Junius - Days of the Fallen Sun | Review

Is it a bad thing to be stereotyped as full of big ideas? Junius approaches that line on Days of the Fallen Sun, a recent EP featuring two new songs, two (potential) re-recordings of older, hard-to-find tunes, four ambient synthesizer interludes, and a whole lot of catastrophism. Always a master of craft, the band grafts together huge choruses, mountains of reverb and some of its heaviest riffs to date here, never deviating from its path while still finding room to maneuver therein.

As it has on past releases like Martyrdom of a Catastrophist and Reports from the Threshold of Death, Junius tackles Big Concepts here, particularly those of disgraced scholar and theorist Immanuel Velikovsky, whose catastrophist interpretations of ancient history found him scorned by the scientific community. Esoteric though this may seem, his portentous writings about worlds in collision make for great metal lyrics: “we are the light / we are the fire,” he intones to end “Forgiving the Cleansing Meteor,” a song, appropriately, about accepting one’s inevitable negation by the universe. Joseph Martinez sells every word, and his natural feel for melody drives the band here, as it always has; though it would be hard to say it suffers per se, Days nonetheless feels like a slightly different record when his voice isn’t heard.

This is because Junius has never been a true metal band, though on “Battle in the Sky” it provides some of the heaviest riffs yet. Rather, in its amalgamation of goth, post-hardcore and sludge, the band serves as an exemplar of consonance in a scene obsessed with the dissonant. Previously released tracks “A Day Dark With Night” and “The Time of Perfect Virtue” favor full-bodied synths and crystalline guitars to head-pounding distortion, allowing Martinez’s voice the ability to duck and soar as need-be, never showing off and always in service of the track. This is perhaps best demonstrated on closer “Forgiving,” where he provides his own harmonies and counter-melodies, providing a wall of sound almost as formidable as that presented by the constantly-churning bass and multi-tracked snare drums. Even if his lyrics strike one as a little broad, he sells them with absolute conviction; by the end of Days, you’d have to be unnaturally confident not to fear death-by-meteor during your daily commute.

Unfortunately, Will Benoit’s production, while full-bodied and powerful, brickwalls the entire recording, and in doing so renders whatever nuances might have been heard absolutely invisible under the weight of each track. This is a minor complaint, but coupled with the poor-quality review copies distributed by Prosthetic, it gave me a headache initially. This has been resolved post-release, but a word to the wise: your music shouldn’t actively turn people away for any reason other than its content. And the songs here are damn good, with “Forgiving” absolutely among my favorite Junius tracks. Anything that takes away from that is, simply, unfortunate.

Rob Rubsam

Band info: www.juniusmusic.com
Label info: www.prostheticrecords.com

Rob Rubsam is a freelance writer and itinerant resident of Upstate New York. His writing about music has been published at CVLT Nation, Tom Tom Magazine, The Rumpus, Burning Ambulance, and others. When not contemplating giant squids or erecting a standing stone in his backyard, he tweets at @millenialistfun. Do not contact him with your black mass-related inquiries, please.