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Slaughter of the Soul (Expanded Edition)

At the Gates

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Album Review

While "Blinded by Fear" begins Slaughter of the Soul with a screwy and interesting semi-industrial percussion loop, about 40 seconds in it becomes all light-speed crunch, riffs, and snarls, so those who never liked thrash in the first place aren't going to be convinced by the goings-on here. But for those for whom such stuff is like oxygen? It depends. Singer Tomas Lindberg actually steers away from the typical Cookie Monster growl in favor of a higher but equally strangled register, while his lyrics avoid bad fantasy poesy, at least for the most part, in favor of more existential crises. If nothing else, he has a good line in influences, with quotes from everyone from William Burroughs to the 13th Floor Elevators. As for his bandmates, nothing here sounds too different from what those who worshipped at the wells of Kill 'Em All and Reign in Blood would have created, but what they do they do quite well. The arrangements are tight and performances strong (guitarists Anders Bjorler and Martin Larsson clearly have practiced their riff action many a time), and the occasional extra touch like acoustic guitar or notable space in the production, holding back at points rather than just grinding things into the ground, never hurts. "Cold" is a good example of this, with a soft electric guitar break about two minutes in, while the instrumental "Into the Dead Sky" consists of nothing but similarly calm guitar and whooshing background noises. Sometimes the contrast can be a bit odd — hearing Lindberg's howls against nothing but brief flamenco runs in "Unto Others" isn't the most typical of combinations! While Slaughter may not be the best album of its kind, it's definitely better than most, with its own character.

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Gothenburg, Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

One of the more melodic death metal bands to expand beyond Sweden and spread their sound across the world alongside peers such as Entombed, At the Gates played a significant role in the death metal genre before breaking up in 1996, leading to the formation of the Haunted. The group's first lineup — Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Anders Bjorler (guitars), Adrian Erlandsson (drums), Jonas Bjorler (bass), and Alf Svensson (guitars) — formed in late 1990, recording the Gardens of Grief EP for the...
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