Reports from the Threshold of Death

Prosthetic (2011) Sarah

Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death cover artwork
Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death — Prosthetic, 2011

I will say this: Junius' newest album Reports from the Threshold of Death is certainly a unique release. But that's really the totality of positive things I have to say about it. Believe me, I really want to like this album. And, to their credit, Junius certainly do a lot of things that entice my interest. But here's the issue: the band only seem to have a handful of tricks. And when they repeat them over and over without variation, the result is rather muddy and unappealing album where all of the songs sound exactly the same.

The vocals have a haunting, eerie, almost obtuse indirectness to them that's both confusing and compelling to listen to; guitarist Joseph Martinez seems to want to do everything in his power he can to avoid resolving his vocal melodies to an easily agreeable note. However, while interesting from a musical standpoint, he inadvertently creates a mood of being perpetually dragged along by the music without exactly arriving anywhere, which culminates in immense frustration when it goes on for the entire album. The pieces all have an empty spaciness to them that does create a massively emotional and overwhelming feeling, a sound I normally enjoy. But none of the pieces do anything different at all. They all start to sound pretty much the same after one or two listens, the entire album flowing from one track to the next without any real indication that each piece of music is actually distinct.

Forgive me; I misspoke there. There is a very firm and clear indication when a piece ends. Rather than resolving or finishing in a satisfying manner, most of the songs just seem to stop, as if the band had just run out of music and said "fuck it, we'll just end it right here". That's not ending a piece of music. That's leaving your listeners with an intense, unsatiated desire for resolution (which, now that I think about it, is exactly the same thing the vocal lines are doing). Sure, a lack of resolution can be used in Western music to subvert audience expectations and invoke certain feelings of loss or unhappiness. But when it happens for every single song on the album, I start to wonder if it's just happening to piss me off. Oh sure, I still enjoyed some of the songs on this album. But when I looked back over my notes, I saw they were all of the songs in the beginning of the album. You know, before everything became repeated just a bit too often.

This album pisses me off because I want to like it. And by all means I should like it. But no matter how I try, I just can't get myself to do it. It's a unique and original sound, and I applaud that, but the band just doesn't have the creativity or diversity in the rest of their sound to support themselves over a full-length release. I would've loved this if it had just been the first couple songs as an EP. And, in fact, their split release with Rosetta from last year was one of my favourite releases. But for a full album, there just has to be more going on, and Junius just don't deliver in that regard.

3.5 / 10Sarah • March 26, 2012

See also

Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death cover artwork
Junius – Reports from the Threshold of Death — Prosthetic, 2011

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