John 3:16: Visions of the Hereafter

Now and then we get good experimental, every now and then.  Not so much with noise, because it’s deceptive in how people approach it and everyone just buys a million effects pedals, but with experimental yes, most of the time people have a better grasp of “music” since you normally actually have to play something instead of stomping around, rolling on the floor in one’s panties to get attention (true story).  And now and again in this batch of “most of the time” we get “some of the time” that makes us wish like it was “all of the time”.  John 3:16 is the side-project-turned-life of Philippe Gerber, who once played and toured with the post-punk instrumental band Heat from a DeadStar, who had some presence via Boston-based label Ace of Hearts in 2008.  After the band disbanded, Gerber moved on to this, and it slowly became his full-time musical project.  Visions of the Hereafter, which actually has the full title of Visions of the Hereafter – Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory, is his first full-length, and it implies all the Divine Comedy of its title via the experimental presence of drone, doom, EBM, industrial, and psychedelic shoegaze.  Usually, such stews of genres look like a mess of vomit that overflowed the pot whilst cooking, but here, finally, it makes so much sense.  Visions of the Hereafter is an awesome mix of experimental guitar and atmosphere, all put into the general frame of the Christian conception of three types of afterlife, two permanent.  We should state now we’re not entirely certain if John 3:16 is actually Christian, and it seems he probably is not, but either way that wouldn’t matter, because it’s still awesome.


Visions of the Hereafter starts out slow and takes at least two tracks to really get a feel for where it wants to go, but that’s definitely acceptable by the end, trust us.  “The Ninth Circle” opens our story, serving as a pretty simple, atmospheric build, which leads into a quasi-industrial drum/keyboard ditty called “Throne of God”.  And we mean ditty, because it sounds dippy so it required slang from a time when pappy was alive.  “Throne of God” is the weakest track out of the bunch, mainly due to the obviously low-quality vocal chorus via keyboard at the beginning, but luckily it manages to build into something more engaging by the end.  However, from that point, Visions of the Hereafter really picks things up, and by this we mean the bit of a stumble it had in the second track, where it maybe, just maybe was down on one knee, suddenly recoils to uppercut the listener straight to the jaw with the amount of density and fine layering John 3:16 wields.  And there’s a lot, and we mean a lot to dig through here.  Layer after layer is stripped away with each listen, and some of the tracks, such as “Ascent of the Blessed – To the Heavenly Paradise” create wonderful, simply beautiful swarms of atmospheric emotion.  Incredible guitar layering on that particular track, in fact.  Start there to get a feel before you delve into the rest is our recommendation.  Excuse us, John 3:16, if you are Christian, but God damn.


And God damn the rest of it too.  Though said track mentioned above within the context of using the Lord’s name in vain is the clear winner out of all them, the rest serve up equally impressive portions of experimentation and a variety of styles finely crafted together.  The modern era is one that’s filled with genre melding and era dumping since we’ve all run out of ideas.  It’s where girls walk into Urban Outfitters as sorority cheerleaders and come out dressed to fit in every year between 1920 and 1980.  Not so much earlier, or later.  We see this today with music with bands touting their ability to play only the most blistering of math post-punk hardcore blackened shoegaze pop thrash, and when you listen to it you instead find plain old deathcore with about every single stereotype of that genre you could imagine.  So to find a musician who’s clearly aware of what the different styles he references mean, and how to use them more importantly, is exactly the kind of experimentation you want to see.  This is the kind of album that can change your religion, and the artwork, awesome.  It appears to be a photograph of the actual piece, which has been painted onto slats of wood by legendary Providence RI artist William Schaff.  That fact alone would have given this album at least a ‘3’ even if the music sucked, but with the amount of sound to investigate here for the discerning listener, it easily warrants the score it received.  Much promise in this one, God damn it’s just what we needed around here.


Visions of the Hereafter on Bandcamp

John 3:16 Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

John 3:16: Visions of the Hereafter
Alrealon Musique
4.5 / 5