While their first album was an interesting design in how to make extreme music more progressive, this album was like the holy grail of relevations in progressive metal.
Atheist’s movement to Death Records (division of Metal Blade) turned out to be worth it because they got to have their album produced by death metal mastermind Scott Burns. Burns is a great producer and it shows on this album. Some of the other albums he produced at the time were Obituary’s “The End Complete”, Death’s “Human” and “Individual Thought Patterns”.
Atheist had an incomparable sound, and they were definitely more fusionistic than Cynic who kept a Death Metal structure as thier base and peppered the music with other forms of music. Atheist had more of the blend going for them.
Patterson wrote some good bass lines and I suppose Tony Choy performed them with a lot of slap on the bass. What other metal bands had slap bass besides Faith No More? Burkey and the guitars switch off between the heavy and the cool interludes. Flynn drumming goes from exceptable to annoyning and then to great -its schizophrenic at best. Contrary to what most people labeled this band “death-jazz”, the music is more apt to being called progressive death metal with funk overtones. Flynn’s drumming has little if nothing to do with anything remotely jazz based -it’s still good though. (These guys probably couldn’t tell you anything about Jaco Pastorius, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter or Herbie Hancock…let alone listen to their music. Not to take anything away from Atheist’s playing it is just that half my music collection is about every form of jazz and this ain’t jazz.) Schaefer’s vocals have a shrieking nature to them but are inoffensive and blend well with the music. The song writting and the accompaniments are good, they screw with time signatures a little bit too which is good. Most importantly it is BOTH heavy and progressive -something which Atheist’s contemporary followers couldn’t do.
Fear not this is still a heavy album and is much heavier than Cynic’s 1993 album Focus. Unfortunately for Atheist’s last album they would not repeat the formula as they did on this 1991 masterpiece. And now they remastered it and you don’t have to spend $80 on getting it. (I got lucky, I bought when it came out.)