Album: Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light
Label: Prosthetic Records
Genre: Goth Metal, Post Metal
Country: United States
Release Date: March 3rd, 2017
Two things I have to confess as I head into this review: I am really starting to detest the term “Post Metal” because it really doesn’t define much of anything anymore (even though I grudgingly describe it as such up above). It seems a lazy out for people who can’t quite quantify a sound (when simply calling it “Metal” will do just fine). The second confession is that I have never listened to Junius prior to this, and the very album in question is the third part in a trilogy, so my judgment of this record will be about this recording and not how it relates to previous releases (although I will say, I’m going back to listen to them now because—spoiler alert!—I really liked this album).
So, onto the record. This is, as said above, the third and concluding part of a trilogy of albums that began with 2009’s “The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist” and also marks the first album without former member Mike Repasch-Nieves on guitar. This leaves founder Joseph E. Martinez all alone to record and perform this release. Here Martinez focuses his lyrical and musical content on inspirations drawn from Elisabeth Haich’s autobiography “Initiation”, touching on topics including karma, reincarnation and spiritual development. Much of the music is “soft” and full of melancholy, but there is plenty of heft to the album, with bits of Black Metal, Mastodon, and Gojira dotting the landscape.
“March of the Samsara” opens the album and it is a strong introduction for what is to come. The cosmic feel of the material is evident right away as celestial sounds fill the speakers before the crunching guitars, laced with ringing, chiming notes, crashes in. Plenty of keyboards here, but of the atmospheric kind, complement the sound, rounding it out. And then Martinez’s vocals come in and you can see why I called this “Goth Metal” at the beginning. His vocals definitely are a mix between Peter Murphy and some of the cleaner singing by Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride.
Next track “Beyond the Pale Society” blasts out all Black Metal before quickly settling into a melodic groove, the gothy vocals smoothing out the rough edges almost immediately. Plenty of melody here, and sadness, but not in a cloying way. Again, “goth” and “80’s” comes to mind for the sound. Martinez is working with an emotional palette here, pairing harshness with dark beauty, the song working its way back to Black Metal by the end.
Touches of Tool and A Perfect Circle, along with some Gojira-like bass bring the next track “A Mass for Metaphysicians” to life. Shimmering keyboards add to this mid-paced song as it plays out, accentuating the already gloomy and forlorn number. About 3:40 in we get a drop in sound as keyboards and percussion takes over for a bit, Martinez’s vocals adding soft resonance, before the song rumbles back to life with some heavy riffing. This song is a blueprint for all that Junius do so well: light and shade, shifting movements, intense emotion.
“Clean the Beast” carries on their sound, keeping the cohesion of the first few tracks together, rocking and being soft at the same time. “All That Is, Is of the One” follows, and it’s a brief instrumental, about a minute long, that provides a clean break with the first half of the record.
Reaching for the cosmos is “Queen’s Constellation,” with its celestial opening keyboard riff followed by a wall of sound of crunching guitars, atmospheric keyboards, and crashing drum cymbals. The key move to the fore here, but not in a bad way, as long as you’re not looking for Death Metal (and if you are looking for something heavier, you’ve long-since given upon this record, anyway). And as with most of the songs here, this one has peaks and valleys, ascending in power and dropping into melody throughout. Also like everything else on the record, this all happens in a tight, compact space, with no song being over six minutes long.
“Telepaths & Pyramids” is all drifting through space, staring into the darkness between the stars, realizing how big everything else is and how small exactly you are. Lots of Floyd in here, with the sonorous vocals adding dark flecks of goth. That Middle Eastern sound chimes in again towards the end, adding further flavor.
Acoustic song “Masquerade in Veils” continues the softening trend of the music that began with “Queen’s…” and continued through “Telepaths…” and this is where many will lose the album. This is a great song and the stark acoustic guitar sounds fantastic paired with Martinez’s exquisite voice, but for some boredom might set in. Another slow song on a side that appears to be a winding down of the journey rather than an amping up to a climax.
“Heresy of the Free Spirit” does not change course. Another “ballad,” if you will, but with plenty of guitars. This is mid-paced and yes, it does feature some crunch, but it’s all anesthetized, taking a back seat to the lyrics and singing and the keyboard melody. Not that this is bad at all, but for those wishing to rock out, even as much as you did on side one, you will be disappointed.
Closer “Black Sarcophagus” strums in on an acoustic guitar and tender, haunted vocals. It feels epic right away even though it is small of sound. Gradually the song builds, adding drums, strings, and the pace picks up. This continues until about four minutes in, when everything drops back down to the acoustic guitar for a small bit and then the guitars finally stomp in, although in a sedated manner. The album ends in an emotional, atmospheric swirl.
This release by Junius could sit quite proudly on a shelf next to Tiamat’s Wildhoney or any of the transitional albums Anathema and Katatonia made on their journey from pure metal into whatever else they became (Post Rock? Lol). There is stirring complexity here, as well as dark waves of goth and sensuousness, riding alongside the metal, creating a fusion of those disparate genres. This is an album that occupies a space between the gut and the heart, wearing its emotions on its sleeve but unafraid of its honesty. If you want ruminations, dark beauty, and plenty of melancholic melody, you’ve found a home.
1. March of the Samsara
2. Beyond the Pale Society
3. A Mass for Metaphysicians
4. Clean the Beasts
5. All That Is, Is of the One
6. The Queen’s Constellation
7. Telepaths & Pyramids
8. Masquerade in Veils
9. Heresy of the Free Spirit
10. Black Sarcophagus
Total Playing Time: 46:00