The Pitch: Swedish melodic death metal legends and forerunners of the "Gothenburg sound" At The Gates return once more with their latest album, To Drink From The Night Iteslf via Century Media Records. FFO: The Haunted, The Lurking Fear, Dark Tranquillity
What I Like: You avid readers out there know that I was not particularly enthused by At War With Reality. While I count myself as a pretty hardcore At The Gates fan, highly stoked in the days leading up to the band's comeback, that album did not stick the landing for me. Despite repeat listens and a deep desire to MAKE myself like it, the only thing that stuck was the titular single. In my opinion, At The Gates are at their best engaging in the full tilt riffage of tracks like "Blinded By Fear" and "Slaughter Of The Soul," and unfortunately by and large At War With Reality was focused on a slower approach with seriously hum drum "hooks."
I was honestly prepared to hang up my hopes of this band ever putting out any more worthwhile material, but the latest The Lurking Fear album piqued my interest once more. Could Lindberg and co. still have what it takes? While the answer isn't a resounding yes, it's not a no this time either. To Drink From The Night Itself is easily a better album than its predecessor. Overall, the guitarwork is stronger, the songs are faster and more memorable, and the performances tend to be more interesting. While it is clear that this is a different band after the departure of long time guitarist Anders Björler, tracks like "To Drink..." and "A Stare Bound In Stone" prove that the new and existing members can still crank out those tasty melodeath hooks.
And it's not just the guitars that are worthy of note. Tomas is in top form with his vocals, delivering arguable some of his strongest and best-produced performances to date. His instantly-recognizeable squelchy delivery can be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but it really does sound excellent on this album. Similarly the drumming is on point, keeping the energy high with massive sounding toms. Again, this is in part thanks to the excellent production job, which sounds massive on tracks like "Sea of Starvation." The strings on moody closer "The Mirror Black" are also a nice touch that I'd be interested to hear more of in the future.
Critiques: Let's face it: it's unlikely that At The Gates will ever top their early material. While To Drink From The Night Itself is a solid outing in its own right, it still can't hold a candle to Slaughter The Soul. Even the best moments, especially the title track, suffer from recycled-sounding riffs, and I'm still hearing quite a bit of filler. For my money, there are young bands out there doing this style better like Serenity In Murder and Silence Lies Fear who have taken up the torch in a big way.
The Verdict: To Drink From The Night Itself is a solid entry in At The Gates' discography. I'd even go so far as to say that within the realm of new releases from classic melodeath bands, it's second only to Dark Tranquillity; easily beating out the likes of In Flames, Arch Enemy, and closely edging out The Haunted. That said, don't expect it to live up to die-hard expectations, and I implore you to also check out even stronger outings from the bands listed above. These Swedes may have kicked off the movement, but the new school is ready to take on the throne.
Flight's Fav's: A Stare Bound In Stone, A Labyrinth of Tombs, In Death They Shall Burn
- Review by FlightOfIcarus
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