Review Summary: At the Gates release their suicidal final art
There are certain albums that have revolutionized and created whole genres of music. These range from Myles Davis’ Bitches Brew to Korn’s self titled album to Led Zeppelin’s debut, and all of these albums have had a great influence on music. This is one of those albums. Slaughter of the Soul
is the crown jewel of the heaviest of the three Gothenburg titans (At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and In Flames). What essentially happened with this album is that At the Gates took the more melodic approach of its predecessor, Terminal Spirit Disease
, simplified it and added more ferocity and brutality. The result is a masterpiece. Without this album, there would be not Killswitch Engage, no As I Lay Dying or no All That Remains.
Slaughter of the Soul
is in essence a wild, violent roller coaster ride. It is not so much as a good time as a sensational time; the album is enjoyable not because it is pleasant to listen to but because it’s a brilliant expression of rage and pain. It succeeds because it is an experience, not entertainment. It can’t be perfect - it’s too twisted and violent to come anywhere close – but it does such a good job of being imperfect that it’s not far from flawless.
I have to say, I was surprised by At the Gates’ take on melodic death when I first heard this, since my only other experience of the genre was from In Flames, whose songs are laden with harmonized riffs, and Children of Bodom, who throw shredy melodies and crazy arpeggios out left, right and centre. At the Gates are not melodic in this sense; their sound consists of fast thrash riffs with the occasional melodic lick thrown in now and then. This is definitely a good thing, since although there are few catchy melodies to be found here, it makes each song heavy enough (far more than enough), to grab the listener by the neck and hold on until it finishes, which is just as interesting as – if not more than - an accessible hook.
The opener Blinded By Fear
does what many good openers do; it presents the album in a nutshell; if you don’t like this song, there’s nothing for here. It is scathing, fast and thrashy, with a short solo to justify its claim to being melodic. The album’s main feature is immediately revealed; Tomas Lindberg’s vocals. Powerful beyond belief, they inspire twisted rage like few other metal vocalists can. Adrian Erlandsson’s drumming is also notable for being frantic and technically brilliant; this guy definitely knew how and when to use his double pedals.
Although the general formula of each song is excellent enough as to require little variation, At the Gates provided it anyway, in the form of the acoustic interval Into the Dead Sky
, the experimental keyboard outro The Flames of the End
, the acoustic bridge in Unto Others
(which worked oddly well with Lindberg’s vocals on top), the slower, chuggier number World of Lies
and the clean section in Cold
, which – along with the solo after it – is one of the album’s finest moments.
As brilliant as Slaughter of the Soul may be, it is not without flaws; no album is. Despite the aforementioned variety, many of the songs do sound quite similar, and although this is no bad thing, there is a lot of potential in some of them (mainly Nausea
) that could have been further exploited. Clear variety between each song is something that Terminal Spirit Disease
proved At the Gates could achieve, and it could have been achieved here too. As well as this, I feel that the only moment that the bass really shine here is the last chorus of Cold
; although bass has never been hugely important to Gothenburg metal, that needn’t have been the case. Despite these two minor problems, this is a solid, consistent album if there ever was one.
Perfect blend of thrash with melody
Exactly the right length; neither too long nor too short
Influenced metalcore massively
Their last album
Lack of bass
Could have been a little more variety (but that’s not really a problem)
1. Slaughter of the Soul
3. Under A Serpent Sun
4. Unto Others
5. Blinded by Fear