Junius - The Martyrdom of a Catrastophist (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The Martyrdom of a Catrastophist (2009)

The Mylene Sheath

Among all its nuances, thematic strive and sonically encompassing qualities, it makes sense that Junius' first proper full-length, The Martyrdom of a Catastrophist, took 16 months to create and another four to actually release. But for all its grandiose lyrics and sometimes overreaching scope, it's a very strong and very engrossing release that's largely worth the wait any cult post-rock fans had been lulling through.

Catastrophist is more or less a logical extension of the band's earlier releases, which took up the mildly poppier, droning side of '80s post-punk and pushed it to post-rock extravagance. You could tell that the Cure's Pornography was probably heavy in these guys' rotation (maybe Closer or Unknown Pleasures as well), but early Godspeed records had to have weaseled their way in there, too. But Catastrophist touches that up with greater musicality and production, along with a more evident infatuation with Tears for Fears -- seriously. Junius' lead vocalist, Joseph E. Martinez, has a tortured howl that somehow broods with an aggressive push, and it's just oddly similar to TFF's Roland Orzabal. And the band readily cop to it, having admitted on their MySpace page at one point that band's first record, The Hurting, as a major influence.

But even with all this frank love and affection for the greater critical darlings of new wave, there's a musical drive and pacing to the album that's rather absorbing, as well as noticeable overarching themes. Nature-ous elements have always played to the band's sound either lyrically or musically (think Thrice's The Alchemy Index) and it's no different here. The TFF worship is really turned up for moments like the chorus in "A Dramatist Plays Catastrophist," but that track's actually a standout with its shouted mix of angst and philosophy, and it tends to the band's elemental habits all the same ("We are fire in form, / and I want to make myself, / make myself, / rise up, / rise up and fall").

Speaking of philosophy, this album was inspired by the life's work and theories of Immanuel Velikovsky, an apparent scholar whose books garnered wild controversy about its theories regarding the earth's place in planetary order and astronomical structure. Definitely heady material to put to tape, as much as Junius' various climaxes and haunting, full-bodied tides don't necessarily seem to aurally replicate planetary catastrophes.

While The Marytrdom of a Catastrophist manages to maintain a pretty stable level of interest through its course with a few higher peaks here and there, there's just a little something missing from it to be totally devastating. Definitely an immersing debut all the same.

The Martyrdom of a Catrastophist