The static that can be heard when the album begins to play is a prelude to a revelation. Industrial sounds shuffle in the background as an unknown voice tells us, "We are blind to the world within us" waiting to be born". Suddenly as silence prevails, we are struck by the overwhelming.
Your soul has been slaughtered.
The band At the Gates became more than a band at the end of their career. They were legends. They became known as the band that truly revolutionized melodic death metal and made it what it is today. Without At the Gates, the genre would never have become what it has today. Since 1990 they combined melodic yet heavy elements with memorable and somewhat progressive songwriting. It all came to a head with their final album in the fateful mid-90"s, Slaughter of the Soul
. With riffs more bludgeoning than ever and songs that will be stuck in your head for months, this album isn"t one to simply be ignored. When I first heard I thought, "This album is legendary? This kind of sucks". But I didn"t stop there. It only took a single song to get me hooked. Once it did, I began listening to it more and more until"well; I think the rating says it all.
After the forty-second intro to Blinded by Fear
the album hits you like a freight train and never lets up, except for a few incredible, emotional instrumental tracks. If you"re looking for another Terminal Spirit Disease
you may be surprised. Riffs are catchier than ever, and harmonizing is utilized beautifully. However, it is immediately noticed how brutal this album is. The sound of a cocking shotgun that opens Suicide Nation
can be called the album"s signature. At the Gates picked up a style here that is definitely notable. The fast moving riffs roll on at 90mph and sacrifice nothing in the way of melody or blending harmonies. The title track Slaughter of the Soul
and Suicide Nation
both contain dual guitar leading that seems to complete a though " you know there is a perfect riff to play in that part, and they know exactly which one. World of Lies
is a slower, chugging track that pounds away with cannon-like drumming and a great rhythm.
As well as their flare for heavier writing is shown on Slaughter of the Soul
, all is not lost. Many tracks contain incredible melodic moments as well as others reminiscent of their older Gothenburg. The twin guitar shredding on Blinded by Fear
adds emotion to an otherwise violent song. The lead guitar tremolo picking in the middle of Under a Serpent Sun
is a remembrance of Terminal Spirit Disease
-style riffing. The pace is appropriately slowed by the first of the two instrumental tracks, Into the Dead Sky
, with a acoustic playing that almost seems to tell us that the end is near. The Flames of the End
could not be a more somber way to end the album. Melody is not lost on the final At the Gates album at all " it simply goes hand-in-hand with music that sent the band away leaving fans wanting more.
The bonus tracks here sound very much like they could"ve been written originally for this album. Slaughterlord"s Legion
fits perfectly with tone of the preceding album, and The Dying
is easily the slowest track they have ever released. Slayer"s Captor of Sin
was made absolutely brutal by At the Gates. The music is as fast and heavy as ever, and Tomas"s voice seems to possess more insanity then Araya could ever hope for. Never fu
ck with an angry Swede. The album concludes with No Security"s Bister Verklighet
, a song that I"m not sure how to categorize. It sounds like a B-side to Slaughter of the Soul
that was rightfully scrapped the moment it was heard.
As a conclusion to their incredible career, Slaughter of the Soul
could not have been a more suiting record. More ace material could"ve easily been released under their newfound intensity, but they chose to part ways before the future of At the Gates suffered. Though I refuse to ruin this review with talk of the member"s later careers (except Erlandsson, who went on to play with the incredible Cradle of Filth), the four albums released by At the Gates forever stand as the pinnacle of melodic death metal. Melody, technicality, brutality, and creativity are all blended to perfection by one of melodic death"s most original bands ever, and Slaughter of the Soul
was the final nail in their renowned coffin. Rest in piece.
A few recommended tracks:
- Blinded by Fear
- Slaughter of the Soul
- Under a Serpent Sun
- Suicide Nation
- Fast, heavy, melodic, overall unrelenting
- New and innovative for the time
- Appropriate appearances of old sounds
- Some technical aspects gone
- Songs way too short
- The final At the Gates album