At The Gates


The Red In The Sky Is Ours

At The Gates - The Red In The Sky Is Ours ©1991 Deaf Records
1. The Red In The Sky Is Ours/The Season To Come
2. Kingdom Gone
3. Through Gardens Of Grief
4. Within
5. Windows
6. Claws Of Laughter Dead
7. Neverwhere
8. The Scar
9. Night Comes, Blood Black
10. City Of Screaming Statues

The first full-length from the immortal Swedish quintet (actually a six-piece at this time) following a sparingly released, and largely inconsequential Gardens of Grief EP. Obviously enamored with all things crusty, this complex, even melodic affair is wrecked by the muddy bottom end, boring grindcore-type production, an affliction that early on plagued Swedish brethren Dark Tranquillity. And a lot of the twin guitarwork and free-for-all song structures are reminiscent of Dark Tranquillity's Skydancer, only less grandiose and worldly, more hard-edged and intrinsically meaner. I can appreciate the skill here, as it was evident that At The Gates were aspiring to levels undaunted by most, but the uni-dimensional barrage is unrelenting (likewise with Tomas Lindberg's tortured vocals) and attempting listen to this once through becomes an exercise in patience. The biggest albatross however, is the truly unvaried nature of the songs; they sound as if they were all written in a span of only few registers, recorded in a vacuum of concern. In other words BORING. I'm not sure if this record was designed to repel, but what is certain early At The Gates wore on its sleeve its propensity for tastelessness. Flatlined and tiresome; ultimately, a headache. Should have you diving (or stumbling) to the stop button by the third track.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/1998

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With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness

At The Gates - With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness ©1993 Peaceville
1. Beyond Good And Evil
2. Raped By The Light Of Christ
3. The Break Of Autumn
4. Non-Divine
5. Primal Breathe
6. The Architects
7. Stardrowned
8. Blood Of The Sunsets
9. The Burning Darkness
10. City Of Screaming Statues
11. Through The Red

With producer extraordinaire Tomas Skogsberg in the mix (who, ironically is responsible for the tepidly produced Greater Art [by Lake of Tears--Ed.]), At The Gates essentially tread the same path of characteristics that marked the debut, while actually making sense this time. Of course, the fact that the songs are shorter, more interesting, and just damn better doesn't hurt. Fast, complex, melodic death metal. There's really no other way to cut it. The mix is injected with a healthy shot of treble, and the result is balance; this isn't grating and/or difficult to listen to. Lindberg's vocals as well take on more of a higher-octane black metal type sound, as he begins to get his voice under control, a hoarse screech that would be fully realized on the immortal Slaughter of the Soul. Strange, it's like they knew actually what to fix; they rode in, surveyed the damage, cleaned up the messes, thanks and goodnight.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 12/1998

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Terminal Spirit Disease

At the Gates - Terminal Spirit Disease ©1995 Peaceville
1. The Swarm
2. Terminal Spirit Disease
3. And The World Returned
4. Forever Blind
5. The Fevered Circle
6. The Beautiful Wound
7. All Life Ends (Live)
8. The Burning Darkness (Live)
9. Kingdom Gone (Live)

The righteously monikered Terminal Spirit Disease is not officially a full-length but three oldies live plus six studio tracks with new recruit Martin Larsson on guitars (the departed Alf Svensson later formed the bizarre sci/fi oddity Oxiplegatz). Very similar, I think, to Burning Darkness except a slight more basic and straight-forward. And I do mean "slight"; each track's melodic nexus is still enclosed in a pretty substantially layered guitar-weaved labyrinth. The developmental progress of the band is exceptional though. It's like they enrolled in Progress 101, 'cos this is some the best stuff these guys have laid down up to '95 and they only got better from here. The album's trump-card: "The Swarm", with dire (and surprisingly uncheesy) metalled-up apocalyptic warnings ("A generation of obscenities/Our ignorance will be the end of humanity/A dead nation under one dead god"), made all the more harrowing by Lindberg's harsh screeching, morphs from a swirling violin/viola intro into a stomping, punishing display of distress and anguish. Although not an album I listen to much, given that the back 1/3 is junky and old, it is still worthy segue into Slaughter of the Soul.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 03/1999

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Slaughter Of The Soul

At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul ©1997 Earache
1. Blinded By Fear
2. Slaughter Of The Soul
3. Cold
4. Under A Serpent Sun
5. Into The Dead Sky
6. Suicide Nation
7. World Of Lies
8. Unto Others
9. Nausea
10. Need
11. The Flames Of The End

Whatever happened to At the Gates? Steady yet gentle deterioration, sure, but leading to this? Ok, the sound is like early Entombed and Dismember, just much more produced and with less of that raging guitar/noisy drill sound that characterised the early releases of those two bands. Though they possess much greater talent than the two aforementioned bands, they just refuse to show it here; which is rather bizarre as it is not the usual practice of other bands thus gifted, nor was it their practice on their first three releases which in fact overflowed with manifestations of this gift. Now, they make simple, marginally catchy riffs (Mmm-bop!) that have ensnared the majority of the trash-power metal listeners into liking the album, but are too far beneath what they are capable of and won't be fooling any of their early dedicated fans. Gone is the crazy yet appropriate violin of The Red in the Sky is Ours, gone is the colossal, violent beauty of "Raped by the Light of Christ". Now there's just decently used power chords and mediocre melodic riff-leads. The vocals haven't improved or deteriorated - neither of which is either good or bad - and the drumming remains as competent as ever. Now all we need is interesting songwriting! Though "Blinded By Fear" is an above-average start, and it gets steadily boring from then on and I simply cannot sit through the entire album at once...or ever again, for that matter.

Being their swansong, I had expected much from this album (which I heard well after the band broke up), and was totally disappointed by its lack of charisma; it simply breezes by and you ask yourself "that's it?" I would recommend the first three releases from ATG very much. They're definitive melodic death metal, pioneering the Swedish "Gothenburg" scene (and as with any important movement, resulting in endless clones). A sad end to a great group. Let us observe a moment of silence for...nah, that's for christians.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 04/1999

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Review #2

If there ever was an album that better promulgated what's right with this ultraist form of expression we call metal, this is it. Though progressive in nature, all the loose ends of previous progfests have been tied up securely, the songs are concise and stripped to their bare melodic essentials. What charges out the other end is a thirty minute blast of energy, the triumphant realization of the potential they've been toying with since With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness. Of course, it was always At The Gates pioneering those heroic melodic guitar excursions; they were just never very good at it. If it wasn't redundant by album's end, it would simply run its course, dry up and flatline. And when sleep beckons why fight it? But somewhere along in the course of development, At The Gates learned the philosophy of brevity: good things, when short, are twice as good. The songs, which generally do not exceed four minutes, laugh in the face of imprecision and are punctuated with harmonies, counter-melodies and Lindberg's death vocals which have now come of age, dwarfing his contemporaries in terms of intensity and histrionics, not to mention in the Suicidal Lyrics department. So you might argue, for whatever reasons their intentions and raw musical output have similarly soured, up to and including this, their swan song. Just don't bump into me and feel the need to proclaim it when I'm agitated, which is often. Slaughter of the Soul is the apex of the At The Gates experience.

Review by Lee Steadham

Review date: 05/1999

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