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Atheist Piece Of Time album cover
3.77 | 168 ratings | 16 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Piece Of Time (4:30)
2. Unholy War (2:18)
3. Room With A View (4:06)
4. On They Slay (3:38)
5. Beyond (3:00)
6. I Deny (4:01)
7. Why Bother (2:54)
8. Life (3:09)
9. No Truth (4:29)

Total time 32:05

Bonus tracks on 2000 remaster:
10. Undefiled Wisdom (4:30)
11. Brain Damage (4:49)
12. On They Slay (4:06)
13. Hell Hath No Mercy (2:58)
14. Choose Your Death (3:18)
15. No Truth (4:11)

Total Time: (55:57)

Line-up / Musicians

- Kelly Shaefer / lead vocals, lead guitar
- Rand Burkey / lead guitar
- Roger Patterson / bass
- Steve Flynn / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Ed Repka with Mark Weinberg (art direction)

LP Active Records ‎- ATV 8 (1990, UK)

CD Active Records ‎- CD ATV 8 (1990, France)
CD Newtown Music ‎- NMG 2810 (2000, US) Remastered by Patrick Baker with 6 bonus tracks taken from the "Beyond" demo, recorded in April 1988 at Morrisound Studios.

Thanks to Retrovertigo for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ATHEIST Piece Of Time ratings distribution

(168 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ATHEIST Piece Of Time reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Crow
3 stars Warning: Atheist is a quite progressive band, but this albums is still maybe too much death metal for standar progressive's lovers. This album can be called progressive death metal, yes. But it's not the style of Opeth or Meshuggah. Is very much raw and classic death metal oriented. So I think "Piece of Time" is not indicated for everyone...

But if you are into death metal, I think you surely will like this album. Most of the songs have a very complex structure, vertiginous rythm changes and incredible instrumental skill. For all that, is a death metal less monotonous than other bands of the same era like Obituary or Bolt Thrower, and maybe for that "Piece of Time" is still fresh and pretty enjoyable today.

My favourite songs: Piece of Time (a slash in the face), Room With a View (with a great macabre feeling...), On the Slay (incredible drumming here)

Specially indicated for death metal's lovers...

Review by FruMp
4 stars A promising start from one of the most talented, interesting and underrated metal bands of all time.

ATHEIST are one of those rare metal bands full of insanely talented individuals with interesting influences (Kelly Shaefer the singer cites Rush and King Crimson amongst his influences) that form a musical machine that writes songs that people can't even hope to imitate. This is progressive music, not in the traditional sense the elements of technicality and unorthodox songwriting that atheist incorporate into their music are easily apparent, make no mistake this is a progressive death metal band.

The album begins with the eponymous track in a foreboding mysterious fashion before and it's not long before we get a glimpse of ATHEIST's trademark technicality, this song is one of the highlights of the album especially the fast paced double kick driven ending complete with bitchin' solo. next up on 'unholy war' we get a brutal demonstration of drummer Steve Flynn's amazing talent however after the intro the song dies down a bit. The third song Room with a view is easily one of the best on the album if not the best, there are some amazing riffs and the song writing in particular shines through here, at around the 3 minute mark I thought the song was going to end and it was good enough at that point but cleverly they incorporated a building riff with some well considered soloing leading into a climatic double kick driven breakneck ending much like the first song. The next song on they slay is my personal favourite, it is very well paced and has a lot of the best riffs on the album although it doesn't end as strongly as the other 2 highlight songs.

Unfortunately from the exemplary beginning the album dies down a bit, there are quite a few interesting parts and some fairly decent songs but nothing sticks like the first 4 songs do, 'no truth' does end the album well though.

The instrumentation on this album is fantastic. Steve Flynn is one of my favourite drummers, it's clear he is a jazz trained drummer who then got interested in metal (more apparent on their next album unquestionable presence though) his drumming is ever interesting and technical, very groovy and frenetic yet appropriately brutal and heavy, the perfect drummer for this music - more metal drummers need to look up to drummers like him and create some interesting beats instead resorting to boring old heavy metal standards. The two guitarists Kelly Shaefer and Rand Burkey have great chemistry delivering some precise technical harmonised riffs and shredding their axes to bits, their guitar work is a joy to listen to. Kelly Shaefer's vocals are interesting by metal standards, half way between a snarl and a shout - they fit the music perfectly as while their music is death metal a full on guttural death grunt would not suit the music at all as it is tuned in E (a lot of death metal is tuned down to D and B or lower) and quite upbeat by death metal standards. Roger Patterson the bassist was actually chiefly responsible for writing the music of atheist's first 2 albums (Roger sadly passed away after the recording of piece of time) although you wouldn't know it on piece of time as he doesn't come to the fore often which is a little disappointing.

