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Album Review: JUPITERIAN Terraforming

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For some reason, I am inherently delighted when discovering emerging metal groups outside of North America and Europe. It's as if I'm rooting for the underdog in an international sense. And maybe it's a tad presumptuous and inaccurate to imply the Brazilian metal scene is any less than other countries as it is birthed huge names like Sepultura, Angra, and Krisiun, but as a whole I don't consider Brazil to be a large creator of metal music. That being said, it came to a bit of a surprise when realizing Jupiterian originates out of the city of São Paulo in Brazil.

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Alike the aesthetic appeal of Ghost or GWAR, the four members are masked to both hide identity as well as create a dark persona for the band. Although both previously mentioned outfits are unique in their own right, I feel as if Jupiterian's executioner stylized outfits are the most fitting to their gloomy, visceral sludgy doom metal. While the music is of course the focus, the fact that their aesthetic matches their sound makes it all more enjoyable and immersive into the Jupiterian universe. Furthermore, each musician identifies as a letter, V being the vocalist/multi-instrumentalist, A as the guitarist, R the bassist, and G drumming. With their debut LP, Aphotic, out in 2015, Terraforming marks the band's sophomore record while being released via Transcending Obscurity.

In order to prove their musical diversity, the four-piece start the album off with some shakers, primal percussion, and a brooding bass line for "Matriarch." The guitar and drum kit immediately cuts in as the atmosphere shifts to a darker mood. As the doom-pace is propelled by blackened elements, the friction finally erupts mid-song allowing the sludgy riffs to curdle over the sour milk soundscape. And then before you know it, the seven-minute piece ends making way for yet another lengthy musical endeavor, "Unearthly Glow," resembling more typical doom traits alike Pallbearer. Next up, "Forefathers" is at parts messy and dissonant, yet never completely gets off the rails.

Title track features Maurice de Jong, the mastermind of experimental noisy black metal project Gnaw Their Tongues. While not a complete sore thumb, the song definitely stands out as being the most experimental on the record with harsh noise flirting with distant screams and growls. Essentially, this is the music you'd hear coming out of some demonic cave on a forbidden island. "Us and Them" initially calms the nerves but brings the musical macabre back with a pummeling drum beat and naturally a powerful guitar and bass line came forth. The build-up in tension and resolution on this piece served to be the most satisfying while also continuing an appealing melodic and rhythmic evolution throughout. Closing song, "Sol" continues the trend of claustrophobic doom all tied together with a nice bow at the end.

I've mentioned a similar notion previously in that the sludge and doom metal subgenres have the potential to be quite formulaic and predictable, so in order to combat such, bands must find ways of style fusion or experimentation to stand out. When considering if Jupiterian succeeds in differing themselves from the commonplace, I believe their use of unconventional instrumentation to add to their atmospheric elements, harsh use of dissonance, and actual appearance solidifies them as a unique act amongst other sludge or doom groups. Overall, Terraforming harkens feelings of discomfort all within a constant head-banging groove.

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Score: 8/10

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