Atheist - Piece of Time
Music For Nations
Jazzy Death Metal
9 songs (36:52)
Release year: 1990
Atheist, Music For Nations
Reviewed by Aaron
Archive review

Atheist is a band that should’ve gotten way more attention than they did in the end, and really, the only people who know about them nowadays are the ones who enjoyed Death and deicided to go deeper into early 90’s technical death, which always results in exploring the jazz-metal fusionists, such as Atheist, later Pestilence, and Cynic. It’s criminal when you think about it, so I usually don’t bother to, because it makes me angry.

Oh yeah, the review. Anyway, Atheist’s Piece of Time was their debut album, and showcased a solid band trying to find their feet in fusing roughly… 70 percent death/thrash metal a la Consuming Impulse and 30 percent jazz. Melody is confined to brief interludes and the spaces between thrash-riffing, and as such, killer riffs are the order of the day.

The compositions on this album are much more grounded in lucidity then they are grounded in the Elements-era Phish style jam sessions translated into death-jazz, with generally metallic song structures and guttural screaming vocals. The production is run-of-the-mill for early 90’s death metal, but has a strangely dark undercurrent that you pick up on after repeated listens, or if you turn up the bass until you can hear the subtle reverb touches clearly. The drums are great, thrash-influenced delivery from a fellow that sounds jazz-trained, so he throws out the occasional strange pattern and spastic fill, but more often than not, refrains from that. He really lets himself loose on Unquestionable Presence.

The riffing is so technical, that sometimes they (the riffs) sound like one solo after another, but it’s also easy to get into and fun to headbang to. The solos are strange and discordantly chaotic, but usually fast in addition. The reason for the solos sounding even stranger than much of Meshuggah’s work is that the guitarist actually was left handed, and so played his guitar backwards. Strange, innit?

Jackhammer riffs are interspersed with the strangely melodic strumming, and the vocals fit in perfectly. You could almost think of this band as one of the main influences on Cephalic Carnage’s new style, what with all the similarities between some of these compositions and Scientific Remote Viewing, or Wraith, or Counting the Days…

Standout tracks include the title track, which is also the high-octane opener, for its sheer energy and the strangely conventional sounding E-tuned thrash riffing strewn seemingly at random with the chunkier death riffs and melodic jazz fret board-dancing. Oh yeah, the bass playing is also masterful, from the dead Roger Patterson, who really knew how to play that bass, throwing in the standard jazzy bass slaps that we know and love from technical death metal, but avoiding the guitars entirely, instead choosing to (mostly) do his own thing.

In any event, this album is great for the historical revisionist’s collection, and really, for anyone who enjoys Death’s later works, and/or Cynic, Pestilence, Necrophagist, et cetera, et cetera.

PS- It’s being re-released! Now nobody has to pay 30 bucks for this album, or Unquestionable Presence. Don’t bother with Elements; I consider it to be garbage.

Killing Songs :
Piece of Time, On They Slay, Why Bother, I Deny
Aaron quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Atheist that we have reviewed:
Atheist - Jupiter reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
Atheist - Unquestionable Presence reviewed by Kyle and quoted CLASSIC
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