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Clipped Shit - 0%

__Ziltoid__, November 8th, 2010

After TNOTB was kindly given a promo version of the album from Season of Mist, I was going to be patient like any regular fan, but I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to hear this long-awaited album so early before it’s release and give it the glowing recommendation it would undoubtedly deserve as the logical extension of the sound on Elements. Well, are you expecting love for Jupiter because it’s in this column, the one I pretty much devote to death metal that I happen to love? Too bad. Sadly, I regret ever wanting to listen to this jumbled mess of an album. Frankly, I can barely listen to this atrocity. Being one of my first death metal bands, I love all of Atheist’s old material, but this album just doesn’t cut it in any way. Consider this my disappointment of 2010.

Firstly, the biggest criticism I have with this album is with it’s production. It’s clipped worse than Death Magnetic! Sonically, I think that this is the worst, most sterile-sounding album I’ve ever heard. Of course, I half-expected this when it was revealed that Jason Suecof (i.e., the dude who mixes/produces seemingly all of the sterile crappy mainstream metal these days) was mixing the album, but this is worse than I could have possibly imagined. This fucker is clipped to hell, and the entire mix is void of any dynamic range whatsoever, leaving each instrument as some lifeless layer of loud noise. Hell, clipping aside, the mix is still terrible, with the drums obnoxiously loud, the vocals kind of muddy-sounding, the guitars a little bit low for my liking, and the bass just existing, lacking the genuine feel it had on Unquestionable Presence.

As for the music itself, it’s really fucking boring. Atheist used to be innovators. Now it seems like they listened to a Necrophagist or The Faceless album and though, “Hey, now people want tech death to sound like this.” Sure, the technicality is still present, but it just seems to have no purpose. On all of Atheist’s older albums, the songs had a sense of direction–the technicality was there for a reason, and the complex song structures were natural progressions of the music. Here, it just feels like technicality for the sake of being technical, with parts just cut and pasted together. I think I need to go through this album track by track to really get all of my gripes out.

In addition, there are some attempts at being catchy (which Atheist used to be surprisingly good at, considering that they’re a death metal band), such as on ‘Second to Sun,’ but those fail miserably. That riff at 2:01 sounds like some shit I’d hear in a Lamb of God song! That section at 2:40? It sounds like some bad attempt at a breakdown. No, not like the awesome one in ‘An Incarnation’s Dream,’ but more like one you’d find in a Suicide Silence song. Yuck!

Surely things must get better, right? Well, no. ‘Fictitious Glide’ is next, and this is just getting more boring by the minute. The riffs at the beginning of this song are so bland it isn’t even funny. Then the “technicality” shows up for some reason, and it sounds completely out of place. It just gets worse when Kelly’s vocals join in the mess, making for a clusterfuck of tech-drivel. The solos are stale and forced, just like any modern tech-death that’s been released over the past few years. Hell, what the fuck is with that riff at 3:11? I could almost see some crappy groove metal band playing that. At the very least, the solo section starting at 3:45 is decent. It sounds a bit forced (especially due to the fact that it’s rather fast, considering that speed has never been a priority for Atheist), but at least it’s an interesting enough arrangement.

‘Fraudulent Cloth’ just starts with an obnoxiously boring riff, and Kelly’s vocals has never sounded so past their prime. I saw Atheist live last year, and they played an amazing show, so I really don’t know what happened to Kelly’s vocals between then and now. Well, this song is just more of the same. Sterile production, sterile riffs, and “tech-y” songwriting (and I mean that in the most negative way possible). When I hear the obligatory tech bits in these songs, I can’t help but be reminded of later-era (read as: boring) Dream Theater. It just feels like it’s now a contest of “Look what I can do,” and it fails miserably at sounding like a coherent musical structure.

‘Live, and Live Again’ continues with the boring, simple riffs that eventually transition into boring technical sections. The chorus on this song is just laughable, and the production here sounds especially botched for some reason. Oh well. The break at 1:50 had some potential, but Kelly’s Mudvayne-like vocals just make this section impossible to take seriously.

‘Faux King Christ’ starts with a rather boring intro. Kelly’s vocals sound pretty funny here too, with the chorus of “Faux King Christ” sounding like “FUCK-ING CHRIST.” Oh, how clever! If you want some lifeless guitar wankery, then jump straight to 1:53 and hear the solo. Really, it’s getting pointless for me to keep describing these songs, since they’re practically indistinguishable from each other and completely unmemorable aside from a few silly vocal lines.

‘Tortoise The Titan’ might just be the dumbest title I’ve ever heard for a metal song. Sadly, the title is pretty much the only interesting thing going on here. These tremolo-picked riffs that are appearing all over Jupiter are just so utterly stale, and this song has a particularly boring one. Otherwise, just skip on to the next track.

The intro from ‘When the Beast’ is a perfect example of another gripe of mine with Jupiter. Whenever Atheist try to mix the death metal elements of their music with the jazzier, more technical drumming, it just sounds like a mess. On their older albums, Atheist did this with ease, so I’m just left here wondering what the hell happened. But none of that is as bad as the fucking nu-metal riff at 0:55. But wait, now there’s one of the fucking laziest breakdowns I’ve ever heard in my fucking life at 3:39! WHY?????? This is nothing like the Atheist of old. Instead, it’s a mockery of what used to be one of the best death metal bands in existence. I honestly can’t fathom how this is even Atheist.

Thankfully, ‘Third Person’ is the last song here. The intro was decently enough–a hell of a lot better than most of this album–but the vocals again make this laughable. This song has more of that chugging failure that has ruined some of the other songs on Jupiter, and by now, I can’t believe that they ever let such lazy riffing bear the Atheist name, a name which used to guaranty quality and originality.

Ever since I heard the first rumors about this album, I’ve been excited for it. Sure, reunions sometimes fail miserably, but hey, Cynic’s recent reunion turned out wonderfully. Traced in Air isn’t Focus, but it feels like a Cynic album, a definitively logical progression from their older material. Jupiter, unfortunately, feels like a rushed mash-up of bad ideas that were formed based on what the modern perception of technical death metal is, not the perception that Atheist pioneered for the genre back in the day. I hate to write such a negative review for a band I that used to be one of my favorites, but all I can say is that this is a genuine response from a genuine fan. I went into this wanting it to be my favorite album of the year, and it ended up being one of the most disappointing albums I’ve ever listened to. No joke, I actually shed a tear when I finished my first listen of Jupiter. Sorry, Atheist, but I can’t honestly recommend this album to anyone in good faith.

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