11. Pain Of Mind (1987)
Some bands spring fully formed into the world. Neurosis did not. Their lengthy, occasionally tortured evolution began here — far away from its destination a quarter century later.
The Neurosis lineup that released Pain Of Mind will look unfamiliar to those acquainted only with the band's '90s and '00s material. Steve Von Till and Noah Landis hadn't joined the band yet; in their place is vocalist/guitarist Chad "Gator Tofu" Salter. (Other band members have silly nicknames in the liner notes too: Scott "Sleepy Chico Bournemouth" Kelly, Jason "The Lerching Humungous" Roeder. It's hard to imagine "Sleepy Chico Bournemouth" writing the riff to "Locust Star.") The album itself looks strange too. It screams "'80s hardcore": Comic-book mushroom clouds and masked soldiers menace a scrawny punk's imagination.
Musically, Pain Of Mindis even more dissimilar to Neurosis's better-known efforts. The band retained a hardcore influence into the '90s, but they actively traffic in the sound here, cribbing from Die Kreuzen, Amebix and Black Flag. Pain of Mind is scathing, and it's cool to hear Dave Edwardson's frantic bass lines and lead vocals. (Neurosis would later relegate his vocals to a supporting role.) Glimmers of Neurosis' budding experimentalism show through, especially in the chiming intro to "Black." So does their inexperience, though, via sloppy performances and awkward lyrics.