Genre: Melodic Death
Label: Century Media Records
At the Gates is probably one of the biggest names in Swedish Melodic Metal if not the greatest and as they are marching in their third decade even though with a big hiatus in the 00’s and their best moment still considered to be 1995’s Slaughter of the Soul, yet the band actually lives its golden years.
After their glorious return in 2014 and two highly acclaimed albums after, that stepped on their past and the nostalgia of their fanatics, this time we are dealing with a brave and experimental proposition, a truly progressive effort.
No need to feel any shock or fear about it, as At the Gates still live and die by the riffs and the melody, that are here both strong and mighty, but also count the atmosphere and the excellent lyrics. Inspired by vocalist Tomas Lindberg’s philosophical themes that in turn were inspired by famous books, lyrically speaking the band is offering top notch lyrics beyond the spiritual status and the educational level of their average Joe’s fan.
Let me remind you that last summer the band posted on Instagram a picture of the books that its members were reading, among them Pynchon, Marquez, Huxley, Cazares and Ligotti were inspiring them while working on their new album.
Musically speaking it seems like the Swedes trying to approach differently their creativity. Despite the deep lyrics the music seems to follow the exact same deeper path and the dark gloomy, pretty grim mood that the dramatic orchestration tries to achieve. The nature of their music can’t go far from the glorious past in terms of being something totally different, so you will hear sometimes parts that have a self-reference on the band, although the song structure is now more complicated and the production much cleaner in order to let all instruments find their space to shine (in “Garden of Cyrus” you can hear even saxophone parts).
Whoever wanted a 2021’s Slaughter of the Soul version will be disappointed, same for those who wanted a fresh look on the early days and a The Red in The Skies Is Ours pt2.
Standout moments: “Touched by the White Hands of Death,” “Spectre of Extinction,” “The Nightmare of Being,” “The Paradox,” “Garden of Cyrus” and “Cosmic Pessimism”.
The high standards of an At The Gates release have been reached although there’s a sense of incompleteness. Nevertheless, the experimentation on The Nightmare of Being and the final result is quite interesting and certainly worth exploring.