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Atheist - Elements CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 297 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars In the same vein as bands like Cynic and Pestilence, Atheist had a unique brand of jazz/fusion/death metal. With Elements, Atheist added a latin flavor to their mix, and to good effect. Bassist Tony Choy (formerly of Cynic and later of Pestilence) replaced former bassist extraordinaire Roger Patterson, deceased in a bus accident while on tour with the band. Patterson was mainly responsible for the band's sound, being the main songwriter. Tony Choy was, however, a more than suitable replacement (apparently the band tried to hire Watchtower's bassist Doug Keyser after Patterson's death, but he was not interested). Drummer Josh Greenbaum, while not as technical as his predecessor Steve Flynn, managed to create interesting drum parts on this album.

Some felt that Elements was a let down after Unquestionable Presence, which, in my opinion, was a bit too technical for it's own good. The songs on Elements have more cohesiveness to them, and are more easily remembered (therefore memorable) than any of the band's previous offerings. All of the songs are mid-tempo metal-jazz-fusion- latin flavored, and this really set Elements apart from any album of the era in that genre. The focus on Elements was more on songwriting than on technical prowess, even though technicality is still very much present. Every musician is a delight to listen to. The vocals, however, might not appeal to everyone, being in the death metal registry, while still being comprehensible. I personally have no problems with Kelly Shaeffer's voice. The production was average, given the small budget they had and the time (or lack thereof) they had to recruit new musicians, write, rehearse and record the album (something like a month or two, according to the liner notes in the reedition).

The thematic aspect of the album was also original (titles like Green, Water, Air, Mineral and Fire say it all), environmentally (and intelligent) engaged lyrics, giving voice to the elements of nature and what they would say to mankind given the power of speech.

I cannot name standout tracks as I love them all, but what keeps me from giving this album a five star rating is the production, and the fact that death metal vocals don't appeal to all. Still very highly recommended, very close to being a masterpiece.

4.5 stars!

Melomaniac | 4/5 |


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