Sound — 9
Atheist is one of many bands that emerged from the Florida death metal scene of the mid to late eighties. Originally founded as a death metal band they eventually evolved into a technical jazz/ death band whose technicality could only be rivaled by the likes of Cynic or Death, and unlike so many technical bands the music never comes across as boring. Of the bands 3 albums this one comes off as the most straight up death metal sounding one. Unlike so many other bands in death metal there is quite a balanced focus on every instrument and all can be heard quite clearly. Without a doubt the biggest star on this album was late bassist Roger Patterson who unfortuately died in a bus accident as the band were coming home from a tour in 1991. In every song you can hear Patterson coming up with killer bass lines. Examples include the intros to the title track and I Deny, not to mention all of the bass fills in Unholy War. On drums is Steve Flynn who brings a jazzy sort of feel to the album, some standout drumming can be found on every track. On guitars we have lefties Rand Burkey and Kelly Shaefer. Burkey actually plays a right handed V upside down which is insane when you consider how complicated the music is. Both guitarists also trade off solos with Shaefer going for a more traditional style of soloing with a few dive bombs thrown in here and there, while Burkey tends to use more varied style of solong. Of course these guys come up with some awesome headbanging riffs. Some of which are the riffs at the beginning of Room with a View or Beyond, not to mention the one at the end of the title track. Shaefer's vocals come off as Dave Mustaine trying to do death metal and at times can be a little tough to understand. I like the production sinceit allows me to hear what every instrument is playing, which is a big plus for me.
Lyrics — 8
With a name like Atheist you wouldn't really expect this band to sing the praises of Jesus. However the lyrics are no where near as annoying/stupid as Deicide's lyrics. At first it is a little difficult to understand Kelly's lyrics but when you understand them they come off as more intelligent than the average death metal band. For example in I deny Kelly attacks politicians who align themselves with preachers and vice versa. Or in Room With a View he sings about near death experiences. Or in Unholy War he talks about how religion is used to justify wars. It's all great stuff but if your a bible thumper you might be slightly offended by these lyrics.
Overall Impression — 9
With their debut Atheist created an instant classic. Unfortunately this would be the only album to feature the band's classic line up. Every song on here is a master piece filled with great musicianship. It is truly a great album, one that all fans of technical death metal should own. If this were stolen from me I would bestow bloody vengence on the bastard who stole it from me (after getting a another copy of Piece of time first).