Album Review: The Nightmare of Being by At the Gates
Very Good, Based on 2 Critics
Pitchfork - 75 Based on rating 7.5/10
At the Gates became one of the most influential bands of the Swedish melodic death metal boom by boiling their sound down to its essence. Their 1995 album Slaughter of the Soul funneled its gut-punch riffs, venomous vocals, and sugar-rush melodies into pop-adjacent song structures, unwittingly spurring the early '00s metalcore explosion led by bands like Killswitch Engage and Darkest Hour. To make Slaughter, At the Gates had to subdue the experimental impulse that ran through their earlier work, and just as they were beginning to reap the rewards of that transformation, they broke up.
Pessimistically adventurous, yet predictably familiar, The Nightmare of Being explores new territory without ever straying too far from the band's DNA.
Pioneers of Gothenburg's melodic death metal scene along with In Flames and Dark Tranquility, At the Gates left an indelible mark on mid-nineties melodeath sound, especially through their fourth full-length release, Slaughter of the Soul, which would not only become a trademark of the genre, but also an influence for the newborn metalcore acts. While some may claim SotS to be the band's most one-dimensional work, its artistic relevance and historical impact are undeniable, making it a one-of-a-kind product of its time.