Monday, 30 April 2012

ATHEIST - Unquestionable Presence (1991)


01  Mother Man
02  Unquestionable Presence
03  Your Life's Retribution
04  Enthralled In Essence
05  An Incarnation's Dream
06  The Formative Years
07  Brains
08  And The Psychic Saw

'Unquestionable Presence' is the second album by the death metal band Atheist. It was released on August 30th 1991 via a subsidary label of Metal Blade Records. The band was founded in 1984 in Florida, firstly under the name Oblivion and later R.A.V.A.G.E. (which stands for Raging Atheists Vowing A Gory End). They recorded their debut album, 'Piece of Time' in 1988, which was released in Europe in 1989, but not in the United States until 1990.

Throughout the album, dissonant, lightning-speed guitar riffs and screwy time signatures collide to create a recipe at once more intricate and more approachable than its predecessor, all the while keeping song lengths to manageable three to four minutes for maximum, concentrated impact. Matching the band's evident musical growth, vocalist Kelly Shaefer also stepped it up on the lyrical front, issuing inscrutably enigmatic, eyebrow-raising lines on par with the album's nearly impenetrable sonics. The bass work on this album is a bit of a complicated story. The original and deceased bass player, Roger Patterson had contributed much to Unquestionable Presence before his unfortunate death. The rest of the album was done by Pestilence's Tony Choy. The two had different styles, Patterson’s was more aggressive and savage-like, where as Choy seemed to be more about technique and style. One thing is certain; both are phenomenal and contribute greatly to the sound of the band, as a lot of it is bass-centered.

Another strong point is the crystal clear production that really does give the music an extra punch as we can clearly hear each instrument without any trouble. This suits the colourful nature of the composition and instead of taking away from the purity of the music, actually does it justice. My largest complaint with 'Unquestionable Presence' and undoubtedly, Atheist in general has been their tendency to change things up before allowing their compositions to really manifest themselves. At times, I caught distinct and excellent riffing sequences that were whisked away all too quickly. That said, 'Unquestionable Presence' was released at a time when death metal was emerging from the catacombs, setting aside the decapitated heads and spilled guts to ask more important questions about our existence and what lies beyond in the universe. 'Unquestionable Presence' had an unquestionable influence on the genre of technical death today and it's strong enough to warrant at least a few spins by anyone who can appreciate what Atheist were trying to do here.

Stand-out tracks include; "Mother Man", "An Incarnation's Dream" plus "And The Psychic Saw".

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