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This was around the point At the Gates started to get a little less interesting, whilst some of the factors that made their debut such a cool affair were still used to good effect, the inclusion of a certain degree of the more pugilistic riffing style that dominates Slaughter of the Soul dilutes Terminal Spirit Disease
Also is the fact that while this album bridges the old and new, you may as well listen to The Red in the Sky is Ours for their creepy, sprawling style of true melodic death metal, and obviously Slaughter for the articulate Gothenburg riffing. Both of which do it better as opposed to ever so slightly unfocused blend of the two.
Still Terminal Spirit Disease isn't without its own merit, and at just over half an hour this is a fairly digestible slice of music, ideal for bus rides and shorter walks, or even something to spin while getting ready to go out. As I said earlier this is a little less interesting, but it is far from bad. The riffs are quite good, and are certainly well articulated, the acoustic guitars are handled nicely and its nice to see the violin still being used (sparingly though).
The production is, as with their debut a little rough around the edges, especially when compared with the follow up, but still it has its charm and I suppose it will ease the passing of the album for the more "true" fans. The melodic guitar parts are really nice, and are utilized in true Swedish fashion, maybe not as interesting as with the debut but still good.
The worst thing about this release is that it is passed of as a full-length, even though a third of the tracks are bloody live, so really this is just a fairly generous EP. Still hardly a massive niggle, but it does hurt the final scoring a little.
Tracks such as "Forever Blind" and the title track are amongst the best of the bunch, "The Beautiful Wound" is also pretty sweet, and has some cool melodic guitars around the start. Overall this isn't an album I'd pay premium for, but would serve as a small treasure from the bargain bin. A solid addition to a death metal collection, although purists should probably proceed with caution as I'm sure you will tell me this is when they started to get "gay"
At the Gates needs to appear in every book written about the history of metal. Not only are they influential in the development of the melodic death metal, but their music isn't overrated. Sadly, they even get a lot of undeserved bashing done by the narrow-minded death metal elitists who can't understand why they've progressed. I'm not a great fan of the genre either, but i don't have preconceptions: This is a great album! Your typical melo-death judging by song structure, but the quality is not quite average...
"Terminal Spirit Disease" is always aggressive, always melodic and always rough, but a lot of other records could be called the same. Some have harsh vocals as good as the ones of Tomas Lindberg that are expressing hate so well, some have drummers that do a decent forevermore blast-beating-job like Adrian Erlandsson, but almost none have solemn melodies so incredibly harmonious.
Basically this is music for people that want to "please" the ear and release the anger at the same time. The almost omnipresent demented death growls are emotionally bound to the music and sound the same all throughout the album (just like on "Slaughter of the Soul"). The lyrics are misanthropic and abstract, thus everyone can interpret them in many ways and relate to them. As you can deduct from what I've said, the down-tuned medium-distorted guitars are the main artisans of the album. The riffs are repetitive at times, but not in an exaggerated manner. The guitar solos are all very good and most of the tracks have them. You can hear the bass lines only by paying much attention.
Unconventional instruments (cello and viola) and the sounds of a storm can be heard at the beginning of the opener, "The Swarm", which also has the best guitar solo of the album. In addition, "Terminal Spirit Disease" has a nice "Malmsteen-ish" shred guitar solo. The only other song with atypical instruments is the melancholic song "And the World Returned" which only features the acoustic guitar+cello duo. Unique is also "The Fevered Circle". It has doom metal influenced riffs, though there is still a fast tempo like in all of the other songs except the instrumental. Now about the three live tracks... They are pointless: no crowd atmosphere, no new musical elements, but at least the quality of the recording is good. I really don't understand why At the Gates didn't compose something new, as they clearly have no problems in creating good music. Some of the similar albums are: Arch Enemy's "Black Earth", Sacramentum's "The Coming Of Chaos", Dawn's "Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)" and At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul" (of course).
"In a dreaming utopia - dead on dope"
"The sun shall never greet my eyes again"
"Your beauty rages through my veins"
"I've lost all sense of what is real"
"No goddamn sun, no goddamn pain"
If you are a fan of Gothenburg metal, this is a must! If not, sincerely, you should still try it!
This album... This album was THE thing that (along with Carcass' "Heartwork") defined melodic death metal. It marks a significant change in this previously recognized but ordinary death metal band with an occasional melodical throw-in. The songwriting improved by leaps and bounds (mainly thanks to the Bjorler brothers) and, although it has only 6 original tracks and an additional 6 live tracks (and therefore feels a bit like an EP), they are as worthy as any entire album that is considered a milestone in the history of metal. Why?
