Atheist

support Exhumed
author EW date 23/04/11 venue Bar Academy, London, UK

Of all the reformed bands in recent times who have returned to grace the stage years after their last goodbyes, Atheist stand as one of the most defining in terms of their influence on what was to come. Perhaps topped only by Carcass and At the Gates, it's a pleasure to greet Atheist live again. Pity then their first London show since the early 90's (they did play Bloodstock a few years ago) is moved from venue to venue before it eventually settles on the small and cosy Bar Academy, from where we first had…

Exhumed

It has been some time since I bought my first and only Exhumed album ("Anatomy Is Destiny") but even longer since the American goremongers played ol' Blighty, so that reason I could not help a mild sense of excitement. Exhumed are, essentially, what I like to call a 'fan's band' - a group clearly still in thrall to their genre of choice and playing it more in excitable homage than any real expectation of pushing it's boundaries. Thus what you get is solid, honest death metal in situ with the finest traditions of riff + blast + growl, but nothing approaching the serious mental workout we were soon to get from Atheist. Unfortunately Exhumed's rough and indistinct sound quelled any potential to dissect every fathom of the Carcass-esque noise they hammer out; instead relying on their passionate and energetic performance to play some new tracks (I believe) from upcoming "All Guts, No Glory" and a fair selection across their length discography, including the highly recognisable "The Matter of Splatter", to the assembled throng in the bar area before them. Though when the main lasting memory is of a blastbeat-infested drum solo courtesy of the fine talents of Danny Walker, you may well be hoping that better things are to come.

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Atheist

In the annals of technical death metal Atheist will be revered as the real deal. Last year's "Jupiter" was a top return to form following a great many years since their previous recorded activity, a sign that the band who, with Death, instigated the genre with their "Piece of Time" and "Unquestionable Presence" records, were fully ready for business. And so it turned out, with new (20 year old) kid Travis Morgan on bass, guitarists Jonathan Thompson and Chris Baker besides the ageing Kelly Shaefer, these days just on vocals, and master drummer Steve Flynn, that tracks from across their 4-album discography were played with the accuracy and precision of a pro darts player and none of the disappointing limpness that has greeted the return of other ancient scenemongers (Pestilence just to name a key act).

Atheist's selling-point has always been the emphasis on the song in the context of death metal, and with the likes of "On They Slay", "An Incarnation's Dream", "Piece of Time" and "Retribution" all played this point could hardly have been more juxtaposed against the seemingly random cacophony of riffs and fills that permeate most DM sets. It would be churlish not to mention part of this being down to Atheist's comparativeness lightness against the chunkier bands of today; allow yourself to be heard, and you will be heard.

In testimony to "Jupiter" new tracks "Second to Sun", "Fraudulent Cloth" and "Live and Live Again" all held their own agains the band's older, more illustrious material, providing a rounded conclusion to the band that started it all, disappeared for a break, and now seem intent on showing the new generation just how it is done. Even with just two members of the old days remaining this feels special, like there is much more life to come from the proudest of deniers. Let's all hope so, as there is good and there is Atheist.

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Sorry for the poor nature of the one image!

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