This is my 15th installment of Autobiographical Order during the COVID quarantine, something I haven’t really addressed much—and I should note that, given the stay-at-home situation, I should have probably written a lot more of these, but it’s a disorienting and distracting situation. I think we’re all managing the best that we can, those of us who have the luxury of being able to stay home and avoid risk. I use “luxury” loosely—I’m temporarily unemployed. That’s not an ideal situation to be in, but on the bright side, I can spend time with my wife and my cats, listen to a lot of vinyl and do more freelance and personal writing. All things considered, it’s not bad.
It’s not like any other situation I’ve experienced, though I did go through a couple of other periods of unemployment. One lasted for about six months. The other? One week. During the former, I used file-sharing to track down obscure Factory Records singles. During the latter, I spent time at home listening to music and playing with our newly adopted kitten. (He’s not a kitten anymore, that was a long time ago.)
I was also still buying CDs, which I haven’t done in over a decade. But it coincided with a period where I was becoming increasingly obsessed with metal, and so in addition to buying stuff like $5 Police LPs, I was filling the gaps in my collection with metal albums I never had proper copies of. And at the top of the list was Neurosis’ Through Silver in Blood. I remember that day vividly. It was raining, for some reason I was running an errand for my wife that involved going to Balboa Park, and since I had another job lined up, I figured it was kosher to buy some music while I was out. There’s nothing terribly interesting about that story, but it sticks in my memory, maybe because it was such a strange situation. Layoffs will do that.
Even when I wasn’t a metalhead, I had a curiosity about this album. I remember seeing the album cover in old issues of Alternative Press (back before they were putting the cringiest pop-punk stuff on the cover). The album cover looked so ominous and apocalyptic—only later would I discover the music was even more so. In a sense I suppose it feels appropriate for the time, but this is a much more volcanic and violent apocalypse. The title track of this album is some rip-your-heart-from-your-chest Temple of Doom stuff. It can’t be played without a circle of torches and a moat, I’m pretty sure.
This album is perfect. It takes some patience and requires your attention for 70 minutes—it’s not like a Motorhead album where you can just drop the needle and start kicking ass. But it’s a rewarding listen, an immersive one. It’s like meditating in a sweat lodge—there’s a therapeutic element to it and probably a lot of danger, but you start to see visions halfway through. Plus when it cooks, it cooks—when “Purify” dramatically changes tempo, it reveals one of the most badass riffs the band ever recorded. About a decade later, my brother told me that vocalist Scott Kelly performed and composed music for Hamlet at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which was a weird clash of personal past and present. My family used to go every summer when I was a kid, and that kind of blew my mind.
Through Silver was out of print on vinyl for some time, though I had long wanted to get a copy, but Relapse took care of it for its 20th anniversary, with some fancy colored options—I went for the oxblood and black, as you can see. And now it accompanies me during this latest round of being anxious, at home, with an uncertain future. But this time is different. I’m doing what I can, but I also have to kind of just wait it out to a certain extent. And I’ll let the sonic sweat lodge handle the rest of my anxieties.
Sound Quality: Great