The debut from Florida's Atheist is a solid beginning to a short but spectacular career. While miles away from the technical brilliance of the Unquestionable Presence album that would follow it, Piece of Time still contains many of the elements that were soon to be realized fully on their next two releases. Here the band focused more on their brutal death metal style, as the complex and progressive aspect of their sound had not yet reared its head to the full extent. But that's not to say that there aren't moments of instrumental fireworks on Piece of Time.
The opening title track and "Unholy War" both are raging thrash vehicles, with Kelly Shaefer's death metal vocals less refined than they would become on subsequent releases. "Room With a View" sees Shaefer and Rand Burkey (both left handed guitarists by the way) trading blazing unison passages and massive riffs. Make no mistake about it, this album is damn heavy! Bassist Roger Patterson was without a doubt one of the most talented players to come out of the 80's metal scene, and it's a real shame that his death in 1991 essentially robbed the world of a true talent who would have gone on to do great things had he lived. His four string frenzy can be heard all over the manic "On They Slay", as he more than keeps up with Shaefer and Burkey. Drummer Steve Flynn brought a very jazzy approach to the band, which the band further dove into on the Unquestionable Presence album. Other standout cuts here include the Kill 'Em Al inspired "Beyond", the progressive metal fury of "I Deny" (one of the more technical songs on the album), and the psychedelic metal mayhem of "No Truth".
As with the other Atheist reissues from Relapse, this one contains an assortment of demo tracks, and a full booklet with lyrics, commentary from Kelly Shaeffer, and lots of color photos. Overall it's a very nice package.
Today's metal fans might find Piece of Time a little rough around the edges, and certainly less mature and professional sounding than the two records that Atheist released after this one. It's still a solid technical death metal album, although compared to the complex insanity on the follow-up, this one might seem kind of tame. Fans of Morbid Angel, Cynic, and Death should check this out and see how Atheist took their baby steps before the juggernaut that was Unquestionable Presence.
1. Piece of Time
2. Unholy War
3. Room with a View
4. On they Slay
6. I Deny
7. Why Bother?
9. No Truth
10. No Truth ["Beyond" Demo] [Demo Version]
11. On they Slay ["Beyond" Demo] [Demo Version]
12. Choose Your Death ["Beyond" Demo] [Demo Version]
13. Brain Damage ["Beyond" Demo] [Demo Version]
14. Beyond ["Beyond" Demo] [Demo Version]
15. Hell Hath No Mercy ["Hell Hath No Mercy" Demo] [Demo Version]
16. On they Slay [R.A.V.A.G.E. "On they Slay" Demo] [Demo Version]
17. Brain Damage [R.A.V.A.G.E. "On they Slay" Demo] [Demo Version]
18. Undefiled Wisdom [R.A.V.A.G.E. "On they Slay" Demo] [Demo Version]