Junius The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist
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01. Birth Rites by Torchlight
02. The Antediluvian Fire
03. (Turning to the Spirits of the Hours...)
04. A Dramatist Plays Catastrophist
05. Ten Year Librarian
06. Stargazers & Gravediggers
07. (...He Fell Before Her)
08. Elisheva, I Love You
09. Letters from Saint Angelica
10. The Mourning Eulogy
Reviewed by: Nick
// Published: 2/2/2010
There's no denying it. Junius has been quite the tease. After roughly five years of existence (2004 to present), the band had only two EPs and a short run vinyl release to their name, but due to the fact that this relatively small collection of recordings was both beautifully executed and intelligent, they still managed to hook a dedicated faction of listeners. A sonically monstrous live show anchored by a moody DIY light show and stellar musicianship didn't hurt either. So it's a natural reaction for listeners to have spent a bit of time wondering when a proper album was going to surface.
But fault the band we should not. It turns out that The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist has been incubating for years in one shape or another. Written in 2006, its completion was delayed by a piece-by-piece, cross-country recording process that strung itself along far longer than the standard time frame. And the delay was well worth it, as I can think of very few albums that are capable of stacking up to this record's masterful display of fine-tuned vision, both in its instrumental cohesiveness and thematic content.
Musically, the band has further perfected their sound that blends the heavy space rock of the likes of Cave In and Hum with sweeping post-rock structures and dynamics, all anchored by the brooding vocals of frontman Joseph Martinez. "Ten Year Librarian" ebbs and flows past the eight minute mark, swelling from a soft ambient beginning to healthy doses of reverb-soaked guitar work and the anthemic line "We are so curious / We are the fault in all we know." "The Antediluvian Fire" has an even stronger instrumental focus, using prominent bass lines to drive the track beneath walls of tremolo-ing guitars. "Elisheva, I Love You" is one of the more straightforward offerings, but with tremendously catchy vocal hooks coming from Martinez's pipes, it is perhaps the most memorable.
All of this is supported with a conceptual backbone revolving around the beliefs of Immanuel Velikovsky, a 20th century scholar responsible for controversial (and extremely interesting) views on ancient history. Actual quotes from an interview with Velikovsky are scattered throughout The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist to further its cohesive, dark feel. The idea of the concept album in the independent music world is a fairly common occurrence and although it's easy to feel a little jaded as it is recklessly utilized (and frequently bastardized) by so many, it's also easy to recognize that what Junius has produced here is light years ahead of the pack.
Rarely does a band simultaneously challenge boundaries and expectations in both instrumentation and lyrical content. It may have taken this record a few years to surface, but rest assured -- we're all better for it.
Bottom Line: Throw the rules out the window for this one. Junius' The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist is a brilliant example of dynamic rock fused with swelling, spacey soundscapes, all anchored by an intelligent lyrical foundation. This is highly recommended for those who dabble in everything from Cave In and Isis to My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division.
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