After the first 60 seconds of playing this CD, you will find out why. "The Swarm" starts with sounds of a stormy night at sea engulfing you in this album's unique atmosphere at the very beginning, with sounds of viola being more and more replaced by the sounds of guitar and right after you think "what a great album" the real assault starts. However, the chorus adds what is really new in the sound of At The Gates on this album - well-integrated melody. No other band (not even Carcass) succeeded in adding such melodic passages into their music without losing the aggressive edge. And that is exactly what makes it so interesting to listen to, time after time. Right after "The Swarm" ends, the even better "Terminal Spirit Disease" starts off, with its odd fluctuation between standard 4/4 and 6/8 time signatures, creating the most memorable track of ATG ever. It was a reasonable thing to put an instrumental after these two: for the listener to calm down a bit. Not long after the album continues in much the same manner, with extremely interesting riffs that keep you listening with 100% attention to the end. As for the live tracks, they are a representation of At The Gates' previous work, which is not really up to the standards set by the original tracks. The band's performance is OK but the sound is a bit muddy and unsuitable for a band with songs of this complexity. But the live tracks aren't the point here anyway.
Needless to say, this is truly a great album by all standards. It has aggressiveness, it has melody, it has technicality, it has memorability. No one expects less of ATG, right? Anyway, one should really buy this album, whether he is familiar with At The Gates or not. It is as well a fine preparation for the infamous "Slaughter Of The Soul," ATG's finest moment and, sadly, final effort. If someone asked me what the best album of ATG is, I'd say "Slaughter Of The Soul." If someone asked me what ATG really is, I'd play him "Terminal Spirit Disease."
(originally written for www.metalsound.ee)
Oh yeah cause I thought it kicked ass. Well, it’s certainly better than the previous album, but I think it’s a step down from Slaughter Of The Soul. For one, the drumming is incredibly weak, and I don’t really want to complain too much since it’s an Erlandsson sitting behind the battery. The double bass sounds like they have pillows in the way, the toms cymbal crashing sounds too far away, and the hat shouldn’t have been touched since it’s a clattering twitch of a noise that you can barely hear anyway. His style is blast beats solely, but he does like to mix it up a bit with the riffs – still solidifies the fact that a great drummer can’t fix a shitty drum sound.
Lindberg sounds like a maniac on the mic - pure growling with a cut-up throat. He doesn’t really scream as much as he growls in an incredibly throaty way – raspy at its very core. Call it screaming, whatever, but his voice is dicey either way. At the time of this recording, he sounded more psychotic than Anders Fridén and more controlled than Mikael Stanne.
Overall, the riffs are melodic in a very classical way, whereas In Flames’ The Jester Race was very power / heavy metal oriented. Therefore, the riffs can be seen as more intricate and deep, but if you wanted to hear even more elaborate and meaningful then I’d recommend you Desultory, Immortalis, or Morpheus. Hell, even their peers Without Grief and Arch Enemy played Gothenburg pretty damn well (on their first couple of albums in the Arch Enemy’s case), so go check them out instead – much more engaging riffs and a darker tone. The ones here range from murky, to sinister, to drawn-out, but at least listening to this isn’t as trivial as At The Gates Spin-offs like Mors Principium Est or Naildown.
If you want to pay attention even more, then try to find out if the bass is useful at all. A lot of times it can stick to just following the simple rhythm, but here it’s hard to make it and even so doesn’t do any justice. Riffs I can compliment on something, but bass is just there for kicks. Oh yeah, and the live tracks are terrible – I admit that they’re live tracks so a grainy sound will exist, but did you really have to add these to the album? They don’t really add anything special to help the cause and the songs themselves are boring. If you wanted to hear those songs, you’d go to their respective albums to hear them, not stick around to hear the ones with poor quality.
So, I’m not a huge fan of At The Gates, but I’ll take the more focused Slaughter Of The Soul over this one – even though that album isn’t exactly the “be all / end all” of Gothenburg either. Oh yeah, and the instrumental didn’t really do anything for me – sounds like something that you’d hear in a Persian rug market.
At The Gates was a band I always thought were just okay, only having heard "Slaughter of the Soul" before this. While the album was a decent attempt at melo-death, it lacked substance and was far too repetitious for its own good. My curiosity of the band's earlier work was growing, and namely for this release having read other reviews on it being a more focused SotS. It was a relatively good decision.
