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Atheist - Piece Of Time review

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Band: Atheist
Album: Piece Of Time
Release date: 1989

01. Piece Of Time
02. Unholy War
03. Room With A View
04. On They Slay
05. Beyond
06. I Deny
07. Why Bother?
08. Life
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.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Production: 7

Written by Horlequism | 06.06.2006

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 10   Visited by: 148 users
05.08.2007 - 11:36
Marcel Hubregtse
Grumpy Old Fuck
"executed well by guitarists Rand Burkey and Frank Emmi."
Frank Emmi doesn't play guitar on Piece Of Time and Unquestionable Presence he only plays on Elements. It is still kelly Shaefer playing here.
Member of the true crusade against European Flower Metal

Yesterday is dead and gone, tomorrow is out of sight
Dawn Crosby (r.i.p.)
05.04.1963 - 15.12.1996

05.08.2007 - 19:14
Kap'N Korrupt
Account deleted
Well...I suppose that you could go ahead and change that if you want
12.09.2007 - 17:54
Account deleted
what!? fast-as-i-can solo death, cynic...etc?? what the fuck!? cynic has one of the most melodic jazzy solos ever thanks to paul masvidal who also played for death (listen to "how could i" solo)...and let me tell death only played fast solos for a certain period of time, even obituary did the same "cause of death" rings a bell? listen to bands like sadus and kreator that's when you see fast soloing or maybe fucking kerry king from tried to sound like an expert here but it didn't work, your review almost don't make any sense...well at least you said technical.
12.09.2007 - 18:39
Kap'N Korrupt
Account deleted
@graywolf87: Welcome to Metalstorm and thank you for commenting on my review. Your comment is important to me....
07.07.2010 - 09:04

Originality: 6? What??? You said at the beginning that it was "highly innovative." And by the way, I don't think Leprosy sounds anything like Piece of Time. Death got jazzy around Human.
07.07.2010 - 15:38
Rating: 7
Seeker of Truth
Written by CliffemAll on 07.07.2010 at 09:04

Originality: 6? What??? You said at the beginning that it was "highly innovative." And by the way, I don't think Leprosy sounds anything like Piece of Time. Death got jazzy around Human.

Death got jazzy? Are you kidding me?
Savor what you feel and what you see
Things that may not seem important now
But may be tomorrow

R.I.P. Chuck Schuldiner

Satan was a Backstreet Boy
08.07.2010 - 09:13

Uh...yeah!! Not as jazzy as Atheist, obviously, but jazz elements are apparent, to me at least, as early as human.
18.08.2011 - 00:02

Well this is one lame review.
28.04.2012 - 11:56
Rating: 8
Haiwaan Das

Fuck Who Argues. This is One of the best Technical Shit of its Time.
Gr Gr Gr Gr Gr
28.01.2022 - 18:14
Rating: 9

16 years after its an intersting lecture the review did some unjustice to an album that markes and pioneers the genre, still fun to listen today, just started and will give a spin to the whole discography ....trying to hold on to a piece of time...

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