First of all, let me just say that describing art of any kind is difficult and I apologize if anything here comes across as either pretentious or seems to infer some idea of inherent superiority, that is not my intention whatsoever and indeed I dislike reading such things myself.
Neurosis themselves are a pioneering and important act with surprising origins in hardcore punk, who released a continuingly diverse and impressive set of albums throughout their career that cause extremely high praise from fans despite their almost non-existent commercial potential. They are the kind of band who people will call ‘genius,’ genuinely and very often.
To say that A Sun That Never Sets is a challenging record is a grave understatement, indeed if this was your first Neurosis album and you listened to it without first hearing anything influenced by it to acclimatize yourself then it would be entirely understandable if you flat out hated the record on initial listens.
As with all Neurosis records, the challenge of uncovering the quality music underneath is very rewarding and once you overcome the dense textures and interminable slowness, you will discover an atmospheric and almost beautiful record you never imagined would exist on the same disc you disliked so much before. This of course will not be the case if you are already a big Neurosis fan, or at least a fan of other challenging and arty Post-Metal, but for the first time listener at least there is certainly a barrier to overcome.
Indeed; The actual, almost physical pain that the record can cause you while you sit there urging it to just speed the fuck up is a part of the overall experience and is strangely enjoyable.
I was recommended the record on the basis that it was allegedly the most artistic record made by any metal band that year and because the band were similar to Tool in terms of artistic merit and performance. Perhaps this was a very misleading statement, but at least it does communicate how Neurosis are designed to be enjoyed, which is listening to the entire record from start to finish, giving it your full undivided attention, listening again and again on numerous occasions to allow the music to grow on you as you uncover new little touches every time.
Neurosis of course are beyond Influential, and are responsible for informing a part of the sound of a great deal of interesting and important bands such as Mastodon, with whom singer Scott Kelly frequently collaborates and other bands such as the entire new movement of Southern American Sludge influenced bands as well as innumerable progressive and post metal bands.
Scott Kelly has an amazing voice that is able to convey a lot of ideas and emotions and he absolutely shines on this record, some of his screams and wounded sounding bellows are seriously impressive and evocative and Steve Von Till too is on top form throughout.
Folk and Tribal influences are two of the things that were introduced with A Sun That Never Sets as well as violin and viola, however not how you would expect from other metal bands. The inclusion is subtle and blends well into the bands dense, sludgey and powerful metal sound.
Overall; Neurosis’s A Sun That Never Sets is not for everyone, it is not an album you can stick on at a party or put on in the background while doing something taxing. If you are patient and willing to give it a fair chance however, you will likely be genuinely impressed.