For those uninitiated with Janus – who managed to find some success a few years back with single “Eyesore” – they’re not all that difficult to sum up: Chevelle crossed with Breaking Benjamin, featuring a few sporadic and impressively high-pitched screams to neatly wrap up the contemporary hard rock package. Despite a few instances of (very mild) electronica and programming, the group fits safely alongside the rest of their contemporaries. And, like the two aforementioned bands, there is a certain polish to NOX AERIS that makes it all as immediately digestible as it is entertaining.
Everything about this record is extremely deliberate: the riffs have been honed to perfection and the hooks manage to seem effortless in spite of their catchiness. One gets the nagging suspicion that all that time spent around Ben Burnley and Pete Loeffler may have caused some kind of songwriting and melodic osmosis, and that’s good news for all of the hard rock fans out there that still haven’t gotten their fill of this sound. Just about every song on this release could find a home on XM radio, and if this album were played front-to-back at a live show, it would result in one killer set.
If there are any grievances to be found here, they’d almost all depend on the listener’s enjoyment of this genre; you won’t find a more pure vision of the contemporary hard rock landscape than what’s presented here. Aside from that, it’s a shame that frontman David Scotney doesn’t utilize his unique dirty vocals more often throughout the record – they appear very seldom, to the detriment of NOX AERIS’ sonic palette. He has a way about his delivery that reeks of melody despite the glass-shattering pitches he strives for, and more of this would have been welcome.
Wisely, the band only slows things down on a single track – “Always Rains” – near the end of the record, keeping the adrenaline pumping from start to finish. The brisk runtime (an appropriate 37 minutes) helps, too; they never overstay their welcome, getting in and then out again before the listener has a chance to over-think things.
Janus might not have much in the way of experimentation and creativity to offer, but they do represent a promise that NOX AERIS completely delivers on: unapologetic hard rock that starts strong and stays that way throughout.
Standout tracks: “Stains”, “Numb” and “Pound of Flesh”.