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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 I can't believe how much it took for me to really appreciate this album. For me this must have been one of the most hard listenings ever. "Unquestionable Presence" is the second album of Tech Death Metal masters Atheist,from Florida, and it is with this record that the band goes down in metal history.

After "Piece of Time", the band's ambitions for the next album were much higher. To the usual death metal elements, Atheist put in their music jazzier moods and harmonies as well as Latin music based rhythms; "Unquestionable Presence" seemed to reach the pinnacle of death metal, and it never had so many influences before. In fact, UP was released in 1991, a few years after the official birth of the genre. What strikes the most about this album is the almost total lack of melody in all eight songs; all of these, despite being short tracks, have an impressive amount of time changes,which can make the listener completely confused even if he gets for distracted for one second.Despite it being pretty ambitious, it still maintains a typically death metal sound; violent and at times thrashy guitars, the growl vocals (even though singer Kelly Shaefer uses exclusively high pitched growls, comparable to Death singer Chuck Schuldiner), the fast tempos, the pounding bass and drums.

Then again, these elements are brought up to a whole new level thanks to the excellent musicianship from all members:the already mentioned singer Kelly Shaefer is very original in playing his part, Randy Burkey fills everything Kelly does, Tony Choy proves with all the bass solos through the album that he is one of the best bassists of the genre, and Steve Flynn has some amazing fills and rhythms that totally win my respect. The production of the album is quite impressive, compared to the kind of lo-fi sounding productions in the metal scene, especially thrash metal, that was around in that period.

"Mother Man" is the opening track, quite possibly the band's most famous song and their most beloved. A death metal classic; but we have also other songs that are perfectly able to e compared to the opener, like the title track, with it's mysterious intro and amazing riff, or "Enthralled In Essence" with it's odd time tempos and constant changes, "An Incarnation's Dream", containing the best intro for a song in the entire album, "The Formative Years" with it's wild drums, and the final "And The Physic Saw", another classic of the band.

Despite being only 32 minutes, "Unquestionable Presence" is an absolutely radical landmark album of Death Metal. If you want to start listening to tech death metal (I find it hard to believe that you're already into it but you haven't heard this album at least once), this is one of the starting points, no doubt in that.

EatThatPhonebook | 4/5 |


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