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Atheist - Atheist - The Collection CD (album) cover

ATHEIST - THE COLLECTION

Atheist

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

5.00 | 2 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Atheist - The Collection" is a vinyl box-set release by US, Florida based technical/progressive extreme metal act Atheist. The box-set was released through Relapse Records in July 2005 and it is limited to 1000 copies. "Atheist - The Collection" features the three early 90s album releases by Atheist on vinyl: "Piece of Time (1990)", "Unquestionable Presence (1991)" and "Elements (1993)". In addition to the three LPs there´s an added bonus 7" EP called "On They Slay" by the pre-Atheist act R.A.V.A.G.E. (Raging Atheists Vowing A Gory End) included in the box-set.

Atheist are arguably one of the most unique technical/progressive extreme metal acts around. One of those few acts in the genre that others measure themselves by. The band started out using the R.A.V.A.G.E. name and the "On They Slay" 7" EP, which was recorded with the same lineup that recorded "Piece of Time (1990)", was originally released as a demo cassette tape in 1987. The band changed their name to Atheist soon after that and the first release under the Atheist monicker was the 1988 "Beyond" demo cassette tape. I find it a bit strange that "On They Slay" have been included on the box-set and not "Beyond" but I guess the former is the most rare item and probably the one most hardcore fans would be interested in. It has an important historical value but quality wise I consider it a bonus and not exactly the biggest treat included in the box-set. Atheist, or R.A.V.A.G.E. if you will, display great energy and promise on the demo but it was with "Piece of Time (1990)" that the band really showed the world what a unique act they were. "Piece of Time (1990)" predominantly consists of old re-recorded demo material and it´s an intense technical death/thrash album. Pretty rough around the edges but greatly enjoyable and quite unique for it´s time. Especially two tracks stand out on the album and nods toward the even more progressive sound of later albums. The title track and "I Deny".

Tragedy struck on the 12th of February 1991 when the band were involved in a touring van accident that took the life of bassist Roger Patterson. The band had however recorded some demos of songs that would make up the bulk of the material on their second album "Unquestionable Presence (1991)", before the untimely death of Roger Patterson (those demos are included as bonus tracks on the 2005 Relapse Records CD remaster of "Unquestionable Presence (1991)"). After a period of grief the surviving members of Atheist opted to continue the band and hired former Cynic bassist Tony Choy to complete the lineup. The result is the groundbreaking and to my ears fantastic fusion influenced technical/progressive death/thrash metal release "Unquestionable Presence (1991)". With a playing time of 32:25 minutes this is one of the most compact, intense and technical metal albums out there. At the time it was released the only other act that had made anything resembling the same high level fusion influenced technical/progressive metal style of this album was Watchtower. A band that Atheist often said they were fans of.

The third full-length studio album "Elements (1993)" was recorded without founding member and drummer Steve Flynn but adds a third guitarist to the lineup in Frank Emmi. The drums on the album are played by session musicians. Again Atheist added new elements to their sound and again they produced a groundbreaking technical/progressive extreme metal album. Adding even more fusion elements but also latin inspired rhythms to their style made "Elements (1993)" the extremely unique album it is. It´s not quite as aggressive in nature as the two preceeding albums but it´s the band´s most eclectic release and probably their most progressive too.

While there are no bonus features on the three LPs compared to the original CD releases there´s always the question of the more deep and warm analogue sound on an LP compared to a digital CD, but if you ask me much really has to do with the equipment you use. Having followed the band and been a dedicated fan of Atheist since the early 90s I´m rather ecstatic about this box-set release. Even though this is very much a fan item, the music featured in the box-set and the idea behind the box-set are great and "Atheist - The Collection" fully deserves a 5 star (100%) rating.

UMUR | 5/5 |

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