Bern’s Dachstock is the kind of venue that seems lived in; the graffiti that adorns every available wall space feels like it’s been there since the dawn of time and the punk aesthetic that seeps into the atmosphere is the kind that you’d have expected to find when Neurosis were still starting out – it’s fitting then, that this is the place that they are playing this evening and the hot, stifling air only adds to the electric atmosphere that is already rippling through the venue as Oakland’s Kowloon Walled City take to the stage.
The quartet are heavy where it counts and despite the weighty tones thrown out by the guitars and prominent bass, there is a sparse feeling to their sound – the music is allowed to breathe and move around Scott Evans’ voice, which is throaty and rage-filled from beginning to end, while still fulfilling the sludge aesthetic. Kowloon Walled City play with their sound enough to make them stand out from the crowded “post” scene and their approach is crushing and one that leaves the audience visibly shaken.
Yob last played in Switzerland in October 2018 but seeing them less than a year later is still a wonderful experience and despite the fact that Mike Schiedt is apparently suffering from a chest cold, his voice is beautiful during the clean passages and powerful during the harsher moments. Schiedt’s apology during the set is one that is met with warmth and applause – being sick on tour must be horrendous – and Yob put on an incredible show that is steeped with emotion and grace.
“Ball of Molten Lead” opens up their time on stage and the movements from dark to light are executed with precision – “Breathing from the Shallows” is sublime and when Yob close the set with the monumental “Marrow,” many in the audience aare moved to bow their heads and bask in the sorrow that emanates from the trio on stage. The song is beautiful and dramatic and when Yob try to leave the stage many of those at the front reach out for a moment of connection with the band.
Neurosis is a band who have been long admired and revered within the heavy music scene for their moments of experimentation, their willingness to adapt and evolve and their considerably huge sound. That they have been active for over thirty years and still garner praise and awe is testament to their talent and tonight that is proved ten times over with a set that spans as much of their career as possible in the time that are allocated. “A Sun that Never Sets” and “Given to the Rising” are massive in their scale and the stark lighting and electronic elements lend an alien atmosphere that only draws you in deeper. The lack of spectacle is notable; Neurosis only need their engulfing sound and dynamic guitars to pull you in and the Dachstock trembles under their weight.
“End of the Harvest” pulls from the depths and the dual vocals of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till adds dimension to an already progressively dense song. The quieter moments of the song are laid bare in the space and given time to curl and move through the audience, who respond with admiration and pounding fists. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and public transport the evening is cut off for some a little earlier than they would like (myself included) so the final song is missed. Leaving on the opening strains of “Stones From the Sky” is bittersweet but Neurosis impress on many just how important they are and how lucky we are to have them.