Review Summary: While a bit simpler than past releases, "Slaughter of the Soul" stands as the late "At the Gates" best work, with an unmatchable amount of melody and viciousness.
When was the last time you could recall staring at the face of hostility, only to be perplexed by the beauty surrounding it? It’s hard really to even conceive such a thought, since those two hardly go hand in hand. But maybe some of us have never been in a situation like that before, and therefore can’t comprehend it as well as another might. For instance, my father, who served in Vietnam, told me about a time that his base was under mortar fire. In-between the mortar rounds and explosions, he claimed that smoke mixed with the morning Vietnamese sun to create an inexplicable surrounding.
But At the Gates
seemed to master this effect flawlessly.
“We are blind to the world within us…waiting to be born
After 32 seconds of industrial noise and effects, those chilling words are passionately and calmly spoken on “Blinded by Fear” before you’re taken down the path of lunacy and depravity. This deranged portrait of life is known as “Slaughter of the Soul
”, and you’re stepping square into its asylum. Thomas Lindberg’s seething vocals mixed with Larsson and Björler’s vindictive riffs are enough to make you collapse to the floor. However, with every lyric sung, every riff that is played, there is an undisputed presence of touching melody. The wonderful euphony of “Under a Serpent Sun” is more than a confession to the power of melody that these musicians posses. It’s no question that brutality and grace exist in harmony here, but it’s the brutal aspect that could be the selling points at critical moments. The title track is one of the most rip-roaring tracks on this album, complete with frothing vocals and searing guitars. And composing of one of the most ingenious audio clips ever used, “Suicide Nation” will send a chilling message within the first second as the sound of a shotgun being loaded is blasted into the speakers, only to be followed by maliciously crunched riffs.
“Children born of sin, tear your soul apart!
On past albums, Lindberg had a bit more of “Death Growl”, and was certainly deeper. On here, however, his voice is a bit more rasped and stretched, making him seem even more desperate. And when Lindberg snarls, you know his giving it his all. He aims to leave his body void of all energy after every song, and it’s a wonder he got through a whole album with death by the cause of exhaustion. After listening to him put his body to the test on “Blinded by Fear”, he continues on his impressive performance throughout the whole album, notably again on “Cold” and “World of Lies”. Listening to him bark out “Suicide - jaws locked around your spine
” on "Suicide Nation" will leave the vision of a man stripped of all hope.
Combine Lindberg with the experience of the guitar work, and a whole new world is opened. From the unrelenting “Blinded by Fear” to the acoustic based “Into the Dead Sky”, Larsson and Björler effortlessly put forth one of the most stunningly unique Metal albums. While the riffs they fire off on this album are a bit simpler and straight-forward than their past releases, they feel more completely written and thought out. And their solos, while short, are nicotine to the ear. “Cold” features a striking use of effects blended in with raw talent to envelop the listener and stamp its mark on the song.
While the work here is truly breathtaking, there are a few blemishes. For starters, since this isn’t as technical as their past releases, some of these songs border on being ripped off one another. This surely isn’t a problem in the beginning with the first 7 songs being completely distinguishable, but the last few, like “Nausea” and “Unto Others”, are hard to tell apart. And that being said, “Nausea” is probably the blandest track on here, as it becomes borderline hardcore punk with its overly simple riff base. And besides a shining moment on “Blinded by Fear”, the bass is still virtually non-existent. However, to cancel that out, Adrian Erlandsson does a phenomenal job on his drum parts. While it’s not anything that will drop your jaw, it’s more than solid. Adrian performs with pin-point precession, and never misses a beat.
This was the last album by At the Gates
, and what a way to leave. The compassionate mix of brutality and melody that they created on “Slaughter of the Soul
” has still yet to be matched within the Gothenburg genre. And besides a few hiccups here and there, this is their masterpiece. If you call yourself any kind of a metal head, I can’t stress to you enough how much you need
Blinded by Fear
Slaughter of the Soul
Under a Serpent Sun
*For a better summary than the last real paragraph above, please obtain the track "Suicide Nation" and listen to the first second. Thank you.