Atmospheric post-rock/metal shoegaze? A genre discussion about this band would be fruitless.
Junius has been on the metal music radar for awhile now, and it’s starting to make a lot more sense with this release. The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist, their debut, was largely an art-rock offering, then they shifted into a (very good) Deftones clone on Reports from the Threshold of Death. Now, with the third album in the trilogy, they have embraced their heaviest material and made a whole album with it. I’m certainly not complaining about this move, and I think it will please many of you as well.
Joseph Martinez has a knack for making you feel exactly what he wants you to feel. The opening song starts with a great riff that eventually weaves in a melodic discordance that is unnerving and foreboding, which ends up being the sense of dread that you feel on and off throughout the runtime. The counterpart to this dread is an ethereal shoegaze reminiscent of Alcest. Speaking of, I should probably mention the coincidence of the eastern influences, as Alcest’s recent album was largely Japanese themed. Discernable Eastern sounds (I had to take a world music class at one point, so I should be able to explain in more detail the scales and awesome stringed instruments they use, but alas, my memory has a few faulty circuits) are used sporadically, making their presence felt but never becoming a distraction, except maybe on “Telepaths and Pyramids”, where there is some throat chanting and a melody that sounds a little too stereotypical.
“Mass for Metaphysicians”, and “Clean the Beast” to a lesser extent, are so close to being Leprous songs that I wouldn’t be surprised if Einar Solberg searched his hard drive to see if they were songs he forgot about. As a huge Leprous fan, these two songs are probably my favorites. Even bringing in some harsh vocals, these songs are the sweet spot for us metal fans; that is if you don’t mind a little bit of a chug riff when it’s done well. The electronic atmospheric work really brings home the meditative tone that Eternal was going for. I especially enjoyed falling into the arpeggiated hypnosis brought on by the intro of “The Queen’s Constellation.“
The first few minutes of closer “Black Sarcophagus” had me thinking that they ruined the album. Conceptually, it just couldn’t end on a slow introspective song. Exiting samsara had to lead to something epic, and for far too long, Junius made me think the whole concept was bullshit; we die, get reborn, and die again, never to leave the circle of endless suffering. I was ready to throw a 1 out of 5 toilets at this review. But then, out of nowhere, the perfect cathartic riff really brings it together right at the end.
Many will still probably consider Reports from the Threshold of Death as their magnum opus, which is perfectly acceptable because if you like the style, the songs are really spectacular. However, this new more progressive route is far more pleasing to my ears. More interesting, no doubt. A few songs let me down, but there’s far more good than bad.
Eternal is out this Friday via Prosthetic Records.