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Junius Reports from the Threshold of Death

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Junius - Reports from the Threshold of Death
01. Betray The Grave
02. All Shall Float
03. Dance on Blood
04. A Universe Without Stars
05. Haunts for Love
06. The Meeting of Pasts
07. (Spirit Guidance)
08. A Reflection on Fire
09. Transcend the Ghost
10. Eidolon & Perispirit
Reviewed by: David Keevill   //   Published: 11/13/2011

Riding on a wave of acclaim from their last album, 2009's The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist, and perpetuated by the likes of music uber 'intellectuals' Pitchfork who shot their load at what they thought was the first intelligent metal band they've ever heard, Junius found credit for this esoteric and innovative offering. With their latest release, Reports from the Threshold of Death, Junius have walked a similarly obscure line, as the album titles suggests, and are choosing to tackle the dense subject matter that is near death experiences. The tone of the album, although hypothetical ("Can you explain, why your whole life, is lying down on this shore line") maintains a tone of authority across such a speculative subject. With this in mind, it's difficult to separate Junius from the feeling that, with all this high praise, they've succumbed to their own over-inflated egos in speaking so confidently on such a challenging topic.

However, ignoring all the heaped and sycophantic chatter of 'reinvigorated darkwave' music and 'Smiths gone metal' bullshit, there's a lot to be found here that amounts to a decent musical offering. Sound-wise, Junius have harnessed a very Deftones 'Saturday Night Wrist' era tone that truly evokes the roiling depth and immersion of their subject matter; beginning to end, Reports… pitches the listener into swirling synths, Gregorian chants and distorted guitars, overlaid by clean and provocative vocals. Lyrically this is a very challenging album; it's not just that this is clearly a difficult and emotive subject to have taken by the horns, but the fact that it's addressed in such a direct way, "leaving life behind, drawn into the night" ("A Universe Without Stars") leaves you at a bit of a crossroads. Whereas the music immerses you in an atmospheric bubble, the lyrics drag you very much into real life and secularise what could have been so ethereal. Junius aim for the stars, but fall back to earth fairly rapidly.

When Reports… is good though, it's great. There is an epic, overwhelming sound here that comes to the fore on songs like "A Universe Without Stars" and "The Meeting of Pasts," and only occasionally wanders into monotony. Lyrically and vocally, Junius are best when they level their vision a little more earthward; "Haunts for Love" is almost harrowing as it pitches at the absolute devastation of real loss, "I don't want to review my life…it just kills me over and over again." There is no doubt that at points in the making on this record, Junius have flicked introspectively through their lives and used the emotional outpourings to their benefit; during moments like this, the record becomes crushing, even if, at any point, the sound only skirts around the peripheries of metal.

Bottom Line: All in all, Reports… is bold beyond belief and at points achieves what it sets out to do. Although not every second is a convincing reminder of our own mortality, there is something about the transition between life and death that Junius has captured. Significantly, they're strongest when they focus on loss as opposed to hypothetical meanderings about the afterlife, and this is abundantly clear here. However, come for the album and stay for the sound as there is beauty, fury and despair to be found here by the bucket-load, proving that mortality isn't all doom and gloom.

Comments
anonymous   posted 8/10/2013 9:04:08 PM
a little late to the party but this album is very good and occasionally brilliant. "transcend the ghost" is one of the best songs I've ever heard.
Costanzig   posted 1/5/2012 1:10:19 PM
^ nope
HBDad   posted 12/6/2011 2:04:35 PM
I really like the first two songs (especially the 2nd one). After that, its starts getting a little monotonous.
anonymous   posted 12/5/2011 5:07:59 PM
first