At the Gates Sweden

A19 Non-Prog12
added by King Of Loss
Links:BC
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Review by Time_Signature published
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C Prog Death

There has always been a sense of artiness to At the Gates, which manifests itself in their cover artworks and in the structure of their music. Their first couple of releases were so complex, that some of the musicians who have worked with the band admitted that they had to take a lot of notes to keep up, and even their later, simpler melodic death metal releases, still contain a number of unexpected twists and turns.

The songs on "Gardens of Grief" are complex - too complex. Now, I like complex rock music, and I'm a big fan of progressive music, but complex music requires a sufficiant level of musicianship... and that's simply not there on this album. So, while there are plenty of good ideas here, one the whole, "Gardens of Grief" seems like a terrible musical mess, unstructured, incoherent and poorly executed. Then again, I admire the At the Gates guys for writing music that really challenged and tested themselves.

Another problem is poor production. There are times when the snare drum (especially in blast beat sections) is completely inaudible. And that's a shame, because, had the production been better, the album as a whole could have come across as being more coherent and solid.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

Review by Time_Signature published
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S Melodic Non-Prog Death/Thrash

It is not a coincidence that several present-day melodeath artists have been accused of aping the sound and style on this album. "Slaughter of the Soul" is a very influential album and one of the releases that helped define the genre of melodic death metal, which is very popular in Sweden, Denmark (the entire underground metal scene in my hometown seems to evolve around this album) and around the world.

What I particularly like about this album is that it is more aggressive, more primitive and less polished than the likes of In Flames and other Swedish melodeath acts. The riffing is often fast, simple and straightforward making use of melodic patterns that are typically based on minor scales and 4/4 or 3/4 figures, and the nods to NWOBHM are very clear both in terms of riff types and guitar harmonies. The drumming is tight and simple (in a good way), although there are some interesting twists here and there. At The Gates make heavy use of simple thrash metal drum rhythms here, which add to the agrressiveness of this album, and which work well with the melodic riffing. The most striking thing is perhaps the screaming vocals, which display a certain desperation which fits with the content of the lyrics, which deal with topics such as fear, suffering, death and so on. On some tracks, like "Cold" the vocals sound so desperate that it sometimes touches me so much that I get chills and my eyes get watery. I never expected a death metal record to have that effect on me. But hey, that's the beauty of music, innit? Other notable tracks are the hit "Blinded By Fear", the title track, "under a Serpent Sun" and "Suicide Nation".

I think this album will appeal to anyone who likes thrash metal and power metal, and perhaps even some NWOBHM fans, as well as some death metal fans - although "Slaughter of the Soul" does not have much in common with other death metal releases from the 90s. I would also reccomend this album to those who like a bit of melody but think that In Flames and American melodic metalcore is too polished.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

Review by Time_Signature published
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S Melodic Non-Prog Death

"Terminal Spirit Disease" is an important contribution to the development of the Göteborg-style of metal which would later be known as melodic death metal.

As with "Slaughter of the Soul", there is plenty of melodic yet aggressive riffing on this one, accompanied by both mid paced drums and fast thrashy drums. This album also sounds a bit more polished and refined than "Slaughter of the Soul" and the compositions are also a bit more complex and progressive and less emotionally appealing than on "slaughter of the Soul". There are plenty of unusual riffs and unusual melody and harmony patterns - some of which are even reminiscent of the more melodic type of black metal (probably because of At The Gates' extensive use of open-stringed riffing on this album). A particularly interesting element is the use of chords that were not deployed that much in the death metal music of the time, but were more associated with alternative rock and alternative hardrock acts of the 90s. A clear example of this is the chorus of "The Swarm", which works really well.

This album would be a good entry point into the world of melodic death metal and would probably also appeal to fans of power metal and more melodic black metal, also I think some hardcore extreme metal fans would find it a tad too melodic.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

Review by Time_Signature published
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A Prog Death

While "The Red In The Sky Is Ours" is perhaps a bit too abstract and complex for some listeners, "With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness" is a much more structured and solid effort. Also, on the previous releases, At the Gates' skills and musicianship were not really on par with the creative ideas they had, which means that their output seemed to have a certain pretentiousness to it.

That's all gone here. On "With Fear I kiss The Burning Darkness", their musicianship has improved considerably, and musically, the album is still abstract and complex like the predecessors are, but it is executed at a much higher level. The songs seem more coherent and less clumsy than on the preceding releases, which means that the high level of compositional complexity is much easier to appreciate. Also, already here, there are inklings of the melodic death metal style that At the Gates would adopt on their last releases. This combination of complexity and melody works very well for this album.

I think that fans of progressive death metal would like this album, as would fans of good ole straight death metal.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

Review by Time_Signature published
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B Prog Death

"The Red In the Sky Is Ours" has potential and it is different from a lot of the death metal of the 90s in that it is very progressively inclined with every song containing several twists and turns and other complexities. There is absolutely nothing wrong in the songwriting department.

But what bugs me about this album is that the actual instrumental performance is not always at such a level that the otherwise brilliant ideas can be delivered satisfactorily. Especially, the drumming leaves much to be desired, and, al though this may also be a production problem, it annoys me endlessly that there are several blast beat sequences where the snare drum is virtually inaudible.

But, at the end of the day, "The Red In The Sky Is ours" is not a bad album. As I said, there are many good ideas songwritingwise on this album, which certainly makes it a worthwile addition to any death metal fan's collection.

(revie originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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