• Neurosis – Pain Of Mind

    Neurosis – Pain Of Mind
    Released by: Neurot Recordings
    Releasing on: May 25th, 2018.
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    Neurosis has evolved a lot over the years, but for all the impressive changes that they’ve taken on in terms of sound, tone and content there’s something to be said for their 1987 debut, Pain Of Mind. Heavily influenced by the British ‘crust punk’ sound of the time, solidified by bands like Amebix and Doom which was in turn heavily influenced by anarcho-punk bands like Discharge and Crass, the fourteen tracks that make up the album are, in a word, ferocious.

    The lineup for the band on this record consisted of Chad Salter on guitars and vocals, Scott Kelly on guitars and vocals. Dave Edwardson on bass and Jason Roeder on drums. Salter isn’t in the band anymore, having been replaced by Steve Von Till in 1989. The album has been remastered by Bob Weston of Chicago Mastering.

    The album opens with the title track, Pain Of Mind, a three-minute sonic kick in the teeth wearing its influences on its sleeve and channeling what would become a fairly traditional American hardcore sound through and through. This is followed by Self-Taught Infection, a three-minute track that is, for its first half, completely instrumental. The vocals don’t kick in until almost two minutes in, but when they do, they sound like they’re trying to tear your face off.

    Reasons To Hide, also in the three-minute sweet spot, starts off with a bit more of a free form style to it. Hardly jazz, but a bit less structured and experimental, maybe sowing the seeds for the band’s sound to come. Again, no vocals until past the half-way point but, again, when they kick in you feel it. Black, arguably the best and most intense track on a great record full of remarkably intense material, is also the catchiest of the songs on the album. At almost five-minutes in length (the longest song on Pain Of Mind by a good margin), it has an opening stretch accurately described as mellow, calming even. But that changes as the guitar work drives into a darker, more brooding musical space. The bass and drums swell up in the mix as the vocals, initially, feature a sort of melancholy, disenfranchised sound that doesn’t sound invested in the track at all – until it does, at which point the band, who sound a bit like D.R.I. here, really come together.

    Training is quick, one-minute musical explosion, intense but not necessarily interesting, while Progress, which clocks in at just under two-minutes, sees the band experimenting a bit with some interesting playing that stays within the confines of their ‘sound’ (at least from this period of their career). Stalemate follows suit over two-and-a-half minutes, opening with a heavy jam session of sorts that features a bit of a doomy sound before then speeding up the tempo considerably.

    The second half of the album opens with Bury What's Dead, a two-minute straight up hardcore wallop with some fierce dueling vocals overtop of guitar playing that at times sounds closer to a chainsaw than a stringed instrument. Geneticide, at two-and-a-half minutes, again opens with a deceitfully calm intro, at least by Neurosis’ standards. It’s riffy, upbeat even, but that all changes after some interesting shifts and breakdowns that carry this instrumental piece to an interesting finish.

    Ingrown, which also clocks in around two-and-a-half minutes in length, starts off pretty doomy, almost Sabbath-esque in tone and sound. Fifteen seconds in it turns into a hardcore track: fast, ugly, a little snotty and plenty pissed off. It’s over before you know it, just a blast of aural intensity. United Sheep is a three-minute rager, a quick and to the point missive about conformity done with some seriously slick bass playing and a series of heavy, catchy riffs.

    Dominoes Fall is a stand out track, a three-minute assault that features some serious vocal repetition – “watch dominoes fall” over and over again – over some bizarre but effective musical improvisation. It somehow manages to work regardless, particularly when the mix plays around with the channels and the vocals. Life On Your Knees is just under two-and-a-half minutes of trading vocals, crunchy guitar work and an extremely urgent vibe that should rightly upset those suffering from anxiety issues – it’s intense. The album closes with Grey, clocking in at just under three minutes in length. It ends the record on a high note, an ‘all hands on deck’ number that rants and rages about hypocrisy, survival and more – socially aware without being overly political, heavy without losing its grubby punk edge.

    Note that the bonus tracks that were included on the 2000 reissue (which included some tracks recorded live at Gilman, some tracks from a WFMU performance and some demos) from Neurot are, puzzlingly, not included on this 2018 reissue. It also features new cover art designed specifically for this release (doing away with the John Dwyer suicide cover that was on the 1994 vinyl pressing and the more recognizable black and white illustrated cover, replacing it with an alternate version of that artwork).