The album has been one of the only things to rotate this often in my CD player for a long time. All six studio tracks are extremely well executed. They do stick to the same formula as "Slaughter of the Soul", however they don't begin thrashing for no reason or being brutal just for the sake of creating fast riffs and earning more brainless fans. While the guitar riffs are a bit upbeat, there is a lot of melody mixed in to tracks like "The Swarm", "Forever Blind" and "The Beautiful Wound". There is more melody to be found here than on SotS for sure. My one complaint is that some of the riffs are repetitious at times, and lose focus for where the song direction is headed. Naming off a good example is "Forever Blind". The introduction of the song starts with melodies and later breaks into a shred fest for a few seconds.
As for the other instruments: they're alright as well. The drum work is your average melo-death drumming, without the annoying "TIC TIC TIC BLASTBEAT" aspect. For this At The Gates get my complete respect because I don't get a headache listening to this as opposed to some new acts (that would be you in particular Mors Principium Est). There are the occasional tribal beats, namely on "The Fevered Circle" which suit is perfectly. Never is there a moment where the drums have filler moments on the album. As for the bass, well, the fact that it can be heard alone is a good thing. Bass lines can be heard by paying attention to the album closely. As for vocals… if you've "Slaughter of the Soul", they're nothing new. Screams and that's pretty much it. Perfectly suits the music here, and I couldn't imagine deep growls fitting this.
The release also has three live tracks: "All Life Ends", "The Burning Darkness" and "Kingdom Gone". These tracks alone made me want to see At The Gates this year at Wacken despite the distance. All three tracks sound like studio tracks since the production is really well done, and pack a large amount of energy. These same three tracks also made my curiosity rise in their death metal period. These three tracks are among my favorite songs I've heard from a live set in a long time.
Highly recommended for anyone who likes good melo-death.
Highlights: "The Swarm", "Forever Blind", "The Beautiful Wound", "All Life Ends (Live)" & "Kingdom Gone (Live)".
Maybe not, but without Alf, ATG really starts becoming what they are most known for. This is the sound that they would perfect on Slaughter of the Soul, and eventually influence a hell of a lot of bands, including the shitty mallcore scene.
When the first riff from "The Swarm" shows up, you can immidiately tell that this is the At the Gates that most people know and love. Even the production resembles Slaughter of the Soul. I personally enjoy that album quite a bit, but it's far from their best work for me.
The structures are very linear on here. It's not like the previous two releases, where you have no idea where you are going. Riffs are catchier, and Tomas seems a bit more sane. You've got the obligatory acoustic diddy, "And the World Returned," which doesn't really add much and seems kind of out of place and happy. Sorry, I'll take "The Scar" to that any day, as that piece really matched its context.
It almost makes me miss With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness, even though that's my least favourite ATG album. I felt that album had some strong elements, but tried WAAAAY to hard to be overly technical. On here, I feel as though they oversimplified everything. While this is what ATG are known for, it just doesn't match the sickness of the first two albums. It makes me wish there could have been a little more compromise between the two styles.
Alf Svensson was a true madman of sick, disturbing riffing, and without him, ATG becomes something very palatable. Whether this is good or bad, it's ultimately up to the listener to decide, but I know where I stand.
In 1996, one of the worst moments in Metal history occurred: the juggernaut Melodic Death Metal band At the Gates disbanded. After 5 tours in one year, irreconcilable differences caused the members to pick up their instruments and go their own way. If I knew who they were then (I was only 8 at the time), I would’ve cried.
Known for creating the “New Wave of Swedish Death Metal” scene (or typically known as “Gothenburg Death Metal”), At the Gates pioneered the sound by mixing the brutal tones of thrash with the melody that was found in the death metal scene of Gothenburg, Sweden. Hence, they created “Gothenburg Death Metal”: A heavy blend of ferocious riffs that had the calming of melody intertwined within them.
After an EP and two albums which gained them little attention (they were still homing in on their trademark sound), they sent shockwaves throughout the Metal scene with “Terminal Spirit Disease”, which showed the band on the brink of something truly astounding, revolutionary, and inspiring. And while they certainly achieved that on their follow-up “Slaughter of the Soul”, that doesn’t mean that “Terminal Spirit Disease” should just be considered a warm-up. It’s a bit more technical, and just as brutal and melodic as its successor.
