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!