to some grand, mythological tale. The head-banging-fist-pumping guitars reflect back to the driving punk sound found in their earlier albums, especially in “Fire Is The End Lesson.” The pure, raw sound can be heavily attributed to the experienced and masterful ear of engineer Steve Albini. Nothing is overdone or overproduced on the album; you are in it with Neurosis from start to finish.

Speaking to Decibel magazine earlier this year, Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till describes his feelings about the band’s three-decade-long career: “We’re so fucking lucky, man. [We have] such gratitude for the brotherhood and the ability to be a part of this sound and this family.” Vocalist/guitarist Scott Kelly adds, in the same interview, “We approach everything as if it would be the last thing we do, and we’ve been very conscious of that, particularly over the last ten years. Because we realize that the longer you go, your odds decrease substantially.” Contrary to other of long-standing rock bands, which can sometimes sound outdated and irrelevant, Neurosis remains on top with this record. It is clear they will remain influential in the doom-metal scene, drawing in old and new fans alike.