SAN FRANCISCO — Neurosis, the avant-garde Oakland band that has quietly influenced metal bands for more than 20 years, demonstrated the diversity of the metal genre Wednesday at the Great American Music Hall.
Neurosis is a legend in the underground metal scene. Despite influencing many contemporaries, it itself hasn’t received as much acclaim as it deserves. The band could have taken its set in any number of ways, what with its 12 albums. But it chose to mainly play material of its 2016 album, Fires Within Fires. The highlights came during “Bending Light” toward the beginning of the set, as well as the atmospheric “A Shadow Memory” and “Reach.” The band closed with the 12-minutes 1996 cut “Through Silver in Blood.”
The band played a mix including a kind of experimental metal, with elements of hardcore and sludge metal. It took that genre to its limits, where the atmospheric music converges into doom meta, to create a unique sound. The emotions communicated through each riff and stanza flowed with force and determination, raising the premise that sometimes music speaks for itself.
Neurois’ art—like the attitude of the singer-guitarist Scott Kelly, bassist Dave Edwardson, drummer Jason Roeder, guitarist Steve Von Till and keyboardist Noah Landis—was harsh and temperamental. Rather than impeding the show, it increased the intensity of the performance.
The band was preceded by Converge, which delivered a mix of hardcore punk and metal, blended into complex, polyrhythmic guitar riffs. Led by frontman Jacob Bannon, Converge is a pioneer in its style, both in modern metalcore and mathcore sounds, incorporating the speed of punk, the intensity of hardcore and the complexity of certain branches of metal. In short, the band’s sound was an explosion of musical information.
With a one-hour, 20-song set, Converge played mostly material from its 2017 album, The Dusk in Us, including songs like “Reptilian,” “A Single Tear” and “Eye of the Quarrel.” The band also tossed in a few classic singles from You Fail Me and All We Love We Leave Behind, such as “Eagles Become Vultures” and the sincere “Aimless Arrow.”
Post-metal Belgian band Amenra showed off its own unique music style, with a mix of melancholic atmospheres, doom metal, ethereal hardcore and post-rock. Its set brought both an emotional and spiritual density to the show. The band’s set consisted mainly of its 2017 album, Mass VI, including “Plus Près De Toi (Closer To You)” and “Diaken.”
Follow photographer Joaquin Cabello at Instagram.com/joaquinxcabello.