I keep seeing the word ‘sludge’ used in relation to Brazilian coffin botherers Jupiterian, and it always strikes me as an inaccurate, if not downright dismissive, term to apply to their sound. Sure, I love a birra Noothgrush and EyeHateGod as much as the next flannel clad longhair but Jupiterian funnel the nihilism of that music into a far more precise and sinister form that’s a pitch black take on the slow and low, with a distinctly modern edge.
Certainly the opening black clouds of Mere Humans and Voidborn are a world away from any whiskey and weed Iommism, possessing an aura that places Jupiterian far closer to the doom/death bracket. This is ominous music, a soundtrack for grey days watching a storm gather on the horizon. Or, if you’re feeling more fanciful, awaiting the arrival of some kind of Lovecraftian unnameable to manifest itself. Having said that, Jupiterian aren’t entirely without basis in humanity, and as arcane as their sound is there are moments of melancholy injected throughout the six tracks.
There’s a sense as you listen that the darkness is becoming more gradual with each song. The musical katabasis becomes most apparent in the latter half, with the rumbling death riffing of Capricorn actually bringing UK legends Decomposed, or more recent Finnish ghouls Krypts, to mind for a moment. The mood becomes more claustrophobic, each vocal intonation is like a poison gas infecting everything with sulphur. As stark as it is though, the band never wallow too much, operating with a steady hand and never sinking in to murk completely. Starless is relatively uptempo for the band, and allows some of the most melodic moments on the album whilst somehow still feeling relentlessly bleak.
each vocal intonation is like a poison gas infecting everything with sulphur…
By the time we get to the closing Earthling Bloodline the shadows have descended fully and the album closes on the darkest point, the funeral doom influence really creeping in, a tolling guitar figure rising over the thick building chords beneath. The final moments ramp up the intensity for an unexpected malevolent sounding, blood freezing section that close the album in a gloriously ‘what the fuck?’ moment that you expect they’ve been building to all along.
Ironically around the time I’m writing this, it’s also the time that I would have had the opportunity to see Jupiterian here on Irish soil, as they were to grace our shores briefly with an appearance at the Monolith Festival in Cork. As with every other event scheduled for this summer however, its postponed another 12 months. Listening to this album can’t help but leave me feeling slightly robbed, as while the recorded versions presented on Protosapien certainly have a power to them, one can only imagine how suffocating they might come across in the live arena.
While that first hand live experience may be a while away yet, Protosapien will certainly suffice for now when the urge for a good ‘ol sensory battering arises.
Scribed by: Jamie Grimes