Neurosis: Live at Roadburn 2007

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Neurosis: Live at Roadburn 2007
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Neurosis: Live at Roadburn 2007
Ambient, Post-Hardcore, Progressive Sludge, Tribal
Neurot Recordings
August 30th, 2010
Release length: 1:07:30
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Live at Roadburn 2007 was originally recorded at the annual Roadburn festival in Tilburg, Holland, shortly after the release of Given to the Rising that same year. It’s now 2010, and this material has finally been made available through the band’s own Neurot Records three years later. Though it may have taken a good amount of time to finally be released. But, for the fans of the band, this is a recording that was well worth the wait.

For those who have never experience a live Neurosis show, perhaps this is the next best thing. The recording quality is exactly what you would hear at the show. Live at Roadburn 2007 clearly has no studio editing, having a somewhat raw quality to it, but not being so raw that it sounds like something just recorded on a small mono tape recorder near a speaker. There are times, however, where the sounds coming fromt he speaker are too loud and suffer from overmodulation, such as the loud sound effect that hits in “Burn” prior to the song slowing down to a more Ambient pace. And for as many heavier songs on here, the band manages to include a good amount of laid back tracks as well, such as the slower, “A Season in the Sky”, which is a song that relies on a sound effect in the background that goes in and out, as well as a very slow paced Blues-sounding guitar with a matching vocal performance before the drums chime in and the song expands a bit more into a traditional song that slowly builds up into a heavy, yet still slow paced Sluge sound that takes the drumming of the original Blues section, and adds some guitars that work, but kind of conflict with the drumming that only amps up the extreme depression that this song started with.

One of the biggest let downs to this live release, really, is that there is a severe lack of the band’s more well known Tribal-sounding material. There’s only a few real moments that showcase the band’s musical abilities within this field, like the closing to “Left to Wander”, but outside that and a few moments here and there, much of this release is the band’s better Sludge and Ambient material, which feels like a kick in the face sometimes as there is plenty of great songs that the band did not cover on this performance. Aside the lack of that material, the only track on here that seems to defeat anything with the actual live CD release is really only “At the End of the Road”. This song really acts as one of those “You had to be there” type moments. The introduction of this track bleeds in from “A Season in the Sky”, but the problem is that the first five minutes is essentially just sound effects used to create an Ambient approach to the performance, but while it may have worked well on the album, the first five minutes of this performance wind up being rather repetitive and feel almost like dead air. Near the end of those give minutes, the vocals do kick in, and they are heavily digitized and distorted. The music actually kicks in a little after the five minute mark, and while it makes the earlier time feel like a good set up, it also will awaken you if you happen to fall asleep from it in the long run. For the most part, after this track much of the set seems geared towards a more ambient experience, again perhaps to better the live experience, however many of the songs that follow sound great and have much more enjoyable ambience to them.

“Distill” is easily one of the better tracks on here that focuses heavily on Ambience. While “Given to the Rising” makes for an excellent song that is full of energy, the ambient that accompanies “Distill” is just perfect, working well to sooth the listener after coming down from a rather hard hitting Sludge start, creating an almost zen-like atmosphere thanks to the effects that would best be described as something that would place the listener in the middle of an ocean before kicking back in minutes later with heavier music to accompany the simple, light guitars that appeared near this slow paced section’s end, rounding out the song, and mental trip, nicely. Of course, the closing track, “The Doorway” is a fantastic track that has great energy behind it, and also proves to be a song that falls under the “You had to be there” category. This, however, doesn’t mean the song is bad, but with the way it ends, “The Doorway” clearly must be a spectacle to witness live on stage, only being far more enjoyable that way then how enjoyable it already is on the live CD. This also proves the question of why there was no accompanying DVD release with this CD, as, surely, it would have easily sold and been much more enjoyable in the first place then just a live album.

But, either way, the material on this release is great, and the performance is energetic and manages to nicely jump from various atmospheres that the music gives off plenty of times successfully. The performance is energetic, though there are times that clearly would have been enjoyable as a visual performance and not just audio. The only serious drawbacks to this live album is that the band seems to focus their material more around their more recent albums at the time of this recording’s performance, and not really stem back into the earlier material, focusing a lot on the Ambient fueled material then the Tribal songs that really showcased the band’s talent throughout the years. But, if you’re a fan of Neurosis and their more recent material, then Live at Roadburn 2007 is still a recording you should check out, as it will give you another perspective on the band and their ability to play the material on the studio albums well in a live atmosphere, and perhaps give you a whole new respect for Neurosis in general.

01.Given to the Rising – 9:41
02.Burn – 7:16
03.A Season in the Sky – 9:49
04.At the End of the Road – 8:32
05.Crawl Back In – 7:02
06.Distill – 9:01
07.Water is Not Enough – 6:23
08.Left to Wander – 9:25
09.The Doorway – 10:21
Overall Score: 7.5/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by Neurot Recordings.