REVIEW: AT THE GATES – “To Drink From The Night Itself”
‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ is the sixth album from the purveyors of melodic death metal, At The Gates. The loss of founding member Anders Björler has not caused the band to crumble. Instead, his brother Jonas has taken the lead in crafting a powerful new album. This new record contains all the classically inspired musical arrangements we have come to love about At The Gates infused with a blaze of passion and teeth gnashing spite.
The heroic instrumental “Der Widerstand” (of the resistance) begins the journey into the concept of the album which uses the epic novel “The Aesthetics of Resistance” by Peter Weiss for inspiration. The novel tells a story of Nazi resistance in Europe during the 30’s and 40’s with a focus on how art can be used to influence and define the struggles of subjugation and opposition. ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ provides a primal soundtrack which explores the concepts of pain, desperation and anger found through resisting oppression.
The title track strikes with furious intent. The characteristic At The Gates sound with layers of rapid single note guitars, punctuating bass guitar, haunting arpeggios, bone crushing chords, furious drums, and vocals drenched in turmoil are all there. This song sets the stage for an album that reveals levels upon levels with each listen.
New lead guitarist Jonas Stålhammar fits into At The Gates like a glove. His understated solos seize upon the underlying melodic constructs within the music. This is beautifully illustrated within the brilliant chaos of “The Chasm”. Instead of a showcase for fretboard pyrotechnics, his playing feeds the muse. Working together with Adrian Erlandsson (drums), Martin Larsson (guitar) and Jonas Björler (bass), the band weaves multifaceted soundscapes suggesting lost dreams in a shadow world falling into crushing darkness.
Each song is a dark flower waiting to be explored. “Sea of Starvation” begins with a brooding intro and then springs to life with black ferocity. Tomas Lindberg’s voice conveys tortured rage and vicious indignation adding to the songs physical impact. Another favorite is “In Nameless Sleep”. The rapid single note riffs combined with the big octave leaps give the sensation of speeding forward and then launching into the void. A bonus on this track is the incendiary solo by Andy LaRocque lending searing melody and force.
At The Gates have created a devastating work of art with their new album ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’. On this album, At The Gates have captured the struggle to drive back the black depths of stagnation that torment each of us who seek to make more from this life we have been given. The band molds the medium of melodic death in painstaking detail to present a landscape of savage determination in the face of despair. As with all great artistic endeavors, ‘To Drink From The Night Itself’ challenges the listener to seek their own understanding from the emotions it conjures.