Back in my youth as I was exploring the multitude of different genres the heavy metal world has to offer, At The Gates were my introduction into the world of death metal. My in-roads into the genre were via them and my whole world expanded in front of me thereafter. Still to this day, At The Gates are my go to band, to reminisce on where my fascination started, those first four ATG albums are up there with any other for me.
Their decade long hiatus left a gaping whole in the scene that many clambered to fill yet few managed to live up to. The forefathers of Scandinavian “melo-death” were missed and the bands reunion reinvigorated many a fan, peaking their interest as to what they could achieve. A multitude of tours followed along with 2014's At War With Reality, an album that proved the band were back and on form with it.
As the band started planning the follow up to the aforementioned 2014 opus, long-standing guitarist Anders Björler departed, citing the stresses of the workload. Leaving his brother Jonas and elder statesman Tomas Lindberg to form a creative partnership that would flourish into the production of new album To Drink From The Night Itself.
With Linberg and the remaining Björler brother reinvigorated they set out to reimagine and reshape the band musically, and as the album opens we have a minute and twenty-eight seconds of instrumental orchestral delight in Der Widerstand. However, normal service is soon resumed. The album’s title track less melodic than their previous few releases is out and out death metal. Grinding guitars and Lindberg’s famed howl fills your ears.
Palace of Lepers stands out early on, as anthemic as a death metal song can be. Multiple changes in tempo suck you in and spit you out in a whirlwind of thrash tinged riffs. Daggers on Black Haze throws a little piano into the mix to keep the listener on their toes in a diversion from the bands norm.
As ever Adrian Erlandsson holds the band in tight nit formation from behind his drum kit, the master of his instrument keeping the guitars in check with wave after wave of incendiary beats. A Labyrinth of Tombs, heavy as hell, signals the begin of the end of the album, bass pounding with theatrical undertones the listener can easily lose themselves in the moment.
From hiatus to line up changes, the At The Gates convoy has kept rolling, slight changes in direction have forged in the fires of Sweden an album of epic proportions. Resetting this extreme genre and giving the next generation yet another inspirational album to look up to. This album is not to be missed.