Atheist

Elements

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Easily the most accessible of Atheist's three albums, 1993's Elements was recorded under duress from the band's record company, which forced them back into the studio after their initial breakup in order to fulfill their contractual obligations. But remarkably, the group rose to the challenge, delivering another highly accomplished set that illustrated both a natural evolution of their sound and served as a worthy final chapter to their all-too-brief and very troubled trajectory. Shedding most of the harsh dynamics of efforts past, Elements was the first Atheist LP to welcome melody with open arms, resulting in a far more immediate and organic listening experience throughout. Conceptually linked by lyrics focusing on the various elements (see title), songs like "Air," "Mineral," and "Fire" remain admirably true to the band's famously complicated arrangements, syncopated rhythms, and ultra-precise attack, but also boast a cleaner musicality never before attempted by the group. The only challenge to the album's creative continuity then becomes the short instrumental mood pieces ("Samba Briza," "Fractal Point," etc.) interspersed between the actual songs, these proving a tad too off-kilter and oblique even for Atheist to pull off convincingly. Yet with the final, old-school aggression of the excellent title track, the band offers a fitting, all-inclusive swan song summarizing their entire musical odyssey.

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