Review Summary: Bad production, bad vocals, and often murky guitar sound, while The Red in the Sky is ours still hasn's lost the power to amaze. This certainly isn't a common album
This is perhaps the album with the most varied opinions I have ever seen. Some people consider it nothing more than garbage while others feel its perfect. The difference on the opinions is certainly intruguing and being the huge ATG fan I am I had to check this out. One thing is certain however, this is not a common album.
Back then At the Gates still had Alf Svensson as their second guitarist who composed a great part of the songs. As a result the sound is much different than the sound that made them known worldwide with SOTS and TSD. The songs are much darker and complex. Sometimes it pays out while other times it feels over the top. Often the riffs are all over the place and dont feel connected with each other. It's like At the Gates had too many riffs in their disposal and had to use them all in this record. As for the bass, you can hear a few notes here and there but nothing more. All of this is not helped by the bad production which makes the guitars sound murky and dont allow their full potential to be shown. The drums arent doing something really special either since they are 40% blast beats and 60% simple fills. There are also some violins thrown in the mix and it is one of the unique parts of the album. At times they feel out of place, like changing your radio station by mistake, while at times they are simply awesome.
Still its not over... This is easily Tomas Lindberg's WORST vocal performance ever. It's not really a scream and neither is it a growl. It's a bad combination of both. His performance here is often compared with Varg Vikernes but I find it really unfair. Even at his worse Lindberg is much more tolerable.
After all this how could I rate it 3.5? This album is not devoid of greatness. There is a certain dark atmosphere, which creates a feeling that cant really be described as something specific, throughout the album that really adds to the package. In addition the songs (except for the last two) flow together flawlessly strengthening the atmosphere part. There are parts of sheer awesomeness created by the interwining guitars that few bands may hope to replicate even today. Songs like Kingdom Gone, Neverwhere, Within are prime examples. The Scar is also a beatiful almost instrumental (Lindberg whispers in it) which should compensate for all the negatives of the album. The most important feature however is the album's power to grow on the listener revealing more of its great nature which each spin.
The Red in the Sky is Ours features many unique elements that differentiate it from the standard Death Metal album. It will also need some time to fully grow on the listener. The pros are as many as cons so it will come down to a matter of taste in the end.
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