The year 1993 was great, wasn’t it? In the technical realm, said year ushered in masterpieces such as CYNIC’s “Focus,” DEATH’s “Individual Thought Patterns,” PESTILENCE’s “Spheres,” and BELIEVER’s “Dimensions.” Riding high off the success of “Unquestionable Presence,” ATHEIST soon offered “Elements,” which would be not only their most varied release, it would also be their final entry in the Metal genre. Though the latter is undoubtedly the runt of litter, it’s still a good listen even a decade later.
Thankfully, Relapse Records acquired the rights to the ATHEIST catalogue, so I advise each and every one of you – who are into Technical Death – to abandon your homes, travel to the nearest music store and purchase this influential trilogy. On “Elements,” though, many of the characteristics found in past albums had noticeably diminished. Thrash, which had pervaded both “Piece Of Time” and “Unquestionable Presence,” relented to a streamlined version of Technical Death, but 1993’s effort didn’t hesitate to abandon its Metal roots, at times. In addition to the complex arrangements that ATHEIST fans are intimately acquainted with, there’s sometimes a palpable Latin vibe perhaps due in part to flamenco guitar, samba instrumentation and jazzy grooves. “Samba Briza,” as if the name isn’t proof enough, is quite a departure from Metal and for the group as a whole. Still, the studio material provides a reasonable amount of enjoyment, while the Live Radio Broadcast 1992 is unique and just plain cool.
Frankly, “Elements” doesn’t stack up like its predecessors. Though it wasn’t a fitting end to the ATHEIST legacy, the band’s legendary status had been cemented far beforehand. This record is the one I’d reach for last, if given the option to choose, but I do recommend it in order that you may complete your collection. And at least the bonus tracks are noteworthy, because they could be total shit. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen and it’s not pretty. Anyway, I think I’m gonna go daydream about 1993 some more. Weeping will inevitably follow. (Online December 17, 2005)