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.