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Review: Atheist - Piece of Time
Piece of Time

Label: Active Records
Year released: 1989
Duration: 32:10
Tracks: 9
Genre: Death Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: July 6, 2009
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Readers Rating
Piece of Time

Rated 4.55/5 (91.05%) (38 Votes)

This classic band ripped up the fabric of early extreme music back in the 90s with their intriguing blend of Thrash, Death and surprisingly well integrated outside influences like jazz - although those wouldn't be nearly as prevalent until the band's sophomore effort, but that is another review. This was Piece of Time, an unholy, ripping assault on the jugular that is as intelligent and scholarly as it is thrashtacular.

The band keeps to a very high level of energy here, with all of the songs having bushels of riffs and leads stacked on top of one another. The songwriting is complex and memorable, mostly very fast, but sometimes - as on the ominous "I Deny" - slowing down to a sinister groove. The drumming is just insane, and the bass work is admirable, always challenging and twisted to the extreme. Kelly Shaefer's vocals are a raspy hiss, and while I didn't initially like them, they have since grown on me to quite a good point. The guitars are the real focal point, with their intense repertoire of thrashing, dirty riffage becoming instantly cooler when combined with the complexity on display here. It's no wonder that this album took a few plays to get into - there's just so much going on! Every song is visceral, demanding and involved, and this album might take several plays to get into. I guess if I really had to pick standouts on here, they'd be the title track, "Room with a View" and "I Deny," simply for the fact that they are the most complex and insane of all of the songs, but that isn't saying a lot because there are no weak points on here at all, every song stands out.

The lyrics here are a real strong point, as they are just well written far beyond the standard set for most metal lyrics. These lyrics are all around great; using poetic verses and razor-sharp wit to create strong, cohesive morals in them that I find pretty fascinating. Most of them revolve around the denouncing of a God or organized religion, except here it's all done very intelligently, sometimes telling a sort of story and sometimes going about it in a more direct way. This album preaches freedom of thought and the ability to question one's superiors and religion, mixing it up with some slight surprises along the way, but never deviating from their main purpose. Sure, there are some politically restless lyrics on here too, and those are not quite as creative, but they're still pretty well written, and they don't detract from your enjoyment of the music at all.

Atheist know what they're talking about; just look at the name of the goddamn band and that becomes evident. Here's an act I can respect on both a musical level and a lyrical level, and you should, too, if you like heavy music at all. Highly recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Jupiter (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Unquestionnable Presence (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
Interview with vocalist Kelly Shaefer on April 18, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)
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