Review Summary: The best death metal album of all time
Since its inception in the late eighties, death metal has branched into several distinct sub-subgenres. There's the death metal that focuses on brutal acts of violence, with bands such as Cannibal Corpse. There's also the pretentious intellectual tea-sipping death metal as played by bands such as Death and Opeth. Then there's the more accessible Gothenburg death metal that relies on sheer melodic force and harmonised leads, In Flames being the most known representative. And then there's At the Gates with their album Slaughter of the Soul
which is on an entirely new level compared to all these mentioned before and is the best death metal album of all time.
At the Gates do not exploit the violence, gore and bloodshed theme. Neither do they veer into overly melodic near-pop metal like their Swedish colleagues did. And they especially do not venture into exploration of deeply wise and "progressive" philosophical themes over which fat sweaty pimpled socially awkward bespectacled nerdgins can masturbate to and proclaim their intellectual supremacy inbetween polishing their monocle. Or at least not on this album. No, the power here comes from the sheer riffs. My god, THE RIFFAGE. This album is an absolute riff fest from start to finish. God, just listen to the title track and tell me with a straight face that it is not perfection in a nutshell. From the drum-free beginning, to the headbanging part 1:20 in, to the harmonisation just after it. And all this with that double boss pedal buzzsaw guitar tone. I swear, this is the most perfect metal song ever. (ok, maybe right after Tornado of Souls) And, by the way, the addition of "Go!" and "Do it!" is genius. Don't protest.
On the whole, this album strikes the perfect balance between melody and memorability on the one hand and brutal, hardhitting bludgeonry on the other. The songs are satisfyingly melodic and accessible, but at the same time crushing and unrelenting. Once the album revs up with initiator Blinded by Fear
, it doesn't ever let up until the falling action of closer The Flames of the End
. And in the middle, there is that stunning instrumental, Into the Dead Sky
which is absolutely beautiful
ck your notions of beauty in Death's music. Or Opeth's music. THIS
is beauty. Magic. Beauty. Don't even get me started on the gun-click at the beginning of Suicide Nation
. So simple, yet so effective and powerful. God...
One last thing I want to mention is, this album gets a lot of slag because it supposedly inspired a whole generation of crappy bands. Notice the hypocrisy: Slayer's Reign in Blood
also inspired a lot of crappy bands, but no one says anything against that because it's "fu
cking Slayer!!1". Reign in Blood is great because it inspired a lot of bands. But Slaughter of the Soul sucks because it inspired a lot of bands. Riiiight...
Larger than life in its overwhelming nihilism, Slaughter of the Soul
is the best death metal album of all time. Listen to it, revere it, and maybe hope that some day At the Gates will record yet another album, and show everyone just what death metal really is. Though how exactly they will top this, I do not know.
All of them.