It’s not news to anyone that knows me, I’ve been excited as hell for Fayetteville, AR’s Judason Void to finally release their first EP. It finally released on August 30th (available on all major streaming platforms and bandcamp). This project is one of the most ambitious and exciting things I’ve heard in local music in years. From the mind of the band’s principal songwriter and guitarist/vocalist– Skylar Johnson this has been a long time coming. They’ve combined elements of Shoegaze/Drone, Indie, Stoner/Fuzz Metal, and numerous other influences to create a singular and unique Post-Rock sound. The EP features five tracks, recorded and mastered by the band themselves over the last year. You’d never be able to tell just by listening to it, that this was a learning experience– the album is full of rich, textural moments and over the top grand explosions of energy that are perfectly mixed and balanced.
There’s not a single track that’s less than essential. So here’s my track by track review of Judason Void’s Self Titled EP–
Opening on a single sustained note, the first track sets a somber tone. A tone that persists through much of the album, though never in a crushing or overwhelming way. There’s a lot of hope and youthful ambivalence present here in the mournful lyrics and somber sounds. With drums like a funeral procession, marching towards something greater– the opening track moves forward with ethereal droning background vocals. As the instrumentation builds and swells taking us to it’s fuzzy, distorted noise-laden climax we’re left with the repeated refrain in a powerful but subdued falsetto:
“Chasing childish dreams like they’re my own”
Deeply personal, and expressive, the lyrics are front and center on Cloudy Head.
There’s a cloud in my head and I can’t think straight
Because even mom’s moving on
And I hate the sound of dad’s calls
Because we found you when you quit looking for yourself
Leading us through the painful experiences shared in the lyrics, the instrumentation builds from a familiar foundation of indie-tinged heavily delayed guitars and repetitious notation. From it comes one of the only breakdowns on the EP, cementing this as the heaviest track of the five. The band’s extensive background in various forms of Heavy Metal shines through here as a crushing guitar riff repeats over plodding drums and tight, subtle, high pitched melody. The droning vocals repeating the final refrain–
Say goodbye to the light of your life When you wake,
will you think of me?
starting out hidden deep in the mix, and slowly taking the foreground as the lead riff gradually dies out. Leaving us in a state of orchestrated sonic cacophony– mirroring the chaotic feelings and themes of the lyrics perfectly.
Despite the lyrical themes present on Pain Sings, the musical tone is uplifting. Like the process of grieving that the song captures so perfectly; there are always moments of positivity in all the awful thoughts and crushing feelings.
Because in the morning
We’ll still be mourning
That’s why I never sleep
With bending, wavy guitars and light, crisp drums the third track builds slowly towards a textural finish that utilizes the saxophone playing of Dave Wyant to throw it into the stratosphere. Just a taste, little tantalizing licks weave their way through the crowded thoughts and sounds to a satisfying finish.
Grow Feet and Run Far Away:
After the day you died, I started living inside your head
Trying to make sense between your honesty and love
The smell tried to run me out but I found solace in your sickness
With a much more post-rock centric approach, this song features some big dynamic moments, but never rises to the massive crescendos on some of the other tracks. slick guitar riffing from Skylar Johnson, and lots of textures are at play here. The various layered effects and the addition of the saxophone on this track take it to a much higher level. This is probably one of the most straight forward songs on the entire EP, until the saxophone completely turns it on its head adding warmth and evoking a pensive mood to end the track. It’s like the soundtrack to running away, from whatever is hurting you.
The Moon Was Scared Half to Death:
Full disclosure, this is my absolute favorite song on the album. The final track a dynamic, sonic feast with shifting tones and rhythms that settle back into a somber but crunchy groove. Showcasing the rhythm section heavily, this song features huge crashing drums and complex rhythmic changes from Raif Box and galloping, progressive basslines from Erik Ebsen. Everyone brings something extra to each of the songs, but I think this song, in particular, showcases their musical talent most realistically.
As the crescendos fall to the central groove, charged vocals take center stage. With each chorus, they grow in intensity until the final refrain builds to a growling bite, a perfect segue into an absolutely incendiary guitar solo from Cody Martin that ends in a complete crash of distortion and the faint sound of the band celebrating an excellent take. The perfect ending to an ambitious and long time coming EP from one of the finest bands in the state.
Don’t miss the Judason Void album release show September 14th, FREE at Smoke and Barrel. With support from Claw Marks American