Atheist's third and final album, originally released in 1993, sees new life thanks to this Relapse remaster treatment. The band had a much different line-up for this album compared to their debut Piece of Time recorded a few years earlier. Still on board was singer/guitarist Kelly Shaefer, guitarist Rand Burkey, and former Cynic bassist Tony Choy, but they were joined at this time by third guitarist Frank Emmi and drummer Josh Greenbaum. This new 3 guitar attack turn in an impressive performance, and you can easily hear that Elements features an even more progressive and fusion based feel than the brilliant Unquestionable Presence. Various jazz and flamenco guitar passages are woven into some of the songs, like "Water" and the Latin tinged "Samba Briza" for instance, and the heavier songs veer away from the death metal influence on their earlier albums to a much more technical, artsy metal style.
"Air" and "Green" are two great examples of this intelligent metal philosophy, with the new, blistering three guitar attack weaving intricate riffs and passages around each other, and the rhythm team of Choy and Greenbaum laying down intense fusion grooves. Shaefer's vocals are still aggressive and demonic at times, but compared to some of today's growlers, his voice is much less harsh but still packs plenty of attitude. Other standout numbers are the atmospheric and experimental "Displacement", the insane rave-up "Animal", and the intricate prog-metal fury of "Fire". The band mixes some wild jazz bits amidst some brutally technical metal on the closing title track, a song that should appeal to fans of Spiral Architect, Sieges Even, and Dream Theater.
In the liner notes, Shaefer indicates that the band put this album together pretty quickly, which might indicate why there are so many quick instrumental interludes instead of more longer pieces like on the previous albums. Sadly, this band would never record again and would soon fold. It's a shame, as Elements contains some of the classiest and most intense technical metal you will ever hear, and the Latin & jazz influences really added to an already innovative sound that the band started earlier on Unquestionable Presence. So savor this reissue and the previous two, and enjoy all that Atheist gave the world of progressive metal.
3. Samba Briza
9. Fractal Point
11. See You Again
13. Unquestionable Presence [Live][*]
14. On They Slay [Live][*]
15. Enthralled in Essence [Live][*]
16. Formative Years [Live][*]
17. Mother Man [Live][*]
18. Retribution [Live][*]