Atheist
Unquestionable Presence


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
May 18th, 2005 | 1309 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist


Atheist's debut, "Piece of Time" baffled critics and confused fans. Critics were amazed by the technicality and difficult music contained on the group's first album. Most death/thrash metal fans just didn't get it, Atheist being too difficult for even some of the most seasoned death metal fans. The album was groundbreaking and innovative, being possibly the first ever album to mix death metal with actual jazz (not just jazz elements or influence). It wasn't just innovation that critics were impressed with, however, it was the sheer technicality and skill that the group had with their instruments. "Piece of Time" had the most death metal in it, while the group's third album, "Elements" had much more jazz. Unquestionable Presence serves as a sort of bridge between the two, proving that wherever direction Atheist took their music, they always did it well.

Atheist:

Kelly Shaefer - Vocals, Guitar
Rand Burkey - Guitar
Tony Choy - Bass
Marcell Disantos - Drums

Though after "Piece of Time" was released and people expected more greatness from Atheist, the group almost didn't make it to their second album. After releasing their first record, the group embarked on a brief tour. On part of their tour, supporting the European doom metal band Candlemass, the band suffered a tragic and horrific van accident. There, on the side of the road, the band's original bassist Roger Patterson died in Kelly Shaefer's arms. Though the band were devastated, they were determined to finish what their friend had started. Atheist asked the session bassist Tony Choy to help them out for "Unquestionable Presence". Although Choy was a master of the bass, it took him some time to learn the highly technical parts that Patterson had already written for the album. Along with Cynic's "Focus", Atheist's second album is considered by many to be the highest point of technical death metal.

Being talented in every aspect of their craft, the members of Atheist not only showed their incredible instrumental technique with their second album, they also proved their worth as songwriters. All of the songs on "Unquestionable Presence" are extremely sensible lengths with nothing even hitting the five minute mark. The entire album itself is a perfect length, though short at just over 30 minutes. Though the band are all excellent musicians, it is the bass work of Tony Choy that shines on this album above all else. His tone is perfect and his playing is extremely technical and tight. Throughout the album, his slapping technique is displayed, though the slap technique is never overused, as so many bands tend to do. There is just the right mix of slap and standard technique. The vocals can most easily be compared to Tom Araya of Slayer, with a bit more versatility. The guitar solos are all extremely technical but like everything else on the album, have a great sense of pulse and groove, enabling the listener to sit back and kick their feet, something that is hard to do with music this extreme. Possibly the finest aspect of Atheist's work is the thought provoking lyrics that are provided by Schaefer. The cover and title of the album should give the listener a good idea of the themes that are addressed in by Atheist. While many bands who claim to be anti-christian attack christianity without much obvious thought in their lyrics, it is obvious that apart from being great at music, this is clearly a band of thinkers who are happy to think about issues before they speak and to put foward their views in an intelligent and diplomatic fashion. "Unquestionable Presence" is easily one of the greatest technical death metal albums of all time.Certainly one of the most innovative, musically interesting and lyrically thought-provoking. After listening to "Unquestionable Presence", it's really quite hard to comprehend that Atheist released another two albums that are just as good as this.

Pros

- Very good lyrics
- Amazing in technicality
- Brilliant riffs and great songwriting
- This album goes way beyond death metal, many other types of people can appreciate it

Cons

- Production isn't perfect
- The technicality may be hard for some peple to grasp

Reccomended Tracks

Mother Man
Unquestionable Presence
And The Psychic Saw

FINAL RATING: 4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bartender
Emeritus
May 18th 2005


826 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bah, 4.5 :angry[font=verdana]:[/font]

.

This is my favourite Atheist album, I think. The three recommended tracks you listed were amongst the first death metal songs I ever heard, so I just love it. Piece of Time and Elements are also great, but, I don't think, quite as great as this.This Message Edited On 05.18.05

br3ad_man
Emeritus
May 18th 2005


2125 Comments


hehe. I prefer "Elements" to this, but I really can't decide that any of their albums are better than the other. I think they are pretty equal (though I haven't heard all of Piece of Time)

Ad Absurdum
May 18th 2005


44 Comments


I rate this and Piece of Time higher than Elements personally. Great review though, and I agree with your recommended tracks (in particular "Mother Man")

br3ad_man
Emeritus
May 18th 2005


2125 Comments


hmm yeah. I lent "Elements" to a friend today but now I'm kind of thinking I should have lent him this. At least I gave him "Focus"

Happymeal
May 19th 2005


330 Comments


I'm gonna check this out. I only have Piece of Time and it's great.

Dancin' Man
May 19th 2005


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You made a mistake with the ranking. Otherwise great review and perfect album. This is my favorite Atheist release. You failed to mention the rarity of this album.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
May 20th 2005


2125 Comments


The ranking? Also, I knew they were all rare, but I always thought Piece of Time was the rarest. For some reason I thought this had been rereleased or something.

Bartender
Emeritus
May 23rd 2005


826 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I think Piece of Time was re-released, but not this.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
May 25th 2005


2125 Comments


It would seem that way now that I look into it. You can buy Piece of Time on Amazon for something like $50 US.

Dancin' Man
May 27th 2005


719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought Piece of Time and Elements had been rereleased and were cheaper and only this was expensive. Turns out this is just the most expensive.

Doop
June 5th 2005


14 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album, since I downloaded it I've been listening to it nonstop, I wish I could find it in a store .

Freezing Moon
June 5th 2005


63 Comments


I love this album. Atheist is amazing.

I like this album better than their others, but they're all so good it's hard to choose.

iceman3019
September 5th 2005


46 Comments


tony choy rocks . . . animal is the standout track for me, 4.5/5 . . .

Quebec
September 30th 2005


11 Comments


I just found out about the re release of this album, and it also features the demo version of the album....

IT just made my day!

Shadows
Moderator
September 30th 2005


2530 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've heard very little Atheist, but I love what I've heard. I stil think I prefer Cynic, but these guys make it work without robot vocals. Great review.

Stoic
December 24th 2005


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Finally, with the re-releases we can find Atheist in CD stores!

That was a well written and straight to the point review! I consider Unquestionable Presence to be the best Atheist album and the songs you recommended are my favourite as well. For the record, Tony Choy needed 6 months to learn the basslines (!) and Kelly Shaefer mostly reminds me of Dave Mustaine and not Tom Araya :p

br3ad_man
Emeritus
December 24th 2005


2125 Comments


eww, Mustaine sounds like a little girl.

Stoic
December 24th 2005


161 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

how about a more brutal Mustaine? :p

/hopes he's not the only one who thinks so...>_>

Mr. M, Man of Muzak
December 24th 2005


8 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can see where you are coming from. I got the re-release of this ;cool: I like the pre production demos.

Tyler
Emeritus
January 22nd 2006


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I got the re-release. I hate the vocals, but I love everything else.



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