Overall this is a fantastic album highly recommended to any fans of extreme, technical or progressive metal, fans of CYNIC, PESTILENCE, DEATH and GORGUTS are likely to enjoy, if you enjoy this album unquestionable presence is even better give it a shot.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Piece of Time" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Florida based death/thrash metal act Atheist. The album was released through Active Records in August 1989. The band was formed under the R.A.V.A.G.E. monicker in 1985 and released a couple of demos under that name before changing their name to the current one in 1988 (they released the 1988 "Beyond" demo under the new monicker before being signed). Atheist are widely considered a seminal act on the early Florida death/thrash metal scene, and further down the line a seminal technical/progressive death/thrash metal act.

On "Piece of Time" the band play a technical death/thrash metal style with more than a few nods toward fusion in the drumming and bass work. Technical thrash metal was nothing new at this point, but fusion influenced rhythms and bass work in metal was not exactly the order of the day. Watchtower and a few other progressive inclined acts had pioneered the use of fusion rhythms in metal, but applying the fusion elements to a more extreme form of metal was pretty new.

All that talk of fusion rhythms shouldnīt be misunderstood as if Atheist went all in on that style on "Piece of Time" though, because thatīs not exactly true. The music on the album is predominantly a really aggressive and at times nicely brutal type of death/thrash metal, and itīs mostly on the title track and especially on "I Deny" that the fusion influences shine through. Both are among the highlights of the album (the short a capella part of "I Deny", where lead vocalist/guitarist Kelly Shaefer shouts "It's god's way, says your horrid wife", is quite brilliant, and features a nice touch of sarcastic humour), but tracks like "Room With a View" and "No Truth" also deserve a mention. Even the least remarkable tracks on the album are still highly powerful aggressive death/thrash tunes played in a frenetic pace and with great technical skill. Shaefer has a rather distinct sounding snarling vocal style, which provides the music with an even more unique sound. Sometimes the lyrics feature too many words and he almost stumbles on them having to sing them so fast, which makes him sound a bit like an angry goblin gone bezerk, but once you get used to it, itīs quite a treat.

"Piece of Time" was recorded in November to December 1988 at Morrisound Recording with producer Scott Burns, so itīs one of the early Burns production jobs and itīs audible. The sound production is raw, unpolished, and especially the guitars donīt always feature the most pleasant tone, but on the other hand the raw production job provides the music with a nice organic and authentic sounding touch, which suits the music pretty well.

Upon conclusion "Piece of Time" is a very promising debut album by Atheist. It was obvious these guys had something unique to offer, and while itīs not fully developed here, "Piece of Time" still at the time stood out on the scene as something fresh and new which defied catagorization. They were often included when people spoke of the Florida death metal scene, but itīs not fair to call the music on the album "straight" death metal, but on the other hand there are several death metal elements on the album, so itīs not completely wrong either. Personally I think technical death/thrash is a pretty valid description of the core style on "Piece of Time". A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by JJLehto
3 stars Now here is an interesting band. When I first looked into Atheist the idea of a "jazzy death metal" band had me intrigued, if not confused. That is what I love about prog, nothing seems to out of the realm of possibility. Atheist was born out of the Florida Death Metal scene, (thanks to Death, and it grew along other tech/jazz death metal band Cynic) and is one of my favorite albums. However, before I continue let me say this album is not for a regular progger, and even some prog-metal fans. It is a lot closer to true death metal then Opeth.

This album, as I just mentioned, is very influenced by death metal. It features death metal riffs, drumming, and vocals. However, "Piece of Time" does show a lot of technicality. The whole album is very stop and go, features many short guitar or bass breakdowns, technical riffs, progressing riffs throughout the song, and technical drumming, (influenced by Jazz it sounds).

Personally, I like Kelly Shaefer's vocals. I think they are distinct and different from most metal bands I have heard. His guitar work is great and technical and he plays some blazing solos. However, on this album they are very straightforward metal/shred solos. I love the way the guitars sound on this album, gives it a different feel from most metal. Roger Patterson plays some great bass, the only problem is you do not hear much of it, (due to just the music or low quality).

Steve Flynn is a great drummer, but is better showcased on their next album. However, he does display some seriously technical, and fast, drumming on "Piece of Time".

My Favorite songs on this album are "On They Slay" and "I Deny". However, some notable ones are "Unholy War" with its unique intro and a great chance to hear some bass and "No Truth" which has a mellow minute and a half long intro before plunged into the madness.

This is a great album, but perfect by no means. The production quality is fairly low. While this does give it a brutal, gritty sound it can be annoying at times. I have to turn the volume up fairly loud to hear this album well, and the guitar quality is still sketchy. Also, not every song is a winner. "Room With a View" and "Why Bother?" just do not do it for me and I usually can not make it through them.

