Junius began their career (destined to be illustrious if they keep it up) garnering lots of acclaim thanks to their atmospheric, spacy new wave / shoegazey-y amalgation and boldened, metallic edge; there's also their stunning live show, of course. However, at the most recent stage of this jumpy career trajectory the band have leaned closer to Cave In and Isis rather than My Bloody Valentine and the Cure, and in absolutely epic form. Best yet, this transition the Boston act is taking shows that when you have the right personnel and developed talent, it's an all-too-easy task.
The first of these two releases we'll look at is the aptly titled Junius, which was freshly released in October and compiles an EP each from 2005 and 2006: Forcing Out the Silence and Blood Is Bright, respectively, and in that order on the album, remastered to boot.
After a brief instrumental intro, the immediate standout comes in the form of "Hiding Knives." There's little room to breathe here -- it's choking, it's stifling, and it's wonderful. Lead vocalist/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez sounds spookily like Robert Smith, moreso here than the entire disc (except maybe "Forcing Out the Silence"), but he nails the man's fragility and the band actually spice up the gripping chorus with that distinct, sharp, quasi-squealing guitar tone from Cave In's Jupiter and Isis' Panopticon. "From the Isle of the Blessed" is given a jolt by desperate, low-mixed screams, and the title track ends the first half in a tastefully dramatic fashion.
On Blood Is Bright, the band seem to play things a bit more low-key. Things are a little less immediately dynamic, and Martinez sounds a bit more like Ian Curtis (check out the first half of the title track). The band spend less time thrusting forward a sudden shift in soft-loud, rather taking their time to build things to climactic proportions. Offered in "A Word Could Kill Her" are soothing, sauntering "ohhhhh"s and sharp screams in the pulsating, pounding and varied song, one of the EP's best. Overall, Blood Is Bright is a different approach than the aptly titled Forcing Out the Silence, but one that results in a similar and just as impressive sound.
What's key here is that on Junius, the band tend to do all this to their songs in four minutes' time. The Fires of Antediluvia, a 2-song 7" giving us the band's newest material in over a year and a half, changes all that. It spans 14 minutes long, showing that the fruition of Junius' ambitions have come to epic performances that largely eschew any and all of their old `80s / early `90s new wave and shoegaze influences. Instead, this pair pf songs seem to place Junius in a class with peers like Pelican, Russian Circles and Red Sparowes -- except Junius is the weird kid who can speak, of course. The title track ranks up there with the band's best material, a fluid and seven-minute collision; the B-side offers half subduedness and half a loud, booming closing. Both songs deliver carefully sung/muttered vocals in a delivery that escapes any immediate comparisons. On a lighter note, I find it sort of amusing that the 7" was pressed on five different colors based on "the elements" (earth, water, fire, air, aether). Funny...isn't another follower of Isis and Cave In currently in the midst of an elements-based project? Maybe I'm just crazy...
Where Junius goes next seems to be in the vein of Fires, and if so, they should definitely be capturing the same press attention Pelican's been receiving for a few years now (for better or worse).
STREAM [related songs]
Hiding Knives [edit, original master]
A Word Could Kill Her [original master]
At the Age of Decay [edit, original master]
The Fires of Antediluvia [live version]