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Jupiter Society - 2009 - "Terraform"

(55:07, Progrock Records)


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TRACK LIST:                   

1.  New Universe 9:01
2.  Rescue & Resurrection 9:55
3.  Cranial Implant 7:13
4.  Into the Dark 4:33
5.  Siren Song/Black Hole 8:19 
6.  Terraforming 7:26
7.  Beyond These Walls You Are Not my Master 8:40

LINEUP:

Carl Westholm – keyboards; programming
Mats Leven – vocals 
Nils Erikson – vocals 
Oivin Tronstad – vocals 
Peter Soderstrom – guitars 
Ulf Edelonn – guitars 
Stefan Fanden – bass 
Sebastian Blyberg – bass 
Christer Jansson – drums 
Lars Skold – drums 

Prolusion. JUPITER SOCIETY is a Swedish project, led by Carptree member Carl Westholm (formerly of Candlemass/Absrakt Alhebra) The initial release by Westholm and friends under this moniker was issued in 2008. The US label Progrock Records signed them shortly after the release of the first album and in the autumn of 2009 issued their sophomore effort "Terraform".

Analysis. When you're dealing with an album pretty much dominated by progressive metal exploring a concept story with a science fiction based theme and spice it all up with spacey and symphonic musical details, and involve a relatively high number of musicians and vocalists in the creation of the album, you're pretty much bound to make associations with the works of Arjen Lucassen. He may not have been the originator of such ventures, but he's pretty much made this particular part of the musical landscape his own. Space metal opera is a term used to describe such ventures. And while there are undeniable references to that general stylistic expression here, Carl Westholm and his associates manage to create their own universe within this niche. The most central aspect of this, as well as the debut effort of Jupiter Society, are the dark atmospheres created. Ominous, brooding moods are central throughout, provided by guitars as well as synths and keyboards. The guitar sound of choice is one with a close resemblance to Black Sabbath, and perhaps even more so to Candlemass. Those who enjoy six string antics from the Dream Theater school will not find much to enjoy here. But if slow, thundering riff cascades and drawn out heavy riffs are to your liking you're in luck. Symphonic synth textures, often with a distinctly dramatic nature to them, accompany the at times brutal dark guitars along space-tinged sounds of a distinct electronic nature. And while these elements combined can, and at times do, produce passages of a nature Wagner might have approved of, Westholm takes care to avoid creating compositions where grandiose melodramatic effects dominate. Guitars and synths pretty often have a subdued nature, while subtle details are lifted to the front. Whether it's a swirling, spacey synth passage over a richly layered symphonic construction or a gentle piano theme underscored by riff cascades, there are a lot of subtle details to the songs on this disc. Doom-laden guitar passages with epic symphonic cascades do pop up from time to time though, but mostly as a planned conclusion to a track or a sequence of themes within one rather than as a dominating feature of any given creation as such. Most ventures here also feature mellow passages with spare, gentle instrumentation. And a select few ambient-sounding passages are included as well, for variety as well as for the creation of distinct moods and atmospheres. Indeed, one of the highlights of this effort, the relatively short composition Into the Dark, doesn't contain any guitars at all. Instead piano and vocals are the central elements, underscored by subdued symphonic synth textures gradually rising in scope and intensity as the song unfolds. The vocals were a pretty important feature on the first Jupiter Society production, delivering and creating strong and distinct moods – at times the most central element of the composition. This time around the vocals are less important and tend to be somewhat more dramatic and less subtle in nature. They are still a central element on all excursions though, but those who really enjoyed that aspect of the initial effort of this project as well as those who didn't appreciate it might note that there have been some subtle alterations this time around.

Conclusion. Jupiter Society's take on progressive metal of the space opera variety continues pretty much as hoped and expected on their sophomore effort “Terraform”. Slightly heavier in expression and with a comparatively stronger emphasis on instruments over vocals, the moods are still dark - but perhaps more ominous and less bleak on this most recent effort. Distinct moods in generally strong songs are presented, and a few moments of pure brilliance also. Another strong effort in other words, highly recommended to anyone who might fancy a high quality progressive metal venture set inside a sci-fi based textual concept.

OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 3, 2009
The Rating Room


Related Links:

Progrock Records
Jupiter Society


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