A Sun That Never Sets was released in the fall of 2001 to rave critical reviews and praise both domestically and abroad. Critics and fans alike, including myself, were enraptured by the pull from this album; pull being the key word here. A Sun That Never Sets grabs the listener instantaneously and drags him/her to an entirely different world. It is a world of darkness and light, fear and bliss, a journey away to a foreign place and back into the innermost realms of the mind. Neurosis have long been masters of dynamics, having the ability to meticulously create such dichotomies. Harsh, doom-filled passages are set off by more melodic parts accented by violin, viola, and keyboards. Forming in the mid ‘80s, they have certainly brushed off the all-too-limiting label of Hardcore. A Sun That Never Sets owes more to King Crimson than the Cro-Mags or Agnostic Front, though they are a band that has not forgotten their roots to become Art Rock snobs. Finally, the world is bestowed the pleasure of seeing Neurosis’s most poignant and stunning musical vision become a true visual reality.
The DVD itself contains the entire album, track by track, with visual representations produced and directed by their visual artist Josh Graham. What Graham manages to achieve is not a story-telling project or an Arena Rock showcase of fire-blowing antics, but rather a very abstract yet compelling visual version of the songs contained within. What was enjoyable to this critic was not only how amazing the visuals actually were, but how much was left for personal interpretation.
The opener, “Erode,” showcases a kaleidoscope of sorts. Gazing at the screen, it is almost impossible to decipher every image that is broadcasted with the music. One is greeted with spirals of faces, colors, skulls, and symbols, all preparing the viewer for what is to come. “The Tide” follows contrastingly with bright images of blues and oceans. A woman, it appears, is being drowned, and the band plays, blurred in the background by the barrage of color. It is as if the action is controlled by the “tide” in its very own song. Much of the video, in fact contains the band performing in the background, though blurred by the visual effects. It is an effective technique in that the music is controlling what is being seen, and all the while the band is there acting as grand masters of ceremony.
The highlight of the disc is the fifth track, “Falling Unknown,” which has a Bluesy/Doom feel to it. Neurosis are masters at taking a riff of the simplest nature, injecting it with emotion, and making it all the more powerful. Such is the case here. While the band is playing their Doom dirge, the camera echoes its own spirals of chaos with flashes of almost unintelligible scenes. In the middle of the song, though, there is a break filled with silence followed by the most powerful few moments of the entire DVD. While Neurosis are engaging in the world’s longest crescendo, the camera produces stunning visuals, fire turning into faces and vice versa. It appears as though the band is playing in an ever-growing, mutating hell. Fire envelopes both sides of the screen and the band are locked into cocoons of flame. To label this track as breath-taking is an understatement.
A Sun That Never Sets ends with the last track, “Stones from the Sky.” It chronicles the journey of a crow through a dark wasteland of midnight blues and ominous gray clouds. As the crow soars, the clouds seem to move with it, and vice versa. It is a fitting ending to a DVD that truly takes the viewer into another universe; it is Neurosis’s universe. It is hard to imagine a hallucinogen, stimulant, or any other controlled substance that could rival the mind-altering effect that pure art can wield. Neurosis have pulled from a well of unrivalled creativity to create a stunning opus of pure genius. A Sun That Never Sets is a landmark achievement musically and now visually. Enjoy!
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