Released: 2009, Relapse
Reviewer: Alan Gilkeson
Adroit purveyors of Technical Death Metal, Atheist created inventive music, diverse sounds, and at times magical moments with their early albums. The shear genius of their ability and the creation of the first album (PIECE OF TIME) to ever mix Death Metal with Jazz, cements their place among the originators, if not the straight up inaugurators of a genre which has developed over two decades, emulated by hundreds of bands. There is none of this so called technical Metal or Math Metal without Atheist.
UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE LIVE AT WACKEN is a 2-CD set. Disc one is the live gig at Wacken and Disc two is sort of a best of, hand picked by the band as definitive Atheist. The Wacken show was the fourth show a reunited Atheist had performed in 2006, yet they sound polished. The first track comes off a bit sloppy (Unquestionable Presence), admittedly the band left mistakes on the album to capture the live experience, however by the time the second track, 'On The Slay', pounds through the speakers, Atheist pull it together and sound invigorated and prodigious, or more aptly, a prodigy all grown up.
As for the second disc, again it is a reminder, not only of some of the greatest Metal ever recorded, but of a band gone astray. Had they managed to stay together, Atheist would today be considered the greatest Death Metal band in history, would get the respect of a Schuldiner, and easily garner the veneration they deserve. As it is they remain on the fringes, popular among educated Metal fans, but unknown to those on the periphery of the Metal scene. Listening to the original 'Mother Man', unbridled passion, with it's sick Jazz elements, or the insane guitar work of 'Room With a View'. one can't help but wonder how big the legend of Atheist would have grown.
A tremendous success, UNQUESTIONABLE PRESENCE LIVE AT WACKEN, belongs in the collection of every Metal fan and music fan alike. It's an uncommon occurrence for a Metal record to become bigger than Metal it's self, but combined with the 'best of' disc, this is a showcase of virtuosos at work, where any unbiased listener could and should be awed by the musicianship, technicality, and maestro that is Atheist.