Review Summary: “Nox Aeris” is not good; it is not great; it is fantastic.
Don’t lie; each and every one of you knows that band. That one band that you consistently hear your friends rave and talk about, the band where all signs point to you finding their music appealing, but for some reason, you have not taken 4 or 5 minutes out of your day to listen to. For me, up until rather recently, Janus was that band. Living in Chicago, this group of local hard rock natives has always bounced around in the underground heavy music scene; but for what seemed like forever and a day, I made the conscious decision not to listen to them. A couple months ago, I heard Nox Aeris’ lead single “Stains” on the radio. The song had me doing double takes and looking at myself in the mirror; the songwriting was impeccable, the riffs were ballsy and thick, and the vocals diverse and interesting. Why the hell hadn’t I listened to these guys? As a result, I wasted no time downloading the band’s 2008 release “Right Red Return”. From top to bottom, the album was incredibly solid, yet it felt like something was missing; aside from lead single “Eyesore”, most of the album was virtually “Stains”-lite. So I anxiously twiddled my thumbs and anticipated the follow-up record with bated breath. Now that I finally have the album in my fat, grubby fingers, I can say without a doubt that “Nox Aeris” not only surpasses “Right Red Return” in every way, but is up there with the best hard rock releases of the past several years.
I hardly know where to start with this record; to say this album is a monumental improvement over “Red Right Return” would be the understatement of the century. The band has never sounded darker or heavier than they do on this album, and to add additional icing to the cake, are writing better hooks and melodies than they ever did on their 2008 release. On this record, Janus seems to have an incredible knack for remaining consistent with their sound while providing enough variation and contrast to keep the album interesting. To name a few, “In Flames”, “A Promise To No One”, and “Polarized” provide a ridiculous amount heavy guitar work fueled by sheer horsepower and more testosterone then you can find in an enraged mammoth, but the band is quick to remind that heavy is not all they do. Songs like “Lifeless” and “Always Rains” give a much needed reprieve that deliver expert-level songwriting skills and melody that never feels out of step with the rest of the record. No matter what the case may be, the band proves that they simply cannot fail; each and every song on here not only asks for, but grabs you by the collar and DEMANDS your attention.
I feel like I must take a moment to mention one member here in particular that absolutely dazzles; vocalist David Scotney. The man is working some serious magic behind the microphone, often alternating between his discernable and controlled croon and a vicious, throat slitting howl you’d be hard pressed to be find out of your basic jungle cat. He has a unique voice that sets him apart from virtually all other rock vocalists on the scene today, and he acts as the catalyst and the glue for this album.
I have heard several people refer to this band as nothing more than a poor man’s Chevelle or another want-to-be Tool clone, which is absolutely not true. While the thought of another alternative metal band cluttering the already swamped and downright mediocre genre may be enough to evoke the gag reflex, I highly recommend you toss all premonitions aside and just listen to this record; it will change your mind. “Nox Aeris” is not good; it is not great; it is fantastic. This album will absolutely be a contender for album of the year, and unless something else truly steps up in a tremendous matter, will be extremely difficult to top. I cannot stress it enough; “Nox Aeris” is a must-listen, period.