"Man, I'd been waiting to get this album for a damn long time, but it proved to be worth the wait. (Good thing I just don't have it in me to pay 60 frickin dollars for a used cd) Atheist are inevitably mentioned in the same breath as Death and Cynic when they talk about the roots of the modern tech-metal and jazz-metal movements. Atheist often seem to be considered the least of the 3, but listening to this album, they predict modern musical trends better than either of those bands. Both Death and Cynic could be exceedingly technical, and displayed plenty of jazz influence, but they are more melodic and less chaotic than modern tech bands(and Atheist). Simply put, while listening to 'Unquestionable Presence' you can hear something closer to 'Calculating Infinity' or `The Design' than you'll here in anything from Death or Cynic. (This is still definitely death metal, however, not metalcore)
Still, the Death and Cynic comparisons are appropriate, with this album sounding somewhere between 'Human' and 'Individual Thought Patterns' but, again, jazzier and more chaotic than either of those albums. Unsurprisingly, this album can take a bit of effort to get into, as there isn't much to latch onto at first. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed in this album initially, but after about 10 repeated listens it's definitely living up to it's reputation. Now quite a few things stick out: The somewhat more mellow, bass-driven instrumental section at the end of 'Mother Man'; the title tracks memorable chorus; The stunning solo around minute 2 of 'Retribution'; the atmospherics and brief acoustic workin 'An Incarnation's Dream'; the more melodic trem riffs of 'The Formative Years' and the swirling, memorable licks that fill 'And the Psychic Saw'. Of course, this sorta album isn't about catchiness or memorability, but it's always best to have somethings that stick out. And, there are plenty of ultra-tech metal albums out there that sound really good while you're listening to them, but which you don't come back to as much as you'd think, simply because it's hard to remember anything in particuarly about it, other than that you like it. (Well, that happens to *me*, anyway.)
The instrumentation here is impeccable, especially considering how young these guys were. The bass is of particular note, with credit going both to Tony Choy, who actually laid down the tracks, and Roger Patterson, who wrote the material. I wish more metal bands would actually allow the bass a prominent role, like here. On top of the remarkably complex, rumbling basslines they get a lot more sound out of the bass than you'll usually here, with lotsa cracking and pinging and whatnot. The guitars are almost equally impressive, with a very wide variety of riffs, never letting one particular flavor dominate. The lead guitar is less impressive. Sometimes it's excellent, but about as often it's just kinda formless and uninteresting. Still, it's no great problem. Steve Flynn's drums are some of the jazziest you're ever likely to hear on a metal album, with a very jazzy sound to the snare, and plenty of ultra-quick snare rolls. Good stuff. The vox are a deathly shriek. Not bad, not particularly interesting.
Having not heard the original, I can't compare the sound of the album. It's sounds pretty good considering when it was made, though it's so dense that you can't help but with for a little more clarity. The bonus tracks are just a bunch of demos, and are of no particular interest to me, but others may disagree.
Yeah, check it out."
Greatest metal album of all time
David Schroder | Pretoria, South Africa | 09/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"About 7 years ago I managed to find all the original Atheist albums in my good old home country of South Africa for the amazingly low price of only R100 (about $15) each. They soon became my favourite band, and started me on a quest to find the most technical metal bands in the world.
All these years later, after sampling the best from bands such as Death, Dream Theater, Spiral Architect, Andromeda, Cryptopsy, and Necrophagist, Atheist still ranks at the top. The only two of those others that even come close are Necrophagist and Spiral Architect, though the line-up on Death: Individual Thought Patterns is a truly formidable one.
The sound of these new remastered editions is truly remarkable; the original albums weren't perfect, but they had a rough element that I hold close to my heart, but now I possess the albums in the way that Atheist probably wanted us to hear them. Included are some great bonus tracks. I couldn't believe it when I heard the demos from 1990 featuring Roger Patterson. I think he must be the most talented musician that the metal scene has ever produced. Tony Choy is amazing, and did a capable job of filling Patterson's shoes, but I can only imagine what would have happened had Patterson not died and lived on to grace us with his musical ingenuity.
Thank you Atheist and Relapse for reissuing these albums so that more people can grow to appreciate just how influential this band really was. Here's hoping that a reunion tour comes around soon."
It's about time
M. Kinney | japan | 09/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These are long overdue re-issues. Hats off to Relapse for finally having the sense to finally do it. Haven't got Piece of Time yet but this one and Elements have undergone some major sound improvements. The original of this sounds fine, but the remaster seems to present everything much clearer and with more punch. The demos with Roger Peterson are a treat to hear. What an amazing bass player and writer, who knows where his career wouldv'e gone if he were still alive today. My only complaint is the printing job on this and especially Elements. Maybe it's just my copies, but the printing is horrible. I know most people probably think it's a minor detail, but being a graphic designer and somewhat of a anal critical perfectionist when it comes to printing, I'm pretty dissappointed with the reprinted artwork. Looks like it was just scanned from the original without any color correction, not reprinted from the original plates. The artwork on both covers lack the clarity of the originals and they seem much darker with a bit of blurriness to them. About the only people that seem to be able to get it right when it comes to printing is the Japanese. Anyway, that minor point aside, these re-issues are awsome. Essential for any prog rock/metal fan or simply fan of eclectic mmusic in general. Can't wait to get Piece of Time."
