Album Review: “Reports From The Threshold Of Death” by Junius

Post-metal is one of the most surprisingly broad genres of music that I’ve found. For the purposes of this discussion, I’ll define post-metal as heavy music, working within a metal paradigm, that places great emphasis on unconventional song structures, loud-soft dynamics, and musical atmosphere (as opposed to riff/lead-based music). With this definition, bands as disparate as Oceansize, Horseback, and Battle Of Mice fall under the umbrella of post-metal. Howeer, to me, what really differentiates post-metal from other genres of metal is the measured precision with which the music is composed. Indeed,  Aaron Turner of the legendary post-metal band Isis encapsulated this idea nicely when he termed the style as ‘thinking-man’s metal.’ The end point of this discussion is this: that it requires a good amount of patience and desire to really appreciate music like this.

So how does this discussion apply to Reports From The Threshold Of Death, the new album by art rockers Junius? Clearly this band is influenced by that spacey brand of heavy music, but it’s tough to see exactly to what extent they can be called post-metal. On one hand, their instrumentals seem to be heavily informed by metal bands like The Ocean or Cult Of Luna; the chord progressions and clean vocals definitely draw upon that sort of emphasis on atmosphere. Yet at the same time, their music contains some not-so-subtle hints of more mainstream influence – I’d go so far as to suggest that lead singer Joseph Martinez sounds just like Chris Martin of Coldplay infamy (listen to the beginning of track 10 to be convinced). Additionally, their music utilizes synthesizers in the same way that Muse did in some of their earlier works. Nonetheless, I believe that the heavy attack of the guitars and drums that runs throughout the album decisively places Junius within the post-metal paradigm.

Consider “All Shall Float,” the second track on the album. The track greets us with a post-metal groove in 3/4 time, which serves to give it a lively, bouncy feel. Then, the song kicks into a more standard 4/4 meter when the vocals and synthesizer enter. The vocals are deep in the mix during this song; they’re more like another instrument than anything else. The verse contains an understated synthesizer melody that reminds me of the song “Space Dementia” off of Muse’s 2001 record Origin Of Symmetry. “All Shall Float” is a playful song, as it bounces between the lighter verses with multiple synthesizers (the Muse melody and an underlying pad that pervades the majority of the song) and the heavier, more intense choruses.

This song, interestingly enough, provides all the evidence I need to support my observations. Junius clearly work within the post-metal style. They ground their music in a recognizable style solidly yet avoid getting tied down in the tropes of the genre. Notice that there’s not a single harsh vocal on the album – growling and screaming are usually found in post-metal. Clearly harsh vocals don’t suit their purpose. I also love that the band are adventurous enough to integrate sounds far outside the world of metal – I’ve discussed some of these above. In short, Reports From The Threshold Of Death is eclectic – something that I believe a lot of metal music doesn’t really strive for. For that reason, I enjoyed the album and consider it a contender for best record of 2011.

If you want to find more information about Junius, you can check them out on Facebook.

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About Ryan Felder

My name is Ryan. I like music. On this blog, I post the setlists for my radio show, Art For Art's Sake, as well as reviews of the latest new independent music and a Song Of The Week, every week. You can listen to my radio show on 90.3 The Core, an independent student-run college radio station broadcasting from Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. My show runs Thursday nights from 12am-2am and streams live on the internet at Thecore.fm. View all posts by Ryan Felder

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