Released in tandem, Scott Kelly's The Wake and Steve Von Till's The Grave Is A Grim Horse—new solo albums from Neurosis' two frontmen—feature the grizzled howls of a couple of gravelly avant-metal vets playing folk music. They've both dabbled in the quiet stuff before, and it's almost depressing how little new ground they break with these new efforts—especially Kelly's The Wake, an album so stiff and stringy, it might as well be roadkill. With an unsure voice and the starkest of chords, Kelly hammers out a brittle impersonation of Michael Gira, drained dry of the master's gallows humor and sense of grotesquerie as transcendence.
Gira—or more specifically, his Angels Of Light—also casts a deep shadow over Von Till's Grave. But where The Wake is mostly flat, Grave has peaks and craters: Fleshed out with cello, organ, violin, and pedal steel, Von Till's acoustic grumbling is far lusher and more engaging. Again, it isn't the slightest departure from what he's done on previous solo albums; it's just done better, with hints of everyone from Tindersticks to Mark Lanegan creeping into the mix. Thankfully, Neurosis is still going strong as ever—although it might almost be a good thing if Kelly and Von Till were forced to focus more gravity and soul on their vanity projects.