At The Gates is another one of those bands that I just never got into. Aware of them? Yes. But growing up when I did when Josh Homme was still a 20-year old kid playing desert rock, The Big Four were all experimenting with the mainstream, and nu-metal was just on the horizon…I just never sought them out. And with my Metal leanings lying more towards Industrial and Thrash, Death as a genre just never appealed to me. Oops?
Albums like To Drink From The Night Itself is like a slap upside the head for a non-fan like myself.
But I digress.
Each track on here, At The Gates’ sixth overall and second since their return, is truly an epic slab of heaviness that’s so much more than any one genre and unlike In Flames, At The Gates can experiment yet still get undeniably heavier with age.
“Der Widerstand” crams all of the edge-of-your-seat excitement within this anxious minute and a half mini-symphony until the title track comes in to rip your head off when Tomas Lindberg’s uncanny feral shriek and Adrian Erlandsson’s pummeling drumming leads the rest of the band to your waiting earholes.
“Palace Of Lepers” is a beast that goes for the jugular and demonstrating the dual guitar power of Martin Larsson and new lead guitarist Jonas Stålhammar, building off of grooves rather than brute force. On the other hand, “Daggers Of Black Haze” is a beastly behemoth wrapped inside a monolith of riffage with acoustic flourishes and some rippin’ fretwork by Stålhammar.
Later, “The Chasm” is a concentrated barrage of riffs and “In Nameless Sleep” is a banger and then some with Jonas Björler’s bass providing a steady reverberating foundation through all the tempo variations. “Seas Of Starvation” begins with an ominous guitar line before devolving into either a mosher’s delight or a headbanger’s heaven, depending on your view of the stage.
None here get more ominous than the shreddy goodness found within “The Colours Of The Beast” which would be in a Webster’s if you were looking up the definition for “Swedish Melodic Death Metal” with Lindberg’s diverse scream rising above the sonic barrage by Larsson and Stålhammar.
Closers are always a mixed bag. Some bands choose epic sonic landscapes while others go for broke and let it all hang out. At The Gates split the difference with penultimate track “In Death They Shall Burn” taking on the latter which still has these huge growly choruses that are almost anthemic if they weren’t so sinister sounding heading towards a blissfully brutal breakdown.
Then the real closer hits and goes the way of the former as “The Mirror Black” scales back the tempo, ups the groove, but still yields some of the band’s fiercest material going to unexpected depths with a haunting string section that accents the taste laid down during “Der Widerstand”, complete with subtle choral arrangements to bring At The Gates’ latest to a fitting end.
To Drink From The Night Itself is out through Century Media on May 18th. Pre-order options are waiting for your clicks in a variety of formats right here. For the latest on At The Gates, head on over here.