Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Published 17 December, 2014
Slow burnin' rock 'n’ roll
So apparently hard rock and metal sub genres are so splintered these days that there is such a beast as “psychedelic space doom rock” according to the Jupiter Zeus’ Facebook page. Now, as a collection of adjectives, I can see merit in the descriptions that each of those four words provokes within my mind. But collectively as a noun, I’m not so sure what that means musically. The bigger issue with such a description is not what it conveys per se but what it doesn’t convey.
A significant portion of this Western Australian quartet’s musical output is heavily rooted in stoner rock. Now, for the most part, they are not another Kyuss or Queens of the Stone Age clone. Alongside the aforementioned collection of adjectives and the just mentioned stoner legends, it’s true that all of those influences make up Jupiter Zeus. But there’s clearly more to this band than meets the eye, er... ear. Following on from their debut EP Green Mosquito from earlier this year, it’s clear that Jupiter Zeus are keen on keeping the momentum going with their long player, On Earth.
Chunky, solid, bluesy-bordering-on-sludgy guitars are the foundation for the group’s dense sound. Whilst overdriven guitar tones may define the band’s sound for the most part, at times, the simple is better approach featuring delicate, spaced out textures, gentle passages and excellent vocals that waft between soothing melodies and even soaring choruses are all reminiscent of the darker side of Alice of Chains. Truth be told there’s not a whole lot of space rock influences here. It’s more of an infectious blend of Black Sabbath and Alice in Chains more than anything.
Vocalist/guitarist Simon Staltari has a deep, dark rock ‘n’ roll vocal style which has a tone that blends David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) and Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) and at times is eerily similar to the clean vocals of Contrive’s Paul Haug. It’s matched perfectly to the style of the band’s music and the end result is easily digested and rather pleasing to the ear. I’m not sure what it is exactly but as an album, it wasn’t something that hooked my attention upon first contact. It was only after a few listens did the songs begin to stick and the melodies and riffs become more memorable and soon enough, there was an air of familiarity surrounding the songs when they started.
One of the best things about On Earth is the variety of the material. It’s all true to band’s chosen style, but the songs themselves are unique in that they maintain their own identity. From the layered alt-rock dirge of the opener “Waves” to the ringing drone of “Over” through to the as-close-to-a-ballad-as-they’ll-get like “Talkback Caller” to the powerful finale, “State of Mind”, Jupiter Zeus have crafted some bloody good songs.
On Earth won’t be an album that will be the exclamation mark on what has been an amazing year for metal releases. It won’t be an album that will break them into the Top 40 charts or anything like that, either. But what it will be is the album that will garner them some well earned attention. It may also be the one that really gets the ball rolling for these guys from this point on. It should be too, because On Earth is a damn fine album and a joy to listen to time and time again.
Magnetic Eye Records/Firestarter Distribution