Atheist is the most amazing band in metal genre. You will never forget their songs after you listen to them.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Released in 1993, this groundbreaking release was really ahead of its time. Despite the fact that Atheist was nearly always considered as a death metal band, you can still hear influences all over from latin rhythms to jazz and back to metal again.
There are no weak songs on the album and the musicianship is topnotch. The bassist Tony Choy really shines with his jazz influenced playing and the drumming manages to stay tight through the whole album.
This album is very technical and progressive and certainly would appeal to fans of technical metal like Cynic, Spiral Architect and Death.
Athiest was a name in metal that i had always read good things about, but was never able to get ahold of their long out-of-print records to find out for myself. from what i understand, i was not alone in this boat. well, all you progressive, technical metal heads out there need to get on your knees and thank Relapse records for doing us all a favour and re-releasing these seminal chunks of exquisite, over-the-top musical masterpieces. Elements is an album that works on every level imagineable, and it is completely fulfilling in all it’s glorious aspects. when listening to this amazing album, it seems that Athiest’s attempt was to reach farther than any other metal band had ever done….not with ultimate speed, or the most technicaly-demanding riff; but with a songcraft that has a clear, concise scope and concept. embellished with enough hooks and differention that allows each cut to stand out from every other track, yet retains an overall unified theme. thankfully, the goals were reached and greatly exceeded! sitting down and listening to this album you notice how well the songs are paced. there is alot of different things going on…crazy sweeping guitars, thrashy vocals, jazzy bass and amazing drumwork that will confound the most experienced air-drummer…(haha)…but thanks (in no small part) to an outstanding production job and flawless playing; every instrument is crystal clear and the songs never get mired down in their own excess. every musician is allowed plenty of space to breathe and grow within these compositions. it’s mind-boggling to listen to these recordings and read the liner notes telling of how the band had only 40 days to write and record this entire album! wow! and i mean…wow! i guess this is a good example of working well under pressure. the packing is really cool and all the lyrics are included (which are very well-written) and a few promo shot and liner notes are also a good read. i don’t like the fact that the promotional sticker is stuck directly onto the jewel case! this covers up a considerable amount of art on the cover. wouldn’t it have made more sense to have it attatched onto the shrink wrap? and the text is a bit misleading in my opinion. the sticker claims the music on this cd is “for fans of Dillinger Escape Plan & Necrophagist.” and i have heard both of those bands and i don’t think that Athiest is quite on the same level as either of those groups. not better or worse, just a different style…Athiest is much more jazzy influenced and more song-oriented. the sticker also claims that Cynic, late-period Death, and Spiral Architect fans would dig this album…and those are much better reference ponts. oh well…minor gripe. at the end of the day, it’s the music that matters and Elements is not just another good metal album or one that would be an asset to your collection…it is, quite frankly, an essential purchase!
‘Unquestionable Presence’ is pretty universally esteemed as the best Atheist album, but I easily prefer ‘Elements’. ‘Elements’ isn’t as wild and frenetic as that album, but it’s still pretty out there, with mind-boggling basswork from Choy, more powerful vox than ever before, and actual melody. Some people put a premium on complexity alone- I’m not one of them. What can I say, I like things that are, gasp, memorable with technicality and complexity underlying it to give it some depth. Well sure, there are plenty of albums I like a lot that are so unconventional that nothing whatsoever sticks for a great many listens, but I like balance better, and that’s what ‘Elements’ has got. Choruses are more prominent here than in the previous Atheist albums, and they are pretty great at times. (See the absolutely thunderous bass-driven refrain to ‘Water’ and the strangely ominous, repetitive ‘Mineral’.) This album is also probably the cleanest, purest blend of metal and jazz that I’ve heard, combining them smoothly rather than just throwing a bunch of jazzy interludes between the off-time, chunky metal riffs. This is also the most bass driven metal album I’ve ever heard, but it’s mixed loudly enough that it doesn’t diminish the intensity too much. Again, you just can’t say enough about Choy’s performance. Perhaps the most entertaining bass performance I’ve ever heard on a metal album. Of course, all the guys in Atheist are great instrumentalists, with tons of great leads and a strong sense of groove all thru the album.
On top of the absolutely great album this re-issue actually gives us some very good bonus tracks in the form of a 6-song live on the radio broadcast. 5 of the songs are from ‘Unquestionable Presence’, and they sound better and clearer here than they do on that album. I don’t how much better this re-master sounds compared to the original version, but these live tracks definitely make it worthwhile even if they sound basically the same.
