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.
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.
- 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
- Production isn't perfect
- The technicality may be hard for some peple to grasp
And The Psychic Saw
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5