I’m sick of hearing this band constantly being compared to Death, sure they both have that early death metal sound to them, but they are nothing alike. This is one of the best debut’s I have ever heard. I was soo glad to hear that it was being re-issued with several demo songs too. If your trying to learn your death metal roots; bands like Atheist, Death, Possessed are what you are looking for.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Atheist are a semi-legendary band, but most of their reputation is built on the `Unquestionable Presence’ album. As good as that album is, there’s more to their discography, and none of it deserves the short shrift. `Piece of Time’ is their debut album, and easily the weakest of the 3 Atheist releases, but it’s a very solid release, which nicely sets up things to come, even if it really doesn’t completely hint at how out there they would become.
Atheist are, of course, famous for being progressive death and jazz-metal pioneers. Unlike their later albums, `Piece of Time’ is, at it’s heart, pretty much just a death metal album. Sure, it’s got progressive and jazz tendencies, but it doesn’t really transcend the genre the way that their later work tended to. This isn’t an insult, nor a compliment, just an observation. And, though it’s pretty straightforward for Atheist, it’s still pretty damn innovative for Death Metal, particularly considering that this album 1988, when DM was still far from completely developed.
There are no truly weak tracks on `Piece of Time’, though, as is often the case with DM, some of the tracks just really fail to stand out all that much. It opens with the title tracks, which nicely displays the Atheist sound, with jagged, jazzy licks along side of straight ahead trem riffs over top of Flynn’s frenetic drumming and the complex, innovative basswork of Roger Patterson. (The bass is nowhere near as prominent here as it would become in Atheist’s later work, but again, it’s much more significant than it would typically be on a metal album.) `Room with a View’ is probably the best track, with a bit more melody coming through in the riffs than on most of the tracks here, and nice, memorable vox. `On They Slay’ is one of their older, more primitive tracks, but it’s got a nice driving death-thrash vibe and plenty of powerful riffs. `I Deny’ is perhaps the most dynamic track here, shifting tone and tempo frequently and seamlessly. Very good. (Finally, though the song itself isn’t one of the best ones here, `Why Bother’ contains great appeal to me due to it’s strident anti-voting message.)
The bonus tracks are just a bunch of crappy demos. I’ve never been interested in this sorta thing before, and this albums doesn’t change this. Anyway, this is definitely a solid buy. It’s an important piece of death metal history, and a fine opening for a great band.
First of all, I would like to thank Comrade Ren “Altarboy of Madness” for recommending Atheist to me. These guys are truly one of the most unique, talented, and most influentual death metal bands on the planet. They’re also known as one of the pioneers of technical death metal and also one of the first few metal bands along with Pestilence and Cynic to incorporate jazz and progressive elements into their sound. They are truly one of a kind in the metal world.
I bought “Piece of Time” along with Atheist’s other two albums “Unquestionable Prescence” and “Elements” at FYE a couple months ago down in Eau Claire, and I just want to say that I loved everything that I heard on this album. I also learned that when Atheist recorded “Piece of Time”, they wanted to combine the perfection and technical executions of Rush, the ferocious aggression of Slayer, and the diverse musical arrangements of Mercyful Fate, and boy did they ever suceed at doing all of that. The musicianship on here is just incredible. Guitarists Kelly Shaefer (who also does lead vocals) and Rand Burkey rip and tear right through the listener’s ears with outstanding technical riffs and killer shredding solos throughout. The bass work courtesy of Roger Patterson is very insane sounding and very audible. Sadly this would be the only Atheist album that he would record with the band. Steve Flynn’s double bass drumming is outstanding and fast as well.
Every song on here is just excellent. The opening title track “Piece of Time” (which features straight ahead shredding riffs, frenetic drumwork, and awesome thumping bass lines) and “Room with a View” are instant headbanging classics. The second track “Unholy War” features more killer bass lines along with bullying drumwork, blowtorching riffs and wild solos with angry vocals from Kelly to boot. My personal favorite “On They Slay” includes a nice driving death-thrash vibe and plenty of powerful drumming, fast catchy riffs and careening solos. “I Deny” has some cool bass lines at the beginning as well as the end of the song. Track seven “Why Bother?” another classic political track which features somewhat of an anti-voting message in the lyrics. The closing track “No Truth” which is an outstanding album closer is written about something revelant to the band’s name as it reflects how they felt about the state of religion in America. We also have some bonus tracks which contain songs from their “Beyond”, “Hell Hath No Mercy”, and R.A.V.A.G.E. (Raging Atheists Vowing A Gory End) “On They Slay” demos as well.
