Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Junior Bruce - The Headless King

Life is hard, really hard. We are in the midst of a hurricane of energy. It is constantly sparking out and squeezing back to life. A morass of intricate gears crushing us as tensions and pressures are changing us into new beings, all the time. Most doomsters sense this, are already aware of life’s challenges and have reconciled their anger at the cosmos and channel it into (somewhat) short bursts of gloomy rage and glorious defeat.

The stoner-doom-metal genre is inhabited by ghosts and wraiths. In 2012 Junior Bruce drummer, Brett Tanner, succumbed to cancer. It must have been a particularly virulent strain if his drumming is any testament to his will. I wouldn’t be too quick to label J.B. as sludge, the strong and intently powerful rhythms tether tar drenched guitars and throaty, but well sung, vocals fast and tight on tracks like The Headless King and Persuading The Divine.

The lyrics are extremely pessimistic in the vein of Eye Hate God, Grief or 16. At the same time the album feels strangely uplifting, pulls us from the mud similar to Black Sabbath but, not in sound or tone really. It just has that expansive, hopeful feel that runs as an undercurrent keeping it out of the realm of art music and placing it squarely in the halls of rock. The concepts are dark yet triumphant and on the track A Plague Of Thieves they even manage to fill the bridge with back up singing (gasp!) that actually works without ever feeling overproduced or obvious. It even has cool drone, not insipid drone but, the kind that moves you with it. I’m sure it’s enjoyable to play on those swampy, hot Florida summer days. This is heavy music though, think more Asbestosdeath than Sleep.

Fortunately for us Junior Bruce have decided to stay together. That has to be one of the most difficult decisions somebody would have to make, I can only surmise. Stoner metal as far as I am concerned is the new hardcore and these guys are top of the heap. I hope they will stick around a long time and fight the fight, because records like this make the universe move.

--Plague Rat

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