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Atheist - Unquestionable Presence (Reissue)

Unquestionable Presence (Reissue)
by V.Srikar at 03 July 2015, 6:04 AM

Few bands have had as much influence as Florida Progressive Death Metallers ATHEIST in the world of Death Metal as they had with their 2nd full length “Unquestionable Presence”, originally released way back in the year I was born, 1991, and again reissued this year by Season Of Mist Records. Such is the impact of this album in the underground circuits that I was forced to check this band few years ago for the first time after numerous mentions of them on my Facebook. In addition to the original 8 songs the record label has added 9 more songs for this reissued for the pleasure of the both seasoned and new fans.

It’s a little unnerving when you realize this re-release has 17 songs in total, but those apprehensions are put to rest by the first song “Mother Man”, a song full of heavy blast beats, though not of the typical Death Metal style, but with more unstructured notes, creating the progressive feel, before getting into a very thick heavy riffage, and again going back and forth every now and then, keeping the listener always guessing. The drum work by Steve Flynn here is real beauty as he maintains a good mid-tempo all throughout even with the fast pace of his drumming. While you think you got it all figured out, the band puts a subtle jazz piece in every now and then and also having the occasional nasty growling vocals by Kelly Shaefer, which surprisingly is dominated by the other instruments (not sure if that’s what the band wanted) and almost disappears in the latter half of the song. Boy, so much for just the first song!

The next song being the title track “Unquestionable Presence” brings in lots of guitar solos and short guitar song structures, as the vocals and the drums go about doing their usual pummeling work. The song shows the technical abilities of the guitarists. The albums maintains the same heavy headbanging riffs and still bringing out the progressiveness in further songs like “Your Life’s Retribution” and “Enthralled In Essence”, with the jazz influence being visible clearly in the latter song. There is a feeling of a thick dirty liquid flowing rapidly as I listen to these songs. The jazz influence is intelligently sprinkled here and there, rather than being made visible blatantly, forcing the listener to listen more carefully to enjoy the intricacies of the album. This reissue of 17 songs are a combination of the original 8 songs + 6 Pre production demos + an original 1990 demo song of “Enthralled In Essence”. The album moves beautifully with an excellent song in “The Formative Years” full of Thrash Metal riffs with fast paced and unstructured drum work. Then there are some songs like “And the Psychic Saw” and “Brains” which have some structured technical song writing, still having enough unevenness to keep the listener guessing and interested. The thick fast paced riffs along with the screaming Death Metal vocals remain the very essence of ATHEIST sound all through out.

Then from the 9th song, it’s the pre-production demos that fill up mostly the rest of the record, though I couldn’t find much of a difference between the finished and the pre-production Demo, which is not really a big issue for me here. The record chugs along with a 1990 recorded Demo of “Enthralled In Essence” and instrumental recordings of “Mother Man” and “And the Psychic Saw”, which frankly as a listener are not really that captivating and interesting, as they aren’t too different from the original and I get a feeling the record label has just wasted time and space here, and could have easily avoided including these tracks. But in the midst of all these demos, the boys again surprise me with an instrumental of a new track in “Retribution” and it’s more of an unstructured chaotic song, though worth listening in the course of the full album.

In any case, all said and done, “Unquestionable Presence” is a landmark record in the history of Death Metal, as this album fueled the way for future bands to incorporate other genres outside Metal, like Jazz and Country into their music, and still managing to keep fans interested. And Season Of Mist Records have rightly decided to reissue this record in digipack format this July 24th, and both seasoned and new fans have to really dig this album.

4 Star Rating

1. Mother Man
2. Unquestionable Presence
3. Your Life’s Retribution
4. Enthralled In Essence
5. An Incarnation’s Dream
6. The formative Years
7. Brains
8. And the Psychic Saw

Pre-production demo
9. Enthralled In Essence
10. The formative Years
11. Unquestionable Presence
12. An Incarnation’s Dream
13. Retribution (instrumental)
14. Brains(instrumental)

Demo 1990
15. Enthralled In Essence

Drums and bass tracks
16. Mother Man

Rhythm Track
17. And The Psychic Saw
Kelly Shaefer – Guitars, Vocals
Steve Flynn – Drums
Tony Choy – Bass,
Rand Burkey – Guitars
Record Label: Season Of Mist Records


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