John 3:16, “Visions Of The Hereafter – Vision Of Heaven, Hell And Purgatory”

January 23, 2013
By Paul Simpson

John 3:16 is a solo project of Philippe Gerber, who was in a band called Heat From A DeadStar, who were signed to Ace Of Hearts Records. Being associated with a band that released albums on the same label as Mission Of Burma and Lyres, it might be a little surprising that this album doesn’t sound anything like post-punk, but is instead swirly, psychedelic, mostly-instrumental rock. The album reminds me of the almost classic rock-ish grandeur of the last Emeralds album (which I actually enjoyed a lot, and I’m bummed that they broke up after it). The guitars are usually accompanied by big, booming, slow drums, although “Throne Of God / Angel Of The Lord” features faster, galloping drums, along with driving melodic guitars. There are a few brief vocal samples, and even some submerged vocals that are hard to make out, but for the most part, the song titles and artwork speak for the album. The artwork was created by William Schaff, whose work graces albums by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Okkervil River and Songs: Ohia, among many others. He illustrates the visions alluded to by the album’s title, which are shrunken down for the album’s cover, but blown up in closer detail inside the digipack. On the left side, we have a multi-eyed God holding a group of people whose eyes are all closed, with some sort of beam connecting from each person’s mouth to God’s. Underneath is a quote reading “And their reward shall be to contemplate God.” Next to that is a man stuck in the ground with his eyes gouged out, surrounded by two frogs (one blue, one green and red), with a quote reading “And thus for a brief joy they receive eternal pain.” Underneath the tray is a group of souls crowded in purgatory, tumbling over each other with arms outstretched, and the quote reads “I fall at your feet and bow the knee, my heart desiring mercy and your goodness.” Instead of certain tracks being significantly more dark or light than others, as you might expect from their titles, the songs generally seem to keep a balance, there’s the darkness and sludgy tempos, but it’s not quite punishing. There’s still the heavenly guitars, so it’s a pretty balanced mix. The songs can seem dark and light at the same time. The album’s penultimate track is a beatless sea of partially reversed guitar effects called “Through Fire And Through Water”, which sums this balance up pretty well.


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