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One of the defining albums of death metal - 100%

goflotsam, July 8th, 2019

In 1995, At the Gates released their magnum opus Slaughter of the Soul to the world. It was an album that influenced numerous melodic death metal bands as well as a bunch of cookie cutter metalcore bands. But due to the sheer influence it had on many bands, one could ask as to why this album is widely praised. For starters, every song is among At the Gates' most well known tracks. All songs on Slaughter of the Soul are killer cuts with no skipping required.

"Blinded by Fear" starts Slaughter of the Soul which is a strong example of At the Gates' thrashy brand of melodic death metal. It is widely considered At the Gates' signature song and also a defining anthem of Gothenburg metal. "Cold" is another noteworthy highlight containing some of the coolest riffs on the album in addition to having a neoclassical guitar solo provided by Andy Larocque of King Diamond fame. "Into the Dead Sky" is a really well written acoustic instrumental which showcases At the Gates' versatility. A notable late album highlight is "Nausea" which is probably the fastest song on Slaughter of the Soul and has a wicked guitar solo to boot.

At the Gates knew at the time it was difficult to balance speed with melody but they made it happen. Tomas Lindberg's screams are as vicious and angry as the lyrics he wrote on Slaughter of the Soul. Anders Björler and Martin Larsson are probably one of the best guitar tag teams in death metal and they play some really wicked solos such as on "Under a Serpent Sun" and the title track. Jonas Björler's bass playing is also fantastic as songs like "Cold" and "Need" display some of the best atmosphere on Slaughter of the Soul. Adrian Erlandsson's drumming takes more cues from old-school death metal and annihilates the listener on tracks such as "Blinded by Fear" and "Nausea".

Although At the Gates began as an old-school death metal band, they truly developed their sound with Slaughter of the Soul. This album is nowadays considered the band's signature album and one of the best metal albums of all time. Slaughter of the Soul defined melodic death metal along with The Gallery and The Jester Race and is generally considered the best album within this subgenre of death metal. Heck, I could listen to this album a million times and it would never get old. This is coming from a guy who likes death metal. If you're looking to get into melodic death metal, whether you're a metalcore kid or a OSDM fanatic, this is a fantastic album for beginners.

Melodeath's immortal opus - 95%

The Clansman 95, March 29th, 2019

At the Gates. The legendary Gothenburg metallers, considered among the fathers of melodic death metal, the innovators of the European extreme music scene, thanks to some really classic works of art, such as their immortal fourth opus. Indeed, few albums have had an impact as wide and resounding on the world of extreme music as At the Gates' "Slaughter of the Soul", and I'll tell you this: although it's certainly true that, at times, being an influential record doesn't justify certain albums being claimed as "legendary masterpieces", this isn't the case when talking about "Slaughter of the Soul".

In a CD of less more than just 34 minutes of duration, At the Gates deliver an unrelenting, yet catchy and melodic, musical assault, one to be praised and revered by all the future generations to come. The magic in here is plain for everyone to see: be it the inspired songwriting, the originality (at least, for the era the album was born in) of the compositions, the incredible atmosphere of the record, Fredrik Nordström's legendary production, the fantastic performances of all the band's members: each element perfectly complements the others, being exalted and contributing to the perfection of the mix.

The songs are the perfect example of what melodic death metal is meant to be: the band abandons the canons of traditional death metal, to venture forth and push towards new boundaries. As a result, the drumming is less technical and abandons some typical death metal beats, such as the blast beats; the songs' structures are simpler, with the tracks being simpler, shorter and more hook-laden. The guitars are tuned down to B standard, with their riffing being extremely melodic, rather than focusing on technicality, which is also true and clearly evident when talking about the solos, that aren't even present in all the songs.

There's a wider use of samples, of synth effects here and there, to create the atmosphere, thanks also to some excellent arpeggiated sessions; the most complex scales, such as, say, the arab scales, are abandoned, as well as chromatic scales and chromaticism. The whole approach tends to be simpler, to catch the attention of the listener thanks to the fantastic contrast between melodic, catchy guitar work and Tomas Lindberg's legendary harsh screams. A special mention goes to the frontman's trademark vocals, that prove to be really excellent and unique, a fundamental key to the success of the album.

Legendary producer Fredrik Nordström did one hell of a job with this record: the guitars sound heavy, a bit raw and fuzzy, their tone is full and powerful, but not overwhelming; the mix is just perfect, and really matches the dark and grievous atmosphere of the album and of Lindberg's wonderful, well-studied and pessimistic lyrics, dealing with themes of inner struggle, social issues, death, resulting much more introspective and self-related than traditional death metal lyrics.

