Atheist - Piece Of Time review
|Album:||Piece Of Time|
01. Piece Of Time
02. Unholy War
03. Room With A View
04. On They Slay
06. I Deny
07. Why Bother?
09. No Truth
10. No Truth [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
11. On They Slay [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
12. Choose Your Death [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
13. Brain Damage [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
14. Beyond [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
15. Hell Hath No Mercy [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
16. On They Slay [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
17. Brain Damage [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
18. Undefiled Wisdom [demo] [2005 re-release bonus]
Florida gives the technical death metal scene an interesting band in Atheist. It took Atheist four years to release a proper demo due to constant instability with member changes. After 1988's demo Beyond, Piece of Time was finally released on Active Records. The heavily diverse jazz/fusion technical death metal pioneer debut here with an intriguing marriage of two genres: jazz fusion and death/thrash metal. The combination of soothing cool musical aesthetics with tight metallic technicality and brutal death is highly innovative.
Piece of Time is more brutal and contains more straight-forward death metal compositions in comparison to later Atheist albums. The album is technical with virtuosic soloing and off-time signatures, making the album slightly progressive in nature. Piece of Time is driven forward by fast picking techniques and dense death metal chord patterns. Many things that are done on this album can easily be compared to a Death album from this period. All these bands were pretty much practicing in the same rehearsal spaces and using the same studios so they borrowed a lot off of each other. If you're a fan of Death, especially an album like Leprosy, then Piece of Time deserves a listen.
Piece of Time can be quite sloppy in places. Drummer Steve Flynn is very fast and is on time but he can slip up. An example of this would be in a song like Beyond. Beyond is driven by triplet chords, executed well by guitarists Rand Burkey and Frank Emmi. Flynn was known to get ahead of himself and just try to hit the crash cymbal as hard as he could if he failed to correct his footwork. The constant changes in song structure might make this unnoticeable at times. The track I Deny tries adding color to the formula of quick changing straight-ahead technical metal sloppiness. It is a more adventurous tune and goes places that the listener just doesn't expect it to. Full ideas don't seem to be carried out properly as one path is only walked on for twenty to thirty seconds. This is one flaw that many bands like Death, Atheist, Cynic or Obituary have. The trademark fast-as-I-can-solo in another key doesn't help either.
No Truth takes Piece of Time into an entirely different direction. The formulaic nature of what was left behind disappears. An epic keyboard introduction takes the listener by surprise. It's a spacey trip and we are curiously waiting what comes next. This would be a harp melody with minor strings in the background, supporting this whole change of atmosphere. No Truth quickly switches back into a technical death metal fest again, Kelly Shaefer's throaty growls once again dominating the vocal side.
All in all, Atheist is a great band to get into if you like technically minded death metal, and Piece of Time is a great example of this. The band's jazz/fusion potential is not realized on this album; this shows up in later releases. The last song though shows us that Atheist will release music with more diversity.
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| Marcel Hubregtse
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