Published May 15, 2018At the Gates fans have been teetering on the edge of their seats for a decade now. After reforming, fans were left wondering whether there would be new music, the announcement of which came with worry that it may tarnish their legacy. After 2014's At War with Reality assuaged those anxieties, fans were able to comfortably readjust positions and exhale a sigh of relief as they sunk into their seat cushions; they were once again forced to slide forward to the edge when longtime lead guitarist Anders Björler exited.
And yet, as they move forward from a lineup established in 1993 — after recording that year's With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness — the band have seemingly been inspired by their earlier releases on To Drink From the Night Itself. Perhaps that has something to do with the addition of Jonas Stålhammar, who plays alongside vocalist Tomas Lindberg in old-school-focused project the Lurking Fear, and whose own band, God Macabre, released their sole LP back in that same year.
Mournful melodies cascaded throughout their comeback, but on this effort, ominous ones swirl atop, especially on "Daggers of Black Haze," while "The Colours of the Beast" chugs in between those passages, accentuating them. On the other hand, returning guest soloist Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) instils triumph during "In Nameless Sleep," while the bouncy closing riff of "In Death They Shall Burn" is sure to earn a grin.
There is, of course, still plenty of the band's trademark melodic death metal sound, with the title track and "Seas of Starvation" retching forward with thrashing akin to 1995's classic Slaughter of the Soul, though much of the album chooses to cautiously plan each step. And this is how one gets into the album — carefully, at times, as they wade through the murk — which is perhaps the greatest parallel to the band's earlier work of all; this ain't the easy listen they've become known for, but it is a rewarding one. Now relax and give the edge of your seat a break. (Century Media)