Friday, November 10, 2017
NEUROSIS - The Word As Law reissue review
NEUROSIS - The Word As Law reissue
Well prepare to pick yourselves off the floor because I'm about to say thank you to Neurot Recordings (or basically NEUROSIS) for giving this one a new reissue in 2017. I rarely talk much about reissues unless they're somewhat special or at least nostalgic for me. And NEUROSIS's second full length from 1990 fits. Now as I've always said, I'm not a fan of the modern era of the band's out put. But years ago things were different. One thing that I have seen over the years is this release getting maligned by modern day scribes. Their problem is that they look at this from the perspective of what the band did afterward. Let me tell you about when it did come out.
By the late 80's what people called the Punk/Hardcore scene here in the states at least was dead as far as being a cohesive banner to wave around. Most of the old bands were gone or lingering on. People started segregating bands by certain sounds as well as fashion and politics. It was not much different from what the metal scene is today with it's various genres and sub-genres. At times there was legitimate explanations for the differences then again other instances were just plain stupid. It was from within this chaos that NEUROSIS emerged with their debut Pain of Mind in 1988.
Pain of Mind was a good release which had hints of the band being influenced by other things but still it was on line with their Hardcore contemporaries. A year later came the three song Aberration EP on Lookout Records. While the two short cuts on the A-Side were fast heavy and fitting to deem as hardcore, it was the B-Side's "Pollution" which stood out mixing hardcore insanity with some slower sections. Frankly the 80's died on a good note with this EP.
When 1990 hit full stride the underground music scene suddenly had more variety as far as cool music then previously and then again there was some crap. New York Hardcore turned into Metalcore. Crossover was lingering around. Labels like Touch & Go and Amphetamine Reptile Records were putting great stuff whether it was experimental noise, post hardcore or just punk rock without the knee jerk childish politics. And lets not forget what was going on in Seattle. That's when Lookout Records released The Word As Law. At the time if you looked at that label's band roster, NEUROSIS stuck out like a sore thumb. They definitely were not your typical "East Bay" sounding band. In fact they were the hardest and heaviest sounding band on this Lookout compilation I had (still have on a cassette somewhere in a box.)
The first time I heard The Word As Law was in 1990 and on a cassette tape via tape trading (you must've heard of that practice). A few years later I would get it on CD with extra tracks. But anyways even back then I knew NEUROSIS had one foot in the hardcore scene and the other stepping away from it. A lot of people complain that the bass and drums are too high in the mix. The vocals are poorly done and the production overall sucks. I say fuck you! It was perfect for it's time and basically the whines come from people who got into the band after their debut on Relapse six years later (or better yet ten years later).
I think all the problems people nowadays have about this release are strengths at the time it came out. The up front sound of Dave Edwardson's bass lines are cool as fuck and remind ya of mid-80's hardcore when you'd hear that a lot. The drum work is phenomenal especially for a hardcore act. I think the vocals have an angst ridden spark of actual hate to em. Plus the overall song writing was a huge step away from typical hardcore. At the time people would say they were a West Coast version of NAUSEA. Ah no, if this band had a contemporary in 1990 it was HELMET who released STRAP IT ON the same year. All in all now that the band is putting all their older material out, on their own label that is, it's not a bad idea to pick this one up again.