Eternal Rituals For the Accretion of Light – Vinyl / CD / DD
Prosthetic Records – Release Date: March 3rd 2017
I’ve most likely stated before that it’s impossible to hear every single album ever within the course of one’s lifetime. If I haven’t put forth that less-than-bold proclamation prior, straight from my personal manifesto, I’m glad that we’re remedying the situation right now. I feel it is a really pertinent point that comes up quite often in my mundane, so-called life. All too frequently in conversation, someone mentions a song, album or artist, and it’s completely off my sonic sonar. The people in the conversation are taken aback that I’m not faintly familiar with that of which they so intimately speak. Often even, something that’s been repeatedly suggested to me as an obscure, long-lost holy grail album or just something that I’m going to completely dig on with my wig on, I’ve added it to the growing mental bucket list of cool shit to check out, and just never gotten around to following up. Either way, this inevitably leads to confusion, disbelief, hostility, malevolence and outright violence in close conjunction with the aforementioned conversations: all things that I’d rather avoid if at all possible.
Believe it or not, this does directly relate to my so-called relationship with the band Junius. I had never heard of them until quite recently. I discovered them through a happy accident involving chlorine bleach and ammonia, among other household chemicals. I have the bomb squad and the poison control center on speed dial for times like this when my MacGyver moments go horribly wrong.
Okay….none of that is true, but it would be a whole lot cooler if it were.
I stumbled upon Junius when I was checking out the lineup for the Roadburn Festival a few years back, and gazing upon that glorious lineup, I noticed two things: that the bands were getting more and more diverse, and that I had never heard of a good many of them. Wait for it….because it’s impossible for me to hear every band in my lifetime. For some odd reason, I had an immediate impulse to take some action right then and there. I decided to investigate some of these bands. Looking at the list, I picked Junius out of the crowd because it sounded like a cool name for a band, and I simply Googled them. The Googles told me many things. Lo and behold, they’d been around since 2003, and they were from Boston, Massachusetts, where I often attended shows yet had never seen nor heard of them. The Googles also told me that they apparently sounded like a cross between The Smiths and Neurosis, which sounded friggin’ cool enough to peak my interest and intrigue my eardrums. I checked out their debut album, The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist, and I was suitably blown away enough to immediately order it on shiny golden vinyl. Thus began my love affair with Junius. Indeed, there was much to love and adore: the moody yet romantic goth-inspired croonings of singer/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez, the heavy guitar riffs interlaced with pulsing keyboards and throbbing rhythms, just all the right elements that combine the gloomy aesthetic of post-punk with the forward thinking intellectualism of post-rock.
The next step in our relationship was obvious: I needed to check out their second full length, the beguilingly titled Reports From The Threshold of Death. It expanded upon the strengths of the debut and also showed more depth and diversity in songwriting and influence. I was even further enamored, and took to bringing their various LP’s to bed with me, much to either the chagrin or delight of my other romantic partners. Fast forward to January 2016, when Junius announced they were working on a third album, and I prepared myself for yet another stage of our ongoing tryst. Now here we are on the eve of that album’s arrival, entitled Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light. I can confidently state that this is my favorite Junius album, and when the vinyl is available, I will certainly be indulging in more ways than one.
For me, this album is their high point of artistry: every song just oozes with vividly oppressive, looming darkness, yet never gets bogged down in tangible malice or mere nihilism because of the music’s over-arching transcendent themes, intensely introspective lyrics, and ever-present haunting melodic fancies. From the opening synth swells and tribal drums to the final hypnotic reverberated chants, the album is just a tour de force trip through the dizzying depths of human emotion. The moody, longing key shifts of the first track, “March Of The Samsara,” sounds like Hum on a serious and prolonged Joy Division bender with its constant layering and interplay of guitar and keyboard, while the second song, “Beyond The Pale Society” starts off with more frenetic rhythms and urgent textures before settling into a stoic new wave template and climaxing with a soaring, anthemic chorus. The third song, “A Mass For Metaphysicians”, features lushly alluring croons leading eventually to more aggressive vocal shouts, and when these are combined with the constant barrage of down-tuned guitar chords, it’s heavily reminiscent of the Deftones’ finest alt-metal moments.
The fourth song, “Clean The Beast”, continues in the tradition of the last, and has the album’s most extreme vocals juxtaposed with clever octave guitar licks and slices of keyboard bliss. “All That Is, Is Of The One” is a short ambient interlude that gives some breathing room before the arpeggiated introduction of “The Queen’s Constellation”, a clever and catchy synth part that thematically repeats itself throughout the course of the tune. This song has quite a number of twists and turns, and it’s a highlight for me personally. “Telepaths And Pyramids” is up next, a more sullen and subdued affair that places brilliantly layered keyboards and vocals at the forefront, and spaciously uses the guitars and rhythm section more for emphasis. “Masquerade In Veils” is another high point, a shorter, mostly acoustic number with monotone goth rock vocals delivered in a gloomy baritone. A more upbeat affair, “Heresy Of The Free Spirit” is the ninth track. It’s a song that makes great usage of repetition, drilling particular melodies and vocal lines into the listener’s eager brain. The closer, “Black Sarcophagus” is another of my favorite songs from the album. It begins with a slow burning meditation of sound that builds with each passage, gradually peaking with an awesome crescendo of bleak guitar repetitions, drums, synthesizer drones and eerie chants.
This is a serious early contender for my album of the year. I can really appreciate what this band is doing in terms of a sweeping, grandiose artistic vision; their reverent attention to detail is startling and inspiring. Although they’re obviously drawing on elements and influences from past decades, Junius are ambitious and innovative. This is a release well worth checking out in my opinion, as it’s not the run of the mill rock or metal coming out these days. It’s an intelligent and forward thinking amalgam of diverse influence that brings vibrant color to even the darkest of pallets. Perhaps there’s a very good reason for this. Rather than copying the styles of whatever heavy music trend is currently in vogue, then rushing to release albums and spending months on end touring, Junius have taken their time on crafting their unique sound and their albums, often first flushing out new ideas in the form of shorter EP’s, and they tour only sparsely. I know that the conventional wisdom is that a band needs to release an album every two years and spend at least 300 days of one of those years touring to support said album if they want to be “successful.” Sure, there are bands that do that, and I’m not trying to take anything away from them. However, in my mind, there’s a big different between a successful band and a successful artist.
Reviewed by Andy “Ding TopUp” Beresky