Review Summary: One of the defining melodic death metal albums2 of 4 thought this review was well written
Slaughter Of The Soul is a string of words that any into melodic death metal should know. These four words spell chaos and violence and raw aggression in musical form. They speak of fast paced guitar work with the dash of melody that should be expected from the sub-genre; quick drumming and shrieks that would shake Satan to the core. This is At The Gates at their peak and also is rightfully considered to be among the finest from the genre. It is an album notorious for its consistency throughout and also one that pushes melodic death as far as it can be taken, with heavy as hell riffing that is fast paced and intense but still retaining the melodic nature that band such as Carcass first introduced to death metal.
It opens up with the two strongest songs on the album, Blinded By Fear and the title track and these two songs are perhaps the best example of the sound of this album. Both are songs that take no prisoners and gallop straight out of the metaphorical gates with thrashy riffing that is as extreme as melodic death metal gets. There is a mixture of tremolo picking and chord-based riffs and catchy solos that do not dissolve into merely being shred-fests. The drumming is quick and varied whilst the bass holds down the rhythm section of the album very well despite being barely audible. The vocals are the raspy shriek that defines the melodic death metal genres vocal style and the lyrics are written with real anger behind them. The production job is as sharp as it gets, retaining a very loud and pissed off style whilst never being too distorted and the mixing job is very good.
This is an album that is all about the consistency of it. Every song is great; all of them have a lot of fast paced riffing but also the slower moments that keep the feeling of diversity there. These songs are also ones that you will be roaring along to the choruses of, including on the title track which arguably has the best riff on the album during its chorus. Ever since it was released in the mid-point of the 1990s this album has gone on to be one of the most influential in the genre and it is incontestable that many melodic death metal bands of today owe a lot to this band. Under A Serpent Sun shows just how melodic the band could take their music, with some very memorable tremolo picked lines but also some more intricate riffs that will remain in your head for a long time after hearing this. This album is melodic death metal created absolutely flawlessly.