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Atheist - Unquestionable Presence: Live At Wacken CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.54 | 12 ratings

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Prog Metal Team
3 stars Please note that this is strictly a review of the first half of this album which contains the live performance from Wacken 2006. As for the second half that contains a best of-compilation, allow me to refer to my reviews of the original album trilogy since most of these tracks were already covered there.

Unquestionable Presence: Live At Wacken is a misleading album title since it originally made me assume that this was a gig solely, or at least primarily, dedicated to the highly acclaimed album titled Unquestionable Presence. This is not really the case since this performance features almost as many songs from the band's debut album, while Elements is completely ignored and I won't even go into the compilation part of this 2 CD release.

Before deciding whether I wanted to listen to this album on Spotify I read up on this release and found out that the whole recording was a spontaneous such. The band weren't originally planning to release this live performance but after hearing the Wacken recording, where the show promoters individually channeled each instrument making the final mix sound much more professional than the live recording that Atheist were originally planing to release as their first official live album, they were almost obliged to release it. According to the band's website, the members made sure not to enhance or edit this raw live recording and just released it the way it sounded during the show.

The idea of not editing the performance definitely sounded more heroic on paper than the actual experience would give it credit for since the production is definitely lacking in the overall sound department. This sound quality is almost on the same level as modern live albums that are done by bootleggers today and lacks any sound enhancement that would have made the experience truly enjoyable. This first reaction didn't really surprise me too much since both studio albums, Piece Of Time and Unquestionable Presence, have their own flaws in the production. Pretty soon I got used to the sound quality and moved my focus to the music that was performed.

Unlike the claims from the band members who mentioned that the performance wasn't as tight as they wanted it to be, I couldn't find any fatal errors that would support that claim. All of the members do a great job even though David Choy's contribution often falls out of the general sound picture due to the previously mentioned recording constrains. It also surprised me that while the studio albums mostly interested me for their progressive pieces, here it's those more simple Death Metal moments that completely steal the show. Songs like On The Slay, Unholy War and Your Life's Retribution actually sound more appealing here than on the original studio takes while favorites like Unquestionable Presence, Mother Man and Piece Of Time loose almost all of their magic in this very raw live setting. I think that this has a lot to do with Atheist's attempt to sound even more brutal than what they did on their studio albums. Seeing that Wacken is a notorious heavy metal festival I can imagine that the band almost felt obliged to give their most brutal performance that they possibly could conceive.

Unless you're Meshuggah, chances are that you'll loose most of your prog edge when you twitch your sound this much and this Atheist performance definitely fell victim to this. Still, I really can't complain about the enthusiasm level from the band members that can be felt during the gig which definitely makes me interested in what this reformed lineup plans to do on their upcoming studio album!

***** star songs: On the Slay (4:01)

**** star songs: Unholy War (2:28) An Incarnation's Dream (3:54) Mother Man (5:59) And The Psychic Saw (5:29) Piece Of Time (5:58)

*** star songs: Unquestionable Presence (4:53) Your Life's Retribution (3:17)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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