The tracks are all top notch, starting with the legendary three-punch combo of "Blinded by Fear", the title track and "Cold", each one featuring absolutely memorable, diversified riffing and instantly unforgettable choruses; "Under a Serpent Sun" is distinguished by a gloomy tremolo-picked intro, while "Suicide Nation" and "Need" include some of the most beautiful melodies, the first one being probably the most aggressive song of the lot, thanks to the pounding drums, the aggressive riffing and the tempo changes, the second being absolutely melancholic, perfect to end the album. There are also two short instrumentals, serving as calmer and atmospheric moments that enhance the whole listening experience.

What else should I say? "Slaughter of the Soul" is a legendary record, whose wide impact and influence in the world of metal is matched only by its outstanding quality and replayability value. A must for any music lover, especially for fans of extreme music and melodic death metal in particular.

Slaughter Of The Soul / Metal All The Time - 100%

Sargeantdeath99, May 1st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Earache Records (Slipcase, Remastered, Limited edition)

At the Gates is a melodic death metal band based out of Gothenburg, Sweden. Consisting of Tomas Lindberg(Vocals), Anders Bjoler(Guitar), Martin Larsson(Guitar), Jonas Bjoler(Bass), Adrian Erlandsson(Drums).

Slaughter of the Soul is masterfully crafted in design, both technically and lyrically, And through sheer talent At The Gates managed to create, or at least contribute to a new genre of music, melodic metal core. A hybrid of melodic death metal fused with elements of metal core, Without this album, bands such as Avenged Sevenfold, Killswitch Engage as well as Unearth and many more simply would not exist today if not for Slaughter of the Soul.

Slaughter Of The Soul is fantastic from start to finish and does not let off the throttle. It contains some of At The Gates best tracks and arguably some of the best tracks ever written in metal. Blinded By Fear, Slaughter Of The Soul, Under A Serpent Sun and Cold are some of the stand out tracks from the album. The album has also managed to stand the test of time and is amazing even in to date. Without giving too much of the album away I do wish to tell you about two of the tracks off this album, Blinded By Fear and the title track Slaughter Of The Soul.

Blinded By Fear starts off incredibly fast and doesn’t slow down. Anders Bjoler and Martin Larssons work on the guitars make it impossible for you to not bang your head to. With the blistering fast pace tempo they set, It is quite impressive that Adrian Erlandsson is able to keep up the pace and blast away. Last but not least you have to admire how remarkable Tomas Lindberg’s screaming is, He makes you feel the rage in his voice and makes you want to scream alongside him, while making it sound majestic as hell. Slaughter Of The Soul is a whole other beast to tackle. While the track does have a similar style to Blinded By Fear it varies enough to make it truly remarkable and stand out, which is exactly what you expect from the title track. Unlike Blinded By Fear where you feel synonymous with the fast paced drumming and the rhythm of the guitarists it’s the vocals that truly stand out. The screaming is at another level, Its so raw and anger filled, yet at the same time its graceful and poetic. It’s a hard feeling to explain, which is why I recommend you listen to it yourself.

At the end of the day Slaughter Of The Soul has everything a metal fan could desire. Amazing riffs, blistering solos, Pounding drums as well as screams to scare everyone on your block. If you have been living under a rock and haven’t heard this album I desperately urge you to give it a listen. It is widely regarded as one of the best albums out of any genre of music ever produced, It deserves that honor because every track is perfect. All in all, I would highly suggest listening to Slaughter Of The Soul.

Suicidal Final Art - 85%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, April 20th, 2018

The most common criticism that I hear levied against "Slaughter Of The Soul" is that it is too simplistic, and that At The Gates had shed the progressive tendencies of their previous albums and trimmed the fat to produce a leaner, tighter album. And while it is true that it is certainly a simplified effort, it pays off wonderfully, and proves to be an exercise in precision and brutality.

It's tempting to lump "Slaughter Of The Soul" in with other seminal Gothenburg albums like In Flames' "The Jester Race" and Dark Tranquility's "The Gallery", but "Slaughter Of The Soul" is a wholly different beast. Instead of the elegant guitar harmonies of In Flames or the progressive tendencies of Dark Tranquility, At The Gates opts for a straightforward, thrashy onslaught, which proves brutally effective, with a fast, heavy riffing style. Tracks like "Blinded By Fear" and the title track display the band's aggressive energy at it's best, combining aggressive triplet riffs, melodic harmonized solos, and Tomas Lindberg's tormented shriek. Lindberg sounds like a man possessed, with his frantic howl bringing a sense of desperation and agony to the album, bringing the lyrics to life. The melodic ferocity of the album continues on tracks like the jagged, Slayer-esque "Unto Others," and the crushing "Cold," featuring a gorgeous guitar solo from King Diamond guitarist Andy Larocque.

