There are opinions out there that somehow discredit the very good final effort from the Swedes of AT THE GATES – “Slaughter Of The Soul”. Among the main reasons one mentions catchiness of this work (seemingly in comparison to the earlier works) and even its further consequences, that is the Melodic Death Metal boom. I could not disagree any more. The below-reviewed second deed from the Gothenburg act, “With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness”, is at least (!) equally catchy as the “Slaughter Of The Soul”-album.
The first thing that I pay attention to is the sound of this stuff. If you take into account a number of groups that represent the genre of the nowadays polished and flawlessly produced Melodic Death Metal and this reviewed effort, then AT THE GATES is like a water spring in the middle of a dessert. Still, the organic, natural sound is combined so well with the melodic parts of the album. Even if the word “melodic” might wake unpleasant associations, especially in the Death Metal context, it seems almost necessary to use it here, though, one has to stress that the dose of melody is applied really cautiously, which resulted in a great balance between the catchiness and the obscure form.
Another thing, which is the main reason for rating this record high, is the great musicianship, mostly in the guitar department. Just listen how the air is drilled through by the guitars in for instance “Primal Breath”. Indeed, the guys prove their skills in guitar playing as the riffs they deliver are to remember. The charm of many guitar motifs lies among others in the fact that they avoid putting everything straightforward and in a kind of fast-food manner. Sometimes it just takes a while before the guitar structures reveal their potential to the listener. Admittedly, the listener will not get here any extremely twisted guitar sequences, yet these are not easily predictable either.
Among the best moments here, which roughly speaking could be called choruses, I could mention the melodies in the just mentioned “Primal Breath”, “Raped By...” or “Non-Divine”. But this is just an example for there is more to be satisfied with like some jagged song structures and energetic Thrash Metal vibe. To put it brief – a pleasing blend of the old, organic playing and the compositional ideas that inspired so many. Also, and without a doubt, the forceful character of Swedes’ songs is strengthened to a considerable extent by the hysteric vocals from Tomas Lindberg, whose singing manner gets often close to that of Black Metal shriekers.
This re-issued copy of “With Fear...” includes some bonus tracks consisting of two live performances, which confirm the bands’ power and potential. In addition, a demo for “The Architects” appears where Lindberg’s vocals seem even more close to Black Metal.
“With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness” is like chest including some true music treasures and one will be convinced about this listening to this record time and again. It seems that the second full-length from the Gothenburg musicians is an essential listening not only for Death Metal fans in general, as a collection of very good songs, but also as a valuable didactic source for those who would like to know what the roots of Melodic Death Metal are.
(Online October 11, 2010)