Released: 2000, NMG Entertainment
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Fans of extreme metal who are unfamiliar with Atheist are poor souls. Originally released in 1988, Piece of Time, Atheist’s debut album, was a full-on assault of brutal death-thrash metal. The album hinted at the band’s technical prowess, to be later explored in full force on their second album Unquestionable Presence. Atheist was often misunderstood by metal fans, yet together with other misunderstood bands like Watchtower, Atheist served as a large influence to many of the technical death metal bands that emerged throughout the ‘90s, including the almighty Cynic. Once metalheads became more receptive to technical music, Atheist albums became hotly sought-after items. But by that time, they were already out of print. Over the years, the demand for the band’s music has only increased, as evidenced by the high prices Atheist discs have sold for in online auctions. The band has been aware of this, and thanks to them and the folks at NMG Entertainment, all three albums are being re-issued! Piece of Time is the first re-release thus far.
Furious guitars, crazed and unique lead playing, ever-impressive and tighter-than-hell drumming, straining hated-filled vocals, and astonishing bass work comprise this masterpiece of an album. This re-issue has been digitally remastered to help improve the relatively flat production the original recording embodied. It is true that the new sound has increased the dynamics of the album, but I must say that after listening to the original for so long, I prefer the cleaner sound of the original. Sure it was flat, but it was pretty clean. The new remastered sound is a bit muddy, particularly the drumming (the kick drums stick out too much). Although I must say the CD sounds pretty damn good in my computer system. It’s just in my home stereo that the production sounds a little annoying. The packaging has been improved to an extent. Full lyrics are included, plus some additional liner notes, and some nice old band photos. The original cover artwork has been reproduced, but a little more grainy and less defined than the original pressing. And where’s the band photo that appeared on the back of the original CD case? OK, I’m being picky here, but what the hell.
But the six bonus tracks are the real treat here! Four of these (“Undefiled Wisdom”, “Brain Damage”, “On They Slay”, “Hell Hath No Mercy”) come from the band’s 1987 demo. A couple of these were also featured on the old-ass Raging Death compilation album. Holy shit, do these songs sound rough! Lots of noise present here, but I am sure this is a hell of a lot better than some fourth generation dub from a tape trader. “Undefiled Wisdom” and “Brain Damage” were never re-recorded, so here’s your chance to finally here them! “On They Slay” made its way onto Piece of Time, as did “Hell Hath No Mercy” (re-titled “Why Bother”). The last two bonus tracks (“Choose Your Death” and “No Truth”) are taken from Atheist’s 1988 demo. Both of these were re-recorded for Piece of Time, with “Choose Your Death” being renamed “Life”. The sound here is also very rough (they’re demos…what do you expect?!). But I like to listen to these bonus tracks imagining these four guys in a room thrashing away like mad!
Although I am a little disappointed with the remastering and the reproduction of the artwork, I still give this CD a high rating because the concept of reissuing Atheist material is miraculous. This essential material must be in every thrash fan’s collection. And as I’ve said before, I always give two thumbs up to anyone that puts out rare/unreleased material, such as the bonus demo tracks found on this reissue. Get your ass over to this web site for more information on the band and this CD: http://www.newtownmusic.com/artists/atheist/index.html