Revolver has teamed with At the Gates for an exclusive Ultra Clear vinyl variant of their new album The Nightmare of Being. Quantities are extremely limited — order your copy now before they're gone!
In the fall of 1995 At the Gates released their fourth album Slaughter of the Soul — a genre-defining melodic death masterpiece. The record, which merged NWOBHM harmonies with a vicious Floridian death-metal assault, didn't just epitomize what would become known as the "Gothenburg sound" — it was also responsible for helping to inspire countless metalcore and deathcore bands that would rise to prominence over the next two decades.
The band — singer Tomas Lindberg Redant, guitarists Anders Björler and Martin Larsson, bassist Jonas Björler and drummer Adrian Erlandsson — broke up shortly after its release. But At the Gates' legacy, and the stature of Slaughter of the Soul, kept growing. The crew went their separate ways, and its members spent time performing in the Haunted, Disfear, the Crown, Cradle of Filth and more. At the Gates reunited in the mid-Aughts for some one-off shows, before dropping their 2014 comeback record At War With Reality, which was followed by 2018's To Drink From the Night Itself.
2021 brings with it another chapter to the At the Gates story with the recent announcement of their seventh full-length, The Nightmare of Being — a genre-pushing album that finds the band adding some seriously progressive elements to their mix of grinding, pit-starting riffs and Lindberg's seething vocals exploring the dark existential corners of the human experience.
To celebrate At the Gates' forthcoming album, we reached out to some of our favorite contemporary musicians to get their take on the band's influence. Below, Mike Schleibaum, guitarist for Washington, D.C. crew Darkest Hour, talks about discovering the Swedes at a Tower Records listening booth, why At the Gates' post–Slaughter of the Soul evolution is "absolutely inspiring" to Darkest Hour and more.
HOW DID YOU DISCOVER SWEDISH MELODIC DEATH METAL?
MIKE SCHLEIBAUM I remember digging through the "METAL" section at the Tower Records near my house. This was the place to find metal records from overseas. We would spend hours looking at all the covers and trying to research the bands, which was a lot harder than it may sound. We would use the CD listening station to hear them for the first time. It may have actually been In Flames that I heard first, but I remember discovering In Flames, Entombed, At the Gates and Dismember all around the same time. All these albums existed in the same record store bin so it makes sense that we would inject it all. This is probably where I heard Swedish metal for the first time.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHICH AT THE GATES RECORD YOU HEARD FIRST?
As I mentioned it was probably a CD listening booth where I first heard At the Gates — and that would have definitely been Slaughter of the Soul. I also remember sharing the joy and love of this band with all my friends. We all agreed that this band ruled — and in some ways our collective bond and love for At the Gates absolutely propelled our band to the next chapter and brought us together in a united love for this very sound.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW AT THE GATES INFLUENCED YOUR OWN CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT?
I remember studying every aspect of Slaughter of the Soul after first hearing it and writing the song "This Curse" right after. This was one of our first songs to include the thrash beat. So to say that I liked this record is an understatement — I absolutely loved it, burned it out for sure. This record sounded like the perfect bridge between actual death metal and the metal/hardcore that I was in love with at the time. At the Gates showed me that thrash/death metal could be just as fast, visceral, emotional and brooding as punk and hardcore. The sound of the record had a dark overtone that hooked me in, almost a bleak industrial vibe. Slaughter of the Soul, and their other records for that matter, have been a constant source of inspiration for years.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE AT THE GATES ALBUM?
For me it has to be Slaughter of the Soul. I know there are a lot of great albums in their catalog, but if you are asking me to pick a favorite then it has to be Slaughter of the Soul!
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AT THE GATES SONG?
Of course, I like all the "hits." But a song that really stuck out to me was "Nausea" off Slaughter of the Soul. I love this song so much that the band treated me to a version of it at a sound check one time. I love this jam; it's just so nasty and hits hard!
WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU SAW AT THE GATES LIVE?
Actually the first time I ever saw At the Gates live was when Darkest Hour finally played with them on their Suicidal Final tour in 2008. While I regret not seeing the band in the Nineties, I'm thankful that my first At the Gates show was a sold-out show at Irving Plaza in New York City. Every person in the room was screaming, losing their minds, immersed in the music they had been starved of for years. Hearing that crowd scream "Go!" at the top of their lungs to the Slaughter of the Soul title track will be an experience I never forget. Not to mention being able to share the stage with them on this night made it also super special!
WATCHING AT THE GATES UP CLOSE MUST HAVE BEEN AMAZING. WHAT STRUCK YOU MOST ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE?
Seeing At the Gates live after listening to them for so many years was definitely eye opening. I was absolutely taken aback by the cleanliness of the guitar playing, how tight and in-tune all the playing was, even tuned as low as they are. It immediately struck me how death metal they were. Not sure why I had always imagined in my head something different, but as soon as they crushed into that first song it all made sense to me. Obviously watching Tomas perform his vocals has had a huge influence on us. I mean, he was one of our main vocal inspirations as we crafted the sound of our band. Yet seeing them live really drove home something I never expected: how amazing the drumming is.
I think that the drumming is really special in At the Gates. It's not so much about the beats — lots of metal bands use these style grooves, in fact influenced by At the Gates. But to me it's more about the feel! I love the way the thrash beat swings. It is not just about hitting that kick and snare, kids, it's about feeling the swing in the beat — that's what makes it feel so urgent and punk. This really stood out to me when I saw them live and will have an impact on me forever.
DO YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO AT THE GATES? OR DO THEY REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR HISTORY?
Absolutely, I routinely revisit both their old and new albums for inspiration. To me they are a perfect example of a band who has aged well. It's hard to grow as a band after releasing albums that have permeated the consciousness of modern metal. To step back in the ring after releasing such classic records and after such a long break takes guts. Seeing At the Gates pull this off repeatedly is absolutely inspiring, especially for a band like us who also faces similar struggles. Not only will their records be remembered for years, their sound influencing generations of bands, but they will also hold a beloved spot in the collective memory of metal culture everywhere.