Atheist - Elements review
|Release date:||September 1993|
03. Samba Briza
09. Fractal Point
11. See You Again
13. Unquestionable Presence [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
14. On They Slay [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
15. Enthralled In Essence [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
16. The Formative Years [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
17. Mother Man [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
18. Retribution [2005 re-release bonus] [Live at BBC Radio Broadcast (1992)]
The album Elements is Atheist's third and last album as well one of the most experimental and daring journeys in erratic genre hopping. Bassist Tony Choy returns from the previous album Unquestionable Presence. It is no question that Elements was Atheist's most focused and least brutal or progressive serving; jazz/fusion interludes most present in the metal content. Opening track "Green" clearly shows how Choy's chops will help further accentuate this metal/jazz matrimony. Clean guitars and riffing death/thrash metal work is also mixed together. Kelly Shaefer growls less on Elements, trying to sing as well as shriek and use an almost spoken guttural style of vocals. Kelly acts out all lyrics very well with rhythmic patterns. Also, All guitar solos are in key throughout the album, unlike its predecessor.
The album hashes out songs with catchier guitar hooks that are less intense in nature. Guitarists Rand Burkey and Frank Emmi constantly interchanging from metallic death metal picking choral and melody work to jazz fusion and even salsa and flamenco guitar methods. Drummer Marcel Dissantos has worked out his rhythm problems, now impressively switching from technical metal drumming to jazz/fusion techniques. "Samba Briza" shows a completely different Atheist; this track shows how the band could've easily had an alternative career as a cocktail lounge jazz band on a cruise ship. Atheist are a more progressive unit their Floridian brothers. "Displacement," a short transition piece from "Air" to "Animal," acts as an intermission from the intensity of the experience. Choy's bass properties are once again put on display. Finally, Rand and Frank don't play down-tuned metal on this album. Kelly's vocals are harsh but his pipes tend to command a thrash styling while up-tempo catchy technical thrash metal with mélanges of innovation backs him up.
Atheist is a very hard band to pinpoint: it is hard to categorize their sound. A band influenced by metal, funk, jazz, fusion, salsa and flamenco is very hard to attack from any angle. Sometimes it is best not to overanalyze and critique something as vastly unique and distinct such as Elements and simply bask its brilliance. Elements showed that Atheist was finally able to take their music one step higher. Conflicts between band members resulted in the break-up of what was one of the most forward-thinking bands in metal.
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