Atheist - Jupiter review
|Release date:||November 2010|
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
Let's face it. It isn't exactly the easiest task for a band with a legendary discography that hasn't been built upon in a considerably long period of time to suddenly rise from the ashes with a new album, and Atheist no doubt knew that they were facing this challenge with Jupiter. In such a case, a band really only has two choices. They can either continue with their classic sound that won them such love and admiration from their fanbase, or they can go for a newer sound that, while different, is still a refreshingly original and interesting evolution (see Bathory and Cynic). Unfortunately, however, on Jupiter, Atheist's new sound, coming 17 years after Elements, sounds much more like a regression than an evolution.
Again, let's be honest with ourselves here. Atheist weren't really dealing with the best sound possibilities for Jupiter from the beginning. For starters, there was the departure of Rand Burkey and Tony Choy for the recording, which dealt a critical blow to the maintenance of the band's classic sound. While newcomers Chris Baker and Jonathan Thompson (guitar and bass, respectively) are certainly interesting players, they aren't Rand or Tony, by a long shot, and the difference is blatantly noticeable. The bass is a lot less audible than on Atheist's previous releases, and at many times the bass lines simply follow the guitar rhythms. It's a lot like Metallica's shift from Master Of Puppets to …And Justice For All, and it's not a pretty transition. Chris Baker, meanwhile, can carve some neat riffs here and there, and there actually are some pretty nice solos here and there (the ones on "Fraudulent Cloth" and "Faux King Christ," in particular). But for the most part, there's this sense that everything sounds forced: that the riffs are there, well… just to be there, and this lack of catchiness and memorability in the album makes it difficult to get into. There isn't much of a "hook," to the music, so to speak.
In part, this may be due to the decision to have Jason Suecof (All That Remains, August Burns Red, Job For A Cowboy) as the album producer, which wasn't exactly the best decision. In essence, Jupiter sounds a lot more like a modern death metal album than a classic Atheist album, and when one considers that a producer behind many mainstream metal acts produced it, that may probably be why. Sean Flynn's drumming, as many have noted, is quite overmixed, and the toms pop out here and there on the album as quite overpowering. Kelly's vocals, as well, sound quite "muddy" (best term I can think of), and a lot raspier than usual.
All in all, with Atheist's reputation, Jupiter is inevitably going to be judged against their former albums, and when compared against them… yeah, it's pretty crappy. However, if one takes the album by itself, then I guess you could say that it's a fairly decent cut of modern death metal (or at least, what modern death metal typically sounds like). This is a polarizing album, plain and simple. Some Atheist fans enjoy it, and proclaim it as just another step of evolution in the band's sound. Others, such as myself, consider it a radical, mediocre departure from a better sound they could be putting forth, and will be sticking, at least for the time being, with Piece Of Time, Unquestionable Presence, and Elements.
|In the last few years, the metal community saw many dead bands rising from their ashes, playing some festivals, and eventually recording new albums. Even the technical/jazz death metal scene was swept in the movement, so after Cynic, then Pestilence, here we are finally with the new Atheist album.
Even if there wasn't supposed to be one at first.
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