At The Gates is a household name to every Melodic Death Metal fan out there. Formed over thirty years ago, this group of guys invigorated the scene by gifting the people with their unruly and extreme proclamations. Along with several other eager acts from their hometown, like Dark Tranquility and In Flames, ATG bolstered what is now defined as Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal. The signature sound that they captured still storms the scene today, showing off the band’s Swedish roots with a grim and wistful flourish. They continue on to profess their dark truths on their new seventh full-length record, The Nightmare of Being (Century Media Records).
This concept album on pessimist philosophy, triumphantly barges in with the opening number ‘Spectre of Extinction’. You are greeted with an angry anthem full of earnest excitement. The guitars of Martin Larsson and Jonas Stålhammar crunch and clang with a vibrato that hits you right in the guts. This dynamic duo leads the group with a set determination to present their melodic magnitude and vigorous riffs with a fierce finesse. ‘The Paradox’ and ‘The Abstract Enthroned’ show off the drum work from Adrian Erlandsson. He gives a girth and grit that reflects an old school sound. The layers and depth in which each song journeys down is vibrantly satisfying. At times, the speed of a song echoes the venom you hear in their earlier work on Slaughter of the Soul (Earcache Records). ‘The Nightmare of Being’ is a pensive piece that mulls over the issues and questions of life. There is a punchy spark that ignites into intense melancholy melodies that is carried by the guitarwork and bassline. The cohesion, yet slightly off kilter cadence of the heaviness declares an eerie and aggressive darkness.
The added treats of piano and acoustic guitar sprinkled throughout each track adds a sensitivity and curious element to the already very dynamic presentation. The warmth and savory saxophone on ‘Garden of Cyrus’ provides an ambitious, yet spicy layer of intrigue which splashes the listener with a capturing element of dynamic creativity. The cinematic edge on ‘Touched by the White Hands of Death’ provides an emotional reaction of foreboding which seamlessly bulldozes into a rampage of anguish. ‘Cosmic Pessimism’ bites down and delivers a real groove provided by bass player Jonas Björler. You can consistently discern their classic sound, yet there is a new vivid energy that glimmers over each movement. The record ends with some classic Gothenburg goodness on ‘Eternal Winter of Reason’. Tomas Lindberg Redant sears the senses with his ever persistent and passionate vocals. There is an indignation carried in his tones that each member complements with their intuitive playing. His declarations of inner struggle simmers in each song. The depth of the dueling guitars resound with a powerful edge that drips with purposeful outrage. Their fury gets under your skin and stays there from the beginning to the end of the album. This is a record to put on repeat again and again.
9 / 10