Stepping away from his work with Neurosis, as well as projects such as Tribes of Neurot and Harvestman, here Steve von Till finally delivers his fourth solo album. A Life Unto Itself doesn’t feature all the decibels perhaps associated with Neurosis, but it’s still heavy. Von Till’s raspy voice doesn't need a heavy metal backing, and fares equally well with these subtle accompaniments.
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It’s a rather lovely thing that we get to hear one of the dudes from Neurosis extract twang from his guitar, and that’s exactly what Steve Von Till does on “In Your Wings”, the opener to his fourth solo record. Von Till has been attracted to folk and country music for a long time, but he makes it the way only a sludgelord would: with gut-busting tenacity and a lot of caution. On ‘A Life Unto Itself’, you’re hearing him pause as much as anything.
“In Your Wings” is a lovely opener, Von Till groaning like the song is a weight he has to lift (the violins are the only thing in the song that get to rush, the rest of the song slithering to a conclusion). “A Language of Blood”, with grandiose production space, switches between strums that are sleepy and processes to an echo, as well as momentary, metallic riffs in the vein of the wonderful Primordial. Its hypnotic structure is a marvellous feat; the song is so well articulated, but it maintains a haziness throughout its build.
Amongst the traditionalism of tracks like “Birch Bark Box”, which concentrates on Von Till’s cracked and resigned voice, you can also find rather perplexing experiments; cutting the record down the middle is “Night of the Moon”, a Krautish electronic track that seems more like a hypothesis than a song. Its moaning riffs attempt to salvage something from the rubble, but Von Till uses his synth as the spine of the song, and it sounds rather silly on a record as otherwise acoustically led as this. Stick to it for “Known But Not Named”, though; there will come a year when folk metal slowcore breaks.
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