The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
It’s been about two weeks since my last FTA, where I last left off covering In Flames 1999 full-length album, Colony. So while there is no doubt in my mind that I could post an endless amount of articles on melodic death metal bands, this is going to be my last foray into the genre, and I feel I will end it by discussing one more band that are not only hailed as one of the pioneers of the Gothenburg death metal sound, but are also one of the biggest influences for many of the heavier bands we hear today. Now while that can be considered either good or bad, there is no denying the mass appeal and disgust for this next album. Either you love it or hate it, but At The Gates 1995 full-length album, Slaughter of the Soul, is without a doubt one of the most widely known and talked about albums in the world of metal music.
Despite what many think of At The Gates and their tread into a more melodic approach to their music, I still have a soft spot for not only their older material, but for Slaughter of the Soul as well. Sure its sound has been mimicked one too many times by other bands trying to capture that sound, but truth be told, many of them fail to accomplish that feat. I’m not saying the songs on Slaughter of the Soul are complex pieces of music, but they were fresh (at that time) and offered a whole new aspect to death metal. It’s only natural for a band to evolve with their sound, but unfortunately in many fans eyes as well as their ears, it wasn’t a welcome change.
Perhaps the hate is geared towards the fact that their “sound” was copied so much that it eventually lost its luster and became tainted. There are plenty of melodic death metal bands that have become the top bands of the genre and continue to stay there by providing new ideas yet still retaining that vintage sound they first started out with. Or, perhaps people just don’t care for the band to begin with. I see a lot of negative feedback surrounding Slaughter of the Soul, about how weak it is compared to their highly regarded album, The Red in the Sky Is Ours, and how it was the decline of a once respected band. Then of course I see slight glimmers of positivity from people who love the album and stand by it, and truth be told, I’m one of those people. I always felt Slaughter of the Soul was a solid album, one that stays with you, even years after you’ve listened to it. It’s memorable in a way that when you listen to it, you instantly remember where you were the first time you heard it.
And the reason for this; Slaughter of the Soul simply has some of the best melo-death riffs and melodic harmonies that perfectly fit in with the atmosphere of misanthropy brought in by the ridiculously amazing vocals of Tomas Lindberg. And speaking of Lindberg, he’s the extreme metal version of Mike Patton, where he has provided vocals for numerous metal bands (Nightrage, Lock Up, The Crown) and in my opinion, he’s one of the best harsh vocalists out there. You can practically feel the rage this guy is spewing forth when he screams. Tracks like “Under a Serpent Sun”, “Cold” and the title track “Slaughter of the Soul”, all stick out to be some of the gnarliest vocal performances ever. From the opening riffs to “Under a Serpent Sun” to the twisted yell into distorted Gothenburg riffing, the song erupts into probably the highlight of the album with one of the catchiest choruses on here.
At The Gates – “Under a Serpent Sun”
From the stellar musicianship, the aforementioned vocals, to the slickened production, all of this makes this album highly memorable. The catchy riffs, solos and choruses will stay in your head for days, and the beauty of Slaughter of the Soul is that every song is a highlight, even the melancholic instrumentals. The album to this day is still enjoyable for me, and while I may skip to certain tracks, the overall re-playability of this album is endless. Everything about this album sums up what I enjoy and look for in melodic death metal. It’s hard to find songs that are just downright memorable in their own individual right, and regardless of the flack it gets from other metal fans, I say ignore the hate as well as the praise it gets, and just listen to the album for yourself.
At The Gates – “Nausea”