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Neurosis Live at Portland, OR’s Hawthorne Theater

Words by Josh Ncihols Photos by Alyssa Herrman/Foto Phortress
Words by Josh Nichols
Photos by Alyssa Herrman/Foto Phortress

Over Thanksgiving weekend the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, Oregon played host to two sold out evenings of Neurosis, with support by Yob and Kowloon Walled City–cause for celebration, given the infrequency with which Neurosis make their presence known in the pacific northwest. The distinguished billing of Neurot label mates without the distraction of any filler bands is about as much as any soggy metal loving Portlander could ask for.

The evening commenced at 8:00pm when Kowloon Walled City took the stage and Scott Evans said “Let’s get this over with.” They initially offered two cuts from their 2012 release, Container Ships, and one cut from 2009’s Gambling on the Richter Scale, before launching into tracks from their most recent effort, Grievances. The recipe didn’t change dramatically on any of these cuts: slow, heavy chords and Evans’ perpetually horse drill sergeant’s shout. The Grievances tracks are slightly less sludgy, with more dramatic pauses to up the tension level before releasing into huge dissonant explosions

Neurosis knew what they were doing when they added local favorite Yob to the bill. The press of bodies reached the back wall and gave full voice to their admiration as Yob eased into a bowel churning and bass heavy assault. The highlight of any Yob set, aside from the thundering sludge doom that is their stock and trade, is the vocal stylings and joyful exuberance of lead singer Mike Scheidt. He moved from high shrill wailing to guttural growl with the occasional cavernous and unearthly roar. His range along with the overall power and heavy ferocity of their set was an excellent foil for what was to come.

If Neurosis followed typical tour protocol, they would have served up a heavy dose of their most recent release, Fires Within Fires. Neurosis aren’t typical. Instead they opted to celebrate their entire catalog, diving back to the early 90’s to start, with “Lost”, off of Enemy of the Sun, and then pulled from their entire discography. Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till passed vocal duties back and forth, trading verse for verse with the occasional screaming line from Dave Edwardson. They kept the stage typically dark between songs, letting the tension build with each new offering. Finally, they went deep again to finish off the evening with the title track from Through Silver in Blood. It would be hard to pinpoint a highlight of the evening as there were many and of course everyone will have their own. In two or three years, perhaps they’ll come back and give another opportunity to make that choice.

–Josh Nichols

Kowloon Walled City

Yob

Neurosis

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