The half-hour long, four track EP was produced by Steve Albini and while a little clamer and quieter, continues very much where Times Of Grace left off, focusing on long dense tracks of hypnotic build ups and harsh vocals. Slow speeds, thumping echoey drum beats and haunting background noise is very much the order of things here and Sovereign is also full of samples of dialogue to add a little something extra to the overall sound.
It seems that the best way to describe the overall feel is `intense,’ as the band create oppressive atmospheres and use repetition really effectively so that songs have a feeling of progress and when they play the same part again, slightly more energetically, or with on more cymbal in the mix it seems like a revelation you have been waiting for. This kind of brooding intensity is often described as emotionally draining and requires a lot of patience from the listener, but when things finally do kick off into big hard metal territory, such as six and a half minutes into `An Offering,’ it only makes it all the more rewarding.
When the band do take things in a more metal direction the guitars are big, loud and sludgey, with the trademark dirty Neurosis bass sound which many bands have since taken influence from, and of course Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly’s incredible vocal work, which has served as part of the blue print for a thousand other bands.
The material is quite slow but not as challengingly slow as on the follow-up album A Sun That Never Sets, which would take things to a whole other level (and also including violins and violas) and things even pick up speed now and again on this EP, such as on the track Flood, which works as something of a tribal drum solo and about four minutes into the brooding thirteen minute Title Track.
Overall; If you are a fan of Neurosis then Sovereign is a good EP and something that you should definitely pick up a copy of. It would probably serve new fans however to pick up a proper studio album such as Times Of Grace or Through Silver In Blood.
***Note that Remastered editions come with a slipcase and the six minute bonus track `Misgiven.’ ***