28 Years Ago: ATHEIST release Unquestionable Presence

Daily Noise - 30 August 2019

28 Years Ago: ATHEIST release Unquestionable Presence

28 Years Ago: ATHEIST release Unquestionable Presence


The unquestionable breakthrough release of '91 from Florida's original "brain metal" band

ATHEIST released their classic second album Unquestionable Presence on this day in 1991 through Death Records (the Metal Blade sub-label, manufactured and distributed by Warner Bros).

Unquestionable Presence is one of the best albums of the era, many would argue the pinnacle of late 80s/early 90s extreme metal, marked by its creativity and complexity.

The songs are a bit more technical than they were on Piece Of Time. But on the other side, they flow better. So, all in all, you can't really just put it on once, listen to it, and turn it off, y'know what I mean? Y'know, like we said, it'll definitely take more than one sitting. But I hope not too much.
...
...we'll write the main body of the song, and the things that change over periods of months are mostly the drums. Um, when we first write a song, I'll play something really basic, y'know what I mean? Just so we can get through the song. And then, as time goes on, I'll sit and go through each and every part, and put in fills and new rhythms and breaks and stops, y'know. I go through periods of, uh, changing and rearranging, y'know, until it gets perfect. So, um, the actual guitar work is usually finished within, say, two, three weeks, depending on how long it takes us to get all the basic parts down. But the time definitely hasn't shortened. If anything, we've scrutinized and made it longer, y'know, on the second album.

Steve Flynn / Atheist interview, Disposable Underground #3, 1991

Founding member and bassist Roger Patterson was killed in a car accident in February 1991, shortly before the album recording. He was replaced by friend of the band Tony Choy.

Listen to Roger playing "Unquestionable Presence" at his last ever show below:

Atheist - Unquestionable Presence (Live, February 1991)

...our biggest concern after losing Roger, aside from missing him terribly was, where we would find a bass player that could even think of playing those bass lines correctly, we had all the music written for "Unquestionable Presence" and we had only half of it demoed, you see oddly enough we had a conversation about what we would do if something were to happen to one of us, the night before the accident, and Roger said in no uncertain terms that he would want us to go on, and we all basically said that, so there was never a doubt that we would continue on IF WE COULD!! But man to find someone to play the shit we had prepared for "Unquestionable Presence", was going to be almost impossible, there was so much speed involved with the technicality that it excluded alot of Jazz type bass players, cause they did not have the endurance to play like that.

Kelly Shaefer / Atheist interview, Tales from the Darkside
Atheist - Unquestionable Presence (Magazine Advert)

The band returned to Morrisound to record the follow-up to their debut, Piece of Time.

...in-between Piece Of Time and Unquestionable Presence is when Morrisound, y'know, really got super popular, and Scott Burns did every album you could think of. And, y'know, Piece Of Time, that was like Scott's first album that he ever did, like full project on his own. Well, he did the first Obituary album, bu tthat was eight-track. Ours was the first full twenty-four track production that he did, and then right after us, he did the Sepultura. So, we thought, y'know, 'Well, since so many bands are going, maybe...' But then we though, 'Why change? Y'know what I mean, it works there, we know we'll get a good sound.' We made sure that you can hear the bass on certain parts, y'know, where there's fills and so forth.

Steve Flynn / Atheist interview, Disposable Underground #3, 1991