Review 2122 : Junon – Dragging Bodies to the Fall – English

Back to business for Junon.

Three years after their first EP, the band rising from the ashes of General Lee, led by Arnaud Palmowski (vocals), Fabien Zwernemann (guitar/backing vocals), Alexis Renaux (guitar), Martin Catoire (guitar), Florian Urbaniak (drums) and Clément Decrock, recent replacement for Vincent Perdicaro (bass/backing vocals), announces the release of their debut album, Dragging Bodies to the Fall, on their new label Source Atone Records.

The album opens with Segue 1 – The Final Voyage, a rather short composition that immediately reminds us how much the band loves playing with dissonance and impressive riffs, but also with heady rhythms before Caught in Hypocrisy Loops sets its chaotic jerky patterns. The leads add an airy touch to this sea of contrasting violence imbued with a heavy melancholy, then Out Of Suffering begins with a strange quietude, which soon proves to be false when it is shattered by the arrival of heaviness. The mix also contributes to the suffocating ambience, especially when the snare drum hits leading into the intense final, followed by the steamy mysterious The Day You Faded Away and its massive waves of saturation, which become ever more present and sway us as they progress. The band allow us a moment’s respite with Segue 2 – Dragbody, a short track in which a haunting melody and self-effacing vocals accompany us before intensifying while remaining anchored in their roots, which burst into flames as soon as Dead Ends Lead To Somewhere begins, marking a significant break with quietness as chaos spreads once again in this energetic rhythm. Another Bar To Your Cage continues in this musical direction packed with characteristic jolts between which angst-ridden leads settle in, before the sound larsens to lead us into Making Peace With Chaos, where complementary duality reigns unchallenged in this unbreathable cloud where vindictiveness occupies an important part of the landscape.

Despite being the last composition, Halo Of Lies alone occupies almost a third of the album, blending intense howls and soothing melodies in a half-majestic half-inquiring dissonance on the first half, before keyboards appear again in the silence, offering additional influences before igniting one last time.

There’s a kind of softening in Junon. Dragging Bodies to the Fall hasn’t abandoned its aggressive roots, but it’s with a more ethereal, still heavy sound that it develops the band’s new personality, while enclosing us in its cocoon of saturation.


Version Française ?

A few questions to Arnaud Palmowski, Junon’s vocalist.

Hello, and thank you for your time! How would you introduce the band Junon without using the usual musical style labels?
Arnaud Palmowski (vocals): Junon is a kind of 6-headed monster which, by some miracle, manages to find a balance between massive explosions, fury and ethereal atmospheres.

The name Junon is linked to an emblematic General Lee track, but how do you relate it to the band’s current music?
Arnaud: Junon was the opening track on General Lee‘s second EP, released in 2003. It’s a track we’ve played a lot live, and it still represents our intentions quite accurately, even 20 years on. So it seemed obvious to us to look back a little, in the mode of change within continuity, and choose this new name.

Dragging Bodies to the Fall, your debut album, is just about to be released. Have you had any feedback on it yet?
Arnaud: We’re really looking forward to getting the album out to people who’ve been following us since General Lee, to those who discovered us with the first Junon EP, and above all to as many people as possible for whom we’re still totally unknown. We’ve tried to break out of the Post-Hardcore/Post-Metal straitjacket and rebuild it in our own way, with a multiplicity of influences and without setting ourselves any limits. We went our own way.

How would you sum up Dragging Bodies to the Fall in three words?
Arnaud: Rampant, luminous, abysmal.

Dragging Bodies to the Fall comes out three years after your first EP, The Shadows Lengthen. Have you noticed any changes or evolutions in your creative process?
Arnaud: We’ve been scattered all over France for years, so we don’t have the opportunity to get together every week to compose. So we blocked off several big weekends for 6-person composition sessions all over France to see what we had in stock and rough out our ideas as much as possible. After these intense sessions, we each went home to refine everything and exchange arrangements in the form of demos. As far as the vocals were concerned, I worked on demos on an almost daily basis, and as soon as the result seemed up to scratch, I’d send it to the others for their opinion, often only to have to start all over again lol. I put a lot of pressure on myself for this album because it was a first for us to change studios. In fact, from the start of General Lee to the first Junon EP, we had always recorded with Clément Decrock at Boss Hog Studio. It had really become our home, and we wanted to put ourselves in a bit of danger and get out of our comfort zone. Francis Caste of Studio Sainte Marthe gave us a good kick up the backside to push ourselves further.

You chose to unveil the tracks Out Of Suffering and Dead Ends Lead to Somewhere in advance. Why did you choose them rather than others?
Arnaud: Given the multiple moods developed on the album, it was rather difficult to single out one track as representative of the whole. We chose Out of Suffering as the first single to emphasize the band’s massive, oppressive side, but with this new element of backing vocals on the choruses and the final. There are three different textures of vocals in Junon, and this brings diversity and a certain urgency, all with a more melodic base. The video clip – directed by the mysterious Polish Chariot of Black Moth, with the invaluable help of our friend Emmanuel Poteau for the live footage – is just as threatening, with its black-and-white ambience and nature on the rampage, engulfing the human world. Second single Dead Ends Lead to Somewhere seemed a good choice, as it’s a thematic follow-up to Carcosa from our first EP, which dealt with the manipulation and horrors perpetrated by cults. This sequel describes the escape of an old man who has been in a cult since he was very young and who, for the first time, opens his eyes to the mysterious world around him. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album, and to get the full experience you need to listen to the Segue 2 – Dragbody intro, which is an integral part of the track.