Overall, a great album and I think it is a must for any fan of metal (thrash, death, technical) however this is NOT for the average progger... Also, if you are a casual fan of prog metal or into bands like Opeth, Tool, Dream Theater this is also not for you. Musically, and especially vocally, this is a brutal album and personally I do not think of it as progressive metal, but technical metal. However, if you like/can listen to most metal, including some harder prog bands, this is a great album for.

3 stars (again NOT for lighter prog-metal fans)

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Atheist is one of those special bands that I really wanted to spare from reviewing until I found that perfect moment where everything just felt right. Today is the first day of August and it's a great summer day here in Stockholm so what better way to enjoy such a wonderful day than to sit outside in the shade with the Atheist-trilogy coming out of the sound system? It's unfortunate that the Atheist legacy merely spawned three albums in the early '90s and ever since the 2006 reunion I've kept my fingers crossed for some new material. Now that the news of a new studio album have been confirmed I might as well make a swift retrospective of the classic trilogy just to give you all a hint of what to expect from this years new release.

Piece Of Time was the band's debut album released in 1990. Listening to it today will most probably make you think about the Thrash Metal scene of the '80s fronted by bands like Slayer and Megadeth. This is very understandable considering that Piece Of Time was actually recorded in 1988 but didn't hit the music stores until two years later. By that time the Metal craze began to fade in popularity with the casual listener, meaning that new bands who simply rehashed the Thrash Metal blueprint didn't stand a chance in this new environment. Of course Atheist was far from just mere imitators and this release could definitely back up that claim!

Technical experimentation in Death Metal began to really take form by the late '80s and early '90s with bands like Death, Cynic and Atheist as the front runners in this new exploration. I'm not saying that this new sub-genre attracted that many Glam Metal fans, nor did the avid Thrash and Death Metal listeners always recognized it as a way in the right direction for the genre as a whole. Fusing elements of Jazz, Metal while adding a lot of progressive mentality into the mix actually attracted new audience to this sub-genre than any other Metal style was assumed to be capable of at the time and that in itself was revolutionary for Metal as a genre. All of a sudden fans of vintage prog and jazz began to expand their horizons with a touch of metal in their daily life!

As for Atheist's debut, it definitely showed the world that Metal music could be much more versatile by playing their hearts out on Piece Of Time. It's true that this album was only the first step in the band's very rapid evolution over the next few years and I can definitely understand anyone who would dismiss this release for not sounding all that progressive. In it's defense I can only state that "Piece Of Time" might not sound like your average Tech/Extreme Prog Metal album in style but it does more than make up for it in spirit! The opening title track and On They Slay fill you up with the necessary dosage of Prog Metal while the rest of the material ranges its style from pure Thrash Metal to by-the-numbers Death Metal performances. Plus, let's not forget that the album's cover has a shape that resembles Stonehenge embedded into it's collage which should almost be considered obligatory for any respectable Death Metal band to do at least once in their career!

Overall, Piece Of Time might not be as strong as the two albums proceeding it but it has its share of excellent moments to make it an excellent part of any progressive rock collection. Especially if you're not really a fan of the Tech Metal genre and just what the most essential material from the granddaddies of the genre!

***** star songs: Piece Of Time (4:33) On They Slay (3:38)

**** star songs: Unholy War (2:18) Room With A View (4:05) Beyond (2:59) I Deny (4:00) No Truth (4:36)

*** star songs: Why Bother (2:56) Life (3:12)

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars While I don't think any metal fans will have anything bad to say about the intense, savage show of instrumental chops shown throughout Athiest's Piece of Time, those hoping for anything resembling a hook, structure, or melody should be warned! From the get go this album is non-stop speed metal chaos, with acrobatic guitar riffing, a fire bomb of rhythm section destruction, death-metal chattering, and crazy tempo twists. Song structure and an end result seems an after thought, with crazy-for-the-sake-of-crazy becoming the excuse for all the noise.

Being a metal fan, the group's massive instrumental performances definitely grabbed my attention a few times, but the vast majority of this album bounced right off me; it is unapologitically intense and unapproachable... which is probably where a lot of the appeal comes from with some fans. I will never fault a band for "showing off", but during the walls upon walls of noise Athiest fires at us nothing especially productive emerges. Piece of Time's constant and reckless chaos quicly faded into the background for me. Moreover, listeners hesitant/excited about the thrash-metal growls of vocalist of Shaefer should be warned: those who don't enjoy the typical metal growls will probably not be able to make it through this album, and those who do enjoy them will probably not be impressed by Shaefer, who sounds like he's desperately trying to keep up with the speed and intensity of the instrumentalists.

