Haunting The Chapel

Hear Atheist’s First New Music In 17 Years, Read Our Q&A

I’ve made big huge claims for Jupiter, Sarasota technical/progressive death metal fusion legends Atheist’s first album in 17 years. As I tweeted last month: “Current/comeback Cynic + Atheist are doing their best work to date. (Insert joke about teaching old technical death metal bands new licks.)” Cynic’s Traced In Air made my 2008 Top 10. Expect Jupiter to do very well this year. Maybe I’m putting their followup to 1993’s Elements above Piece Of Time and Unquestionable Presence (blasphemy, I know) because I’m drawn to its darker, denser, more intense sound. You get the jazz elements, filtered through something more apocalyptic, unrelenting. Folks may be turned off by Jason Suecof’s glossier 2010 production, but I think it adds power and works in the songs’ favor. To help you get acquainted, I’m posting two tracks, opener “Second To Sun” and track four “Live, And Live Again,” along with an interview I recently did with jovial singer/guitarist/co-founder Kelly Shaefer. (On the album, Shaefer’s joined by original drummer Steve Flynn, ’06 live reunion guitarist Chris Baker, and new guitarist/bassist Jonathan Thompson.)

STEREOGUM: Why’d you decide to reunite/record another album after 17 years? Were you at all influenced by Cynic’s return?

KELLY SHAEFER: We have always been very close with Cynic, they were at (original bassist) Roger Patterson’s funeral they are great friends of ours, and always will be — but, actually, we re-issued our catalog in 2005 and saw the same amazing response we saw in 2006 upon our (live) return. However, they decided to do a new record at a time when we weren’t sure if we wanted to, or even could do that, because Sean and Paul both live in LA, but I live in Florida, and the band lives in Atlanta, Georgia so that made for a different set of circumstances. But it’s thrilling to be back alongside my old friends to confuse the shit out of people for 15 more years … I (do) think we inspire one another. We have always had a great respect for each others accomplishments musically. Those guys are great!

STEREOGUM: What are some differences you’ve noticed in the scene/the music industry?

KS: Well the sheer number of bands doing it has to be noted. I mean in 1988 there were far far less reaching for the pie of unique and interesting — most were content with a side dish of mediocrity. Now 20 years later, it’s great to see all of the young bands fucking going for the throat and pushing the boundaries, and I am as well proud of the Florida Alumni of metal at the tops of the game. Another major change has been the ability to be viral in your marketing of your music: It’s 100 times easier today than 20 years ago to get your music to the people. Without the help of a label, you can build your own following, and write yourself a much better ticket in terms of a record deal … But the communication lines between fans is light years ahead of when we started. The competition between bands is probably a healthy thing.

STEREOGUM: Any newer bands influencing you?

KS: Nah, we honestly do what we do, and that’s what we like to do. We are, however, very impressed by many young bands — we toured with The Faceless and Obscura … those guys are fantastic, and I tip my hat to them both for pushing and pushing. That’s what keeps things from being boring and stagnant. I think it’s safe to say we do not sound like anyone, my friend. For better or for worse…

STEREOGUM: So no contemporary influences on Jupiter?

KS: No, Jupiter is inspired by a chemistry between two old and dear friends, myself and Steve Flynn, with two new paint brushes in Jonathan Thompson and Chris Baker to sort of bring some new color to our palette and to allow us to paint a brand new Atheist.

STEREOGUM: What’s the story behind “Second To The Sun”?

KS: I wrote it about the parallels I see between Jupiter and the Sun, and People and the Sun. I personally would rather worship the sun everyday, and give glory to “earth” and the moon, and the sun — these are real idols I can count on. I answer only to earth and myself … that’s my dogma. Jupiter is also much like Atheist, very vast, but has no actual surface, much like Atheist … and we definitely have a great red spot, full of violent musical storms. So it was poetically, loosely based on that.

STEREOGUM: “Live, And Live Again”?

KS: Another topic and theory I can always count on, evolution! I left it very vague, so for me it applies to life, the band, just progress that I can see, and believe in … I will always trust nature vs. human thought, and reason.

STEREOGUM: Is Jupiter a concept album?

KS: It is a collection of eight individual ideas and opinions presented to conceptually take you on a flight into our new realm of uniqueness. We hope you will all take the trip!!!

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Atheist – “Second To Sun”
Atheist – “Live, And Live Again”

The lyrics for the tracks you just heard:

“Second To Sun”
Second to Sun, second to sun
Like Jupiter, we are the ones
All atoms, report to the sun…we are the ones.
Like Jupiter we are the ones, all atoms report to the sun, We are the ones!
The grandest performance, next in line to enormous.
Epicureans say it the senses, over reason to finish the sentence.
Gods and fear, glass ceiling above and below.
Why are we here, you were so sure we thought you would know..you don’t know!
And belief split to 4 like a cross on the floor
It split front, back and side from side, LIKE A CROSS Front, back, side to side LIKE A CROSS!
THEY CALLED IT GOD! I SAY THE SUN!
You call it god, I’ll worship the sun, without all her fire there won’t be anyone.
Second to Sun.
I wanna live like the red spot
Winds 11,000 miles per hour, red red hot!
I want my storm to never, ever end!
Fictitious

“Live, And Live Again”
Free flight to a field of happenstance..and the air is cold
Clutch tight to the appetite for the starving hesitations soul.
Another flight to the bluest skies, maybe I could just electrify.
To warm up a little happenstance to light my revolution on fire!
Live, and Live Again
Grass to plant to tree
Live and Live Again
Caterpillar to wings.
I did, I am, I will Live Again
I did, I am, I will Live Again!
It’s the rise, it’s the high noon, it’s the sunset
It’s the tide, when the moonlights beaming just right.
It’s the rise, it’s the high noon, it’s the sunset
It’s the side of a mountain, with a cloud ride
Live and Live Again
Grass to plant to tree
Live and Live Again
Caterpillar to wings
I did, I am, I will Live Again!
I did I am I will Live Again!

Jupiter:

01 “Second to Sun”
02 “Fictitious Glide”
03 “Fraudulent Cloth”
04 “Live and Live Again”
05 “Faux King Christ”
06 “Tortoise the Titan”
07 “When the Beast”
08 “Third Person”

Jupiter is out 11/8 via Season Of Mist.

Tags: Atheist