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Junius - Days of the Fallen Sun CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

4.03 | 9 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Days of the Fallen Sun' - Junius (8/10)

I was first introduced to the art of Junius at the close of 2011. The Swedish spooksters in Ghost had been trumped by some unfortunate Visa issues and forced to step down on a tour opening for Enslaved and Alcest. Although part of me had been excited to see Ghost perform, I kept an open mind when Junius were announced as their replacement; after all, I figured there had to be a reason they had been chosen to fill the gap. By the end of their short set, I wasn't just sold on them, I was hooked; they were, in a word, amazing, and still stand as one of the best openers I've ever seen perform. While their sharp musicianship and atmospheric style took them to some great lengths in my book, it was their tight craft of songwriting that made them stand out to me. That same strength is a large part of what makes Days of the Fallen Sun such a success. In spite of its length, Junius have forged a deeply felt and ambitious epic that comes off as being much more than the sum of its parts. Don't make the mistake of underestimating Days of the Fallen Sun as an EP; it's arguably the most powerful thing the band have done so far.

I've seen Junius called everything from atmospheric sludge metal to post-punk to modern prog, depressive rock and post-rock. All of these are true to varying degrees, but Junius have always reminded me most of Katatonia, particularly Night is the New Day. Although they're enormously melodic and atmospheric, Junius have the crushing distortion and heaviness of many a post-metal heavyweight, like Neurosis. This fusion of opposites has made for an excellent foundation for melancholy, and while I'm sure some will argue about what genre they supposedly belong to, rest assured that the style suits the mood perfectly. Days of the Fallen Sun seems conscious of this dichotomy of style; while the four 'main' songs emphasize driving energy and distortion, their corresponding interludes each highlight their apocalyptic atmosphere. Even at their heaviest, Junius conjure thick waves of ambiance, and it may have proven to sound cluttered, had the band not such a firm grip of their sound by this point.

Junius have written these songs with this question of atmosphere taken into consideration. Although there's no cost to the band's considerable intensity and momentum, the guitars restrain themselves from many of the perks they usually have in rock music. Instead of conventionally sculpted riffs, the guitars work primarily in driving rhythms; instead of solos, there are ambient textures. This might sound boring on paper, but it's a clever and ultimately necessary way to accommodate everything Junius wants to have in their sound. Most often, the finishing touches are delegated to the synths, which are used to create a distinctly apocalyptic atmosphere, keeping in line with the music's darker tone. Rest assured, there is more than enough interesting instrumentation to compensate for the perceived sacrifices. To solidify Junius' strength of style, Joseph Martinez's vocals sound like they were bred specifically to match the band's sound. His delivery is infectiously brooding and carries weight and dynamic enough to make the heaviest and lightest moments of his performance shine in equal measure. The brilliance of Junius' songwriting ultimately lies in that it is able to capitalize on the vocals' proficiency with melody, all the while making the arrangements sound larger than life. Even if only the album's highlight "A Day Dark With Night" has anything remotely close to a 'longer length', the music gives the constant impression that you're listening to something of a much greater scope.

With this ambitious level of arrangement in mind, it was a clever move for Junius to space out the tracks with interludes. The interludes by themselves aren't much to speak of, but they do manage to hit a sweetspot between unassuming ambiance and textural complexity. Although the faux-choral "(Nothingness)" is a mite less impressive than the other three, the interludes add welcome atmospheric padding that make the album feel significantly more expansive than had the four songs been left on their own. The soft noise and mellotron arrangements might slip right past an inattentive listener, but they offer a respite from the main course. It's a small thing to have added these interludes, but it really works in the EP's favour. While they have always been great songwriters, Junius' albums have suffered uneven flow in spots, and it's in this department where Days of the Fallen Sun stakes its claim as the band's brightest chapter. The four songs are clearly defined, but the pacing might allow the EP to be swallowed as a single suite. This sort of successful flow is rarely found in full lengths, let alone EPs.

Days of the Fallen Sun has gotten me excited for the prospect that we might hear this sort of tightness and mastery of structure on a full-length from Junius someday soon. Perhaps it's more to my own discredit as a listener and attempted critic, but my greatest frustration with the EP is simply that I'm left wanting more. Although Junius are drawing from a relatively narrow palette of ambiance, melancholy and depression-fed melody, each of the songs here feels memorable unto itself. I will eagerly anticipate Junius' next move; if they improve their skills any farther, we'll be looking at a potential masterpiece for their third full-length. So, what are you waiting for, Junius? Greatness awaits!


Review originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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