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STEVE VON TILL Explains The Sonic Ideas Behind NEUROSIS’ Through Silver In Blood


Neurosis‘ 1996 album Through Silver In Blood is widely considered to be one of the best post-metal (and easily one of the best metal) albums of all time. Through Silver In Blood was slower, heavier, and more experimental than their previous efforts, and was also Neurosis‘ first to feature keyboardist Noah Landis.

So how did it all come about? In a recent interview with the Scars And Guitars podcast, guitarist and vocalist Steve Von Till explained the sonic ideas behind Through Silver In Blood and how that era went for Neurosis.

“At the time, it was really just our next step,” said Von Till as transcribed by Metal Injection. “We had kind of already, I think, pushed the envelope out of coming from out of hardcore and DIY punk – we still consider ourselves punks. It’s weird, not that I don’t like metal. You’re wearing a Motörhead shirt. That’s in my blood forever. I can’t help it. It’s just in my wiring. But just culturally where we come from, we come from mid ’80s, Bay Area, DIY punk, right?

“So when we were expanding our sound, wanting to bring what we liked about older, more art-damaged music like Throbbing Gristle or Coil, bringing back heavier guitar tones of stuff we like, like Black Sabbath, bringing back some of the psychedelia of Pompeii-era Pink Floyd; we’d already been doing that since Souls At Zero when we kind of got we realized that we needed more sound than just guitars, bass and drums. We brought in synthesizers in the sampler, which was unheard of in our specific thing.

“People were shocked, but we kept pointing back to bands like Amebix and Killing Joke and saying ‘this has been done. This is not new.’ Even Deep Purple with John Lord‘s organ tracks, you know, there’s there’s a history of this, and Pink Floyd with the synthesizer and The Who with the synthesizer. There’s there’s definitely a foundation for this and we’re just embracing it. We never embraced metal tropes as far as [chugga-chugga rhythms] and ripping leads and palm muting – all the all the metal tropes that you would think of. We don’t really have any of that. So it was really about trying to find our own unique sound.

Through Silver In Blood was just kind of taking what we had started on Souls at Zero and Enemy of the Sun. We pushed it out there further into more aggression, more psychedelia. Through Silver In Blood was kind of the peak of our desire to make people… we were particularly obsessed with making it uncomfortable, which is not something that we ascribe to as our entire career. We quickly learned that that became uncomfortable for us over time, you know, having to embody that that music.

“When you do kind of make the commitment to physically embody the emotions brought out in the music, you’ve got to temper it with some balance. That was very much not balanced. That was very much a time when… for example, if a riff felt like it was crushing and suffocating and maybe had some frequencies in the samples that you feel in your eyeballs; well, if it’s that uncomfortable and we’re repeating it eight times, well, what if we repeat it 64 times?

“Between that and our visual arts that we were doing at the time – we were using multiple 16 millimeter film projections and a whole bank of slide projectors strobing, and doing live collage and montage of a mix of psychedelia and uncomfortable film footage of everything from beautiful and serene footage of nature and volcanic activity and geometric patterns and sacred objects to concentration camps or animal experimentation or the horrible, horrible things that basically… we wanted to hold up a big sonic and visual mirror of ‘here’s you, humanity. How do you like it?’ Without tempering it with the beauty necessarily. We definitely focused on the dark and more negative side and it was it was suffocating. It was intentionally relentless and punishing and difficult to play hundreds of times.

“We also had a heavy percussion element at that time and would go off on to percussive noise, industrial sessions, like sometimes we’d go for an hour after the set itself of just endlessly pummeling with feedback, noise and drumming. It just as a way of leaving the body, as a way of entering altered space, as a way of transcending through this intense, suffocating music. I think a lot of people were deeply affected by that, including us over time. It definitely left a permanent mark.

“We were we were looking at it in a shamanic way on some angles and in using music as a magical force – again, for lack of proper words in English, we’re limited to the words we’re given here – as a tapping into the tapping into the cosmic, the great void. A

Von Till concluded: “And so all of those things played into that, and it was a very educational time, a very intense time, a very revelatory time. We were lucky and honored to be able to stumble into that, and also more than happy to move on from it as well.”

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