Here’s a little-known fact about Angry Metal Guy: we love triple LPs. There’s something to be said for the sheer audacity, the pretentiousness that goes into even thinking of releasing something so ludicrous. Such events, therefore, deserve our complete attention. This latest opus from Junius, Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light (or ERAL because I’m lazy), isn’t a triple LP, per se, but it is part three of a trilogy of conceptual albums, and that’s the next best thing. Three concept albums of emo-tinged post-metal: what could possibly go wrong? And does ERAL leave our voracious triple-LP appetite sated, or are we left with a sour taste in our mouths?
This is Junius’ first full-length output in six years, since the second of the aforementioned trio of albums, Reports from the Threshold of Death, an album that cemented the band’s status as unique amongst post-metallers. Think of a cross between Neurosis and Tears for Fears, with the lyrics all based on the life and death of controversial theorist Immanuel Velikovsky, and you’ve got a good approximation of what the band has been all about on their first two albums. Here on ERAL the band doesn’t deviate much from the template, but there is one major difference: past records were written and performed by guitarists Mike Repasch-Nieves and Joseph Martinez. Repasch-Nieves has left Junius, though, leaving Martinez to write and perform the entire album on his own. So it’s kind of a solo album, this time based on the weird autobiography of Elisabeth Haich.
Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light is still a lush, sweeping soundscape, but with a decidedly sharper edge to it than Reports had, due in part one assumes to the departure of Repasch-Nieves. “March of the Samsara” fades in with a wall of synths and a tribal percussion before massive guitars and a propulsive beat make use of the full range of our speakers. When Martinez’ clean, artsy voice opens with “Awake again, breathe out, breathe in,” along with a wall of sound, we are transported into Haich’s odd story of past lives. The song, like many on ERAL, is nothing short of epic. “Beyond the Pale Society” continues with epic goodness and is Junius at their heaviest, even opening with a brief blastbeat and feedback-drenched guitar near the end, while “A Mass for Metaphysicians” and “Clean the Beast” are eerily, hypnotically heavy, the latter with screamed choruses courtesy Circle Takes the Square’s Drew Speziale.
One other note that sets Junius apart from many of their post-metal brethren is the relative succinctness of their compositions. The ten songs on ERAL clock in at a mere 46 minutes, which in post-metal terms is short. At just over six minutes, album closer, the menacing “Black Sarcophagus” is the longest song here. None overstay their welcome, although the proceedings do tend to lag a bit. Compared to the rest of the album, the three songs prior to “Black Sarcophagus” are the weakest; morose and moody rather than epic and challenging. They’re a bit of a buzzkill after the fantastic first two-thirds of the album. An optimist would say they let us catch our breath prior to the climactic ending, whereas a pessimist would say “meh.”
Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light is the perfect capstone to Junius’ epic trilogy and earns the Angry Metal Guy Triple LP Seal of Approval1. It carries the band’s sound one step further into aggressive territory while maintaining their trademark melodic approach to post-metal. ERAL features massive wall-of-sound production, but with the frequencies of all the instruments properly adjusted so as not to exhaust the listener. The songs are arranged beautifully, and aside from the lull in the back-half of the record, this is top-notch artful, menacing post-metal with retro new wave vocals that is easy to listen to over and over.