Haunting, bone-chilling, and irresistibly beautiful - those are the words that come to mind from opening notes of “The Swarm”. A cello/violin duo creates a sea of melancholy, in which the listener is forced to dive into. It’s only a matter of seconds before the first riff lands a solid right into your jaw, and slams you into the ground. Here you get the first taste of the rabid vocalist Tomas Lindberg, whose frothing voice is a legend among the Metal community. He puts so much emotion into his work that it sounds as if every vein in his depraved body is about to erupt. And combine that with the infatuating duel between serenity and discord that the guitarists Björler and Larsson create, and your mind will be overdriven with emotion. This whole act is carried on throughout the rest of the album. The deranged title track is throttled forward by Lindberg’s malicious voice and death-embracing riffs, while others like “Forever Blind” and “The Beautiful Wound” will leave you shaking from the coexistence of aggression and equanimity. And passing up on the gorgeous and unexpected acoustic/cello themed “And the World Returned” should be punishable by death.
“A dead nation under one dead god…”
It’s not so much that you’ll be immersed into a new world of Gothenburg, but it’s the fact that these artists are nearly flawless in everything that they do. Lindberg is one of the most mesmerizing vocalists one will ever come across. While he doesn’t have much variation in his vocal works, he doesn’t need to. He perfectly suits the guitars throughout the whole album, and by the time a song is finished, you’d believe he literally has nothing else to give. His vocal efforts on “Forever Blind” are like watching a man fight for his very own existence, knowing that if he doesn’t put it all out now, he never will. Listening to him snarl “We have lost our faith in our own creativity. What is evil, but good, Tortured by its own hunger and thirst?” will provoke your mind. He seems to have the attitude that every song he does is his last performance ever, and he strains his body to unmatchable limits. Such passion is rare, but it’s even mirrored by Björler and Larsson. This classic duo flicks out some of the most creative riffs the Metal community has ever, and will ever see. “The Beautiful Wound” and “The Swarm” are stunning achievements no matter how you look at them. And not only can they write riffs, but they can solo as if their life depended on it. “Terminal Spirit Disease” easily walks away with the most impressive solo on the album, as Björler rips through melodic note after note.
If anything were to hamper the dark experience presented by this album, it would be the actual amount of songs. You’re given a meager 6 tracks, and then 3 live tracks. While all three lives tracks are astonishing (“All Life Ends”, “The Burning Darkness”, and “Kingdom Gone”), you’ll be so busy devouring the actual tracks that you’ll never pay attention to them. I'll stand firm with my belief that if this just had 4 more tracks, it would stand equal to "Slaughter of the Soul". But also, out of the 6 real tracks you are given, “The Fevered Circle” lacks any replay value. While it’s certainly not a horrible track, the other 5 are so sensational that it will just leave you disappointed.
If ever there was a band that I wished would come back, it would be At the Gates. And while “Terminal Spirit Disease” might not be as ground breaking as “Slaughter of the Soul”, it still deserves more than your respect. With 5 songs of pure bliss, and one mediocre one, this demands to be in every Metal fans album collection. For these musicians are true masters of their craft, and “Terminal Spirit Disease” stands as monument to them.
Overall – 4/5 (80)
Terminal Spirit Disease
As I noted before, though I like most metal genres, I'm not a huge fan of melodic death metal, and this album concisely illustrates why. That is to say, I do like it in some ways, as it is not bad, but just completely lacks the brilliance I want to hear from metal.
Now, this is certainly At The Gates' best, or least worst. It has exactly one track which I'd call more than decent, which is the title track.
The opener starts clever, with strings blending into guitars tremolo-picking some melodic riff. Good start, could become something decent, but then it stops and turns into some down-tuned half-melodic, half-brutal screamfest that sounds modern and shallow, and neither melodic nor brutal. The song continues in much the same fashion, mixing potentially good riffs with worse things, all with a sound that's just too flaccid. Sure it sounded okay when I first heard it, but in any case I've grown tired of it.
Track two then, is like I said the only really noteworthy track on here, and can consequently be called At The Gates' best. Possibly because I heard this years ago without knowing who At The Gates was, and thus it conjures up images of an ignorant past in which I thought Disturbed was pretty heavy. The two first riffs are clever constructs on which you could bang your head. The verse is first some start-stop wankery, then sounds halfway towards brutality, but the chorus is just plain catchy. Better than the other songs on here and could have been much better had it been played more tightly and with standard tuning.
Track three I skip. I've got nothing against acoustic stuff that's done properly, in a captivating manner, with strength and passion, or shortly, in the metal way. This is just bad. Sure it creates an atmosphere, but sounds like the soundtrack to a didactic movie about how the dandelion procreates.
