At the Gates
The Red in the Sky Is Ours


4.5
superb

Review

by Jacquibim STAFF
June 13th, 2015 | 134 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Incendiary, innovative and idiosyncratic.

The story of At The Gates, their rapid rise to stardom and equally rapid dissipation seems to distract people from all but one of their releases. Sure, in a joint effort with In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates absolutely revolutionised melodic death metal in 1995, but whether or not said revolution was a positive or a negative is still contested to this day. Indeed, the current incarnation of melodic death metal is so far removed from the roots of its parent genre that attempting to draw parallels beyond superficialities is futile. But while the aforesaid acts would continue to build upon the platforms they laid for themselves, At The Gates had apparently recognised that their best years were already behind them. Most will point to Slaughter of The Soul as the pinnacle of their career, but the reality is that At The Gates had peaked long before that record’s conception, because the pinnacle of their career is and always will be their debut, obscured but not forgotten, The Red in The Sky is Ours.

Despite being one of the genre’s earliest exponents, The Red in The Sky is Ours isn’t a great representation of the stylistic gulf between melodic death metal pre-and-post-1995. Compared to the debut full-lengths of the band’s Gothenburg contemporaries, At The Gates’ approach is infinitely more complex here, with technical flair, counterpoint and progressive song writing being prioritised equally alongside the melodic harmonies. Despite the contrasting philosophies of guitarists Anders Bjorler and Alf Svensson, the two had an undeniable chemistry, reflected in how many of the guitar lines feel melodically separate, yet locked together, rhythmically. “Within” and “Neverwhere”, being two of the longest and most unorthodox songs on the album, are perfect examples of the ingenuity brought forth by Svensson, ingenuity that would disappear with him following the band’s sophomore album. Both songs, despite consisting of a multitude of different compositional techniques, are completely and utterly fluid in execution, with each measure building upon the last and brimming with tension that threatens to erupt into an emotionally-charged cacophony.

Yet this never happens.

The level of self-awareness exhibited on The Red in The Sky is Ours is an absolute rarity, as At The Gates persistently sculpt and revise their ideas, long after other bands would have succumbed to either repetition, or climactic indulgence. Ultimately, the key to this album’s potency is stress, a willingness to push the emotive limits of a composition while having enough restraint to ensure that it doesn’t collapse under the weight placed upon it by its creators. As such, conditions need to optimised, and this starts with one of the most unfairly maligned aspects of this album – the production. Yes, the sound is trebly, but this allows every note, stroke and lyric to be absorbed with the utmost ease. At the same time, the absence of excessive and artificial reverberation, equalisation, quantisation or glossy finishing retains the expressive impact that is absent from later albums. At The Gates go one step further and not only preserve the minor imperfections and the timbres of their instruments, but deliberately implement methods of expression that are fundamentally flawed, but work in the grand scheme of things.

Tomas Lindberg’s vocal performance is defamed in a similar fashion to the production. Granted, it’s easy to understand why most listeners would gravitate towards his more textbook delivery on Slaughter of The Soul, than the animalistic howls he boast on here. However, Lindberg’s performance on The Red in The Sky is Ours is undoubtedly his most affecting performance, whether it merits ire or admiration is irrelevant. The same philosophy can and has been applied to the sparse implementation of violin that shows up in tracks such as “The Season to Come”, “Through Gardens of Grief” as well as the abovementioned “Within” and “Neverwhere”. Certainly, Jesper Jarold is no master of his instrument, at least he wasn’t in 1992, but his technical inadequacies are usurped by the touch of human frailty brought forth by his deficient but charming recitals. Though an ostensibly minor inclusion, this sense of fragility compliments the already mournful tone of the album, and amplifies the power of compositions both individually, and as a collective whole.

If in the event of one having not heard The Red in The Sky is Ours, take any and all preconceptions you have about At The Gates and erase them from your memory. I can’t promise you’ll love it, I can’t even promise you’ll enjoy it, but one thing I can promise is an experience unlike anything metal has to offer, let alone melodeath or even At The Gates themselves. The Red in The Sky is Ours is met with hyperbole for a reason – it’s incendiary, innovative and idiosyncratic, but above all else, it’s absolutely brilliant.



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user ratings (517)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
psycho888999 (5)
At The Gate's most complex work to date....

BillEco (3.5)
Bad production, bad vocals, and often murky guitar sound, while The Red in the Sky is ours still has...

Bron-Yr-Aur (2)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
EvoHavok
June 13th 2015


5517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome stuff, Jac! Album slays.

Tunaboy45
June 13th 2015


13295 Comments


band has song solid tracks but they've never done much for me

great review though Jac, mind pos

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
June 13th 2015


7783 Comments


you changed your dp neg

Digging: Jenny Hval - Blood Bitch

BMDrummer
June 13th 2015


13724 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed

Keyblade
June 13th 2015


22831 Comments


spot on as always

that average tho :/

Digging: 2 of the Crew - Danktaristic Pimpshit

Ocean of Noise
June 13th 2015


6880 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Not sure whether I like this or With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness better. Great review, this deserved a better one than the ones it had

Digging: Katatonia - Sounds of Decay

Ocean of Noise
June 13th 2015


6880 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

also Willie 1'd this. wtf

LepreCon
June 13th 2015


5190 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's good for what it is but there's no way this is a 4.5 really. Good review though.

Spaten
June 13th 2015


123 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great album, solid review.

pissbore
June 13th 2015


12428 Comments


Sweet rev jacq bro dude I think you're finally ready to relisten to gardens of grief

Digging: Figbot - 3nt3ndr3

BallsToTheWall
June 13th 2015


46781 Comments


Metal reviews have no right to be this fuckin fancy. What is this, 70's prog? Post-Technical Sludgegaze? Mathcore?

"Incendiary, innovative and idiosyncratic."


Get outta here with this.

Digging: Hammock - Raising Your Voice... Trying to Stop an Echo

Hawks
June 13th 2015


45536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rules.

Digging: Blaze of Perdition - Near Death Revelations

BallsToTheWall
June 13th 2015


46781 Comments


Shut up Hawks. #ilu

Hawks
June 13th 2015


45536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

#ilu2

BigPleb
June 13th 2015


47335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is overlooked.



awesome rev!

Digging: Every Time I Die - Low Teens

Mort.
June 13th 2015


11518 Comments


Yeah good review, makes me want to check this band

Digging: Zao - Parade of Chaos

pissbore
June 13th 2015


12428 Comments


70s prog post-technical sludgegaze [2]

Hawks
June 13th 2015


45536 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How have you never checked this band Mort? Get on it hard.

pissbore
June 13th 2015


12428 Comments


Jacq when are you gonna review gardenZ of grief bro

pissbore
June 13th 2015


12428 Comments


Yeah but you haven't even heard it since like 2013 bro



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