On their sophomore record Protosapien, Jupiterian envisions a future that teases the ever-winding collective fear of humanity’s extinction, all through a harrowing blend of sludge, doom, and death metal.
The topic of the future is a daunting conversation starter. Fun, but definitely not for everyone. While some may soar through the possibilities of utopias, others succumb to the inevitable existential dread when pondering a life in the hands of machines. Of course, there is also a plethora of sci-fi entertainment depicting a wide range of envisioned futures. Brazilian doom masters Jupiterian, however, have something else in mind. What were to happen if humanity is consumed by a relentless void? What is there to look for after our planet decimates to utter wasteland? Protosapien might be a piece of the puzzle to answer these otherwise bleak scenarios, giving us a first sneak peek at a post-human world in its murky, primitive stages.
Protosapien is gargantuan in nature, eclipsing you with fervent riffs and a rhythm that suggests nothing but unknown danger. It is not exactly a danger akin to there being an immediate threat, but a sense of unease from not knowing where you’re currently standing. The dissonance achieved here is panic-inducing and perplexing. This was executed greatly on their debut record Terraforming, but this time the scope of sound is latched onto the primeval, onto a degenerating, downtrodden aura where flesh and bones are a mere afterthought.
Humans are no longer significant in this future Jupiterian have created, having returned to the very bottom of the Maslow hierarchy of needs: Survival.
The beauty of Protosapien really lies on how it plays with the psyche. The fear embedded in this record is immersive, and although there are only six songs in total, each of them carry a weight so dense that you can’t help but to feel wary of your surroundings. The second track “Voidborn” is a great representation of this. The pace at which the guitars move brings forth an impending doom as true as the genre the band plays, whereas the growls and snarls evoke manifestations not easily conceivable. The guitars then transition into a gnarly chugging that is suffocating, channeling a state of apprehension that convinces in everything being distant and unrecognizable. The rising despair then culminates in a descent into madness with blast beats and discordant riffage.
The music is as intense as the emotions it tries to instill. Yes, this record is quite heavy, but such heaviness is paired with a solid structure that captures and heightens the lingering feeling of terror. “Homecoming” serves as a foreboding introduction that builds a scene where isolation reigns, only to be trampled with the tremolo picking off the second track “Mere Human”. From this point on, it is difficult to escape from the clutches of these dismal tracks. The perennial motion lulls you into a nightmarish trance that hinders any effort to seek some semblance of hope.
The blend of growls and whispers found on tracks such as “Capricorn” and “Starless” further strengthen these mesmerizing soundscapes. Impotency is a feeling that might best describe when facing with such a record. The pummeling force behind Protosapien projects the feebleness of the human mind, roaming through and corroding the synapses that permits the ego to flourish, serving as yet another reminder that, in this world, humans are not the center of everything anymore.
Protosapien is one hell of a record. There are few metal records that capture a glimpse of a world in depravity as much as this one. Whether it’ll be eons away or sooner than later, Jupiterian convince us that their future is not one that we want or should aspire for. Besides being a truly harrowing listening experience, this record merges sludge, death, and epic doom metal masterfully, having the possibility of towering over other records as album of the year contenders. Regardless of the overwhelming qualities presented here, the end result is nothing short of gratifying. Though I do advise in treading carefully within the realms of Jupiterian, for Protosapien is not to be taken lightly.