Clean interludes within the songs come frequently, such as the spoken word section in the eerie, foreboding "Under A Serpent Sun," and the aforementioned "Unto Others." The songs tend to be fairly short, with none of the songs breaking the 4 minute mark. This formula largely holds up throughout the rest of the album, with several short interlude tracks, "Into The Dead Sky" and "Flames Of The End," which provide a bit of respite when needed. The album boasts sharp, clear, production, with crushing guitar tone that lends itself to the breakneck speed and aggression of tracks like "Suicide Nation" and "Nausea." The bass is...there, I think. It has very few moments of glory, such as the beginning of the third verse of "Cold."

If you're looking for a concise, no-frills blast of melodeath, "Slaughter Of The Soul" is the album for you. It's an album that I always find myself coming back to, and one that changed the landscape of metal.

Quite possibly the greatest crossover album ever - 82%

TrooperEd, February 11th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2008, CD + DVD, Earache Records (Limited edition, Slipcase)

Let me just put it out there that I hate melodic death metal. This album, Heartwork and The Final Chapter were the only albums of this subgenre that were ever any good. I asked a music teacher what exactly defines "melodic" and his response was that a melody is just a series of notes, nothing more, nothing less. So the opening riff of Beneath The Remains is just as much a melody as the breakdown in Master of Puppets. One just might be considerably less singable than the other.

Strictly as a death metal album, Slaughter of the Soul is a failure. The lyrics are devoid of anything to do with death or morbidity, choosing to go for a more punk rock Van Morrison approach to lyricism. Granted, At The Gates' lyrics were always like this, but I can at least see where The Red/Burning Darkness fans were coming from when they say the band was a death-to-black metal transition waiting to happen. I also understand that like fellow 90s "revolutionaries" Pantera, this album would influence metal in all exactly the wrong ways, from the butchered Maiden harmonics to the puzzling drops in intensity to ballad like moments ala Master of Puppets. Even the vocals, which are mere hardcore/thrash raspy screeches, feel like they're subliminally telling weaker minded listeners to don basketball jerseys, get tribal tattoos and try to pass of fisticuffs as a form of dancing. Not to mention all the idiots who misinterpreted this album's thrash sensibilities (and yes they are there) as the way of the future. Killswitch Engange, The Haunted, Trivium and a whole hoist of other melodic paint chip fiends are the toxic waste mutant children of this album.

With all that being said, I can't call this album anything less than a classic. The songs are just too fucking good. Blinded By Fear, Need, World of Lies, Suicide Nation and the suicidal final art that is the anthemic title track are all brilliant slams of short and sweet punk-fused heavy fucking metal. Plus that production; that immense killer guitar tone. Like Slayer before them, the songs from the first two ATG albums might be better, but if they sounded this good and threw whatever atmospheric sensibilities to the wind those albums would be much more popular among extreme metal fans.

The flaws on this album are mostly what you've already heard. The interludes are pointless and slow the album's momentum down in it's tracks, and the riffs start to bleed together near the album's short running time. Plus, did we really that silly alternative breakdown in the middle of Cold, especially before a brilliant guest guitar solo from Andy LaRoque? For shame.

The best way to approach this album is not as death metal, or thrash, but crossover. I mean Lord knows it's practically what the Bjolers were trying to accomplish anyway, and it certainly succeeded in that goal considering the surprisingly wide appeal Slaughter of the Soul has gained over its two-decades-plus lifespan. Newcomers to death metal should definitely hold off on this one until they have a firmer grasp on the sub-genre and it's functional components, but if you want a kickass jogging mixtape, give it a whirl under the serpent sun.

Slaughter of your Soul - 95%

NekrotikSovl, January 31st, 2018

People either love or hate this At the Gates album, I feel that it is greatly underrated and often blamed for the fact that the band broke up. They split up because they believed that they had reached their peak and wanted to leave on a high note. I believe that they were right in doing so because this is their high note. It is an amazing album. A lot of people say: "Well, even if they were at their peak why would they break up?" This is kind of a stupid question, in my opinion. It is just like sports idols who quit playing when they reach their peak so they can end their career with a good reputation. Often, that works, but unfortunately for At the Gates this approach completely backfired in some ways.

Some people agree that they broke up at their peak, while others think that they turned mainstream. Just because an album is popular does not mean it is bad. There are so many bands that have popular albums that are good. Many complaints about this album is the lyrical content and that it is either too depressing or boring. Life is depressing and most of the best music is fueled by pain. In the song "Cold" one phrase is "Only the dead are smiling" and "To rid the earth of filth." The lyrics for the whole album, although they deal with dark topics like suicide and death, are clever and meaningful.

The riffs are catchy as hell and will leave you with the incessant urge to mosh long after the album is finished. A criticism that many people have is that none of the songs are over four minutes long. I definitely can see where they are coming from and for someone's favorite track it might be nice to be a little longer, but it doesn't really bug me that much. Even though the songs are shorter than normal for a metal band, listening to this album is a journey with changing emotional tones and topics. "Into the Dead Sky" is a great example of an emotional switch in this album even though it is an instrumental. It does not feel like a filler song. The guitars are haunting and it, in general, is a sorrowful song. You can get a lot of meaning from it even with no lyrics. I know there are more instrumentals like that out there, but most of the time tracks like that seem to be greatly lacking. Just from the title "Into the Dead Sky" you could interpret it different ways. Like how when you die people say you go to the afterlife, but what if it is just into the dead sky?

