EP Review: Neurosis – Sovereign

The main difficulty in reviewing a reissue is that the music contained within is often markedly less vital than it was the first time round; not so with Neurosis’ ‘Sovereign’ EP, which still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did a decade ago. Anyone hearing the EP for the first time now will probably not realise just how ground-breaking Neurosis were before the 2000s brought a fleet of bands keen to ape their sound and appropriate the ‘post-metal’ tag, but it is worth remembering that this EP was released at a dark time for metal, deep in the depths of the nu-metal era. All the while, Scott Kelly and co. had quietly constructed a series of records that aspired to intelligent, forward-thinking metal capable of vaulting over boundaries to raid other genres, and gracefully weave their loot in to crushing, intensely psychological heavy music.

Neurosis Sovereign ArtworkSovereign is an exercise in ritualism, with each song presenting its own collection of intense, channelled emotions. The fittingly titled opener, ‘Prayer’, slowly builds to an almost euphoric peak, replete with three-part vocal harmonies and a sedated guitar melody. This is followed somewhat disjointedly by a return to Neurosis’ industrial and hardcore nucleus, with ‘An Offering’ sounding altogether more seductive and threatening, while ‘Flood’s crawling repetition evokes deserted temples and shrines. The title track is the real highlight, however, twisting together dissonant leads that labour under the weight of a riff that Mastodon doubtless took some heavy inspiration from.

While there’s much more fun to be had with many of the California natives’ full-length releases, ‘Sovereign’ is the perfect companion piece to the classic ‘Times of Grace’, released a year previously. It is more than worthy of this reissue, which features an extra track and some impressively overhauled artwork, continuing the series of re-appraisals that their in-house label Neurot Records has been undertaking recently. It is a testament to Neurosis’ impact that bands as diverse as Mastodon, Isis, Mayhem and Khanate have clearly echoed material first committed to record here, and Sovereign is therefore a small but significant piece of the Neurosis legacy.


About Stuart

I have been writing for about seven years, my only writing qualification is a poorly-deserved grade C in GCSE English Language. I write mainly on music and literature, but have also written about the politics of sport, for some reason. I generally listen to horrible music, so my reviews will invariably be of black metal, grindcore or noise bands. Interests include attempting to play ice hockey, relieving Oxfam charity shops of every last book that they receive, and becoming TOP DOG in the world of Polish football spread-betting.

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