Jeremy’s song ratings:
“Piece of Time” Album
1. Piece of Time – 5/5
2. Unholy War – 5/5
3. Room with a View – 5/5
4. On They Slay – 5/5 My personal favorite song
5. Beyond – 5/5
6. I Deny – 5/5
7. Why Bother? – 5/5
8. Life – 5/5
9. No Truth – 5/5
10. No Truth – 5/5
11. On They Slay – 5/5
12. Choose Your Death – 5/5
13. Brain Damage – 5/5
14. Beyond – 5/5
“Hell Hath No Mercy” Demo
15. Hell Hath No Mercy – 5/5
R.A.V.A.G.E. “On They Slay” Demo
16. On They Slay – 5/5
17. Brain Damage – 5/5
18. Undefiled Wisdom – 5/5
Overall this is highly recommended for fans of Cynic, Death (late-period stuff), Pestilence, Spiral Architect, Necrophagist, and even Suffocation for that matter. If you call yourself a fan of prog/technical-death metal and you’ve not yet experienced the music of Atheist, then you are truly missing out on some excellent music. Enjoy and happy headbanging!!
Piece of Time, the debut album from death metal pioneers Atheist, remains one of the greatest musical journeys and truly the start of a new direction for the metal world. After Atheist recorded three demo tapes (one under the band’s previous incarnation, R.A.V.A.G.E.), they hit their stride with Piece of Time. Finally getting the production they deserved and finding a home with Active Recods, Atheist released the first of three highly influential albums that would shake the fundamentals of how music was written and the limits at which it was played.
Kelly Shaefer (vocals, guitar)
Rand Burkey (guitar)
Roger Patterson (bass)
Steve Flynn (drums)
Guitars: Shaefer and Burkey really did some amazing things here. Burkey (a left-handed guitar player that played a right-handed guitar) performs some blazing solo’s throughout and theirs plenty of them to be found here. Fast, insane, and chaotic are a few words that come to mind but not in a Kerry King kinda way. While they can be extremely fast and mind-blowing their still highly technical and well placed. The riffs on this album are the best that Atheist did in their career and never get boring. Tempo changes and perfect timing make this an ideal album for the aspiring guitarist. Through all the butality though, the less aggressive parts are what made Piece of Time really stand out in a crowded genre. Shaefer and Burkey will race along at breakneck speed and then, when you least expect it, go straight into a jazzy interlude and right when you’re used to it go right back into tearing it up. They can really stop on a dime spontaneously and you never know what to expect from these guys. Not that this isn’t death metal first and foremost. The bands later releases really delved into the softer parts but this album remains the heaviest and most brutal of their career.
Bass: Roger Patterson performed the bass duties for Piece of Time. Sadly it would be his last before dying in a car accident. Roger had a unique playing style that is always heard throughout every song. Shaefer and Burkey would write their guitar parts around Rogers bass which is usually unheard of in metal. His complex bass lines would include insane speed, popping and slapping, and pounding under the music, creating the Atheist sound. He’s truly a legendary bassist that should forever be remembered even if for this album alone.
Drums: Steve Flynn is excellent behind the kit and wraps up the trademark Atheist sound. Just like the rest of the band, he’s really good at doing soft jazzy parts or brutally heavy parts. Steve’s a skilled kick-drummer but doesn’t overuse the bass drum( like so many other death metal bands). He injects it at the right moment and it never takes over the other instruments but only makes them seem all the more brutal. All of the guitars are so crazy but Flynn keeps them all together perfectly. Although his performance on their next album, Unquestionable Presence, is awe-inspiring, his work on Piece of Time is still absolutely amazing.
Vocals: This is hands down the best vocal performance of Atheist’s career. Shaefer has a raspy, snarly growl that takes command of the music but doesn’t overpower it. Definitely the most death metal sounding vocals are found here, as on the next album it was toned down (but still great).
Lyrics: Piece of Time was the beginning of Atheist’s more thougtful and inspiring lyrics to come on Unquestionable Presence and Elements. Most of the topics deal with the band’s name and often times venture into politics. It’s not the typical “We hate God” or “We hate the government” crap though, their written very well to where you actually want to know what their saying. The topics fit the music well and offer perspective’s on life, death, social standings, and the after-life. Not that they don’t have a couple cheesy gore-filled songs (On They Slay and Life). While the lyrics are a step down from their later works they’re still miles above what the typical metal band was (is) putting out.
Production: Production here is top-notch. Scott Burns and Atheist did a great job on Piece of Time. With proper funding, they finally got the production problem straightened out that plagued them on their demo’s. All the instruments are heard perfectly throughout the record, which is one of the first things I look for. Nothing ever takes over the music, everything is equal.
Highly creative, totally original, and never gets repetetive or boring after numerous listens, the influential Piece of Time is an absolute masterpiece that should be in everyone’s collection.
Exciting to see the re-issue of the ATHEIST legacy. This CD is possibly the foundation of technical death metal, and one of Suffocation’s influences.This is the classic debut album. Easily earning the 5 star rating it receives. Technical to the max. When this CD was recorded the band wanted the perfection and technical executions of RUSH, the aggression of Slayer, and the diverse musical arrangements of Mercyful Fate. They wanted to make “thinking man’s metal.” They succeeded. Pick up this legendary piece of metal history, it is well worth your time and money.