Review Summary: With a nod to their older work, Juno Reactor continue to show a willingness to tweak their own sound regardless of the potential fan reaction.
Juno Reactor carved out their own genre niche some time ago, and while the sound continues to evolve albums such as Gods & Monsters
really began to make people wonder if the Juno Reactor of old was ever going to come back. Dropping many of the more upbeat moments of its predecessors, the album was a step into a much more slower, vocal driven territory; one that I feared may have made it's return on the bands latest album, The Golden Sun Of The Great East
For the most part I was wrong.
Though the group has always employed some type of world/tribal influences in their work, TGSOTGE continues to twist these soundscapes into a more slow beast; though none drag on as much as the oft criticized "Tokyo Dub", most lack the frantic pacing of "Navaras" (or Labyrinth
in general for that matter). The lack of true guest vocals brings the album back to Bible Of Dreams
territory, (though TGSOFTGE lacks a "Conga Fury") and the tracks are still long, which allows space for some interesting developments and swift album opinion decisions; a stellar example being the track "Zombie".
A somewhat dissonant piano intro and cliche zombie film quote start of the track, and easily seem as if they'd be more at home on the latest Rob Zombie record than a Juno Reactor album. Regardless of the opening choices the track soon mormphs into something compelling with the addition of a male-female call/answer vocal stem, "I need you/I love you so much". These simple yet slightly distorted voices become the center of "new" track, as drums and piano shape themselves around these two figures professions of love. Short stabs of an orchestra and a beat reminiscent of "Navaras" tease the listener, but remain subtle enough to give the track its own identity, and while the journey doesn't build into something of epic sonic proportions it's still far more worthwhile than it would initially seem; such are the moments of TGSOTGE.
In the end that's one of the main issues when listening to Juno Reactor, as having built such a fan base in the span of a few key albums many will constantly be wanting more of what made them love the band and draw comparisons (which by nature tend to be found lacking). There is merit in TGSOTGE, from the building intro and Vangelis-esque horn sweeps of "Final Frontier", to the mean low-key grooves and chanting of "Trans Siberian", and ending with the way "Playing With Fire" hints at an overarching concept, the album definitely carves its own niche. The slight homages to the groups prior work highlight the fact that the band is going to continue to do their own thing and develop upon their sound, regardless of thoughts on such direction.