Scott Kelly - Live at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Cover Artwork)

Scott Kelly

Live at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2016)

live show

The sun that doth never set burneth on. Neurosis has always been an intense and grim band, its mixture of crust and tribal metal evoking primitive struggles for survival. So having Scott Kelly of Neurosis doing the soundtrack for Shakespeare's Hamlet, a play about regicide, botched revenge schemes and Norway conquering most of the Baltic region, is quite fitting.

The performance was at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, a mountain town off the I 5 interstate where Bruce Campbell lives. The Shakespeare Festival is the center of the town and they seemed very experienced and professional. Scott Kelly was in a platform above the stage of Elsinore in Denmark with several guitars and drums. He played a grim and aggressive series of backing pieces very similar to Neurosis, with the most intense parts reserved for Hamlet's nihilistic soliloquies and when someone died. He also performed as the grave digger in the scene where Hamlet laments finding Yorick's skull in the graveyard. He can act and plays the part well, though people from the crust scene are no strangers to macabre imagery.

Attempts to "update" Shakespeare are done pretty regularly. They vary from Kurosawa's Samurai epic Ran to Ten Things I Hate About You. This stuck to the source material but added a respected and experienced maker of aggressive music to lend his skill to create a doomed atmosphere that escalated as the plot evolved and characters fought and died. Sticking to the script but having someone who did Times of Grace and the Sun That Never Sets do the soundtrack for grim feeling is a way of doing this that works.

This is highly recommended for Neurosis fans while they wait for the release of Fires Within Fires.