At The Gates “The Nightmare Of Being” Review

At The Gates
The Nightmare Of Being
Century Media
Released: July 2, 2021

Very few artists can create an entire new genre with just one album, but that is exactly what At The Gates accomplished with their 1995 opus, Slaughter Of The Soul. That was twenty six years ago, and much has changed since then.

Any time a band like At The Gates announces that new music is just around the corner, people take heed. Once heralded as the kings of the Gothenburg scene, alongside the likes of Dark Tranquility and In Flames, At The Gates spun the death metal world on its head, blending in melody into a genre that previously hadn’t experienced such a thing – at least not at the same level. Purveyors of melodic death metal, and with the release of their fourth album – the genre-defining Slaughter Of The Soul, not only did they raise the bar to an impassable level, they spawned a whole new genre of extreme music. Often imitated, Slaughter Of The Soul still has yet to be equaled.

It took nearly two full decades before a new album from At The Gates would see the light of day – and the wait was worthwhile, as 2014’s At War With Reality turned out to be a barn burner. The same was true for 2018’s To Drink From The Night Itself. Now poised to unleash their third record since their return, and seventh over all, and as always, At The Gates have delivered and shown once more why they are the pinnacle of their genre. As is the case with everything they have released, each album has a unique approach. While elements remain from record to record, no two recordings are similar.

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“The overall theme deals with the topic of pessimism”,  said vocalist Tomas Lindberg “and I have been diving deep down in pessimistic philosophers. Trying to understand this way of looking at the world. It is not a negative album, more a gateway into new ideas for me personally, trying out different perspectives. You could call the album an introduction to pessimism as a concept, I guess. It is a very dark album, but not negative…”

The album kicks off with Spectre Of Extinction, which sounds very much like a continuation of where the lads left off on To Drink From The Night Itself. With the twin guitars of Martin Larsson and the newest gatekeeper, Jonas Stalhammar, trading licks while the sound pans left and right, and into a solid and familiar riff. There are some splendid melodies within this piece, driving percussion and bass lines – and of course, the trademark Lindbergh snarl.

One of the standout tracks, Garden Of Cyrus, features fantastic use of a saxophone, and in doing so, further adds to the musical and forward-thinking genius that is At The Gates. Pioneers yet also innovators that continue to push the envelope and help the entire genre progress. The song also has an interesting usage of dual vocal styles that drive the track along nicely. Smooth jazz meets melodic death metal.

On Cosmic Pessimism, that progressive element is in full swing. Starting off with a smooth, jazz influenced segment before cranking up the tempo gradually into a composition fitting of the At The Gates moniker. It is on tracks like these, that we fully see the musical vocabulary and extent of its reach. The ability to hone a craft that the band has been practicing for more than three decades is one thing, but their continued drive to bring new elements into their song writing shows a certain maturity, as musicians but as people too. Drive. Spirit. So often, bands that have stood the test of time will rely on the formula that got them to where they are, creating a stagnation of sorts. Of course, using the easy low-hanging fruit pickings that is Metallica, it is easy to completely lose your way and fall off the cliff on the other side. Like the fine line between genius and insanity – musicians walk that tightrope too.

At The Gates newest opus, The Nightmare Of Being, can be pre-ordered through Century Media now, and albums are expected to ship out on June 29th ahead of the July 2nd release date. There is also a special deluxe edition that is loaded to the gills, but that bad boy will cost you roughly a hundred American bucks.

For Fans Of: Dark Tranquility, Darkest Hour, The Black Dahlia Murder
Track Listing:

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