After 17 years, it hasn't gotten any better. Jupiter is the product of Atheist's 17 year long hiatus from the music industry, similar to Cynic's triumphant return a few years ago. With Unquestionable Presence, they made a huge statement in the death metal/jazz-fusion scene, which at that time was not very big. Therefore, they really helped to form an entire genre. The band has aged quite a bit, and so has the music scene. With Jupiter they come back full force, but full force from what they were 17 years ago. The music is a mash of quickly played notes and intense instrumentation. The album barely tops 30 minutes, and the lack of true melody is a little harsh. I loved Unquestionable Presence, but this is just stale.
Second to Sun is the first of eight mediocre tracks. Fast, heavy, intense, metallic, this track has everything you would expect in a song of this genre. But why don't I like it? This kind of music is so common and overplayed that I can barely enjoy it anymore. At times the "riffing" just gets overly monotonous and the songs begin to blend into a mush of overly polished mush. Yes, the technical ability to play this is kind of music is insane, and I will give the band that every step of the way, especially because the band members are established 40- year olds-- not the age I would want to playing this kind of music.
Fictitious Glide is essentially the same track as Second to Sun, and when I listen to the album I really can't tell these songs apart. I think the one thing that allows people to remember songs is their melody... but none of these songs have melody. They are all just metalcore drab and intense guitar soloing. This song does feature an enjoyable, but very short, fusion-like solo with some interesting bass and guitar work.
Fraudulent Cloth is yet another stale intense track. More intense melody-lacking riffing with really fast guitar work and screaming vocals, what a surprise. Again, the only real good thing about any of these songs is that I can respect that these guys have a ton of technical ability with their instruments. Bravo on that, but the music that they write with their skill is a little disappointing.
Live and Live Again is certainly one of the best tracks on the album. Even though the intro lasts for but a few seconds, the mellow cello is such a relief after ten minutes of intense guitar and extreme vocals and instrumentation. From that, the intense guitar and extreme vocals and instrumentation that ensue afterwards are just a bit more enjoyable. There is even a slight trace of melody in the song! Overall, the track is a little (just a little, a very very small bit) less intense and is more enjoyable.
Faux King Christ continues the slightly less frenzied intensity that we saw on Live and Live Again, with a bit of a slower tempo and a more followable guitar line. However, once the soling begins, throw that out the window. The music reverts back to its crazy metalcore crap that populates the album. But then again, redemption happens again when the solo section ends. Overall, this track is also not that bad, but the crazy dynamics and part changes that make no sense really alienate this track.
Tortoise the Titan returns to what we heard on the first couple of songs. Intense, basically incoherent riffing with really fast guitar solos and riffs. The song does "slow down" (maybe to like 200 bmp) at times, making it a little more bearable, but the overall track is still weak. So no, Kelly Shaefer, Tortoise is not the Titan, stop screaming.
When the Beast is my favorite track on the album, even though I don't really like it that much. The riffing in the intro is actually somewhat enjoyable and creative, but it is sadly thrown out the window for the most part as the song opens up. Throughout the song, the riffing become more listenable and a bit more coherent and organized, rather than the sped up mush of the rest of the album. I would like the song so much more if the vocals weren't screamed at most parts, because that style of vocal just doesn't fit the mood of the song at all.
At last, we have come upon Third Person, the last track on the album. This track is another not so-so-bad track, but is still weak. The intro again shows promising signs, but is again thrown out the window when the song stars going. The lyrics don't really make any sense in a genre where lyrics don't tend to make sense. There is a small bass-guitar breakdown which is nice, especially because it is slower and slightly more coherent again. The more jazz based breakdown is also nice, which throws you back to the music found on Elements and Unquestionable Presence. It ends the album semi-nicely, even though my hair is still standing on end and burnt slightly at the end because of this overly intense album.
ALBUM OVERALL: I think one reason I don't like this album is because, 20 years after Atheist initiated this genre, so many other bands have flown from the fold with a similar to identical sound. They have copied copies of themselves to form a stale, dried out form of a once very creative and fresh sound. The band still has that crazy skill they had back in the 90s, which is really impressive, but the music that comes out of their ability to shred at 500 bps is just metalcore with little to no inspiration in their music. A few tracks show promise, but not very long. And, after 17 years, the band could only scrap together a barely 30 minute long album. 2- stars.