Atheist
Unquestionable Presence


5.0
classic

Review

by myhigherpie USER (13 Reviews)
October 24th, 2009 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1991 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Boldly experimental and uncompromisingly esoteric, Atheist's breakthrough album is a testament to technical music, challenging fans and new-comers alike with its complexity and experimentation.

It was 1991, and death metal had just reached recognizable status. Band’s like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide held the torch and defined the early Florida death metal scene. But there was something else growing amidst the slew of gruesome gore and satanic death metal bands of the time, something far more challenging and intricate. Just as death metal became a noted style in the slew of metal sub-genres, already a group of bands were breaking new ground, incorporating elements such as progressive rock and jazz into the genre. At the forefront of this bold new experimentation was Atheist, whose style and technicality were, at the time, unmatched.

1989’s Piece of Time baffled critics and fans alike. Critics were shocked by the complex grooves and schizophrenic time signatures that riddled its esoteric yet uncompromising style of death metal fury, and fans just didn’t get it. Yet this would pale in comparison to their legendary breakthrough release, Unquestionable Presence. Recorded during one of their most tumultuous times (their founding bassist Roger Patterson died in a tragic car crash), yet still managed to become possibly the most influential and groundbreaking metal release of the 90’s, Unquestionable Presence broke new ground and took death metal to new levels of progression and experimentation.

Like Piece of Time, Unquestionable Presence is tremendously complex and uncompromisingly esoteric. Every song is a challenging and progressive experience, without an inch of filler littering its 32 minute length. Every member of the band is virtuosic with their instruments. The bass, written by Roger Patterson but performed by Tony Choy of Pestilence fame, is most noticeable. Roger Patterson’s incredibly groovy, technical bass lines are performed admirably by Tony Choy. Vocalist and guitarist Kelly Shaefer and second guitarist Rand Burkey perform just as admirably, with dissonant, twisting riffs weaving in and out of each other, while blistering, melodic solos litter the album. Steve Flynn is, in my opinion, one of the genres most underrated drummers; His technical ability easily matching musical contemporaries such as Sean Reinert of Cynic and Gene Hoglan of Death respectably.

All of the members take things 5 steps further on Unquestionable Presence, seamlessly integrating elements of Jazz/fusion, progressive rock, and even Latin music into the foray. Every song is challenging and intricate, never dissolving into incomprehensible wank. Peppered in between the abrasive, dissonant technical metal mayhem are incredibly melodic, comprehensible clean passages and melodic solos. These passages are tied seamlessly together with the precision and skill of bands 10 year older than them. Lyrically, Kelly Schaefer improves leaps and bounds, with such thought-provoking themes such as spirituality, humanity, and other-worldly, paranormal activities, all delivered with Schaefer’s fierce, raspy growl.

Truly, even by today’s standards this stands as one of progressive metals most outstanding achievements. Its technicality and progressiveness are unmatched even today. Its importance in extreme music is acknowledged far and wide, and its influence is just as far reaching. It’s bold experimentation and profound lyrics were unheard of at the time, and without it, extreme metal would not quite be the same.



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user ratings (1129)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
Neoteric (4)
...

Andrew H. EMERITUS (4.5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
myhigherpie
October 24th 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thank you AICE general paper. any criticism is happily accepted. I am eager to hear sputniks thoughts.

Wizard
October 24th 2009


19524 Comments


Love the review Pie. I like Elements and I still need to get around to this.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

myhigherpie
October 24th 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0



you should definitely get this ASAP. It's really that good.

Anthracks
October 24th 2009


3764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i just bumped this up to a 5 today because for some reason i had it at a 4.5, gud review

Digging: Radio Moscow - Magical Dirt

myhigherpie
October 24th 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

same thing happened to me 2 hours ago, then I wrote this.

Gnomekraft
October 24th 2009


25 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is absolutely fucking amazing. 100/5.

zaruyache
October 24th 2009


6925 Comments


Screw those Christian jerks! Be a metalhead and flaunt it proudly!

Digging: Ardour Loom - Demo

KILL3
October 24th 2009


601 Comments


one of my fav albums

feav233
October 24th 2009


1411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album is great, good review man

Relinquished
October 24th 2009


25219 Comments


My copy of this is sticky

Great review pie

Chewie
October 24th 2009


4532 Comments


ya I should check this out, well done.

myhigherpie
October 24th 2009


3027 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I overuse words too much.

I started to cringe whenever I kept reading progression and experimentation. submitted this a bit too early.

XulOnerom
October 24th 2009


1818 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think it was ok

This album can be summed up in those two words anyway

Anthracks
October 24th 2009


3764 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

woops nvm

illmitch
October 24th 2009


5429 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review, love this album

Willie
Moderator
October 24th 2009


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review but I can't believe you didn't reccomend Gnostic in the "Reccomended by Reviewer" section.

HenchmanOfSanta
October 24th 2009


1884 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The best album buy the best death metal band. I also want an Atheist shirt, but rather than worrying about it saying "ATHEIST," I'm more annoyed with the best shirts saying "NOW WHERE'S YOUR GOD?" on the back. That's just obnoxious.

Digging: Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels 2

Willie
Moderator
October 24th 2009


16051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They're supposed to have a new album out shortly. New Album = New Shirts, so maybe they'll be better.

jingledeath
October 24th 2009


7104 Comments


Great review, I'm getting this along with a whole bunch of other death metal albums.

Two-Headed Boy
October 24th 2009


4527 Comments


This is a good ass album.



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