Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Janus Finds Its Soul Carries Stains

I've always found it really hard to classify Chicago-based Janus as an alternative metal band. But then again, it always seemed odd to me that many people thought Red Right Return was their debut album.

Janus originally came together in 1998 and debuted the same year on Mirror Records. Then the band self-released Armor in 2004, which could easily be called a reinvention CD that not too many people heard. (Probably a good thing). And then came a 5-track demo, two years ahead of Red Right Return (and one year ahead of the rerelease most people know).

Through it all, the band has continued to evolve and weather lineup changes. It took locking in Mike Tyranski (guitar), David Scotney (vocals), Alan Quitman (bass), and Johnny Salazar (drums) to make it work. And even though it did work, Eyesore was easily the hardest hitting song in advance of a surprisingly mellow album (much too mellow to be alternative metal).

New single Stains foreshadows something better.

Stains, which is the advance song for their next album, Nox Aeris, sounds more promising. It's also the first album for which all four of them can take complete ownership. That might be for the best.

Although each member contributes his own parts, they've also created a composition process where the parts are only as good as the whole. And that means they try to push each other harder. Stains carries plenty of push and some of it indicates they might finally live up to their elusive alternative metal moniker. Here is a live clip, but you really owe it to yourself to listen to the studio track.

Don't misunderstand me. Stains is largely melodic alternative rock, but then the band completely deconstructs and destroys it. And it's in destruction and reconstruction that Janus demonstrates why Nox Aeris could be the beginning of successful career.

As long as Nox Aeris doesn't descend into the more mellow modern mainstream, then it will be one to look forward to at the end of March. All of them have talent, but it is the push that makes them.

The words that make up the lyrics are straightforward for Scotney.

Stains proves the point. Lyrically, it's some of Scotney's more contemplative work. And, according to Scotney, Stains embodies what he was trying to say across the entire record. If you don't follow your heart, then it leaves marks on your spirit as you become someone you're not.

"It's a dark point of view," he said. "But represents a cathartic process of self-healing."

In December, Janus revealed a second song from the upcoming album. And while the song was stripped back into an acoustical piece and Scotney is clearly holding back in his delivery, Numb has potential.

Incidentally, the clip demo Studio East reveals something else. Janus needs to tour with bands like Chevelle and Middle Class Rut. While they have a decent live stage presence, they sound their best in the studio and at big venues. In more intimate settings, Scotney has a tendency to tuck his voice in his back pocket.

The Single Stains By Janus Hits 7.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

No matter. Stains still carries a signature that demonstrates how far this band has traveled since its earliest beginnings. And by the end of the tour, you can bet Scotney won't hold back. He doesn't need to.

Stains by Janus can be found on iTunes. You can also download Stains from Amazon. You can find the band on Facebook and they recently launched a Q&A session on their website for fans. Questions have to be submitted by Feb. 24.
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