20 Best Metal Albums of 2016

Vintage thrashers, modern mathletes and more: The year in heavy

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Neurosis, 'Fires Within Fires'
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5/20

5. Neurosis, 'Fires Within Fires'

For the past two decades, Neurosis have been refining and tweaking the sprawling, riff-rattle-repeat grooves of their Nineties high water mark, Through Silver in Blood, occasionally interpolating folky textures and eerie sampled orchestral filigrees. Their latest, Fires Within Fires, is no different: It both whispers and wails with trippy koans like, "The end is endless." But what makes it a standout is it's the most concise presentation of the Neurosis Experience since 1999's Times of Grace. Its five, foundation-shaking cataclysms of sound last a mere 40 minutes – a nanosecond in Neurosis time – and it all builds to the slow-grinding payoff riff that closes end-track "Reach." The group has always aspired to making great art, rather than metal – a nuance lost on all the psych-metal copycats who've tried to ape their sound in recent years – and with Fires Within Fires, they created a work worthy of the old masters. K.G.

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