1. Second To Sun
2. Fictitious Glide
3. Fraudulent Cloth
4. Live And Live Again
5. Faux King Christ
6. Tortoise The Titan
7. When The Beast
8. Third Person
2010 Season Of Mist
When it was first announced that Atheist, the nearly universally acclaimed death metal pioneers, would be making an addition to their legendary catalogue after a 17 year absence, I had very mixed feelings. I can't really think of another recent metal album that has had higher expectations to meet. You could wave Cynic in my face right about now, but they were only one-trick ponies before Traced In Air. And other notable contemporaries like Morbid Angel? They've all had a few too many misfires over the years to play in Atheist's league. Let's face it, Atheist's 3-album discography is about as perfect and consistent as it gets, and watching them try to append something to it is downright scary.
However, after having played through the album numerous times, all I can say is thank God it doesn't suck! If I could think of a less ironic way to express that sentiment, I'd use it, but the fact of the matter is that Jupiter is pretty damn good. Really damn good actually.
Musically, Jupiter picks up right where 1993's Elements left off, while dialing some of that album's experimental tendencies back just the right amount. On album opener, "Second To Sun," the band comes charging out of the gates with some great jazzy dissonance before switching over to a no-bullshit feast of riffs and solos that lasts for pretty much the entire duration of the album. Atheist has always favored quick tempos and stop-start song structures, but on Jupiter, they manage to work in a few more memorable melodic riffs than usual. The album's flawless mix really highlights the impressive song writing, allowing all of the instruments to wander sporadically across an expectedly vast array of styles without sacrificing any clarity.
Furthermore, each of the band members possesses a crazy level of technical prowess, and on this record, they flaunt it for all it's worth. Seriously, it's incredibly easy to get caught up listening to nothing but the bass (no one will be whining about the absence of Tony Choy after hearing the bass playing on the album, that's for sure) or nothing but the drums and completely zone out huge sections of the album. Changes of pace such as the short jazz-laden interludes sprinkled throughout the album (most notably on album closer "Third Person") provide yet another level of accentuation. In short, Atheist really did everything they could to make Jupiter worthy of countless replays.
Now, my one minor complaint about the record concerns Kelly's vocals. While his pissed-off, Chuck-Billy-on-crack approach generally ranges from outstanding to simply passable, there are a few spots on the album where the vocals cause some trouble. The repeated vocal lines in each of the middle few tracks all sound out of place or inappropriate to me, with the repetition of the title in "Faux King Christ" even coming close to annoying. I'm not sure what the band was trying to achieve with these parts as they don't really do the songs the justice they deserve. Of course, it could very well be the case that these sections just don't appeal to my tastes. Regardless, complaining about the vocals on an Atheist album is kind of like complaining about the lack of a clever simile in an album review; Kelly's vocals will never make or break an Atheist album.
Bottom Line: I could sit here and write about Jupiter for hours; I feel like every song and even some of the riffs could be worthy of their own full-length reviews. Okay, maybe I'm starting to exaggerate a little bit, but nonetheless, this is definitely a complex record, and one that I imagine a great many Atheist fans will enjoy for years to come. What more can I say? A nearly perfect 3-album discography has now become a nearly perfect 4-album discography. Hopefully in another 17 years we'll be holding our breath again as they set their sights on 5.