There’s a very ethereal approach to violence in your universe, made up of both oppression and hypnotic or jerky sounds. How do you work with your influences?
Arnaud: After 20 years with General Lee and this follow-up with Junon, we’ve recorded enough material for our own music to influence us. We’ve never released the same album twice, so Junon is both a compendium of everything we’ve preferred to compose and play live over all these years, but also a window wide open to new soundscapes and song arrangements, so as not to get too locked into a style that’s sometimes too formulaic. After all, we’re all still fans of Neurosis, Deftones, Breach, Will Haven, Botch, Vision of Disorder… all young upstarts!

Halo Of Lies is both the last and longest track on the album, but it has two very distinct parts, separated by a silence. How was this track created, and what is its significance?
Arnaud: The first part of Halo of Lies is like a big locomotive that takes its time getting going, giving us time to develop the mood of the end of the world and the descent into the bowels of the earth. A trio of brass instruments is brought in to reinforce the epic feel. After the silence comes This Dead Place, which is in fact a hidden track. The journey is over, we’ve arrived in the depths.

I know it’s a tough question, but do you have a favorite track on this album? Or the one that seemed the most natural to compose?
Arnaud: For a long time, I had ambivalent feelings about the first track on the album we unveiled, called Out of Suffering. In fact, I spent a crazy amount of time trying to get into it and find a flow and a text to fit this sort of waltz from hell. In fact, it was one of the last tracks I mastered just before going into the studio. After weeks of struggling, one day everything became clear, I finally found the flow and the demo version was in the can in 10 minutes. The track has been one of my favorites ever since, linking in with the early years of General Lee‘s creeping, menacing sound.

The artwork was created by Martin Catoire, your guitarist. What were the stages in its creation?
Arnaud: I imagined that the human species had been forced to descend into the depths of the Earth to survive, after nature had reclaimed its rights following centuries of devastation. Martin came up with the idea of using these different textures of lava and this hand emerging from it to illustrate the album cover. The final result really suits the concept of the album.

You’ve signed with Source Atone Records for the release of Dragging Bodies to the Fall. How is the collaboration with the label going?
Arnaud: In 2021, we had just finished recording our first EP, The Shadows Lengthen, and we were looking for a label to release it and support this first release after a 5-year break and the end of General Lee. A mutual friend put us in touch with Krys and Arnaud, who had just set up Source Atone Records. We hit it off very quickly and they offered to release the EP. It’s important to remember that releasing an EP for a label is a risky business, because the financial investment is the same for a 4-track as for an album, while its lifespan is inevitably shorter in terms of communication. So the deal was to sign with them for an EP and an album to follow. It took us 3 years to complete Dragging… so we thank them for their patience haha. They put a lot of energy into this label, and their roster is starting to look pretty good, with the excellent Alta Rossa (what a killer live…) SaaR (you guys shouldn’t have stopped…), Virgil, Sunstare, Sycomore and so on… We’re happy to be part of this wonderful family.

What are the next plans for Junon? I’ve already noticed a few dates, but do you have any longer-term plans?
Arnaud: The release of the album was delayed by two months, which was a blessing in disguise, as it enabled us to play almost the entire album on several dates before its release. We’re currently working on some big weekends of dates in France up to the end of June, and hope to do a more substantial tour in the autumn in France and abroad. We’d love to share the stage with our friends from Alta Rossa and 20 SFM, among others.

Some time ago, you also announced the departure of your bassist Vincent Perdicaro, replaced by Clément Decrock, who already played with you in General Lee. How did this « handover » come about?
Arnaud: Quite naturally, given that Clément is a long-standing friend who played drums with General Lee up until the Roads album, and who is the driving force behind the General Lee/Junon sound, having recorded all our releases except the new one. He was keen to get back together as a band, to play live again and to spend some quality time with us. We couldn’t have wished for anything better, because it would have been difficult for anyone other than Clément to take over from Vincent.

Unfortunately, I’ve never had the chance to see you live on stage. How does a Junon concert go from your point of view?
Arnaud: We play every gig as if it were our last, with a lot of energy and commitment.

What bands do you dream of playing with? I’ll leave it to you to imagine a date for the release of Dragging Bodies to the Fall with Junon as opener, and three other bands.
Arnaud: I’d say Botch (still them…), Vision of Disorder from the Imprint era and Deftones. A highly unlikely line-up!

That was my last question, so thank you for your availability, and last words are yours!
Arnaud: Thanks to you for taking the time to prepare this interview, and thanks to all those who took the time to read it in its entirety and get to know us better. Go and listen to the album, and we’ll see you live soon!

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