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Review

At The Gates – Slaughter of the Soul – 25th Anniversary Review

At The Gates - Slaughter of the Soul

Band: At The Gates
Album: Slaughter of the Soul
Label: Earache Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Country: Sweden
Release Date: November 14, 1995

Classic is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. I feel like every time a new album comes out and people like it the classic label is immediately slapped on it, just for the album to be forgotten in a month or two when the next “classic album” of the year is released. An album does not achieve classic status just because it is good, there are literally thousands of excellent albums that have been released that are not classic. In fact most of your favorite albums probably aren’t classics, sorry. To be a true classic an album has to do two things, stand the test of time and influence music that comes after. While there are many albums that are classics in the extreme metal scene, very few albums have withstood and influenced to the levels of At The Gates’s undisputed classic Slaughter of the Soul.

Released on November 14, 1995, Slaughter of the Soul, initially received high critical acclaim, however, the album alienated some fans as the album marked a shift in a bands sound. At The Gates was a pioneer of Swedish Death metal and, while always more melodic than their counterparts in Stockholm, the Gothenburg natives maintained a level of aggression that is to be expected with a Death Metal band. While the sonic shift, in retrospect, is apparent across the first three albums, Slaughter of the Soul, took heavy influence from Thrash Metal, NWOBHM, and Hardcore, as vocalist Tomas “Toompa” Lindberg came from a punk background. With these new influences playing so heavily on the bands new style a new sub-sub-genre was created  that would later become known as Melodic Death Metal or Melo-Death for short (or maybe Heartwork created melo-death,or The Gallery, or The Jester’s Race. I don’t know go argue with your friends and fill me in). 

What is there to say about this album’s quality that has not already been said, it is absolutely flawless. From the opening track Blinded by Fear, to the album’s closing riff, not a moment on this album is anything less than spectacular. Brother’s, Jonas, guitars, and Anders, bass, Björler, took on the bulk of the songwriting and crafted an extreme metal album that was infectious and was full of riffs that got stuck in your head like the best of Iron Maiden or Metallica. Lindberg’s signature vocals and lyrics that touched on social and esoteric issues, are equally as memorable and have made At The Gates one of the few Death Metal acts with crowds singing along during a live set. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson and second guitarist Martin Larsson round out the lineup and, with their contributions, truly create one of the best personnelle lineups that extreme metal has ever seen. Unfortunately, the band broke up not long after the release of Slaughter of the Soul and the band didn’t get to enjoy the initial praise the album received. 

As stated earlier, however, just being great does not make an album classic. Let’s travel waaaaaay back to the early to mid- 00’s, heavy metal is making a comeback, whether you like it or not, with metalcore and deathcore . During this time whether, it was the Black Dhalia Murder, Killswitch Engage or The Crown, one band would constantly be mentioned as an influence and that was At The Gates and specifically this album. Now, 15 years after that initial boom of bands using Slaughter of the Soul, as the template to create a new genre, the underground has once again embraced the sound that the band made popular a quarter century ago. Bands like Gatecreeper and Outer Heaven continue to carry the torch for catchy death metal that gets stuck in your head and just won’t leave.

After years of fans crying out for the band, and a few reunion tours, 2014 saw the band reform with the lineup that made this album what it is. It’s also telling that At War With Reality, the band’s reunion album, feels like a direct follow up to Slaughter of the Soul, and is often praised as one of the best comeback albums that metal has ever seen. 25 years later and Slaughter of the Soul, is still considered a genre defining classic. Live shows, when that used to be a thing, are filled with songs from the album and the crowd is able to sing along just as loud as they did in the mid-90’s. Slaughter of the Soul is, without a doubt, one of the best and most important albums that extreme music will ever see and I will be blasting it until the day that I die. 

Tracklist:

  1. Blinded by Fear
  2. Slaughter of the Soul
  3. Cold
  4. Under a Serpent Sun
  5. Into the Dead Sky
  6. Suicide Nation
  7. World of Lies
  8. Unto Others
  9. Nausea
  10. Need
  11. The Flames of the End

Total Playing Time: 34:13

Click here to visit At The Gates’s website

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