This job has a lot of pros and cons; and sometimes it is hard to continue after you hear bland act after bland act, or worse something by Avenged Sevenfold. So, it is rare to have an album that has nothing that you feel the artist could improve on. The new At The Gates offering is one of those albums; “At War With Reality” is a perfect metal album and one that will win over jaded metal fans the world over.
The Swedish lads have a lot to live up to: inventing the death metal sound from Gothenburg and the masterpiece “Slaughter of the Soul” from the 90s. They give it a great bash and do actually outdo that album. “At War With Reality” is a fast paced, thrashy throwback to the early 90s and I love it. The title track sets the bar high and rarely does the album dip. The tight drums and guitars make a cutting wall of sound. With an awesome melodic pre-chorus into chorus make it spectacular. This is the purest of all Gothenburg death metal.
“Death And The Labyrinth” with its blackened death metal overtones is a neat filler track. It’s fast, brutal but is a filler track. However, an At The Gates filler track is better than a lot of singles from other metal bands. The chorus of this song with its “Death-like” slow double kick drums proves the pedigree of the band.
The assault continues with “The Circular Ruins”; Crunchy riffs are the name of the game here. The song is pinned on four major riffs and will keep you headbanging your way through the track. “The Book of Sand” uses the same technical riff based attack but it has more a groove to it and eases up on the pacing. “The Conspiracy Of The Blind” is so like “Slaughter of the Soul” that it is really upsets to me. It’s a great track but this band will always struggle to overcome the bar they set all those years ago. The dark and heavy tone of the song is backed up with the guitar smashing your face in with slow melodic bits as a reprieve. It’s so good! The bridge is the best thing on the album. It’s going to be a killer live!
“Order From Chaos” slows thing down; and sounds like something from “Individual Thought patterns” which is not a bad thing at all. How can you not love the bass/drums fused melodic chops of the band?
My favourite track comes late in the album; “The Head Of The Hydra” is everything I want from melodic death metal and surpasses anything At The Gates have done to date. It’s fast but melodic, consistent while not being boring. When the song breaks from its bridge and solo it is beautiful and when metal does that there are few things better. “City of Mirrors” is the perfect consort to “Hydra”. The production is top notch. Everything here sounds as it should: not overproduced, yet crisp and clear. I am always happy when heavy bands let their song breathe instead of making it a messy wall of noise. Melodic death metal is still mastered by At The Gates.
If you’re a fan of death metal, get this one. If you’re a fan of At The Gates but unsure if you’ll like this album so many years after their masterpiece, stop being foolish and buy this album. At War With Reality is the best of album of 2014.
“At War With Reality” comes out October 28th on Century Media.
- “El Altar del Dios Desconocido”
- “Death and the Labyrinth”
- “At War with Reality”
- “The Circular Ruins”
- “Heroes and Tombs”
- “The Conspiracy of the Blind”
- “Order from Chaos”
- “The Book of Sand (The Abomination)”
- “The Head of the Hydra”
- “City of Mirrors”
- “Eater of Gods”
- “Upon Pillars of Dust”
- “The Night Eternal”
At the Gates are:
Tomas Lindberg − vocals
Anders Björler − guitar
Martin Larsson − guitar
Jonas Björler − bass
Adrian Erlandsson − drums