"Forever Blind", again, starts promising, and has some cool riffage throughout, but seriously lacks in general structure, has no climax whatsoever, and just when I thought a well-developed track had stood up, it just turns out to be a collection of intro riffs. They left out the main theme here, or so it seems. That, and the same flaccid, down-tuned guitars of course, which consistently fail to kick you in the face. Mind you, they don't have to, but with such a singer and such a general style, that's really what they're supposed to do, aren't they? I may be missing something here.
"The Fevered Circle" starts by showing once again (but now exceptionally well) how lethargic the guitars are. Really, riffs must either sound like knives that stab you to death, or like grinders crushing you to dust. These sound more like distant lawn mowers on tranquillizers.
"The Beautiful Wound" is like most other songs a couple of really fine tunes drowned in the mediocrity of a mediocre singer and a mediocre song structure. Really, analyzing these tunes musically I discover a good song hidden somewhere deep within, but they just won't come out. Still, this is enjoyable for the first few listens, but you'll have heard all of it by next week.
That's it for the new material on here, which brings us to a length of 22 minutes, the worthless instrumental included. That makes for an EP, not a full-length. Perhaps this album could have been redeemed if it didn't have the abominable live tracks and had four or five more songs on it, including at least one real killer. But it's apparently lost beyond all hope of ever becoming the masterpiece which At The Gates surely had in their veins, but which never came out of them.
As for the live tracks, well, I guess you could enjoy them if you like the band's first two albums, which I don't. The singer is hilarious, though.
Briefly, this is not bad, hence at least 50%, and it does contain some really exquisite riffs, hence +10. But that's about it. If you're heavily into melodic death and down-tuned, polished guitars, though, this must be something for you.
At the Gates is a band that started with a typical death metal sound but then they moved forward to a new kind of death metal that sounded more melodic, therefore plenty of people hated them and many others loved them. Most of the people who enjoyed this new version of death metal were actually melodic metal fans, in contrast to the extreme old school death metal audience that disliked this new style.
With this said I will just have to mention that “Terminal Spirit Disease” is in the middle of both styles, showing songs of the new era of the band but also showing live songs of their old sound. People who enjoyed both, old and new era of At the Gates, are usually satisfied about this album, and it actually sounds like a prelude of their later album “Slaughter of the Soul”.
One of the main characteristics of the album are the vocals… nothing more than high toned grunts and screams of pain and desperation, they are kinda in the way of Children of Bodom’s vocals. The guitar riffs are actually interesting, they seem to switch between death metal figures to harmonized riffs and melodic chords. The drumming also has this switching, they use blast beat but suddenly the drums use a standard double bass riff that doesn’t sound tough or aggressive.
The first song “The Swarm” has quite an atmospheric intro that includes string classical instruments, after a few seconds you realize that is only an intro and that the band is a blast. The first guitar riff is quite harmonized but for the verse changes to a deathish figure and the chorus has catchy music, except for the voice. As a melodic death metal fan I recommend this song and also “Forever Blind” and “The Beautiful Wound”. There´s also an instrumental acoustic intermission “And the World Returned”, this kind of instrumentals are typical in melodic death metal albums, bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity included this kind of instrumentals in their own albums as a direct influence of At the Gates.
As for the three live songs included in the album, they don’t sound melodic, as I mentioned before but the quality of the recording is quite good and it gives you the opportunity to realize how At the Gates sounded before evolving to the melodic sound. I recommend this album mainly to the people who enjoyed “Slaughter of the Soul”.
This was the first At The Gates album I bought. When I first bought this album, I almost listened to the entire CD the first day. This album features some melodic guitar work, which I think is really good. I also like the straight forward riffs as well. The intro of The Swarm is pretty cool. Not every death metal uses a violin in their songs. I think what At The Gates did was original. If you make someone listen to this song without knowing who the band is, they make think it's just some violin piece or whatever. They will be really surprised to listen what comes after that.
The title track is the best one in my opinion. Tomas Lindberg is a really powerful vocalist. He uses his vocals really well on this song. I like that scream he does around the 1:40 mark of the song. The drumming from Adrian Erlandsson is excellent on that song as well.
And The World Returned is a pretty interesting instrumental track. It sounds a little eerie, but that's what makes it good.
As for the rest of the songs, they got their good points. I really like the fact that they put live tracks on this album. The quality of these live tracks are really excellent, in my opinion. Kingdom Gone sounds extremely good live. It is the longest track on the whole album. All of the live songs are classic At The Gate songs, especially All Life Ends and The Burning Darkness. They sound better live than in the studio.