JOHN 3:16 - Visions of the Hereafter - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

JOHN 3:16 - Visions of the Hereafter

by Daryl Worthington Rating:6.5 Release Date:2012-11-05

John 3:16 is the latest recording project from Philippe Gerber, formerly of Heat From a Deadstar. His latest album, Visions of The Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, has a grandiose title, and befittingly a grand biblical concept behind it. I should probably clarify right away what is meant by 'biblical concept'. This is not some kind of evangelical music. The cover of the album, featuring a man clutching his bloodied eyes, gives an insight to the dark, doomy, riff-laden meditation on the sinister side of religion contained in the album's nine tracks.

It might seem an obvious connection to make due to the conceptual nature of the album, but beyond the obvious drone and post-rock influences seems to be something reminiscent of 70s bands such as Pink Floyd and Genesis, particularly the former's Animals album. Second track 'Throne of God/Angel of the Lord' is built on galloped drums and meandering guitar lines. Much like the rest of the album, the track features droney and dark ambient textures from guitar, synths and samples, creating something akin to a gothic prog rock.

The highlight of the album is its third track, 'Abyss of Hell/Clouds of Fire'. Layers of reverby guitar (reminiscent perhaps of Mark Mcguire's solo work but more sinister) combine with layers of synth and to create an almost orchestral sound. The strength of the track is that it is most effective at conjuring imagery of bleak desolation, particularly when a wall of distortion gradually enters, sounding like a distant storm. The song also features the mournful clarinet of Carolyn O'Neill, her simple sombre melodies creating an almost funereal feel to the piece, accurately reflecting the religious ideas behind the album.

Gerber has tried to demonstrate a broad palette of influences on this album, from shoegaze, dark ambient, and stoner metal. However, it sometimes comes across as a little unfocused. Particularly in the album's second half, there is a lack of dynamic range and textural variety which prevents the album becoming truly engaging. 'Star of the/Guardian Angel', for instance, is built on a righteous sludgy riff which initially is incredibly satisfying. However, the lack of variety or depth to the ambiences around this riff means it eventually begins to outstay its welcome.

Visions of the Hereafter… is an album with a strong ambition to its inception. It takes in a variety of musical influences, both contemporary and from the past, as well as having a strong, unifying concept behind it to make all of the tracks seem inter-related. Sometimes its execution fails to live up to these lofty ambitions, but the album does enough to be a pleasant listen (in the doomy, droney sense of a pleasant listen), and to leave one curious as to what John 3:16 will do next.

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