At The Gates
Slaughter of the Soul
Swedish death metal band At The Gates enjoyed a glittering career in the early 1990s, and Slaughter of the Soul marks the end of their time together until eleven years later. A height reached, a level of mastery gained, and an incredibly heavy and angry album. Something of the fashion at the time, and still done to this day, a sampled voice opens the music with a poignant and semi-poetic phrase. Then cracks of thunderous drums and pouncing guitar melodies assert the hardcore sound At The Gates are known for.
Melody plays an important part in the delivery of the otherwise crunching and rampant guitar based ruckus. Drums pound at speeds that blur the eyeballs and the chord progressions leap around the double quick tempo with adjacent velocity. Swoops of tunefulness grace the backlog of sound like large ominous storm clouds, to high to touch yet able to open their torrents at a moment's notice.
A guest slot is given to Andy LeRocque who gives a rendition of classical style guitar. This cross-over sound awarded Slaughter of the Soul as owner of one of the greatest guitar solos of all time, according to many press releases of the day. Taking a mood swing from the otherworldly gentleness that classical guitar is famous for allows the album to be broken down into more manageable sections.
Aggression plays an important part in the sensation of the record. The vocal delivery is one of constant forcefulness and the voice is naturally distorted into a throaty crow like holler. Much like many other death metal vocal styles, the pitch is pushed upward. Similar bands like Obituary were marked for having a deeper vocal range yet with the same angry and hoarse singing style.
Riff based songs with a distinctive flavour strict in their tight formulation and composition sit back to back in this heavy metal album. It takes the classical formula of guitar chord based song structure and lead guitar playing melodical sections over the top. When the two guitars come together to form a double edged chord riff, the thrust of sound becomes incredibly rich, and when the melody is played over the top, the two sounds mix together like cream into moving black coffee.
It's a short album, with just over half an hour's worth of music on it. The tradition for extremely heavy music is generally to keep it short as it's sometimes not possible to stay focussed on something longer when it asks for so much energy in return. After-all we have to at least try to look like we're enjoying it, don't we?
If you love Arch Enemy and In Flames then At The Gates have everything you want already. If you like heavy metal or rock music then this band are a fantastic gateway into a deeper and darker world of emotional and well composed music.
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