Friday, October 21, 2011

Album Review: Junius - Reports from the Threshold of Death

Boston-based project Junius isn't just going to kick the door in with the new record coming out October 25th - they plan to decimate it until nothing remains. Reports from the Threshold of Death is such a strong follow-up to the well-received 2009 work The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist that the album has received critical acclaim even prior to world release, and for good reason. The album is a veritable canvas upon which life, the universe, and everything are laid out plain for the eyes to see, and for the mind to develop. There isn't just one way to view and understand this album, it's a fluctuating, evolving experience that takes time to take in and longer to truly understand and appreciate, although its beauty is blatantly apparent right off the bat. It's a fantastically smooth listen and an experimentation in dark wave and space rock that leaves a unique taste in the listener's palate.

The opener is a deep and extensive journey into the album's themes, from the very beginning. Conceptually, the album picks right back up where Martyrdom left off, with the death of the controversial scholar Immanuel Velikovsky, which you can hear with the synth choir. However, a heavy, distortion-guitar led intro jam changes the feeling from proper mourning to a dark, space-aged exploration of death, furthered by Joseph Martinez's echoic vocals chanting, "Our time will come / when we sacrifice / lay yourself down / face the crow's starry eyes". The ultrabass effects bring a fantastic, low pitched throbbing, along with the bass drum, which is mixed beautifully, and will definitely prove to be an added little bonus if you have high-quality cans or a nice sub to help compliment the album. The chord changes only add to the space-rock feel, with sustained transition chords that bring a whole new meaning to suspense, only to drop back right into the fantastically powerful beginning riff that changed the entire feel of the song. The reverbed chorus of voices supporting Martinez adds a very operatic feel to the song, and the combination of the potency of the guitars, as well as the multitude of layers already described, turns "Betray the Grave" from just an opener piece to a four minute epic odyssey that one only wishes would continue on into the deep void of space so accurately portrayed in the song.

A lighter air is brought on by "Transcending the Ghost", introduced by a clean guitar, and Martinez, crooning, "Everyone holds on / everyone calls out the same way / it's time to shed light / you have arrived", a very hopeful message for beyond the grave, brought up by the floating chord progression. The guitars may seem heavy from the start, but more focus is brought by Martinez's message, comforting and calming the listener in death, playing an angelic voice that guides Velikovsky into the light. This draws a lot of attention away from the guitars, which helps to make the experience feels a lot more well-rounded, because they provide a lot of the melodic aspect, but the distortion is signature to Junius, and really helps to complete the feel. This song reaches a state of immaculacy not from its individual parts, but how the bass, the pushing-but-not-forceful drum rhythm goads the song along, and how the assemblage of layers falls into place with naught but impeccability.

The layering on this album is unfathomably deep, as is the intent of the philosophical message in the album's concept. The way the entire work is centered around Velikovsky's post-death experiences is truly exclusive, but the way the band developed those ideas to accurately portray that missive is something else altogether. Junius has progressed incredibly far, and stands to be a nigh unstoppable force in art rock, and in musical creation. Reports from the Threshold of Death is a treat to the ear, and if you've ever listened to anything musical, ever, you will enjoy this album.

Album Rating: A

As I stated before, the album will be released on October 25th. You can actually check out a track off the album at this site, check out some more of Junius' music on their MySpace, and keep up with news and preorder the new album on their own site.

Track Listing:

1) Betray The Grave
2) All Shall Float
3) Dance on Blood
4) A Universe Without Stars
5) Haunts for Love
6) The Meeting of Pasts
7) (Spirit Guidance)
8) Transcend The Ghost
9) Eidolon & Perispirit
10) A Reflection on Fire

1 comment:

  1. You entice me again with things I don't have time to listen to, Mat.