Atheist

Jupter

01. Second to Sun
02. Fictitious Glide
03. Fraudulent Cloth
04. Live, and Live Again
05. Faux King Christ
06. Tortoise the Titan
07. When the Beast
08. Third Person

[11/09/10 | Season of Mist]

Atheist, at this point, are no doubt legendary status. Born out of the 80’s Florida death metal scene alongside bands like Cynic and Death, Atheist went on to be a major influence for a whole generation of prog and death metallers. Just as Cynic did with 2008’s Traced In Air, Atheist put an end to their inactivity and wrote an album. Does Shaefer and Co still have what it takes to release an album on par with their old material and successfully introduce their style of progressive death to a new generation of metal listeners?

Most certainly. It’s been seventeen years since Elements was released in 1993. When listening to Jupiter, it’s like that gap in time never happened. If it weren’t for some modernized production and a showing of age in Shaefer’s voice, you’d think it was 1995. Well… almost, anyway.

Like one would come to expect from Atheist, Jupiter makes use of a very strong and driving rhythm section. Drummer Steve Flynn is an absolute monster on his kit, comfortably switching time signature and tempo on the fly and adding jazz and latin-influenced nuances that lend well to this style of death metal. Tony Choy departed from the group before they went into the studio, but it’s not like this made much of an impact at all, as guitarist Jonathan Thompson recorded the bass parts. He didn’t half-ass it either; the bass is often very prominent, popping through the mix and fitting well with the drum tracks.

Unusually for a death metal record, the guitar isn’t very prominent in the mix. The riffs and solos are composed well and played with enough skill and technicality, but I feel that there’s an impression given off that guitar, at times, is playing second fiddle, harmonizing with the rhythm section. This isn’t all that bad, really. Songs like “Second to Sun” and “Faux King Christ” deploy start/stop propulsion, having riffs ride along with the rest of the band driving this oddball of a vehicle.

Kelley Shaefer’s vocal work does feel slightly aged when compared to early works. GroverXIII of The Number of the Blog did well to compare the vocal delivery on Jupiter to Mudvayne‘s Chad Gray, and I echo his sentiments on the subject. Whether or not that sounds like a bad thing or not is up to you, but I feel that the rhaspy screams fit in well with the Jupiter’s aesthetics.

The biggest criticism of the album lies in the production quality. It doesn’t sound polished, but compression was used a bit too liberally, being more akin to a loudness clusterfuck. With the right production, Jupiter would pop out, twitch, and writhe about instead of feeling flat in dynamic as it does now. While it’s nothing to cry like a little bitch over, it is definitely noticeable. But hell, it’s Atheist and the musicianship itself is what you’re most likely after. You shouldn’t notice or care for long once Jupiter finally settles in.

All in all, was Jupiter worth the wait? This writer says yes. While it isn’t perfect, Atheist show that after all these years, they definitely have lasting power and abilities that modern contemporaries should beware of. Hopefully next time, they can get a producer that can do them more justice.

Atheist – Jupiter gets

4/5

– JR

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