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Album Reviews : At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself

By on June 26, 2018

At the Gates find themselves in an interesting position in the current metal climate. From their start in cult-classic Swedish death metal band Grotesque all the way to their genre-defining Slaughter of the Soul in 1995, they were a band that showed all the signs of being a permanent presence in the global metal scene. However, the band broke up in 1996, but hope was rekindled for fans after a handful of reunion shows in 2008 lead to a follow-up album in 2014 and the current album To Drink From The Night Itself. As such, At The Gates are attempting to re-enter a scene that they were integral to developing, though one that looks very different in 2018 than it did in 1996.

A history lesson introducing At The Gates is somewhat inevitable, as To Drink From The Night Itself shows a band that is still bound by their history whilst also learning from it and attempting to progress past it. 2014’s At War with Reality was not so much bad as it was nearly 20 years late, the follow up to an album that was ripped-off by everyone from their peers in Gothenburg to a generation of American metalcore bands. Indeed the title track ‘To Drink From the Night Itself’ sounds like ‘Blinded By Fear’ 2.0, and the next few tracks would not feel out of place as B-sides to Slaughter of the Soul; catchy, well-written, and serviceable but nothing new or inspiring. Later tracks show some development: the slow harmonised riffs and atmospheric opening to ‘Daggers of Black Hate’ recall some of the pseudo-classical elements of earlier At The Gates albums, whilst the excellent tremolo riff that opens ‘Colours of the Beast’ showcases a darker side to the band not really seen since 1993’s With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness. In amongst elements of their back catalogue, there’s clearly a desire to move forward, with the darker sound and tendency toward minor-key tremolo riffs on the latter half of the album giving a slightly blackened edge to the typical melodic death metal writing of At The Gates.

Experimentation and progress are not without their drawbacks, however, and the production of the album is somewhat muffled and muddy, with the vocals being buried somewhat in the overall mix. This is somewhat disappointing, as it results in a lack of melodic clarity with some of the tremolo riffs that end up buried in a sea of cymbals, while Tomas Lindberg’s distinctive screams are occasionally lost in the mix, reducing the efficacy of a key part of the At The Gates sound. These are expected growing pains, and it is commendable that the band chose to eschew Studio Fredman in moving forward with their sound. Given the departure of guitarist and key songwriter Anders Bjoler, At The Gates now find themselves in a prime position to develop a new sound for a new context, with To Drink From the Night Itself being a promising first step in a potential new direction.

Band: At The Gates
Album: To Drink From The Night Itself
Year: 2018
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Label: Century Media Records
Origin: Sweden

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.