Thursday, October 11, 2012

Album Review: John 3:16 - "Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory"

As many of you know, I listen to a lot of aggressive, fast, and heavy music. What a lot of people don't know is that I also fancy some ambient and droning music from time to time. Thing is, when it comes to droning music, I usually prefer things on the softer side. Things like later Earth and Alcest as opposed to things like Sunn O))) and early Earth.

John 3:16, a project by Swiss based musician Philippe Gerber will be releasing a new album, Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory (herein just called Visions, because fuck me that's a long-ass album title) that falls under that lighter, droning and shoegazing style that I seem to like.

So, Philippe has been doing his thing for a while, originally being a member of the UK band Heat from a DeadStar. While in HfaDS, Gerber released four albums on various record labels as John 3:16. After HfaDS disbanded in 2010, Gerber carried on with John 3:16 as a live act rather than only a studio one. He went on to release an EP titled Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God in 2011. John 3:16's newest album Visions comes out this month.

Visions fulfills the one criterion I ever want my drone and shoegaze to fulfill, and that is that the music needs to be able to take me away from where I am. I need the music to envelope and wash over, blurring away space and time. Whether I'm cranking out an assignment for my electromechanical devices class at midnight or just taking some time to relax by myself, I need something that will separate me from the outside. Some sort of musical force field that can keep all the annoyances and irritations of life away and lets me hang out with just my thoughts.

John 3:16 creates that force field with Visions. Layers and layers of guitar, bass, keyboards and drums fill the air, saturating it with different sounds. Instruments take on oodles and oodles of reverb and echo, making notes stretch on forever and making chords flow and shimmer like water. If there is any visual representation I can give of Visions, it would have to be a large pool of crystal clear water during a starry night. The water ripples, ebbs, and flows ever so slightly, but the source of the motion can't be found. It isn't windy, but it's cool outside. Refreshing, even. You stand dumbfounded, lost, staring in the water until you turn your head up high and gaze into the endless cosmos. 

Queue Neil DeGrasse Tyson:

I'm not crying, I just have dust in my eyes... I swear...

The only problem I have with Visions is a slight one with production. It's not the EQing, everything sparkles with beautiful highs and resonates with thick lows. It's not the quality of the recording, everything sounds crisp and clear. It's with the levels. The bass, drums and samples (maybe even Gerber's voice, I'm not sure) are all pieced together great, but the drums sometimes seem too distant sounding and quiet. This is a real bummer on some tracks that groove as nicely as "Throne of God/ Angel of the Lord". It's the only problem I can find with the album, but I feel like if it was remedied, I would have enjoyed the album a lot more.

Bomb-Ass Tracks: Throne of God/ Angel of the Lord, Through Fire and Through Water, Fall of the Damned (Into Hell)

On a Playlist With: Explosions in the Sky, Alcest, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Overall Score


Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory is a really solid shoegaze and drone album. John 3:16 manages to transport you to another dimension with his beautiful music. Just pour yourself a nice tall drink, sit back, toss on Visions, and you've got a great fifty minutes ahead of you, I can assure you of that.

Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory comes out October 22 in digipack CD and digital on Alrealon Musique. You can check out John 3:16 on Bandcamp, Facebook, Blogger, Tumblr, and Soundcloud.

That's all for now, folks!


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