And so...the legend begins. The first full-length opus from perhaps the Technical Death Metal genre's most revered pioneers. A perfect bird's-eye view into the infancy of a band who's career ended far too soon (rumours of a new ATHEIST-album are circulating, I can't confirm this though). On "Piece Of Time", all of the elements (!) are in place for the amazing things to come.
That is, however, not to imply that this album does not have more balls then just about anything you're ever liable to find in the genre! In fact, the band was perhaps in its prime of experimentation here, and it is easy to summate that on this album, Shaefer and Co. were very eager to create music that the world had simply never heard before. The result is a rather "hyper"-sounding album, very rough around the edges, but still produced with the level of chaotic mastery which only ATHEIST were capable of. The production is ridden with reverb and has an altogether "underground"-sound, which, after repeated listens, I have found to be rather appealing! Some albums just have a character to them, this is certainly one of them, it really isn't meant to sound smooth and silky, unless you want to rub lotion on it...but then it wouldn't play?
Okay focus...Musically, there are the quintessential time and tempo changes, myriad bizarre riffs, intense drum-patterns and fills, and of course Kelly Shaefer's famous vocal rasps. Compared to the band's later releases, this is much more thrashy in its overall approach, and a bit more straightforward than the follow-up masterpiece "Unquestionable Presence", not necessarily a bad thing though, just a different approach. Lots of fast, chunky, open-E-riffs along with the more spastic ones, almost reminding me of their peers NOCTURNUS at times (though ATHEIST are surely the superior of the two, in my opinion). Rand Burkey's solos are definitely of special note: wild, fast and chaotic. For those who don't know, the man played his guitar left-handed, with the strings reversed, so the low E-string was on the bottom. Insane! Plus, we also get the masterful bass-playing of the now-deceased legend Roger Patterson (RIP). Bassists, had this man lived a bit longer, he would be easily as revered as Steve DiGiorgio is today, that's all I'll say.
"Piece Of Time" is, simply put, essential Metal for all self-respecting fans of said genre/band. Just listening to this makes me want to pick up 5 instruments at once and start jamming away on some ultra-technical shit, it really is mind-expanding! Also, the re-issue has some cool bonus tracks from the band's demo-days, also essential to any true fan.