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Atheist - Unquestionable Presence CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.20 | 337 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Another wonderful experience brought to us by Atheist. This album is a more progressive and jazzy then "Piece of Time" but it is still firmly rooted in death metal. While this album is very technical in its riffs, (and drumming) has time signatures all over the place, a very stop and go feel, slower tempo sections and jazz fusion guitar solos, "Unquestionable Presence" is still very metal.

The problem with most death metal bands are the vocals, but I actually like Kelly's! They are atypical for most metal. I love the way he sounds and think his vocals go along with the music well. However, the production quality on this album is not the best. While, this gives it a kind of gritty feel, it makes hearing him, and the music, difficult. Besides singing he also lays down some nice rhythm guitar.

Rand Burkey plays some great guitar on this album. The riffs are really indescribable, you have to hear them for yourself. He plays some wicked solo's but they are mainly along the lines of typical metal solo's. Tony Choy puts on quite a performance on bass, (though most of the bass music was written by now deceased Roger Patterson). The drumming is technical and jazzy. It is very fill heavy and just sounds like madness. However, as fans of prog and jazz we know better. It is not random, but actually organized chaos!

Mother Man: This song has a short little guitar intro and bass breakdown before going into the technical riff, and jazzy metal drumming. Kelly has some intense vocals on this song, be warned. From 1:30 to 2:30 is a progression of technical metal riffs, melodic jazzy solos, and shred solos. The main song then picks up, although even this is unique. The riffs change constantly and solos randomly fill the music, a long with musical interludes with bird chirping.

Unquestionable Presence: One of the best intros on the album. While the "sound" of the album is here I think this may be the most straightforward metal song.

Your Lifes Retribution: A small stop and go, back and forth guitar intro then quick bass breakdown start the song before plunging into the fast riff. I LOVE the quick riff at :49, as well as the one at 1:36. The middle of the song is filled with solos, and the ending is intense. Some good bass on this song as well.

Enthralled in Essence: Has a slow, heavy beginning, followed by a quick solo. This is a medium paced song overall. Riffs have a great feel through the song.

An Incarnations Dream: The first minute is slow and melodic, with clean guitar work and solos. Really nice sound, then the intensity hits you like a wall, (well you have 1 second to brace yourself). A slower, heavy song for the first half, the last minute is quite technical and intense.

The Formative years: One of the slower songs on the album, its quite heavy and crushing most of the way through. There are some thrash parts. You can hear some of the best drumming on this song, and Choy plays some nice bass.

Brains: One of the standouts. Sweet intro right out of the gate, followed by some death metal riffs. At 2:00 the best part of the song starts. There is some really technical drumming over the last half.

And the Psychic Saw: My favorite song of the album. An intense thrash intro followed by an amazing guitar riff, soon being played by both. It continues as the bass and drums are added before going into a small, small solo and then the main song. Very thrashy but with several tempo and style changes throughout.

Overall, one hell of an album. However, this is not for everyone. The average progger should avoid this one. As well as fans of "lighter" prog metal. However, this is a must for any metal fan/heavy prog metal fans. While a great prog metal album it can be a bit predictable. Even each song is different and pretty wild, there is a more or less similar pattern followed. Quality is a bit poor. I give "Unquestionable Presence" a rating of 4 stars.

JJLehto | 4/5 |


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