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Atheist - Piece of Time CD (album) cover

PIECE OF TIME

Atheist

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.69 | 97 ratings

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Xanadu97
4 stars While ATHEIST's inclusion here is almost certainly down to its following two albums, their debut is very much an essential piece of Florida death metal which captures the vibrancy of the scene at the time. It has the hallmarks that made this region a hotbed for this style, not least of all that the vocals are set apart from other bands by Kelly Shaefer's use of a higher pitched aggressive scream as opposed to the grunting vocals this style is synonymous with. Taking cues from the more aggressive thrash metal and burgeoning death metal style, ATHEIST's original goal was to combine the aggression they heard in bands like SLAYER with the complexity they heard in Rush. While the result was not the most brutal even at the time, it was marked by a complexity that was a notch above what the other bands were doing. DEATH were just starting to develop their sound away from their raw early material, CYNIC were still in brutal thrash territory and PESTILENCE were making some of the most gut churning sounds imaginable. ATHEIST were a bit ahead of things here, even eclipsing the technical displays put forward by MORBID ANGEL.

Like most bands of the late 80s, their songs stood apart from each other while still playing out in the same general style. It is not quite anything progressive but leans on death metal's unconventional song structures by cycling through a multitude of riffs and lead breaks that ignore conventional song constructions. A fair few of these tunes were adapted from earlier demos, e.g. On they Slay, and so display more of a traditional heads-down metal approach, while only a few (the title track included) give hints at the direction they are headed in. Every one of the nine songs on the original record are good, all worked on carefully and are identifiable after a few listens which makes this an almost perfect death metal record but still an unsatisfying prog one. I feel that this will still be enjoyable to fans of more extreme prog metal but is not the best gateway into the band's work even for them. "Unquestionable Presence" is recommended over this in that respect. My personal highlights for this album that best represent it are: Piece of Time, Room with a View, On they Slay and No Truth.

This was finally re-released late in 2005 after having been a highly sought after rarity in the underground metal scene for years, including with it several complete demos and a more than worthy amount of liner notes and old band photos. This version is definitely worth the money for those still collecting CDs, and an example of a reissue worked on with respect and care.

Xanadu97 | 4/5 |

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