My two favorite tracks on this album definitely have to be "Cold" and "World of Lies." The instruments in these songs work together beautifully and compliment the vocals, as well as the lyrical topics being dark, yet important. You can get a lot of meaning out of just a song title before you even get the chance to listen to it. As I have said before, people either love or hate this album. It should be approached with an open mind and if you do hate it write a review why. The worst is when people say they hate something just because. If someone writes a review stating why they aren't a fan of it for more reasons than just, well after it was released the band broke up, I'm sure many people would like to hear it. If you haven't heard it I definitely recommend checking it out.

Razor-sharp - 88%

gasmask_colostomy, February 3rd, 2016

Hating this album because of what came after is a bit like hating Hitler's mum for reproducing - a little stupid when one regards the implications of that statement. How were At the Gates to know what 'Slaughter of the Soul' would spark? Did At the Gates plan a grand sabotage of heavy metal with this album? Of course not, because 'Slaughter of the Soul' was the album that broke At the Gates up. This album killed the band because it was popular, there was a resultant demand for the Swedes to tour and release more quality material, which our man Anders Björler decided was too much to handle, fissuring the group and leading to their demise.

What remains for us to do is listen to this album and enjoy it. I say enjoy it, since there is almost no doubt that a lover of heavy metal should find something to enjoy on this album, and many metal lovers should also be utterly taken by what they hear. There are all kinds of ridiculous comments in the reviews below about MacDonalds and Coca Cola and being a "bad influence", but what makes this all of those things is simply that it exudes the sense of being the finished product, of achieving brand image before anyone else. And if you're still struggling for a word to use for something like that, it's "classic". This is a classic melodeath album, and a classic metal album, regardless of what people claim about the legacy due to the fact that it is more or less the blueprint of the genre. It may not be the first, it may not be the best, but this is the one you point to when someone asks you the question, "What is melodic death metal?" This is melodic death metal.

The second thing I would like to address is that this is a good melodeath album, perhaps even a great one. Yeah, 'Slaughter of the Soul' has really short, compact songs that play a little like pop singles if you're inclined to think of it that way, but, my fucking word, isn't it also a fantastic exercise in songwriting economy and precision playing? Stripped of the bloated grandeur and wayward ambition of the occasionally farcical classic metal or power metal or even thrash metal, At the Gates managed to capture death metal's spirit here because they allowed absolutely nothing to dilute the focus and strength of their brew - this is a razorblade held to the throat for a capacious 34 minutes. Not only the speed and fury of the songs, but also the viciousness of the guitar tone and the rattle and pound of the drums, make this as direct a route to musical release as you are ever likely to hear, the necessary wanderings of the instrumentals 'Into the Dead Sky' and 'The Flames of the End' the only exceptions, where we hypnotically contemplate the slow progress of a blood drop from the razor's edge.

The riffs are so streamlined and insistent that one looks not to death metal for their attack, but also to speed metal and thrash, while the hooks in the likes of 'World of Lies' (the opening riff, that huge chorus line) are brand new and nod to the groove scene so hard, it's a bonafide headbang. So rarely do we receive groove whiplash, it's worth taking note when we do. Nor is this merely an exercise in speed and fury and hooks, there are instances of every instrument contributing something worthwhile the mix, whether that be Adrian Erlandsson's astounding battery behind the kit or Anders Björler's vital lead guitar that sears most of the songs despite being limited to 20 seconds apiece. Another guy who quite clearly shovelled his soul into this record is Tomas Lindberg, who sounds mad and twisted and straining for escape not only on the likes of the classic "The face of all your fears" from the now ubiquitous 'Blinded by Fear', but on most of the lyrics on this album. At times, the band moves as one, as with the quiet interlude of 'Cold', the monumental swell into the blazing solo, then the drop out of the guitars to leave just Jonas Björler's bass gurgling on the blood in Lindberg's throat as he tears the line "22 years of pain/And I can feel it closing in" out of his body. And really, honestly, that's not the best song.

