AT THE GATES – At War With Reality
18 years and 353 days. (Nope, no rounding off here.) That’s how long it took for Gothenburg death metal powerhouse At The Gates to release an album to follow up on Slaughter Of The Soul. With At War With Reality, the pioneers of melodic death metal have returned with a purpose and a seemingly strong one at that.
The album starts off with an intro track of spoken words, in Spanish and is immediately followed by “Death And The Labyrinth” and the title track “At War With Reality”. The only phrase that one can really connect with, after listening to these two songs is classic At The Gates. Raw aggressive guitars combined with equally aggressive vocals from Tomas Lindberg are the first things to hit you in both of these tracks. “Death And The Labyrinth” has a much more gothic feel to it while the title track is fast and furious. Everything simply falls into place with this track.
“The Circular Ruins” and “Heroes And Tombs” are the definitive melodic tracks of this album. The sound is bold and very rhythmic, which is what is expected from the band, making it almost predictable. These tracks are enough proof to ensure that it is futile to argue that At The Gates did not give birth to Melodic Death Metal.
Comparisons to Slaughter Of The Soul are definitely going to be made and at this point it must be said, “The Conspiracy Of The Blind”, “The Head of The Hydra” and “Eater Of Gods”certainly make a strong case to be included in that classic. Worthy songs of any At The Gates record. Brutal and pure riffing pleasure. Whilst “The Head Of The Hydra” is very energetic, “Eater of Gods” is simply put, marvelous. Goosebumps!
“Order From Chaos” is comparatively slow paced and quite dark. “The Book of Sand (The Abomination)” returns to the set pace, has a catchy riff and a very tasty solo. “City Of Mirrors” is a melancholic instrumental number and I guess the lesser spoken about it, the better. “Upon Pillars Of Dust” is strong and followed by “The Night Eternal”, provide the expected finish to an unbelievable album.
Definitely one of the best productions of 2014, At War With Reality is classic, classic At The Gates. Which is why some people might say “oh, band X released something very similar three years ago. This album is very generic.” At The Gates gave rise to a number of metalcore and/or melodic death metal bands that have mimicked their idols and made a name for themselves. Hence, At War With Reality risks getting lost among the loads of melodic releases in the years they were away. But it won’t, because the album is definitely better than most of the “stuff” being released anyway.