In 2007, tech death pioneers Atheist announced that they would be playing some of their last shows ever, and specifically, that their appearance at Chicago Powerfest that year would be the band’s last in the Midwest.  Heavily into Atheist, I jumped at what would most likely be the only chance I’d ever have to see the group, convincing fellow journalist Scott Alisoglu that the eight-hour trek would be worth it.  And it was, despite the nine hours I spent in a vomiting delirium the day of Atheist‘s performance.  But that night, to see the band on stage performing cuts from Piece of Time and Unquestionable Presence with the same enthusiasm and precision they poured out at the studio 20 years prior was indescribable.  If there’s such a thing as a religious experience, I had it that night, which is amusing for various reasons.

Moving to the more recent past, I was more than a little stoked to find that Atheist was releasing new material, and incredibly anxious to hear it, but also wondering how it would stack up in comparison to their pivotal releases from the ’90s.  I wondered, could it top an album as strong as the structured yet chaotic Piece of Time, or the experimentally wild Elements?  The answer to that question is no, but it’s not as if Kelly Shaefer and his cohorts didn’t try, and it’s also not to say that Atheist‘s efforts at outdoing themselves fell flat.

With the news of classic groups reuniting and creating new material these days, it always leaves fans questioning what the new stuff will sound like — whether it will be a direct continuation of the old material, a modern version of the classic sound, or way out in space somewhere.  Rest assured that Jupiter is unmistakably Atheist, albeit of the modern variety, but don’t let the “modern” tag frighten you.   Jupiter unleashes the trademark intensity and calculated madness that any proper Atheist material should, along with an exceptionally high level of ferocity, proving that Atheist can still obliterate any tech death band in their path more than two decades after they pioneered the genre.

Let’s start with Jupiter‘s first track and single, “Second to Sun.”  From the very first breath of life into this album, it’s quite obvious that Atheist is back in the business of musical mindfuckery, and with a vengeance.  Mind-bending riffs (provided by Shaefer, Chris Baker, and newcomer Jonathan Thompson), a dense bass line (also Thompson — no Tony Choy this time around), and mercurial drumming (from Steve Flynn) all tangle through a labyrinth of weird time signatures, topped by Shaefer’s primal screams.  All of it makes for a deliciously wicked listening experience, and should send Atheist fanatics into a frenzy.  “Fictitious Glide” is equally as fierce as its predecessor, featuring incredible sections of low end lunacy.  “Fraudulent Cloth,” a vicious number addressing pedophile priests, puts emphasis on wicked grooves and, in this reviewer’s opinion, is the crowning jewel of Jupiter, with “Second to Sun” coming in a close second.  “Live and Live Again” is perhaps the most modern-sounding offering on the album, with a seething chorus section.  “Faux King Christ” gets the Elements treatment with a jazzy touch, while “Tortoise the Titan” is all-around blazing and filled with some of Shaefer’s best screams.  “When the Beast” is a somewhat slower-paced hypnotic, manic piece, while closer “Third Person” leaves listeners with just the right taste of anger, sweat and skepticism in their mouths.

All in all, Jupiter is a stellar release that fans are sure to love.  Not sure what else I can add.  If you call yourself an Atheist fan, you need to own this album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jodi Van Walleghem
November 8th, 2010


  1. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Steven Flynns drumming makes this sound much more like Atheist than Elements did.

  2. Commented by: Staylow

    Great review Jodi. This album not only met my every expectation, it completely and totally shattered them. Jupiter easily stands among their early classics.

  3. Commented by: Zach

    It’s a kickass album and a hellva return.

  4. Commented by: Desperado

    Nice review. Its probably just me but this has yet to click. I love Piece of Time and particularly Unquestionable Presence a great deal though Elements rarely gets any play time. Jupiter is alright, the production is well enough and playing tight but I guess I was hoping for that crazed spazzy thrash vibe to return. At least there are other solid classics such as Incubus and Hellwitch to satisfy the urge. Eventually this should find its way into my regular playlist but I dont know.

  5. Commented by: Evil In U

    My only complaint is that it’s too damn short.

  6. Commented by: Storm King

    Agree 100% that Steve Flynn’s drumming makes this sound more like Atheist than Elements ever did. Wasn’t sure they could pull this off, but, man, Jupiter is pretty damn good. Worthy follow up to the classic Atheist CDs

  7. Commented by: Stasis

    Don’t have this album yet, but def plan on getting it. Was always wondering why nobody ever praises Elements? In my opinion, Elements seems the most technically progressive out of the 3 classic albums, and my favorite. Felt like they were really at the top of their game in regards to playing their instruments. Is it because it’s not the “original” line-up? If that’s the case, I can understand. But that aside…the music speaks for itself.

  8. Commented by: Blackwater Park

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