Gothenburg (or ‘Götelaborg’ for some locals), among other things, is well known for the birth of the genre we call melodic death metal, influencing numerous bands across the globe, since the mid-90s. Despite the fact that there are cases, where we have seen a few bands – ‘fathers’ of that whole scene – trying different things, sounds and thus altering their origins to try out different things and ‘evolve’, At The Gates are faithful to their roots, delivering a new record (‘To Drink from the Night Itself’) and beginning a worldwide tour for the support of it. This album does not re-invent the wheel. It does not share new ideas, in the sense of the forms it follows or the melodic rhymes flowing. On the other hand, it is a 100% At The Gates album, with all the trademark elements that we have always liked about this band and its works.

The intro starts with a ‘devious’ and poignant classic guitar tune, with female vocals and keyboards, getting you into the mood for good. This is followed by the classic blast beat drumming of Adrian Erlandsson and the sharpy guitar riffs of longtime Martin Larsson and new comer Jonas Stålhammar (who was not stranger to the band), making you forget about founding member and charismatic guitarist Anders Björler and start a continuous headbanging with no tomorrow. Well, not actually forget, because, how can someone forget one of Sweden’s finest axemen out there so easily. As a matter of fact, his shoes have been filled in very successfully, as the new comer is delivering the goods in an emphatic way, contributing to this massive and thick trademark sound. The passion, the will to conquer, the embrace of what At The Gates stands for is all around this record, from the first second to the last. Tomas Lindberg screams and sounds so overwhelming, like this is the first record of his career. The band shows an unprecedented character and bonding, of which one of the major ‘responsible’ and key persons to their performance is Jonas Björler, a really inspired and fundamentally important musician for the band throughout the years.

The album is straight forward and direct on the approach (classic At The Gates), however there are a few mid-tempo and slower paced songs, incorporating the ‘evil’ and dark essentials and highlighting the moody character of the fast and more violent tunes. These are not ‘well calculated risks’, but strongly conceived and solid convincing ideas that the band sits very comfortably on its throne, where nobody can overthrow it very easily. Gothenburg has always been proud of this band. And it will continue this way.

♦ 8/10

Antonis Mantzavinos