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Piece Of Time - Atheist

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Heavy Metal / Artist: Atheist / Audio CD released 2005-09-26 at Relapse

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      30.01.2008 19:23
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      Atheist's first album (1988).

      Florida is the Mecca of eighties death metal, spawning its notable progenitors as well as some of its first ingenious innovators. Atheist are the most celebrated and pioneering of the technical death metal bands, a term usually applied these days to any monstrously heavy album that throws in some random guitar solos and messes around with the rhythm to make everything that little bit less appealing, and while it's their second album 'Unquestionable Presence' that proved the most inspiring, 'Piece of Time' is a debut headed in the right direction, and one that may even prove more palatable for traditional metal fans.

      Atheist is all about the performance, but not to the extent of virtuoso showing-off. No band member or instrument is secondary to the rest, and all put incredible effort and thought into making a classic album. Of course, saying that, Rand Burkey does let out a guitar solo roughly every ten seconds, and the rhythm section of Steve Flynn's drums and Roger Patterson's bass compete for the listener's attention at the cost of significantly disrupting the flow of things, but once you settle into it, this all becomes fairly standard; thus, the band needs to continue pushing the boundaries throughout. The jazz fusion influence makes this particularly unique among metal at the time, and most that has come since has been largely imitation, but it has all the intensity and aggression of its contemporary death metal and severe thrash bands like Slayer, with even more speed.

      Most of these songs are similar in their creativity: the first half features verses yelled by Kelly Schaefer in a proto death growl with traces of a standard thrash yell, before he shuts up to concentrate on rhythm guitar opposite Burkey for the instrumental and even more unhinged second half. With the exception of the truly epic finale that clocks in at an unprecedented four and a half minutes (honestly), these tracks are all short, fast and to the point, whatever the point may be, averaging around three minutes. This leaves the album noticeably short at only half an hour in length, but keeps the content of a consistently high quality by eliminating sub-par filler. It's the musical equivalent of living fast and dying young.

      With songs veering all over the place it's difficult and pointless to give individual exposition, but a few stand out rather nicely for succeeding in something different. 'Unholy War' is the shortest and increases the bar of speed significantly, so it's a good job 'Beyond' comes along to incite Schaefer into the same over-zealous performance as his bandmates, yelling his verses at astonishing speed without even slurring. This is also one of my favourite songs for its reliance on a heavy metal gallop in the early sections, and some really pleasant guitar harmonies before they become competitive and turn-taking again. The middle of 'I Deny' is the first time the album slows down considerably, though it's hardly a breather; that will only come right at the end with the atmospheric synthesiser introduction to 'No Truth,' though this eventually makes way for some more beastly tech-death for its final minutes. 'Piece of Time' is a great album for progressive- or death metal fans, and is actually a lot more accessible than you might expect, especially considering some of its later excesses. 'Unquestionable Presence' remains their magnum opus, but this is an excellent, if brief second-best.

      1. Piece of Time
      2. Unholy War
      3. Room With a View
      4. On They Slay
      5. Beyond
      6. I Deny
      7. Why Bother?
      8. Life
      9. No Truth

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Piece Of Time
      2 Unholy War
      3 Room With A View
      4 On They Slay
      5 Beyond
      6 I Deny
      7 Why Bother
      8 Life
      9 No Truth
      10 No Truth
      11 On They Slay
      12 Choose Your Death
      13 Brain Damage
      14 Beyond
      15 Hell Hath No Fury
      16 On They Slay
      17 Brain Damage
      18 Undefiled Wisdom