maxdiamond

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Atheist

(Blogs were banned in India for a couple of days, that's why this post is coming 4 days late.)

How to spend a weekend?
Well, I spent my lethargic weekend listening to Atheist, made me all nostalgic and a 'believer' of Atheist once more!

First the good news and then the bad news.
Good news is that Bob Rock is out of Metallica camp for now since he is working on new Motley Crue album and Metallica has employed the duties of legendary Rick Rubin to produce their new album which Lars states "is nothing like St.Anger II but more of old school metal". Metallica is in studio now for recording their new album that is due early next year.

The bad news is that 'crazy diamond' Roger 'Syd' Barrett passed away on Friday the July 7th 2006.
Shine on...

Alright now to out artist du jour, ladies and germs, Atheist!



Lineup:
Kelly Shaefer - Vocals, Guitar
Rand Burkey - Guitar
Frank Emmi - Guitar
Tony Choy - Bass
Marcell Dissantos - Drums

Roger Patterson (RIP) - Bass

It is really sad how talented bands go unnoticed whereas average / shitty bands take up all the recognition. Over time it has been proven that too much of talent in a single band leads to burnout (cant help but think of Cynic once again in this context).

Atheist is a band you can come across in any cult listing and hear all the good things about the band but it is next to impossible to lay your hands on their records. They had managed to release 3 studio albums, each one of them broke new ground in terms of innovation, growth and maturity. Only pain in the ass is the rarity, you'll be one of those lucky dudes if you can get it.

I have met many people who have heard of Atheist but havent heard their records. Not to blame them because Atheist back catalogue has been out of recording for over a decade now. Until recently when Kelly Shaefer thought it was a good idea to release all the 3 albums remastered at Morrisound Studio, Florida and re-issued by Relapse records, and once again the world was given a chance to wake up to a genius called as Atheist.

With a name like that Atheist can instantly place a glee on any metalhead's face but not really.

What does Atheist sound like?
This is a common question I am faced with whenever I try to introduce a new listener to Atheist territory. Try Jazz and metal. And that's what you get when you add some latin music influences and bad ass groovy bass tracks. By the way it is not just adding 'elements' of all the above mentioned musical pathways but a perfect marriage of all the above that you cant tell from one to another.

It is really difficult to categorize Atheist to any genre, its a crazy mix of sonic assault and 'art metal' that is nowhere else found in the metal after that. May be Cynic, Spiral Architect or Aghora reached a different level along the same lines but nothing like these dudes.
Some people categorize them in progressive Metal / Jazz / Fusion and even someone coined a term called as Art Metal. I dont care as long as the music matters.

Bands come and go but there can be no parallel to a band like Atheist. Period.

It was the late 80s to mid 90s, Florida was a haven for death metal scene with numerous talented bands flourishing and swarming everywhere. Chuck Schuldiner and his dudes were perfecting their sounds, Cynic was somewhere around, so was Obituary and many more.

Some useless info: Florida state has one of the most active atheist societies around the world, not of the band but actual atheist society!

And then there was Atheist, Roger Patterson, Morrisound Studio and Tony Choy...
Piece of Time (1990) and Unquestionable Presence (1991) were certified groundbreaking albums and when Atheist was riding the wave of recognition out of Florida death metal scene, tragedy struck in the form of fatal accident that claimed original bassist Roger Patterson's life (reminds me of Cliff Burton who died in a similar accident), he was only 22.
Roger Patterson still today is one of the most talented but underrated bassist to never gain recognition he deserved.
Piece of Time (1990) is still today considered as the best debut by any standards. With bad ass bass sound very much in place, Atheist exploded into a scene filled with technical death metal bands like Death, Obituray, Morbid Angel and more. Their debut album was pretty much straight death metal with so many hints of better things to come.

Atheist started as a straight death metal band and their demo is pretty much indicative of how they started out. You can get a feel of that demo as a set of bonus tracks in the remastered Piece of Time released on Relapse Records.

Unquestionable Presence, their sophomore effort took the level of musicianship a notch above and placed them firmly in a place where no one else could surpass.
Unquestionable Presence is also one of my favourite albums of all time along with a thousand and odd more.
If I ever make a list like that, I'm sure nobody would be able to read it completely since it is going to be a mile long post. That's why I'm putting a hold on this thought.

Elements album features Tony Choy's prodigious bass playing so prominently that you would wish every metal record had the prominent bass lines like this!
Somebody tell that to Metallica.
Atheist nearly had disbanded after Roger Patterson's demise. Enter Tony Choy after exiting from Cynic (one more example of "every exit marked by another entry" thing), and what followed was a bass-heavy Elements. The album pretty much opened me up to Atheist territory forever and I had become a 'believer'.

Give it a listen, you'll be a believer!

On October 24th 1993, the band played their last show ever for the release party of "Elements" in St Petersburg, Florida.

A few days after, an internal dispute over financial matters led to the split of Tony and Marcell, while Randy who was arrested following a felony charge at around the same time prevented him from leaving the country in the future at a time they had an European tour planned for late 1993 with Wargasm and Agressor.

That was the end of Atheist.

Where are they now?
The band has not released any album after Elements and the band has been almost low profile since then.

Recently the band jammed together and incidentally it was their first rehearsal together in 13 years! For the past few months the band has been performing at a series of low profile gigs across America.

As I am finishing up this post, Atheist has finished performing at Bloodstock Open Air, Derbyshire, UK (on Friday the 14th July 2006) along with bands like Pyramaze, Rage, Nephwrack, Nocturnal Rites, Pitiful Reign, Headless Cross, Metal Church, Kingsize Blues, Evile, Edguy, Ashtar, Season's End, Callenish Circle, Raunchy, Ensiferum, Bal Sagoth, Turisas, STRATOVARIUS.
Kelly Shaefer and other band members recently visited and hung out at Roger Patterson's grave on the event of his 15th death anniversary.

Kelly Shaefer performed the classic 'Piece of Time' with Australian band Alarum on May 24th in St. Petersburg, Florida. This was the very first time Kelly has performed this song live since 1993. Check out video of the event here!

So?
This all leads to the hope that Atheist will be back with a new album some time soon. With bands like Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Napalm Death and others releasing albums this year, (and hopefully a brand new Atheist album) its damn well certain that metal is taking on the world. Thank you.

\m/

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