Florida’s own technical metal legends Atheist, after disbanding for a second time in 1993 and reforming in 2006, have finally released an album of brand new original material aft er 17 years. Atheist, based in Sarasota, was noted for their technical ability, slippery time signatures, and jazz-fusion implementations, especially in 1993’s Elements. Does Atheist’s first effort in nearly two decades, Jupiter, prove to fans that they are still able to stand on their own?
After exploding onto the scene with 1988’s Piece of Time, Atheist was keen to experiment with jazz and maintain a complex sound. Unlike Elements, Jupiter’s defining characteristic is the modernized clear production and overall “brutal” approach to their music. The jazz influences are less obvious this time. Predictably, many old school fans were disappointed in this direction, but this is the sound that needed to happen for Atheist’s reprisal. In order to make a proper comeback, Atheist had to hit hard and make a proclamation that they still have the energy and the technicality.
As I began listening to the opening song, “Second to Sun,” I admit I found myself confused about the sound and style. Have modern bands that pass themselves off as technical metal ripped off a great deal from Atheist, or has Atheist picked up influences from more modern bands? I wondered this because despite the modernized production, it still sounds like Atheist, as if they never really changed.
With this, I have perhaps realized the impact this band has had on just about every technical metal band, especially considering the fact that Florida is swarming with them today (the good and bad). If the production on the material for Piece of Time or Unquestionable Presence were modernized, this may be more evident. “Second to Sun,” it must also be said, is an excellent way to kick-start the album and throws the tricky, left -brained riff s immediately. Atheist has no shame in snarling lyrics that openly mock religion and glorify the artistry of
nature (a line from “Second to Sun” reads, “You call it God, I’ll worship the sun; without all her fi re there won’t be anyone!”) and vocalist Kelly Schaefer executes them appropriately with sinister, sardonic screams that are, oddly enough, intelligible for a style typical of the subgenre.
Considering some of the song titles such as “Fictitious Guide,” “Fraudulent Cloth,” and the pun obviously intended, “Faux King Christ,” the past 17 years have culminated in a newfound anger as well.
All eight of the songs on the album are very enjoyable to listen to from the standpoint of an extreme metal enthusiast. The only problem I have had with this album (and come to think of it, any of their past albums except perhaps Elements) was the fact that there were, indeed, just eight songs, clocking in a total of a little over 30 minutes.