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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Album Review: Junius - Reports From The Threshold Of Death

You know how it is. You buy your paint, you roll it on your wall and, lo and behold, the pot runs out just before you finish. There’s a break in the colour; a hole. A small, but nagging hole. Your beautiful blood-red wall is left with a square millimetre of drab gray undercoat still showing. There’s no chance in hell you’re going back for a second pot so you cover it up with that poster you like; the one with the blonde, leggy tennis player scratching her bare backside. Still, you know the gap is there and it bugs the hell out of you.

Without me realising it, the same thing has happened to my music collection. I knew the gap was there but, frustratingly, I just didn’t know what the right colour to fill it was. Until now. Having missed out first time on their debut full-length, The Martydom Of A Catastrophist, I’m fresh to but have quickly discovered their sombre, decadently expansive slow-pieces are satisfying that very hole.

Sophomore album Reports From The Threshold Of Death conceptually follows the journey of the soul after death and the echoing, gothic hallways, along which tracks like “Betray The Grave” and “Haunts For Love” sweep, evoke both the tortured spirit of darkwave and the malingering presence that inhabits doom metal. You could, for instance, namecheck both and , yet you’d struggle to properly qualify either due to this album’s pungent prog and post-rock overtones. Instead, it seems far more appropriate to think of as a becalmed incarnation of either or , or a more decadent version of either or .

And yet, the tracks on offer here rather flatter to deceive. The music swarms around your ears, but never quite manages to dig its heels in far enough. I kept expecting to have these glorious moments of introspection but the cyclical patterns never quite managed to drag me down deep into myself enough of the time. “Transcend The Ghost”, for instance, spins itself dizzy trying to go for something light and airy, but with vocalist/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez getting stuck on repeat, the track fires off its one trump card early and runs out of gas before it even gets going. The cadence and tone of each track quickly finds a rhythm and sticks all too rigidly too it and, as we all know, familiarity can breed contempt. Try spinning “All Shall Float” or “Dance In Blood” a few times and when you spot the simplistic design, you’ll begin to forget the initial tug of the chorus hook and crave greater variety.

May I recommend you close your eyes, ramp up the volume and lay waste to your sub-woofer, because the more you shut out the world, the more likely you are to realise just how spiritually effecting and deeply cathartic the music could potentially be when ’ songwriting finally matches their ambition. Follow these instructions and share a rare moment with me in the all-encompassing, hammering bottom-end and dying chords of “A Universe Without Stars” or the elegantly languid vocal and warbling synth which craftily conceal the sudden, yet glorious bass thrust of “Eidolon & Perispirit”. Boom, there goes my cochlea.

So may not be exactly the correct band to fill my hole (just yet), but I’ve had such fun discovering what musical characteristics I need to be looking out for now that I look forward to discovering many more holes in the future.

Also online (with samples) at The NewReview = http://thenewreview.net/reviews/junius-reports-from-the-threshold-of-death

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