At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being
Century Media Records
Release Date: 02/07/2021
Running Time: 45:37
Review by Victor Augusto
“Legend: a very famous person, especially in a particular field, who is admired by other people.” (Oxford English Dictionary). Yes, I want to start with this definition and hold it in your mind until the end of the review. Hello again my friends. After the terrible nightmare of having my beloved wife in an ICU due to COVID-19 complications, I return with my writing (We are all so relieved she is well again Victor – Rick). During these weeks that I lived inside a hospital in Brazil, I could have (again) music as a relief. Guess what, I was listening to the new At The Gates offering and it is not the first time that their music has followed me during tough times. The band’s masterpiece “Slaughter Of The Soul” was an important album when I was a teenager and lived in a poor neighbourhood when, at that time, my life was full of misfortune!
Maybe, the concept of At The Gates lyrics, reflects the world itself. Maybe, you think it is a bit depressing to hear, while you are going through dark days as I currently am. Right now, I am writing this as I see my wife struggling to breathe. Their music shows how difficult it is to live in this world, but at the same time, they offer an incredible source of energy and hope with their superb riff structures and beautiful melodies. Are you confused with my ideas so far? So, here are my thoughts listening to just the opening song ‘Spectre Of Extinction’. A punch of riffs just like At The Gates know how to compose. Everything is allied with brutal drum fills and good melodies. It makes me feel like dying inside a hurricane, but having those chaotic fierce winds gives me energy to fight. This is how I connect myself with music, and At The Gates can offer it in a perfect way.
I won’t be repetitive about their importance of having created a unique sonority that is a Swedish trademark. What I can say is how this album has the perfect balance between all the brutality from their 90’s releases together with the cadence from their two previous albums. The quality of having crystal-clear sound in the recording process, another trademark of Swedish sonority, is still present. Maybe, on the last album, “To Drink From The Night Itself”, they purposely offered a slightly dirty production, but now they have returned with a good balanced production and a more organic one.
Guitarists Martin Larsson and Jonas Stålhammar give us superb work and I don’t think they ever questioned the absence of long-time guitarist Anders Björler, who left the band in 2017 (If you have ever considered At The Gates amazing guitar work, just listen to this album). The bass of Jonas Björler is more present on this album. I love how he commands the cadence which lets Martin and Jonas free to play their melodies and harmonies.
Tomas Lindberg and Adrian Erlandsson are the kind of musicians that make everything sound good if they are present. Adrian is a brutal drummer and his versatility of extreme beats with cadenced parts is astonishing. His intro on ‘The Paradox’ is devastating. Tomas interprets all the lyrics as few singers can do and also has a unique voice. He is also a very cool person, as he showed when we chatted a little on Gimme Metal radio with my friend DJ JET, which happened about a month ago.
Ok Victor, what makes this album special? The new elements that I couldn’t remember on their previous albums. Take four minutes of your life to listen to ‘Garden Of Cyrus’. It has everything we have come to expect from At The Gates, but with a calm intro, well guided by bass, with the beautiful addition of Saxophone. The orchestration on ‘Touched By The White Hands Of Death’ and ‘The Fall Into Time’ are also something new that give an epic atmosphere. ‘Cosmic Pessimism’ shows a calm song with clean guitars dictating the cadence while Tomas sings in a more talking style rather than screaming.
With these thoughts, I have attempted to understand what makes an excellent band become a legendary one. If you look at the history of At The Gates, especially what they have created for Heavy Metal around the world, you will understand the meaning of legend or legendary. Moreover, after so many albums, they are still able to surprise their fans. I don’t need to explain the power of these Swedish pioneers.
“The Nightmare Of Being”!
It is dark. It is heavy. It is technical. Maybe the most important detail is that it is the pure At The Gates that we all know and love! Thanks for surprising us again and also thanks for helping me to stay strong again.
01. Spectre Of Extinction
02. The Paradox
03. The Nightmare Of Being
04. Garden Of Cyrus
05. Touched By The White Hands Of Death
06. The Fall Into Time
07. Cult Of Salvation
08. The Abstract Enthroned
09. Cosmic Pessimism
10. Eternal Winter Of Reason
Tomas Lindberg – Vocals
Adrian Erlandsson – Drums
Jonas Björler – Bass
Martin Larsson – Guitar
Jonas Stålhammar – Guitar
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