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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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4 stars Crushed by the Limits of Sound

Junius' 2011 full-length album Reports From the Threshold of Death has become one of my favourite albums of all time recently. Junius, instead of trying to create a varied and changing album, instead tried to hone in on one particular sound, and attempt to perfect it. And to be honest, I think they did. The sound on that album, known now as 'atmospheric rock', existed somewhere on the spectrum of alternative rock and doom metal, with melodic and accessible song structures, complimented with a delicious post-punk drum kit and some of the most pummeling guitars I have ever heard, it felt like nothing I had heard before.

Now we have their first proper release since then, a 26-minute EP, adorned with absolutely stunning artwork, and four new tracks. However, two of the tracks on this EP, "The Time of Perfect Virtue" and "A Day Dark With Night" have appeared on split releases previously, with Juarez in 2010 and Rosetta in 2011 respectively. So, this EP seems to be a sort of transition EP, giving a proper home to two older tracks, and releasing two new ones. We can assume then, that Junius will bring forward something more final and a bit longer in the near future, and Days of the Fallen Sun is simply a bridge between the two albums, something for the fans to consume while they're preparing something bigger. The sounds on Days of the Fallen Sun is basically the same as the sound we heard on Reports From The Threshold of Death ? dense and layered atmospheric rock. Although there are a couple of different sounds featured on this EP, for the most part, this is basically an annex from the previous album, and although I can enjoy that on this EP, I kind of hope Junius pushes further in a new direction on their next full- length, since another full album of this could get very tiring.

In terms of differences, we'll first notice that while nearly every song on Reports was in the range of 4-5 minutes, here, we haven't got a single one. From the four short ambient pieces, to the nearly 8-minute epic "A Day Dark With Night" and the short, but equally awesome "Battle In The Sky", this certainly shows Junius breaking their pattern a bit. The latter is certainly a bit of an experiment, a short, mostly instrumental piece, with some of the best (and heaviest) material Junius have done. It's a pretty pummeling track (even for them), and is one of the only tracks by them that could be classified as 'metal', as opposed to just 'really dense rock'. The track also features some distant harsh vocals that remind me a bit of the style Ihsahn has been using for his harsh vocals recently, and contains one of the best drum performances I've heard in a while. Unfortunately, the mid-section, which sounds like it could be great if done right, is destroyed a bit by the near-brickwalled production, to the point when I really can't make much out of it.

And now, I guess, to the similarities, and that certainly is one of the bad ones. I actually feel the brickwalling and loud production is even worse here than it was on Reports, and really does affect how you enjoy this, especially if you're listening in anything lower than 320. I understand that loud wall-of-sound production is a huge part of Junius' sound, but there are moments when they want to go from loud to louder, and the only way through is to smash any dynamic range into pieces, especially evident during the first few minutes of "A Day Dark With Night", when it tries to build up, but finds itself hitting the edge too often. The other part of this EP that I'm not too keen on is actually Joseph Martinez' vocal performance, although this doesn't really affect my enjoyment much. On this album many of his vocal lines feel a bit breathy and weakly delivered, or simply just weak vocal lines. On Reports, many of the vocal lines were huge and soaring, you'd want to sing them as loud as possible spoiler: click to read, but here, they take a backseat, and I'm left to focus my listening on the instrumentals. Again, I don't really think this is that much of a negative thing, but I feel it does mean I still prefer Reports to this.

But the instrumentals, once you get past the brickwalling and the difficulty of being able to hear anything, are truly awesome. Give it a good set of headphones and some concentration, and you can hear some really great parts. The strings underneath the opening riffs of "Battle in the Sky" are a highlight, as well as the subtle triplets on the drumming, and the brilliant National- esque post-punk kit sounds. We get plenty of tremolo and reverb here, but one of my favourite parts is after the post-rock break in opener "The Time of Perfect Virtue", with the drums and bass riding up in a paced and tense mood, lifting up before one of the biggest choruses these guys have done. Instrumentally, the final chorus here is absolutely massive, but I really am left wanting a bit more epic in the vocals here.

Days of the Fallen Sun is a good little EP, showing Junius doing a couple of different takes on the style they had with Reports From the Threshold of Death, but I do feel they should move somewhere new for their next album, since the effect of turning up the volume every few bars does get a bit tiring.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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