At The Gates
The Nightmare of Being
The new album by At The Gates, The Nightmare of Being, sees them expanding on their sound further than ever before. The band has always stood out from their peers in the death metal scene. As far back as their debut album, 1992s The Red in the Sky is Ours, they incorporated instrumentation outside the norm. In 1995 they released the critically acclaimed Slaughter of the Soul and made a massive impact with a melodic death metal masterpiece that continues to be influential.
The band split up in 1996 and would not reform until 2007. At War With Reality, was released in 2014 and followed up with 2018s To Drink from the Night Itself. Both are good records. The Nightmare of Being bests them and is one of the most engaging in their catalogue to date. With the core songwriting duo of vocalist Tomas Lindberg and bassist Jonas Björler embracing some of their more progressive influences this time, the results are spectacular. Production-wise the album sounds fantastic too. Utilizing different studios and producers to complete the album, King Diamond guitarist Andy La Rocque worked on guitars and bass. Per Stålberg handled the vocals, and Jens Bogren, who previously worked on At War With Reality, recorded the drums and mixed and mastered the record. Opening track Spectre of Extinction begins the album with some quiet acoustic guitars before greeting us with the unique combination of intertwining guitar melodies and aggressive pace for which the band is known. La Rocque also contributes a great solo to this song. Track two, The Paradox continues similarly. Perhaps the most straightforward tracks, they both hint at the depth contained on the rest of the album.
Garden of Cyrus offers the first reveal with a beautiful atmosphere and a saxophone solo that surprised me when I first heard how well it worked in the track. Few death metal bands would even dare to try and incorporate something like this. Though it could have fallen flat, the way it follows the guitar lead and weaves throughout the song makes it a standout moment. Lindberg’s vocals appear about halfway in using a more spoken-like delivery before transitioning to his trademark rasp. The Fall Into Time is cinematic and epic, blending strings and choral vocals with a heavy swing and an almost jazzy feel in the latter half of the track. Lindberg drew the influence of author Thomas Ligotti and his philosophy of pessimism to create the lyrics. On Cosmic Pessimism, he delivers most of his vocals in a narrative fashion backed by propulsive but clean guitars. These songs flow within the ten tracks to positive effect. Dynamics increase with the more aggressive parts creating a great contrast between the two.
Containing their most confident and daring songwriting while retaining the aggressive and melodic style they are known for, At The Gates have succeeded in creating one of the best albums of their career. Highly recommended.
Pre-order The Nightmare Of Being by At The Gates HERE