Alright, that’s it. This is definitely one of the most underappreciated jazz-metal albums out there. Certainly worth a listen for all tech-metal fans.
Atheist are truly no doubt one of the most inhumanly talented, original sounding, and influentual progressive/technical death metal bands that I’ve ever heard in my life, and I sure don’t regret getting into them one bit. Their third and final album 1993’s “Elements” is just an absolutely amazing, unique atmospheric, mindsweeping progressive/technical death metal masterpiece, and it’s also their most jazz oriented album as well. While I do love both “Piece of Time” and “Unquestionable Presence”, “Elements” is my favorite album by Atheist. True this album may be more jazz oriented and that’s very cool, but it’s still very heavy and technical too. This incredible monster of an album has absolutely everything from crazy mindsweeping guitar riffs and solos, to thrashy Kreator-esque vocals and intelligent lyrics and songwriting, to awesome jazzy basslines and amazing drumming, I mean it will just take your breath away.
An interesting fact about “Elements” is, that it was written, recorded and mixed in 40 days in the studio. Back then, the band wanted to break up but they needed to finish their three album contract to their record label. This album also features a third guitarist by the name of Frank Emmi. Personally I find it rather interesting and fun to hear three guitars thrashing it out. Kelly Shaefer (who also does vocals) takes over rhythm guitar duties on this album, while Frank Emmi and Rand Burkey deliver and simply amaze the listener with awesomely breathtaking guitar solo after guitar solo throughout. Tony Choy’s basslines are just absolutely jazzy, funky, thunderous, and ungodly throughout making this album heavily bass-driven. The drumming is also tight, precise, and downright amazing throughout with lots of funky beats and solid odd time signatures.
Every song on here (minus some of the interludes one here) is very unique, atmospheric, and amazing in each way but here’s a look at some of my favorites on here. “Green” is an excellent funky album opener that features catchy funky riffs, crazy solos, thunderous basslines and excellent drumming. “Water” is an excellent addicting bass-driven number that features just absolute thundering bass work that just slaps the listener silly, along with more powerful riffage and soloing, solid rhythms and insane drumwork, and even some catchy sitar solos as well. My favorite song on here no doubt has to be “Samba Briza” which is a fantastic catchy Latin-Jazz instrumental that clocks in at approximately 1:58. This song features a bebop-singalong inducing spanish guitar and piano solo and of course some absolutely jaw dropping basslines from Tony to boot. Track six “Animal” features cool atmopsheric like guitar riffs and solos and funky slamming basslines, “Mineral” is another jazzy number that features somewhat funky beeping guitar noises, some more excellent leadwork, great bass, and some funky drum beats. “Earth” features some more catchy funky riffage, a nice R&B like breakdown, more great solos and funky drumwork and the title track “Elements” is just a deliciously funky and jazzy album closer. For Bonus Tracks we have some songs that were recorded from a live radio broadcast from 1992 which is definately a treat.
Jeremy’s song ratings:
1. Green (3:22) – 5/5
2. Water (4:28) – 5/5
3. Samba Briza (1:58) – 5/5 My favorite song on here
4. Air (5:34) – 5/5
5. Displacement (1:25) – 4/5
6. Animal (4:11) – 5/5
7. Mineral (4:33) – 5/5
8. Fire (4:37) – 5/5
9. Fractal Point (0:44) – 4/5
10. Earth (3:53) – 5/5
11. See You Again (1:17) – 4/5
12. Elements (5:47) – 5/5
Live Radio Broadcast 1992:
13 Unquestionable Presence (4:02) – 5/5
14. On They Slay (3:47) – 5/5
15. Entralled in Essence (4:31) – 5/5
16. The Formative Years (3:38) – 5/5
17. Mother Man (4:32) – 5/5
18. Retribution (3:11) – 5/5
If you call yourself a fan of progressive/technical death metal and you’ve not experienced the music of Atheist, then you are truly missing out. I’m glad I got to experiece it, and like I said before, I don’t even regret it one bit. This album is an absolute must have for any fan of Atheist, progressive metal, technical death metal, jazz-fushion metal, or just metal in general. I also highly recommend this to fans of Cynic, Death (late-period stuff), Spiral Architect, Pestilence, and Necrophagist.
Do yourself a huge favor, and buy this classic ASAP!! I guarantee you’ll love it man. Well, bye for now.