Piece Of Time
Back in the days, this vinyl made my air-guitaring reach new heights. And the air-drumming? I wonder, how was it possible that ATHEIST managed to write such complicated tracks, sounding so natural? The drums were everywhere, while at the same time binding the different parts in each song together. There's no doubt ATHEIST were ahead of their time, with songs that changed all the time and really demanded something from you as a listener. All respect to DEATH's "Leprosy" and the classic it will remain for all times, but "Piece Of Time" was an album that contained everything you could possible dream of from a metal album. The mentioned drums that were everywhere, guitars that didn't play one riff for more than 10 seconds (it feels like that), surprising twists that came out of nowhere but never felt out of place and finally a rasping vocal that still sounds fresh and original. ATHEIST never got the credit they deserved. Maybe this will change now with the re-releases marvellously done by Relapse Records. I think the Metallers today have a decent chance to figure ATHEIST's complicated and technical Death Metal, since we've lived with 15 years of straightforward Death Metal that's good and all, but not too demanding. 'On They Slay', 'No Truth' and 'I Deny' are tracks that can be listened to over and over again, and that today's musicians and listeners will be able to understand way more. There is more progression in the extreme Metal scene, and even though ATHEIST were 15 years ahead of their time, there is always room for good music. And that time is now. Personally speaking I got the vinyl when it was released all those years ago, and together with the mentioned DEATH album, MORBID ANGEL's "Altars..." and a few others, "Piece Of Time" was an album that belonged up there... and still does in its remastered form. All three re-releases includes bonus tracks, and I would have preferred if everything was collected into on CD. However, that's not the case, so let's take a closer look at the extra material for "Piece Of Time". The coolest thing is that you get a few tracks you haven't heard before, like 'Choose Your Death', 'Brain Damage', 'Hell Hath No Mercy' and 'Undefiled Wisdom'. Though, 'Choose Your Death' reminds me strongly of the album track 'Life' and 'Hell Hath No Mercy' is very reminiscent to 'Why Bother?'. These recordings are from the "Beyond" demo, "Hell Hath No Mercy" demo and "On The Slay" demo when the band was named R.A.V.A.G.E. (Raging Atheists Vowing A Gory End), and of course the sound is somewhat bad compared to the album. But it's a part of ATHEIST's history, and we have to be happy to get to hear these lost tracks, despite the various quality. These extra tracks surely belong on "Piece Of Time" re-release, and add spice to an already super album.
Piece Of Time
Hell yes, this re-issue was certainly way overdue and just a perfect idea! Not only because it's been unavailable in its original format for quite a while now, but also because of the highly interesting bonus tracks that were added to the nine regular tracks... Well, I really hope that I don't have to introduce you to these Florida gods of technical Death Metal, cause otherwise you're definitely reading the wrong magazine (if you still would like to find out more details about them just go for the in-depth interview with former ATHEIST guitarist / vocalist Kelly Shaefer in this issue). When "Piece Of Time" originally came out in 1988 it totally blew my mind and it still does twelve years later! This is just the perfect combination of aggression and technical abilities. In the years to come ATHEIST unfortunately lost a bit of the old aggression in order to become even more weird and technical. But no matter what, they managed to set new standards in the scene with their albums "Unquestionable Presence" and "Elements" (both will be re-issued as well) until they unfortunately had to call the quits. Anyway, my favorite ATHEIST album always was "Piece Of Time" and because of some additional pre-album demo stuff this re-issue became even more attractive to me now. In particular you'll get the entire "On They Slay" demo from 1987 (which they still released under their old R.A.V.A.G.E. moniker). It contained the never elsewhere released track 'Undefiled Wisdom' as well as 'Brain Damage' and 'On They Slay', that both also appeared on the legendary "Raging Death" compilation. Then there's two songs from the 1988 "Beyond" demo ('No Truth' and 'Choose Your Death' - which got changed into 'Life' on the actual album) and a 1987 recording of a track called 'Hell Hath No Mercy', which was changed into 'Why Bother' later on. On all of these recordings ATHEIST (or R.A.V.A.G.E. if you like...) sounded even more aggressive, which just suited the material perfectly well. And apart from the production, that's why I definitely prefer some of those demo versions over the actual album standards. The CD booklet comes up with all the lyrics, old pictures and several liner notes. So, if you missed out this classic for one reason or another in the past, make sure to grap a copy now and experience the timeless brilliance of ATHEIST!
More ATHEIST reviews:
Elements - by Roy Kristensen
Unquestionable Presence - by Roy Kristensen
Unquestionable Presence: Live At Wacken - by Roy Kristensen