However, there is a mild criticism one could level at 'Slaughter of the Soul', which is that it seems a little limited or narrow in its scope. In the context, one could go either way regarding this, since there is less divergence here than on the other Swedish melodeath releases of a similar time, though compared to the bands that 'Slaughter of the Soul' supposedly influenced, there is a marked effort not to become predictable or stagnant both within songs and over the album as a whole. The first and most important point on this score must be the song length and album length, since discounting the two instrumental tracks, this release does not even total half an hour, which is certainly not long enough to become stale. Besides that, the versatility of the instrumentalists in a song like 'Under a Serpent Sun' is remarkable: the opening glowering of guitar in the background could come from a Primordial album or an atmospheric black metal project; then the trademark hooky riffs and brutish drumming cut in; following the restrained lead, the guitars cut two separate shapes, quick and sharp plus deep and looming; finally, the unnerving clean section and tense outro are a fine example of how to slow a song without releasing any tension. That's the thing really: the whole album is performed with outstanding tension and intensity, except for the necessary interludes. Not predictable, not cliched, not the end of the line. Still a landmark.

McDonald's culture approved mall muzak - 0%

bitterman, July 6th, 2014

This void of passion in media product form represents a complete deterioration in composition and concept for this band: an obvious over-simplification to pander to the lowest common denominator. The "sell-out" album in a nutshell. The fact that the lead single "Blinded by Fear" was completely finished in a half hour during a rehearsal (according to the band) just goes to show how much effort was put into this recording, a far cry from their earlier Alf Svensson (ex-guitarist) spearheaded recordings. Gone are the progressive compositions that felt like reflections of scenes from a story in the form of sound, replaced by commercial metal techniques held in a radio song format. The fact that the promo pic used for this album shows the band sitting around a table drinking beer further shows this was nothing more than the byproduct of jaded alcoholics scheming to make quick cash on what was trendy at the time (the commercially successful routes Carcass and Entombed traveled with their vapidity might have influenced this decision).

Despite what the artwork might suggest, there is no grand scheme here as lyrics have taken a turn for the worst - sounding like a meme reiterated multiple different ways than a story. Shouting incessantly in a raspy voice about social ills, religion, and depression delivered through an angsty "Life Sucks!" manner. It's not unlike the ones Machine Head would later popularize with the song title being shouted ad nauseum for the chorus. The cliff-notes version to most of this would read something like: "life sucks - suicide, religion is bad - suicide, it's like nothing is really real man - suicide, suicide suicide, suicide, suicide suicide". Whereas their old lyrics had a place in the narrative of that albums concept, here they read like they took one idea and regurgitated it 9 different ways to "get it over with". I suppose these lyrics serve the function of this album well considering the drive-thru fast food restaurant television commercial jingle like nature of the music.

Everything has devolved. Nothing here isn't something that wasn't already done by more successful bands. The music has been reduced to bouncy and mechanical rhythm riffs with cheesy melodies. Warmed over "happy" rock harmony 101 generic heavy metal fodder is interrupted by staccato chugging patterns on the bottom end string as a tide over for the next recombination of notes from the same typical heavy metal scales. The only difference here from other bands that use similar techniques is the down tuning and guitar tone having a typical "Swedish" tone (which, despite having recorded a demo and album at Sunlight Studios, was something this band never had - another commercial move perhaps?). The way this music was written recalls Metallica's Blackened with added Iron Maiden inspiration appearing in the "catchy harmonies" and galloping riffs.

Everything is done in a verse-chorus format to the point of nauseating repetition. Here, it's obvious how this album influenced metalcore. "Mad at the world" verses, "sad at things" choruses, and happy "raise your fists in the air! HEY! HEY!" bridges with bluesy heavy metal solos show the same ideas being assembled into the same structural format. It's a formula that gets tiresome by the 3rd track, which features a guest solo by Andy Laroque that adds nothing to the song that the band themselves weren't already doing on the previous tracks. The only variation comes in the form of a few Pantera-esque mall grooves like those in World of Lies, Suicide Nation, and the end of the title track (band claims it was a Trouble influence); a heavy metal-ized parody of an early Dismember riff (Under a Serpent Sun) and a clean guitar break (Unto Others), but these are quickly thrown out for the same mindlessly formulaic repetition. A couple instrumentals also appear, one sounding like a hippie camp fire song (I was half expecting a drunken voice to yell out "HEY-E-EE-YEAH! UNFORGIVE-E-IN!") and another which sounds like a castoff from the Duke Nukem 3D soundtrack with it's repeating drone of midi synthesizer chords.

This is not even a good gateway album because the droning repetition, mechanical assembly line manufactured riff craft, and faked emotional appeals would make metal seem boring to the curious. There is no emotion wrapping itself around the riffs to fit the theme of songs (like how even the vapid Terminal Spirit Disease had), just mechanical processes toward mainstream recognizable "aggression" (like the shouting of "Go!" in the title track which recalls a Pantera level doofus mentality) and "bittersweetness". Here it is obvious that without the imagination of former guitarist Alf Svensson, At the Gates is a very typical band that makes very typical music dressed up in a way that would appear "unique" to the Machine Head fans who wouldn't know anything about death metal and has thus, been falsely declared a classic (Kerrang readers loved this album because of the marginal increase in quality over their typical Chaos AD listening habits). This media product is just that - a product, and a vapid one at that. No higher function than "get down and boogie/raise your fists" and thus no different from the wigger/dance culture mentality of music like Machine Head or Britney Spears in pandering to the lowest common denominator with their doofus mentality noise.

