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At The Gates - To Drink From The Night Itself

At The Gates
To Drink From The Night Itself
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 04 June 2018, 5:40 AM

Sweden’s legendary AT THE GATES shouldn’t need an introduction but just in case you have been living under a rock since the 90’s or listening to shite music, they are one of the founders of the Gothenburg Melodic Death Metal  metal scene, along with DARK TRANQUILLITY, and IN FLAMES.  However, before ATG released the Melodic Death album “Slaughter of the Soul,” they were more aligned to Death Metal.  To this day, I still regard their full length debut “The Red In The Sky Is Ours,” as the greatest Death Metal album of all time.

So, as you can imagine, I was very excited to get this promo and somewhat disappointed to hear it.   Although it isn’t a bad album, it is definitely their worst one.  So what makes it not stand out so much for me?  I would have to say the immediate reason is the straight up terrible production.  It is bad.  It isn just straight up awful.  I’ve heard black metal albums that sound better.  Without a doubt it is the worst sounding album I’ve heard this year. And it kills me to say these things. I have always put songwriting above how an album was produced. I mean, in the end, if the songs are good isn’t that what matters?  It is but at some point a line is drawn with production and it really brings down the whole package.  So what is wrong with the album’s sound, exactly?

First, it seems like there is a sort of “fog” over everything; it sounds muffled to my ears. There just isn’t any bite or dynamics to the instrumentation.  It is also very quiet; I don't really need a super loud album but this one is noticeably quieter—I really had to adjust the volume knob to get this one to rock loud.  There is also some weird vocal effects on Tompa’s voice that make him sound like he is being filtered or screaming from far away.  Quite simply, it doesn’t work and sounds off putting.  He is a great vocalist, one of the best in the genre, and doesn’t need any bells and whistles. With that said, otherwise, his vocals are at the top of their game.  This guy just gets better with age. Of course this may be objective…you, dear reader, may have better ears than me.  Admittedly, my ears are pretty shot due to, well, loud Metal.

The other, more obvious reason the album lacks is this is their first since the departure of their original guitarist, and band founder, Aders Bjorler.  His replacement, Jonas Stålhammar, is a more than adequate player so I think the real issues is they lack Bjorler’s songwriting skills now.  However, Jonas didn’t join soon enough to help write so maybe on the next album we will see what he can do.  As is, he is a great riff player but the magic of Anders’ being gone is clearly showing through.  Martin Larsson is, of course, a great player but, again, there seems to be something missing that Anders brought to their sound. The overall sound of “To Drink From The Night Itself,” is similar to the previous album, “At War With Reality.”  It strikes a fine balance between being total Death Metal and Melodic Death but it has a darker edge; this is their most derelict album since “With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness.”

After the intro, they start the album with the title track, which is one of the best songs on the album.  The beginning has a pinch of groove that collides with the frantic and impeccable controlled drumming of Adrian Erlandsson.  In my humble opinion, he has always been the back bone of the band and nothing has changed with this album. “A Stare Bound In Stone,” is another highlight because it sounds like it could had been a lost track between the releases “With Fear...” and “Slaughter...”  I liked the dark melodic part after two a half minutes or so into the track; it really tied the whole song together. Unfortunately, the next few tracks tend to run together and I found myself getting somewhat bored.  They aren’t bad, per say, but as I mentioned earlier, there isn’t much of a spark or fire to ignite their energy.  However, the last half of the album does pick up the pace quite a bit.

Sea of Starvation,” has a really desolate vibe that combines a keen sense of melancholic melody with thrash riffs. “In Death They Shall Burn,” fires right out of the gate and could had been the opening track and it’s a great representation of where modern ATG is at right now.  The final track, “The Mirror Black,” is a slow dirge of dirty yet melodic riffs and a sorrowful tones.  Their best album closer since “Night Comes, Blood Black,” from “The Red In The Sky…” and the symphonic ending is icing on the cake. All in all, this is by no means a terrible album but it doesn’t reach the highs of any of their previous releases but if you are a fan, it is still very much worth your time.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

1. Der Widerstand
2. To Drink From The Night Itself
3. A Stare Bound In Stone
4. Palace of Lepers
5. Daggers of Black Haze
6. The Chasm
7. In Nameless Sleep
8. The Colours Of The Beast
9. A Labyrinth Of Tombs
10. Seas Of Starvation
11. In Death They Shall Burn
12. The Mirror Black
Jonas Bjorler -  Bass
Adrian Erlandsson  - Drums
Tomas “Tompa” Lindberg - Vocals
Martin Larsson - Guitars
Jonas Stalhammar - Guitars
Record Label: Century Media Records


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