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Atheist - Unquestionable Presence CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.20 | 337 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Now this is what progressive metal should sound like if it was both progressive and metal enough at the same time..that however seems to be too high an ideal and very few prog-metal bands have succeeded in making metal footloose, nimble and creativity without sacrificing its sheer aggression - Aheist are one of those very few who did pull it off.

I would not really like to comment on the jazz-quotient or not of this album as I do not avidly follow jazz, though Kind of Blue does occupy my speakers from time to time. I can vouch for the fact that extreme metal was never so jazzy, so fun. What I can say for sure is that this is not so much death metal-based as thrash. The dual guitar attacks produce the specific minor-key, two-pronged, twitching riffs that thrash is not known for. Also, the vocals stop short of full-blown say that they sound the way Dave Mustaine of Megadeth would if he growled would be accurate. At the same time, the focussed, linear attack of thrash is entirely jettisoned for a punkish, flexible progression that probably owes more to grindcore than to the thrash or death metal of the time. However, this is hardly as one-dimensional and repetitive as grindcore. In a nutshell, Atheist draw from diverse influences and then bend it as they please. Nothing, it seems, can hinder their boundless creativity as they set about playing music the way they like it. Where much of technical metal is focussed on more and more involved guitarwork and faster and still faster drumming, this no-hangers on approach is also the fact that all the songs are short :P...all of 32 minutes, like Reign in Blood, only about a thousand times better.

There's not much more to add to what the other reviews have already discussed. I also agree that it is hard to pick out a standout or a weak link in the album as every track is an excellent rollercoaster ride through seemingly endless tempo - even genre - switches. But if I had to pick a grouse at all, it would be the guitar solos. Throughout the album, they seem to be firmly rooted in the thrash/NWOBHM mode. In an otherwise 'crazy' album, this element of conservatism is a little disappointing, but even that by Atheist's exalted standards.

Rather than Cynic's Focus, I believe it is Gorguts's Obscura that is this album's true successor (Gorguts however are not on the progarchives, I believe). However, that album is a lot more difficult to get into and even then is hit-or-miss whereas anybody who is used to metal madness and the weird vocal techniques we tend to dig :P, Unquestionable Presence unquestionably owns.


rogerthat | 5/5 |


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