This album starts out with a talking bowl accompanied by spoken words about starting out on a journey. Wow. They aren't kidding. This album is a sonic journey indeed.
I have not heard the first two albums by NEUROSIS so I can only speculate by reading reviews that they were fairly simple creatures that had not yet blossomed into what we hear on this masterpiece of metal music. I actually came across this album by listening to a college radio station that played “Stripped” and I was so extremely taken by the ingenuity of the track that I immediately went out and bought the album after learning who it was and by only recently being officially NEUROSIS-ized with the intoxicating THROUGH SILVER IN BLOOD.
NEUROSIS took a great leap of faith with this album. By incorporating the vocal influences of Swans, the industrial riffing of Godflesh and the progressive post-rock of Talk Talk with additional embellishments of progressive layerings including piano, violin, Gregorian chants and others into the mix, NEUROSIS simply created a well balanced musical masterpiece by putting all the pieces in the proper places. It is amazing how well this album flows from beginning to end and despite wanting to sample a little just to get a little more perspective before this review, so sucked in was I that I couldn't resist listening to the entire album again. It is so good that it has a gravitational pull that I cannot resist.
And now I must comment on the album cover. The band says that it was supposed to be a likeness from the movie “The Wicker Man” but since they couldn't get permission to use it they had to make a mysterious figure that evoked its image. For me this also reminds me of the Shrike's image from the cover of the fantastic sci-fi books from the Hyperion series but it also evokes a likeness to the Man himself at the Black Rock Desert, Nevada event Burning Man (which I have attended – Woohoo!)
Not only is this album a masterpiece but a full-fledged turning point in music that combined post rock and metal and added progressive elements. One of the best albums of all time.