I strongly recommend seeking out their first demo/ep Gardens of Grief and The Red in the Sky is Ours album and steering clear of this album. A depressing display of wasted talent that is analogous to the vacuity found in everyday modern life and culture (done before Iphones and Facebook no less). Avoid this Necrolord cover (made stupid with the awful re-imagined logo that looks stolen from a Sega Genesis box cover) adorned platter of sonic diarrhea like the garbage it is. Hopelessly vapid.

What You See Is What You Get - 83%

Soul of the Woods, April 12th, 2014

At the Gates' fourth album, Slaughter of the Soul, is often lauded as one of the best metal albums of the 90s. It would the album that is responsible for their expansive fan base. The album certainly has quite a legacy, practically spawning melodic death metal. So, does the music live up to the legacy? Well, I can confidently say this is a good album; however, I don't see it as the masterpiece that many claim it to be.

The primary reason for their large following could most likely be attributed to their simplicity and toned down brutality. As stated in the review title, "What You See is What You Get". This is an extremely straightforward record, offering little in terms of depth and atmosphere. Every song has a similar structure with little deviation being present. This can be especially seen in the rhythm section as the bass (which is not that audible to begin with) follows the guitars and the drumming mainly consists of standard thrash and heavy metal beats with minimal fills. These serve as the backbone to compliment the vocals and melodic guitar riffs. In addition, Slaughter of the Soul does not have the intensity of your average death metal album. The album is abnormally clean in terms of production for a death metal band and the riffs have a heavier emphasis on melody and harmony rather than brutality.

The vocals are a major highlight of this album. Tomas Lindberg pioneered this vocal style, which is now commonplace in melodeath and he is arguably one of the best vocalist in the genre. Rather than using the bellowing growls of regular death metal Lindberg employs an abrasive, almost black metal-like scream. What makes Lindberg's screams so effective are undeniably his power behind them. He literally sounds as if he has been stabbed in the stomach with a hunting knife and is spitting out blood as he screams. They definitely help in emotionally investing the listener.

The guitar work is the centerpiece of the album and the riffs had a huge influence on melodic death metal. I'm not that old and, therefore, wasn't around when death metal was in its prime; however, I could imagine hearing the first riff on "Blinded by Fear" and thinking, "Well, this is something new." During that time death metal wasn't known for its melody and few bands in the genre were experimenting with melodic ideas (Carcass is the only one that comes to mind). It must have been odd for a death metaller to hear a death metal album with such an emphasis on melodic riffs and guitar harmonies.The riffs are rather simple in terms of structure, but are extremely catchy. They are, in essence, extremely melodic thrash metal riffs. Despite their simplicity they work quite well, creating catchy and fun songs.

I cannot say that that there are any standout tracks since they all sound very similar. They are all fun and catchy, but offer little more than what they present at face value. Ultimately, Slaughter of the Souls is a consistently good album, but never rises above that consistent level. The simplicity and straightforwardness hurts the album, somewhat, making it one-dimensional in certain respects. If there were more layers, substance, and experimentation then this album would definitely be a masterpiece. This is not the case though. I recommend this for anyone who is new to extreme metal since its a decent starting point before moving on to heavier and more substantive metal.

At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul - 100%

Orbitball, July 5th, 2013

There is nothing more but a continuous aura of melodic death metal that's flawless to me and also way underrated from my contention. If you respect this genre of metal, then I'd say that this is a monumental release that should've really impacted this genre collectively speaking. Not only do you get aggression, thick B-tuned guitar outputs, continuous spewing forward of shrieking vocal hatred and just a great ensemble of songs that are just original with awe-inspiring fury. It's one of those albums that you can play countless times and it never gets old. That's my absolute best way to sum up this release-monumental melodic death played perfectly.

The riffs are highly original and just plain brutal, but the vocals augment the music perfectly. The production quality, mixing, originality, atmosphere, aggression with utmost intensity-it's just all there. Nothing bad to say about this album, only respecting true melodic death metal and hoping that fans of this genre feel the same way about this release. It's one that stands on it's own in one of metal's melodic death metal hall of fame (if there was one). Faults are absent as the guitars are in unison with chunky riffing that just owns you. The whole experience of this album has you encompassed with revarity.

Musically speaking, the guitars are just loud, heavy, melodic, tremolo picked frenzies, gallops galore, and leads that shriek. The production is a bit raw, but like I said, it is well mixed with everything fitting together reigning this world in infiry intensity. There is a track on here without having an alore of riffing that just stays in your brain. The lead guitar work is a little bit absent, but not entirely. There are some outputs of fast tremolo picked frenzies in that department accompanied by heavy use of the whammy bar. The riffs are the main focal points here which is what I think that ATG wanted to stick with making the album most memorable by way of it's euphoric impact on the metal world.

