Since 1999's Times of Grace -- their first full-length in a long, still-going relationship with Steve Albini -- Neurosis have been on a run of releasing slow-paced records that have their post-rock and folk sides rivaling and often overtaking their sludge metal side. You pretty much know what you're getting from a post-Times of Grace Neurosis album, and Fires Within Fires delivers on those expectations. If you're an old fan hoping Neurosis explores some new ground this time around, you'll be disappointed, but for the rest of us, this is an excellent album that's very worth hearing. And it does have some noticeable differences. For one, at five songs in 40-ish minutes, it's the shortest album they've made since they were a hardcore band. It also feels even less like a metal album than Neurosis albums usually do. It sort of reminds me of the new Nick Cave album. One because it's a dark, brooding album by people who seem like wise old men, but also because it's an album that can fall into the background (but reveals substance when you pay attention). That may sound like a negative thing, but I don't mean it that way and actually it's a pretty tough thing for a metal band to pull off. Even if you tune out the first few minutes of 2001's A Sun That Never Sets, you're jolted awake during the banging sludgefest of "The Tide." Fires Within Fires never really does that. It's got plenty of distortion and throat-shredding vocals, but it feels like a quiet record. They don't quite sound like a post-rock band here though either. On this album's direct predecessor, 2012's Honor Found In Decay, Neurosis neared Sigur Ros territory on "My Heart For Deliverance," which doesn't tend to happen on Fires Within Fires. It isn't rootsy like Steve Von Till's solo material, but in some ways it feels like the closest Neurosis have come to making their own unique version of a folk album. The power is in detailed lyrics and satisfying chord changes more than in riffs or layered atmosphere.

Another of its appeals is that even when it's predictable, it's still brilliantly-crafted, still relevant-sounding, and still better than the countless Neurosis clones that pop up every year. It's truly a treat to get music this good from a band 30 years into their career, especially because it keeps getting the younger generations hooked in too. If your introduction to this kind of stuff was Mastodon in the mid-2000s, Neurosis were there for you then. If you're just finding it now through Inter Arma or something, it's a godsend that you still get a record like this one and can still see their towering live show. Ask a group of people what their favorite Neurosis album is, and you'll get a handful of different answers. Their ability to churn out albums as good as this one every few years is why.

The album's out this Friday (9/23) on the band's Neurot Recordings, but you can stream it in full right now:

Neurosis -- 2016 Tour Dates
11/07/2016 Koko - London, UK w/ Earth
11/08/2016 Koko - London, UK w/ Discharge, Subhumans
11/25/2016 Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City [all ages]
11/26/2016 Hawthorne Theatre - Portland, OR w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City [21+]
12/17/2016 Regency Grand Ballroom - San Francisco, CA w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City
12/18/2016 Regent Theater - Los Angeles, CA @ The Power Of The Riff
12/19/2016 Neumos - Seattle, WA w/ Yob, Sumac [21+]
12/20/2016 Venue - Vancouver, BC w/ Yob, Sumac [19+]