Neurosis at Théâtre Corona, August 14th 2019

“Neurosis” is an archaic psychological term used to describe a variety of mental ailments, forgone nowadays in favour of other terms. Depression, anxiety, chronic stress, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc. are what “neurosis” is most often associated with. So fitting is that word as the band name for Neurosis, one of the world's quintessential avant-metal bands. Their music explores the deep crevices of the mind, scratching away at the walls of your darkest feelings… only to suddenly burst out with an explosion of primal rage leaving you in a dizzied haze of grief.

That really sounds unpleasant, doesn’t it? Yet it’s often necessary to face these negative emotions and Neurosis’s music is an effective vehicle for this. When the band played Montreal’s Corona Theatre on August 14, it was nothing less than an emotionally liberating experience. The crowd was sizeable, though the venue was far from being full – this ultimately provided a more personal experience as the main focus was on the music. Neurosis contrasts with a lot of metal bands in the sense they drop any intentional cheesiness, yet they aren’t so stern and solemn to the point of being ridiculous. The performance was a no-frills spectacle, only letting the usual venue lighting provide visual dynamics. Playing a selection of tracks, mostly from their recent efforts (which isn’t saying much considering how irregularly the band releases new material), we were treated to a raw and barebones show with little distraction. The trade-off vocals from band leaders and guitarists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Tillman were perfectly executed, with an incredibly powerful rhythm section lead by drummer Jason Roeder. I can strongly recommend seeing the band, whether or not you are familiar with them, or if you are even into metal at all. That night, it was all about catharsis.

Supporting acts included Bell Witch and Deafkids. Bell Witch is comprised of two members, bassist Dylan Desmond and drummer Jesse Shreibman, both sharing vocal duties. They played a set that was akin to their studio recordings, playing a continuous 40-ish minute song. Although seemingly lacking structure, the bigger picture allowed for some heavy atmosphere to build up for a thrilling climax before calmly closing off. Subtlety was key, and anyone tuning in can grasp feelings of somber grief which comes heavy-handed knowing their latest record, Mindreaper, was a tribute to the band’s late drummer, Adrian Guerra.

Deafkids, being Neurot Recordings signees, leans more to the experimental and psychedelic side, using a number of vocal filters and looping pedals to create an abrasive atmosphere. This is all held together by tribal and jazzy percussion patterns.

Overall, I left the Corona Theatre with a heavy heart, but a light spirit. The soundscapes at hand were heavier than a cinder block dragging you to the bottom of the ocean, but the feelings exerted were those of acceptance and liberation. I will see Neurosis again and I hope you will too.

Philippe L'Espérance is the host of Sin After Sin, which airs on CJLO every Wednesday at 10:00 PM. You can follow him on Facebook and Instagram @sinaftersinradio.