"The War Has Just Begun..."
At the Gates' classic album, Slaughter of the Soul, is one of the instigators of the modern melodic death metal sound, and one of the best melodic death metal albums in itself. I never really liked the genre, but a handful of albums and Slaughter of the Soul are in my library and does get a spin regularly. When they announced their comeback, I admit, I got pretty excited. Though ATG announced multiple reunion live shows, and said regularly that they would not make a new album as it would be pointless to release an album more than ten years after Slaughter of the Soul and would just dissapoint people. On October 27th, 2014 they released At War With Reality, and let me tell you something, the wait has been woth it.
The production is clean and smooth, you can hear every instrument clearly, but it still packs a good punch. The music is a little bit different, maybe leaning more towards traditional swedish death metal, but don't worry, there is still plenty of sweet melodic riffing to go around. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson has not lost his edge, his beats are still as good as they were on Slaughter. His snare has a really nice crunchy production, which is satisfying to listen to every time he hits it. He spends most his times playing mid-paced rhythms, which you cannot help headbanging to, but most notable. for me at least, is his fast paced skank beats. They are powerful and sound like they are going to trample all over you.
The abrasive, screechy growling of Tomas Lindberg sounds just as wild and menacing as they were on Slaughter. He changes it up from time to time on songs like Order from Chaos with this creepy narration voice. The bass is quite prominent, while it mostly just is there for rhythm purposes, it still sounds rich when you sometimes just catches a catchy bass riff.
As with other ATG albums, the best part of the album are the guitars. as traditional ATG, they play a lot sweet tremolo riffs, that stirs that inner lust you have because you've always wanted to play guitar, but never had the time to learn it. The tremolo riffs sounds like a mix between melodic death and old school death. They also take the time to make some riffs that sound like something that could be on Slaughter, but really belongs in another place. I especially like the mid-paced riffs on many of the songs, it really shows both guitarists Anders Björler and Martin Larsson talents. The tone and structure is bone chilling.
What really sets this album apart from their previous albums, is that you can feel they didn't want to make another Slaughter, and that they did not. This album stands alone really well, but it still did not have that impact on me like Slaughter did. This album is a nice continuation of ATG as a band and I now I know that if they release another album, it can stand alone like this one did, and not be dependent on earlier albums like a lot of old bands who make new records years after their classics do.