Reviewed: August 2020
Released: 2020, Transcending Obscurity Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Sometimes you really need to be in the right mood for certain music.
Jupiterian’s Protosapien is one such example, and the mood it wants you to be in, the atmosphere it revels in and drips with, is one of total, brutal, oppressive darkness. It is, in this regard, one of the purer expressions of doom metal I’ve heard.
Quite often, when you see the tag “death-doom”, it leans more heavily on the doom side of things. Usually it’ll be doom metal at the core, with some traits of death metal here and there, like harsher vocals and the occasional bit of blast beating. This isn’t aimed as a criticism, I love me some good death-doom, but Protosapien is notable as a more complete mixture. The uncompromising brutality of death metal merges seamlessly with the equally unrelenting force of doom.
Everything about the album is vicious and crushingly heavy, filled with spite, scorn and dread, and the tracks on here will take the listener on a whole range of terrifying sonic journeys. Capricorn’s doom soundscape is a trip through the bowels of hell, Voidborn is the sound of ancient evils stirring among the stars, letting out bursts of blast beat madness when such beings are glimpsed. Earthling Bloodline plays with some funeral doom passages, putting me in mind of Tyranny, picking up more of a solid rhythm later on, and Starless’ melodies shift as they go between hopeful and despairing, giving the feel of being continually dragged under by a mire of fear and self-doubt.
The vocals are low gurgles and churning bellows, with occasional rasps; don’t expect to understand a whole lot, but it’s an album where the vocals are more an accent of the atmosphere than a focal point in themselves. The songs also have fairly limited dynamics within themselves. There are minor shifts in tempo and pace, but for the most part each track builds subtly as it goes rather than overtly changing gears. And it may not be a musical feature, but the album also benefits from some superb artwork from Mariusz Lewandowski (also responsible for Bell Witch’s art), with the musty, cobweb-wrapped skull perfectly symbolising this brand of grim doom.
Protosapien is a tricky one to rate, just because it’s such a singularly focused piece. If not in the right mindset, it may do nothing for the listener. But if you crave something utterly unforgiving, Jupiterian have something to show you. There’s no contrast of light and dark here, it’s all darkness, all the way down the deep, dank, mouldy pit Jupiterian want to pull you into.