Will definitely hook lovers of avant-thrash metal... and alienate everyone else. I'll take Cynic or Unexpect any day of the week.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 1 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Warthur
4 stars Atheist's debut album is an intriguing hint at what was to come. Though incorporating a wider range of influences and a tricker variety of time signatures than typical death metal groups of the era, the band's sound was at this point still rooted in the genre's typical sound (the more technical end of it, at any rate) and hadn't yet brought their avant-garde jazz influences to the fore as they would on Unquestionable Presence. What you get on Piece of Time, then, is a bizarre mixture of well-performed death metal with the occasional jazzy or proggy interjection inserted here or there.

Blink and you'll miss 'em, and might be left thinking "Wait, did Roger Patterson just play a Chris Squire bassline or am I just hearing things?", but pay attention and Piece of Time will unveil more and more signs that it's more than just another response to Possessed. Still, even more experimental territory was coming up.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars ATHEIST released their debut right at the time when death metal was sufficiently distancing itself from thrash to become a distinct subgenre and here on PIECE OF TIME it sounds like a bridge between 80s thrash metal and the emerging tech death metal from the 90s. For the most part we get more of a tech thrash sound than a true death metal album, however Kelly Shaefer's vocals on verging on the death style and ATHEIST was one of the major transitory acts to usher technical death metal into the 90s along with acts such as Death, Cynic and Nocturnus. This album was actually recorded in 1988 and was released in Euroope in 1989 but not until 1990 in the US due to the label Mean Machine Records going bankrupt. With relentless gallops and sudden progressive time signature changes, ATHEIST proves from the getgo that they had what it took to stand out from an ever increasingly crowded room of Morbid Angel clones.

Although nascent in the tech department there are signs of more complex jazz-fusion and progressive learnings of the next two albums coming into play. This album means business as far as bombastic and fast played riffage goes. The music is brutal with high tempos but exhibits the high quality songwriting that was inspired by Rush. The album flows well from beginning to end with no songs ever outstaying their welcome. In fact by the time the album is finished I want MORE!!! Despite the excellent technical skill of all the musicians involved I have to say that it is Roger Patterson's bass playing that really knocks my socks off. It is he in fact who is the backbone of the band's highly skilled sound for he can pound those four strings like no other. Sadly he was killed in a car crash while recording the next album and his loss may be one of the main reasons that ATHEIST opted to pursue the more progressive route since Patterson's technical bass skills were impossible to replace in terms of both skill and speed.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Musical intuition and technical prowess catapulted Florida's Atheist into cult status shortly before the 1980's, a decade which was perhaps the most prolific for housing the best metal bands of all time, came to an end. It's not hard to see how Atheist achieved a following so quickly, as the band's ... (read more)

Report this review (#1721243) | Posted by aglasshouse | Saturday, May 13, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Recorded in 1988, released in Europe in 1989 and the U.S. in 1990, "Piece of Time" joins the "death metal" elements with "progressive". The outcome is exquisite. The sound is surprising because until then I had only learned of bands of "death metal" that did not have great rhythmic variation. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#737024) | Posted by Vobiscum | Saturday, April 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This review is based on the 1990 version without the bonus tracks. I went to a CANDLEMASS gig back in 1990/91 where ATHEIST was the support act. It is pretty difficult to find two more different bands than these two bands. They were on the same record label and that's why they were on the sam ... (read more)

Report this review (#218586) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars While ATHEIST's inclusion here is almost certainly down to its following two albums, their debut is very much an essential piece of Florida death metal which captures the vibrancy of the scene at the time. It has the hallmarks that made this region a hotbed for this style, not least of all that th ... (read more)

Report this review (#148316) | Posted by Xanadu97 | Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Death Metal meets Jazz Fusion. That's the easiest way to describe this band. Atheist is one of those early 90's extreme metal bands from the U.S, that have taste for jazz fusion complexities. Mixed with Death metal, It's everything but easy-listened. Many great moments here, notably the Opening ... (read more)

Report this review (#113874) | Posted by Abstrakt | Wednesday, February 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Atheist were one of the most original bands emerged from the death metal infected swamps of Florida in the late 80s. What so unique was in this band is the complex structures of the songs: they had riffs that bordered on solos and one of the most twisted, jazz-orientated rhythm section (Flynn/Pat ... (read more)

Report this review (#42705) | Posted by riversdancing | Saturday, August 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 1. Piece of Time (9/10) 2. Unholy War (8/10) 3. Room With A View (7.5/10) 4. On They Slay (8.5/10) 5. Beyond (7.5/10) 6. I Deny (10/10) 7. Why Bother (7.5/10) 8. Life (8.5/10) 9. No Truth (8.5/10) Atheist's debut album definitely foreshadowed the heavily complex future that they ... (read more)

Report this review (#42527) | Posted by | Thursday, August 11, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is probably my favourite heavy metal album of all time or posibly Master Of Puppets i dunno.This record is amazing from beggening to end its full of energy and some of the greatest musicianship i have ever heard the death metal growling is tolerable and this would be a good introduction t ... (read more)

Report this review (#42408) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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