Atheist Jupiter

Atheist Jupiter
There is no easy place to start when discussing Atheist's profound influence on modern metal, especially since the tech explosion of the mid-'00s. While it may seem merely a profitable time to jump back into the fray, especially considering two members many view as essential are nowhere to be found, long-time fans will be pleased to find the band in focused, dizzying form. While the Latin flavour and a sizable amount of the fusion influences so prevalent on Elements have been scaled back, Jupiter is surprisingly succinct and mean-spirited. Aside from opening salvo "Second to Sun" and mid-album epic "Faux King Christ," each track is under five minutes, packing a heaping serving of searing riffage more direct and breakneck than anything in their back catalogue, but a good deal less surprising. What is lacking in quirkiness and innovation can almost be forgiven in light of the near-perfect production, attention to detail and an unexpected injection of catchiness. Much talk has been made of Kelly Shaefer's plans to broaden his vocal palette, and the clean vocals edge the album towards slightly more accessible territory. Those expecting a full-blown re-treading of the first two records may find this new Atheist a bit too lean and modernized, but this is the type of album they had to make to re-establish themselves. And as a thinking person's metal record that still spits venom, it doesn't disappoint. (Season of Mist)