A Landmark in Technical Death Metal
Jeremy Brackeen | Cameron, WI United States | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Good lord, I love Atheist, they are truly one of the most unique, amazingly talented, and most influentual and original sounding technical death metal bands on the planet. Being a huge fan of technical death metal and all, I've heard from so many metal fans how amazing this band truly was, I knew at firsthand I had to get into them, and I did just that, and I sure didn't regret it one bit. I became a fan of Atheist over the summer when I bought "Piece of Time", "Unquestionable Presence", and "Elements" at FYE down in Eau Claire. I really had a rough time trying to decide which album to start out with, so I went and bought all three of them, and I was sure glad I did. So afterwards Atheist quickly became one of my all time favorite death metal bands as of right now.
I definately got to say, of all three albums, "Unquestionable Presence" is Atheist's all time best album, and it's also a landmark in technical death metal as well as jazz-fusion death metal. "Unequestionable Presence" is an amazing out of this world techical death metal assault loaded with out of this world techical guitar riffs and dazzling scorching solos, incredible odd time signatures, mindblowing tempo changes, awesome jazzy bass lines and fantastic drumming that can be fast and at other times downright funky as well. The lyrics on here deal with outer space, nature, politics, corruption, and other things like that.
Please keep in mind, that the bass lines here on Unquestionable Presence were all written by Roger Patterson whom I consider to be one of the most incredibly gifted, sickest, and most talented bassists in heavy metal. But on Feburary 12, 1991, fate would strike a cruel blow when Roger died in a tour van accident in Louisiana before the recording sessions for the album even took place. However his replacement on the album, Tony Choy (who was also in fellow Floridian death metallers Cynic) came and did such a fantastic job at nailing Roger's bass lines to absolute perfection. I applaud him for that. Kelly Shaefer's vocals are I would definately say very similar to Kreator and late-period Death. Together Kelly and Rand Burkey dazzle and amaze the listener with their out of this world guitar riffs and wild mindblowing solos. Steve Flynn's drumming on here is dare I say absolutely incredible whose beats can range from pounding fast to downright jazzy and funky.
Every song on Unquestionable Presence is just amazing. The opening track "Mother Man" is a very funky song which starts off with a snappy jazz-oriented bass groove, and has great riffs, a killer solo, and a neat bass-driven instrumetal at the end. The title track starts off with a cool intro which sounds like a windstorm and some mellow chords, and also features some fast drums, catchy headbanging riffs, another great solo, some funky bass lines and a memorable chorus to boot. "Retribution" is another memorable favorite that includes more great solos and some head smacking bass lines that would make Flea or even Les Claypool blush with envy. Track four "Enthralled in Essence" has some catchy riffs, some more great solos, and some nice solid double bass drumming as well. Antother classic track, "An Incarnations Dream" starts off with a nice accoustic number and features some weird time signatures. "The Formative Years" features some more solid fast drumming as well as some catchy aggressive riffing, bass lines, and some more jaw-dropping solos to boot, while track seven "Brains" has some more funky head smacking bass and fantastic drumming. Then we finally have the epic closer "And The Psychic Saw" which includes some powerful headbanging riffs and fast pounding drums as well as some nice tempo changes. As for the bonus tracks, we have some pre-production demos from 1990 featuring Roger Patterson which is definately a nice treat. Jeremy's song ratings: Unquestionable Presence album: 1. Mother Man (4:33) - 5/5 2. Unquestionable Presence (4:06) - 5/5 3. Retribution (3:17) - 5/5 4. Enthralled in Essence (3:37) - 5/5 5. An Incarnations Dream (4:52) - 5/5 6. The Formative Years (3:30) - 5/5 7. Brains (3:41) - 5/5 8. And The Psychic Saw (4:49) - 5/5 Pre-Production Demos 8/90 featuring Roger Patterson 9. Enthralled in Essence (3:32) - 5/5 10. The Formative Years (3:29) - 5/5 11. Unquestionable Presence (3:55) - 5/5 12. An Incarnations Dream (4:09) - 5/5 13. Retribution (instrumental) (3:19) - 5/5 14. Brains (instrumental) (3:40) - 5/5 Demo 1990 featuring Roger Patterson 15. Enthralled in Essence (3:44) - 5/5 Drums and Bass Track 16. Mother Man (4:43) - 5/5 Rhythm Track 17. And The Psychic Saw (4:37) - 5/5
I normally don't write long reviews, but since that this album is soooooo good, I thought that it deserved a long well thought out written review. Bottom Line: If you call yourself a fan of prog/technical death metal and you've not experienced the music of Atheist, then you are truly missing out. I'm sure glad I experienced it. Buy this classic album now, heck buy all their albums, I'm glad I did. Later dudes!! "
The Best metal band
H. Moe | Singapore | 02/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Atheist is the most amazing metal band. You will never forget their songs after you listen to them."