Tracks that stand out to me the most if you're eager and haven't gotten this album by now are "Blinded By Fear", "Suicide Nation" and "World of Lies." However, the whole album is noteworthy and full of innovation. The riffs are done like no other release that I know of being into metal for almost 25 years now (my interest that is). Listen to the songs that I mentioned and if you're not convinced that there was a huge impact on the metal world when this came out. It's simply just amazing guitar work and metal music that you have heard like no other. Get it if you haven't already because it's just an onslaught of empowerment!

The prejudice of hindsight. - 80%

hells_unicorn, December 2nd, 2012

A good number of so-called classic albums don't fully reach such a state until long after their time, achieving a kind of cult classic status at first that eventually blossoms into an army of reminiscing minds of better days gone by. Some classics, however, achieve near instant success and become a genre staple right in the midst of things, and sometimes the band literally never recovers from it for some reason. These are the sort of albums that, regardless of the intent of the band, spawn a whole legion of imitators in fairly short order and brings about a genre revolution of sorts, and in the case of "Slaughter Of The Soul", this would be the signature sound that defined the Gothenburg scene and all its international imitators in the late 90s and so forth. And while imitation is said to be the ultimate form of flattery, it is also the key ingredient in market saturation that will eventually inspire a backlash in certain quarters, as can be gleaned from the healthy number of critics that this album has earned since the close of the 90s.

While most trend setting albums stand on a varying level of artistic merit, there is usually an over-emphasis on accessibility that will go with such a collection of songs that makes it vulnerable to heavy emulation, as well as shorten its shelf life. In the case of this album, the primary symptoms of this tendency are the usual down play of complexity and flash in favor of predictable song structures, along with a combination of brevity and repetition that makes for quick digestion. Apart from a few outliers, most albums will tend to employ a few shorter, catchy songs in order to wet the appetite before leading the listener down a maze of intricacy. But this album is more of a straight and wide path, albeit one that is nicely ornamented with a few beautiful melodic interludes and guitar shred breaks, like the occasional tree or shrub amid an endless landscape of tall grass. This isn't to say that the album is boring or lacking in passion, but it definitely wants for a little more than the occasional acoustic interlude gimmick or a few scattered sampled atmospheric sections to break up the limited array of riffs and progressions.

Perhaps the only thing that really deviates from the predictability of the arrangement is the vocals of Tomas Lindberg, which are loaded with rage and fury. His vocal style is a good bit more agonized than guttural, almost like a upper mid-ranged hardcore shout that has been painted over with a greater degree of darkness and intensity that gives it a superhuman character. Just about every American metalcore band that has tried to employ this style of toneless shouts usually ends up sounding comical or even gimp-like, and even this band's own home town compatriots In Flames' vocalist Anders Fridén struggled to really get this style down to the point that it sounded convincing, let alone exemplary. Yet at the same time, there is a bittersweet reminder of the deliberate limitation present on this album as generally mundane, thrash-infused anthems such as "Blinded By Fear" and "Under A Serpent Sun" are given that little nudge over the hurdle by the intense bombardment of emotion and anger coming from Lindberg's pipes.

In spite of the mix of grandeur and mundaneness, this album is pretty much worthy of the level of emulation that came after it, though obviously not every band that came after toting the "Slaughter Of The Soul" stylistic banner was really worthy of what they were carrying. Ultimately this approach to album construction standardized the melodeath style to the point that more multifaceted albums like "Skydancer" and "With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness" became a rarity, and latter 90s efforts out of Dark Tranquillity and In Flames would follow a similar model to this, all but to the point of continuing At The Gates' studio career since the band never recorded any new material since. At the same time, the level of exposure this album and the style it influenced reflect its vassal nature in regard to what happened in the style previously, including the band's own older efforts. Perhaps its unfair to wholly judge this album based on the excessive output of knockoffs, but hindsight is definitely a factor for anyone who has listened to anything in this style since 1996. It's a good album, and definitely a fun one, but it lacks the amount of depth to have a lasting level of staying power, which pretty well explains why there's always hunger for more albums of this sort.

Seriously Guys... - 91%

DagZeta, February 4th, 2012

This is one of those albums where you either blindly praise it and take its popularity and importance far too much into consideration or you despise it with every fiber of your being just because everyone else like it. OR you can do what I did and think for yourself and bring yourself to objectively say "I like this," or " I don't like this." Seriously though, if you really think about it, you should like this. Slaughter of the Soul is a fantastic album!

