Atheist are a jazz death metal band from the sunny state Florida. They started under the name R.A.V.A.G.E. which is an acronym for Raging Atheists Vowing a Gory End. There music is technical with a jazz influence in the mix. They have a lot of Latin music sample incorporated in the music as well as brutal riffs to go along with it. The debut album Piece of Time was recorded in 1988 yet had to wait till the start of the ‘90s to release it to the world. ’91, tragedy for the band grew as bass player Roger Patterson died in a car crash. They then recruited Tony Choy to play on Unquestionable Presence which is no doubt there strongest album. The band broke off in 1992 to reunite in 1993. They released Elements and sadly, broke up for a final time after that.
Have you ever heard the term Jazz Death Metal? Strange, because I hadn’t until I was shown this band by a guy that plays too much videogames. I thought I saw it all until I listened to these guys. They have jazz drum beats and jazzy classical guitar interludes; they even have Latin music in certain parts. The strange part though is that it works and they pull it off well. Not to say this isn’t heavy though as there still are those death metal grunts and sometimes there is a Dani Filth -kind of- high screeches but not as high as he would have done it. They still have heavy riffs and the drumbeats are hard to decipher for wacky time signatures. The bass is really high in the mix and adds to the brutality.
I had first heard this band when I was at my friend’s house; he talks to this guy on IM which he met on some online game. My friend showed me the music he sent him and one of those was Atheist’s Water, it was amazing. And suddenly I got a fright when Kelly starts singing…
”STORMLIT! AQUA!!!! STORMLIT! AQUA!!!”
…as you might have guessed I’m not too big on my death metal but the vocals and the riffs were breathtaking. I decided to get the album after wondering about the brutality.
The album opens up with “Air” which has a pretty laid-back intro. It has some tremolo picked solo to start us off and a simple drum-beat. This is off course till the vocals come in. The nightmare begins. The song is a bit repetitive but the guitars and the bass makes you ignore it. At the end, we have the same laid-back intro as the start and there is a jazz guitar solo. The song is so cool and I liked it first time but that doesn’t compare to anything on the album. Waiting to see when I get to “Water”, it wasn’t that long when the track preceded “Air”. I couldn’t get enough of the intro riff. The vocals come in not long after the intro. The Latin guitar interlude is cool to listen to and it’s pretty fun to learn if you have a classical guitar at home. My favourite part is when Kelly sings “Storm lit, aqua!” It is sung by the bottom of his throat. The guitar solo is also killer, since I’m speaking so much of the instruments I’ll expand.
First things first though, the musicians can play their instruments. Damn well I might add. Kelly is an awesome vocalist, a real death metal voice too. He has a deep grunt that can make you go “wow” and when he isn’t grunting, his voice is like a room with knifes sticking out the wall. Yes, his voice is rough. The guitars are a breath of fresh air, while dabbling in heavy riffs and solos; they also include Jazz guitars and Latin interludes which make the song more special and are quite a nice touch to what is a great album. The bass is awesome, it is loud and I can even hear it through the guitars. Tony serves up some great lines so I’d recommend bassists to check this album out definitely. Marcel seems a master of strange time signatures. I can’t follow the drums sometimes unless I know what time signature it is in. The band as a whole are strong and they play well. The bass is loud, the vocals are low, the guitars are brutal but also jazzy and Latin influenced and the drums are awkward and hard.
A great track is the acclaimed (by me) “Mineral” which starts on a gentle note until Kelly sings, “Leave us alone, we never harmed you. Leave us alone, we beg of you”. The song doesn’t pick up until about 1:10 where we get the usual heaviness and tremolo-picked solo. The solo is tasty though. There are a few solos in the song and they are all brilliant and incredibly fast. I admit that I laughed when I first heard Samba Briza which I thought was a heavy song with its clear bass-line until I get what? I get some random Latin polka song that’s 2 minutes. It is just weird to hear this after the heaviness the before track had. Sadly there is 4 fillers on the album which leaves us with only eight songs. While the fillers are a nice treat in a weird kind of way, it distracts from the main songs. They shouldn’t have done that but hey, they only released the album to get out of a record contract so I can understand that but that kind of sucks.