Reports from the Threshold of Death (Prosthetic)
Very few bands can claim to have innovated their own style of metal. Others will borrow from existing styles in a unique and fresh way to craft their own well developed path. JUNIUS fall into the latter category. A foil for for their many influences be it space rock, sludge, post-metal and goth rock the band has channeled this energy into some terrific releases. Reports from the Threshold of Death is a companion of sorts to their last full length The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist and a concept album. Following their own path undaunted by changes in the scenes around them, the band has put out another masterwork that will no doubt vie for a spot on many best of year end lists. As this album proves again the form of “progressive metal” can take many shapes and forms. The unique and trippy art work was created by Ira Bronson for Black Day Creative.
From the first notes of “Betray the Grave” JUNIUS takes us on a trip to the center of our collective unconscious. Singer/guitarist Joesph E. Martinez and his haunting tenor rings like a church steeple bell, loud and true. The technicolor blur of the droning guitars and keyboards (also by Martinez) transports the listener to another reality. Despite the dour pop inflection of all of the songs the subject matter is weighty to say the least. Focusing on death it’s context to our lives the album recounts the millstones that hang around all our necks for the time we are here. “All Shall Float” is like hearing a cathartic dream-scape in your head and then waking up after being startled. Martinez uses his lower vocal register to impart a seriousness that implores us to take heed. His ability to convey the context of his obtuse lyrics so you feel what he is feeling is rarely equaled in music. The sing a long “la-la-la” part in the middle that is so peaceful and transcendent is followed by stabbing riffs. In this way the song is beautiful and crushing all at once which is the essence of the JUNIUS sound. Drummer Dana Filloon is a master at laying back when he needs to and then switching it up and smashing for full effect. “Dance on Blood” is another heartfelt song full of melodic wonder and brooding heaviness. Although Martinez’s moody croon has been compared to many singers, I’m going to toss out a comparison not mentioned yet: Simon LeBon of DURAN DURAN. Since LeBon is one of the best melodic pop singers ever, this is quite a praise worthy sonic likeness if you ask me. The chorus of this track alone is just about the top moment of the entire album. “A Universe Without Stars” is reminiscent of late era PINK FLOYD with sequencer like precision synths and a heaping amount of vocal melody. The rave up middle section gives a nice change of pace to the rest of the album and proves the band can rage when they want to. “Haunts For Love” sounds almost pastoral with singing that sound like it beamed down to a transporter room. There is a subtle urgency flowing through this track and its shows up in the tasteful bass lines of Joel Munguia and Filloon’s syncopated rhythms. Although considerable praise is heaped upon the front man of JUNIUS, a guy like guitarist Michael Repasch-Nieves is indispensable for what he adds to parts of every song. “The Meeting of Pasts” is another stellar cut, full of power and passion. I hear a lot of similarities in this track to the White Pony-era by THE DEFTONES and I wonder if there isn’t some influence there as well. It could be that both bands share a love of 1980′s Gothic pop songs that were sweet and dour together. Other possible nods could also come from MY BLOODY VALENTINE, A PERFECT CIRCLE and TOOL. After the FLOYD-ian interlude of “(Spirit Guidance)” “A Reflection of Fire” shimmers and hums with another magical revere-drenched part. “Transcend the Ghost” advances the story to is climax where we gain acceptance and understanding over our eventual demise. As you would imagine the song provides a much needed release from the weight of the rest of the album. “Eidolon and Perispirit” brings this heady piece to a close with an airy resolve. The track is a wash in crushing, slow beats and more slick keyboard work. Very wise to leave the hardest track on the album for last as well as a musical device. Simply stunning!
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes