ATHEIST — Jupiter (review)

ATHEIST — Jupiter album cover Album · 2010 · Technical Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
"Jupiter" is the 4th full-length studio album by technical/progressive extreme metal act Atheist. The album was released through Season of Mist in November 2010. "Jupiter" is what you would call a comeback album as it´s the first studio album release by Atheist since "Elements (1993)". The band split-up shortly after the tour supporting that album. In 2006 lead vocalist Kelly Shaefer and drummer Steve Flynn (who had already left Atheist in 1991 and doesn´t appear on "Elements (1993)") decided to reunite and reform Atheist. They played a reunion gig on Wachen in 2006 with the help of bassist Tony Choy and guitarists Jonathan Thompson and Chris Baker (both guitarists also play with Steve Flynn in Gnostic). That gig (which is immortalized on the first disc on the "Unquestionable Presence: Live At Wacken (2009)" live/compilation album) apparently made their blood boil for more Atheist action and here we have "Jupiter" a couple of years down the line. Tony Choy bailed out shortly before the recording of the album so guitarist Jonathan Thompson also handles the bass parts on "Jupiter".

The music on the album is technical/progressive death/thrash or maybe a tag like technical/progressive extreme metal is actually better. Genre tagging was always hard when it came to Atheist and still is. That´s of course one of the reasons why they are such a unique sounding act. They almost completely defy catagorization. In that respect they´ve always reminded me of an act like Voivod. The music on the album is a melting pot of death, thrash and fusion elements and while that cocktail can at times sound pretty chaotic, the tracks are tightly structured and very well composed. Just as the case were on earlier releases each track is composed of many sections and even though all 8 tracks on the album are between 3 and 4 minutes long (which is pretty regular mainstream song lengths), you shouldn´t expect regular vers/chorus structures here. And then again, "Jupiter" is actually a lot more accessible than earlier releases by the band and dare I say semi-melodic at times. There are actual chorus lines and hooks in each track in the midst of the ultra fast played riffs, fusion influenced drumming and relentless energetic music. The album is over in 32:47 minutes and if you ask me that´s just what the doctor ordered. Music this demanding and action packed wouldn´t necessarily work well on an album with 14 tracks and a playing time of 50 minutes. I´m of the firm conviction that quality is always more important than quantity and "Jupiter" is a shining example of that.

The musicianship on the album are nothing short of amazing. Fast precision playing and a plethora of progressive ideas are what you´ll be treated to. The well certainly hasn´t run dry in the 17 years since the last album release. While "Jupiter" has it´s own sound, which is in part due to the more contemporary sound production, there are also several nods toward all three preceeding releases. It´s like they plucked the best elements from those three albums and then they´ve added something new to them. So "Jupiter" is the kind of comeback album that honors the band´s original sound, but in no way tries to copy it. I think Atheist made just about all the right choices with this one.

17 years between album releases is a long time, and I wouldn´t hold it against anyone if they doubted if "Jupiter" could live up to the high expectations. However Atheist have once again proven that they are one of the most unique forces on the metal scene. Pushing boundaries, defying conventions and kicking ass in the process. I just realised I forgot to mention how aggressive the album actually is. No matter how progressive or experimental the music gets, Atheist always succeed in not losing their caustic aggressive edge and it´s not always an easy task maintaining aggression and not sounding forced while experimenting. It´s probably the band´s greatest asset that their music sounds so natural even though it´s extremely technical.

So what do you give a fan who already has it all? The answer? You give him more. You move his world again and make him crave more. That´s how "Jupiter" has affected me. I have a burning craving for more and that´s how every album should affect you (in a world called utopia), but few in reality do. "Jupiter" is a welcome return to one of the most unique and innovative metal acts on the scene and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.
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