NEUROSIS is one of the most important and forward-thinking bands in heavy music. The value of its music on its own and the impact and influence it has had on other significant artists simply cannot be overstated. The group has recently re-issued its 1987 debut album, “Pain of Mind”, via its own label, Neurot Recordings. Those unaware of the nature of NEUROSIS‘s earliest material are likely to be more than a little surprised. NEUROSIS was a politically minded hardcore punk band that regularly made its rounds on Gilman Street. They sound like a completely different band, and yet the enveloping madness that was to come is foreshadowed somewhat.
But “Pain of Mind” isn’t just a regular hardcore punk album. While it is limited in scope compared to what its become, it was more than a one-dimensional expression. The unit’s undeniably passionate rugged, unhinged fracas is moving on its own, let alone that the youthful Bay Area legends also integrated metal-driven guitar melodies and almost doom metal-like atmospherics. At that point in time, NEUROSIS‘s characteristic grandiose, epic sonic soundscapes that are as all-consuming as slow-moving lava devouring the Earth were nonexistent. The group was a hardcore punk band that did tighten the reigns and slow things down, all the way to doom-like crawls, but unlike today, it regularly spurred the wild horse on for up-tempo hardcore bruising.
And “Pain of Mind” is dynamic enough to prove that the group has always had an inclination for experimentation and not imposing limitations upon itself. The beginning of “Black” entails jangle pop clean guitars reminiscent of THE SMITHS—replete with some monotone, moaning melodic vocals. Granted, while this is an outlier, it further illustrates how dissimilar NEUROSIS was from its current, established sound. At its onset, the Californians were heavily informed by the English anarcho-punk and hardcore bands like RUDIMENTARY PENI, AMEBIX and ANTISECT, as well as the more melodic and expansive sounds of JOY DIVISION.
“Pain of Mind” is raw and angry, but the band wasn’t a typical late eighties hardcore band. It was clear that NEUROSIS was a work in progress, especially considering its increased confidence in expanding upon the group’s experimental side on follow-up “Word As Law”. Not surprisingly, some stubborn but vocal purists didn’t seem impressed. By the time that its third effort, “Souls At Zero”, came out, it had finally found its place. The band had fully transformed into the trace-inducing beast that was progressive music in the truest sense. NEUROSIS had begun to profoundly expand the boundaries of heavy music.