By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Records
Gothenburg sound creators and melodic death metal pioneers At The Gates are back with a new guitarist and a fabulous new album.
Yes, the new At The Gates album is as good as I had hoped. “To Drink From The Night Itself” has been produced by Russ Russell (Napalm Death, The Haunted, Dimmu Borgir) and features some gloriously punishing tracks. It’s terrific! It’s a knuckle-duster knockout! There is not one weak moment on this majestic album of death metal awesomeness. It’s now a decade since At The Gates reformed and they are still top of their game, still kings of the hill of death metal. Since their last studio album, 2014’s “At War With Reality”, guitarist Anders Björler has left the band and been replaced by Jonas Stålhammar. I don’t know, perhaps I just feel relieved that this album exceeds my high expectations. I am not sure if I had any real reason to have been worried. Perhaps Anders Björler’s departure as he wrote much of the material on the previous album? For the new album, his twin brother Jonas Björler stepped up to write the material together with vocalist Tomas Lindberg.
There was no need for me to worry. This solid death metal album slaps me in the face with a wet fish and wakes me up. Yes, Sir, I can boogie to this music. At The Gates has done it again! They not only own the Gothenburg sound, they created it and they are taking it into the modern era with a contemporary version of the deep-rooted death metal of 1990. The “new boy” in the band comes with the right pedigree. Bombs of Hades, God Macabre, The Lurking Fear and The Crown are just a few of the bands that Jonas Stålhammar has been a member of. It seems he is an obvious choice for At The Gates.
There are passages in some of the songs on the album, such as parts of “Daggers of Black Haze” and “The Mirror Black”, where we get some different kinds of influences and music mixed in with the normal anger. However, on the whole, this is an album which is a bit darker and more sinister than its predecessor. Lyrically the band has built stories based on themes from German writer Peter Weiss‘ book “The Aesthetics of Resistance”. The band has walked down the appropriate path. It’s old-school, at times more death metal than melodic death metal, but it’s timeless and often contemporary sounding. The title track is one of the album’s best tracks. It’s sheer death metal brilliance. But there’s plenty of other good stuff on this album. “In Death They Shall Burn” is a nice head-cleaning track that I particularly like. “Palace of Lepers” is another fabulous song and so is “A Stare Bound In Stone”. On the track “In Nameless Sleep”, King Diamond guitarist Andy LaRocque appears as a guest.
At The Gates’ album “To Drink From The Night Itself” will be released on 18th May via Century Media internationally and Trooper Entertainment in Japan. The band will tour Japan again at the end of May.