Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Jupiterian - Archaic EP (Review) & Full Stream



Album Type: EP
Date Released: 26/7/2014
Label: Self Release

‘Archaic’ DD track listing:

1. Archaic
2. Procession Towards the Monolith
3. Currents of Io

Bio:

The debut EP from Jupiterian "Archaic" was released on July 26th 2014.

Jupiterian are a Sludge, Death/Doom Metal band from Brazil. They was born in november 2013. After some line-up changes, in april of this year they started to record "Archaic", their debut at Improviso Studios.

To create their path through the catacombs, Jupiterian invited Moires (Gnaw their Tongues, Aderlating, Seirom) to collaborate on the on the homonymous opening track and James Plotkin (ex-Khanate), who previously worked with Bongripper, Conan, Windhand among others took care of the master.

The Band:

V | Vocals/Guitars
G | Drums
A | Guitar
R | Bass

Review:

Settling in to listen to a release by a band I’ve never heard before, the Archaic EP by Jupiterian. Given the band name and the titles of the songs, my interest is definitely piqued.

The title track comes first, and opens with feedback in classic doom style, before drums signal the band to come in with a brutish sludge riff. I find myself turning up the volume. Soon enough, the vocals come in, and the entire atmosphere to me sounds somewhat akin to Ahab, except more… raw. Especially similar are the vocals. Being a musician myself, I take note of the tones, which sound as if the amplifiers used are at their very limits. Just when I think I know what to expect and have this song pegged, the band break into a faster section that is far more atmospheric, with layered guitars and what sounds like strings, possibly a synth. Near the end of the song, the tempo drops again into pounding heaviness, but keeps the eerie atmosphere.

Moving on, the next song is entitled “Procession Towards the Monolith,” bringing to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey. Beginning with a soft, clean guitar intro makes the entrance of the full band all the more heavy. The riffing is complex despite its slow tempo, with harmonized guitars. Soon enough, the band moves to a steady but driving section that seems almost akin to a march, before the guitars diverge with one playing an unsettling lead higher up during the vocal parts. Later on, I’m struck by how this band has a knack for contrasting complexity and sparse simplicity. It’s almost as if the dual guitars weave in and out of each other, sometimes playing in simple unison, other times playing harmonized parts that sound almost like one instrument, while still other times playing very different parts that interact in interesting ways.

The third and final song, “Currents of Io,” is introduced with a sample from an old astronomy documentary (possibly the original Cosmos with Carl Sagan?); with music in the background that inspires trepidation. Slowly, distorted guitar fades in, the whole band kicking in right after the documentary narrator pronounces “This... is Jupiter.” A funereal waltz ensues, with a high guitar lead playing off arpeggio lines by the other guitar and bass, before the other guitar moves to an almost Iron Maiden-esque harmony. Complex playing, despite the slow tempo.

Soon enough, another complex riff comes in, but this time the band plays almost in unison (almost, because the bass part is audibly different than the guitar line) when the vocals roar, and the time has switched to 4/4. Around halfway through, what could almost be called a bridge comes in, with epic, almost triumphant chording, before dropping off once again for the documentary narrator to come back in, describing Jupiter’s immensity, “almost a thousand times the size of Earth,” at which point verse riff kicks back in, but this time with a guitar harmony. Seven and a half minutes in, building off the momentum previously in the song, the band increase the tempo to a driving march, beginning with staccato chugging by one guitar and the bass while the other guitar leads, before the texture opens up, revealing the preceding section to have been an intro of a sort to the song’s, and therefore the record’s, grand finale.

This is the band’s most cinematic songwriting yet, and it does call to mind a vision of a spacecraft flying through the Jovian system, humans reduced to insignificant specs against the majesty of Jupiter and its moons, while also perturbed by the utterly alien setting. And then, a little over ten minutes in, the band suddenly stop, leaving the listener with almost the audio equivalent of sea legs or whiplash.

Listening to the record again, the sound/production is interesting. As a bassist, I’m pleased that the bass sound is both very aggressive and quite audible. It’s always a pleasure to hear a metal album where that’s the case. The guitars are thick and heavy, but somewhat oddly dry sounding. It isn’t bad, it’s just not the sound I may have gone for myself, especially during the more atmospheric sections.

One thing I hadn’t mentioned before, but will now, is that the drumming on this record is superb, especially in the title track. In fact the performances from all the musicians are quite solid. Some say that doom metal, due to being slow, must be easy, but anyone who has played it knows that this is not necessarily the case, especially with parts as divergent as some of those on this record get.

Of course, even on a good record, there are some things I thought could have been better. Sorry guys, this is a review. Gotta do it. Firstly, I feel that the transition between “Procession Towards the Monolith” and “Currents of Io” could have been smoother. I don’t normally go for fadeouts, but I think letting the middle song’s last notes ring out and fade out while the last song’s intro begins could have sounded nicer, and not doing so was in some ways a missed opportunity. Then again, perhaps they tried this in the studio and it didn’t work. It’s a very minor complaint, I must stress.

The vocals are good for this style, but while competent, I would suggest trying different pitches/vocal textures. There were a couple moments of that on this release, but they were rather brief.

But back to the good stuff… this is a solid, heavy record. “Currents of Io” is my favorite on the record so far, and I think Jupiterian made a good decision in closing with it. It’s the song in which their tendencies towards both the epic (I know that word is overused somewhat these days, but it applies to some moments on this record) and atmospheric are on full display… tendencies I hope that will be further explored in the future.

Overall, on a number scale, I’d rate this album a high seven to low eight out of ten.

If this band makes it up to northern California at any time in the future, I will definitely be going to see them, and I’ll be looking out for future releases by them as well. I expect some great things.

I would expect fans of bands like Loss, Ahab, and Lycus to get really enjoy this record. Jupiterian is worth checking out.

Words by: Dan Brownson

You can pick up a copy here



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