*Army of haters closes the page*

For those of you still with me, I'd like to point out that when you really think about it, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE GOTHENBURG SOUND!! Be honest, how many melodeath bands from Gothenburg are there let alone bands that people know or care about?! First three that come up, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates... and uhm... Dimension Zero, oh wait, that's Jesper Stromland and Glenn Lungstrom (pretty much In Flames). Uhm... Gardenian? Wait, not many people know or care about them. So, the three left that matter... they all sound completely different. In Flames had a lot of melody and those folksy acoustic guitrars, DT had a lot of really technical riffs, and At the Gates had the anti-religious, misanthropic brutality. Yet for some reason people seem to group these bands and pretty much any band that decides to abandon some of the death in death metal for melody (*sarcasm* How could they?!?!) into a category they consider "stereotypical Gothenburg bullshit." I sigh at these people. Onto the music.

As the band states themselves in the lyric book (in the DVD bonus rerelease version at least), they wanted to open this up with a really catchy thrasher. "Blinded by Fear" more than succeeds. The song is intense througout, has one creepy part, then explodes into one of the catchiest and to the point leads I've heard in a while. Plus, it's worth mentioning that the lyrics are incredibly memorable and flow very well.

This sort of thing happens throughout the whole album. The songs all have intensity, catchiness and well thought out riffs. Though, I will say that I think the intro riff to "World of Lies" is kinda stupid. Other than that, riffage is all good and each song is distinctly different than the others. On top of that, the leads are fantastic. Notable mentions other than the one mentioned earlier are "Cold" and the title track in the lead department.

Vocally, Lindberg is going all out here. Unfortunately, I think the vocals feel very produced. I know how great the vocals are out of the studio, and I think the extra production was unnecessary. So, basically the vocals are great, but thehy could have been just as good without the production.

The rhythm department is tight here. Drumming keeps a thrashtastic rhythm going and doesn't obnoxiously show off, which I feel far too many drummers do. And the bass manages to keep the guitars going strong while not trying way too hard to be in the front. Though, I must complain about the fact that it feels like bass doesn't add much to the composition of the music and stays as support more than it should.

The two instrumentals on the album are fanfreakingtastic. "Into the Dead Sky" is a perfect breather song and has some of the most beautiful acoustic work I've heard outside of Opeth songs. When the other instruments come into the mix, it comes together perfectly! And the closing track is creepy. Creepy in an atmospheric way. It's simple, yet it's meant to be! Quite possibly the best closer they could have come up with. I feel that it would be the perfect background music to watching the entire world crumble. Perfect moment that just makes me stare blankly at my hand thinking, "Whoah..."

Seriously though, this is probably At the Gates' weakest effort BY FAR. I don't blindly love this album, and no one should. But I don't blindly hate it because it's actually good! Seriously haters, get your heads out of your asses.

Get the bonus tracks version if you can. It's kind of a short album and the extras are awesome.

The Cause of Everything Bad About Modern Metal - 10%

__Ziltoid__, July 11th, 2011

Folks, what we have here is arguably one of the most significant albums in all of metal, regardless of whether you love it or hate it. At the Gates’ swansong effort, Slaughter of the Soul, has been the introduction (and sometimes even the gold standard) for death metal for countless fans, while also being the inspiration and direct influence on much of the popular modern metal music scene as we know it. While setting the blueprint for what melodeath was supposed to be, this also influenced everything from metalcore, to deathcore, to modern thrash, and has had a smaller effect on most other subgenres as well. The thing is, Slaughter of the Soul not only popularized a certain sound, but as an album, it was one of the first extreme metal albums to really embrace the glossy, polished sound that has seemingly become a staple of popular metal as we know it, for better or worse.

I just spent an entire paragraph trying to sound unbiased. Be happy, because now I’m going to let the haterade flow! As anyone who knows my taste in metal might expect, I despise this album. This album not only had a huge influence in destroying the future of metal, but also sounds like mindless fodder for children on its own. It’s obvious how this album became the one that new fans of metal (particularly mainstream metal) latched onto immediately–it basically has the qualities of a pop album. This is a shallow, downright juvenile album that is the equivalent of over-sugared candy in the diets of metal fans everywhere. Sure, this album has the hooks, the catchy riffs, the melodic solos, and all of that nonsense, but in the end, it lacks substance. Simply put, Slaughter of the Soul has no depth at all, and ended up being the final blow to pure metal as we knew it.

Let’s look at some of the songs here. ‘Blinded by Fear’ is the first track, as well as the single from the album. The mere fact that this album had a legitimate single should be the first warning flag. With this song, we’re presented with the basic formula of a catchy riff over a blastbeat. Sometimes the riff changes, sometimes the drumming switches to double bass plodding. Also, there’s a melodic, short, unadventurous solo. Of course, that’s pretty much the formula for this entire album. Don’t get me wrong, this song is quite catchy, but it’s so utterly one-dimensional that it makes me sick to my stomach.

‘Slaughter of the Soul’ continues the formula, except this time having a really boring riff behind the vocals during the verse. This is another common trend on the album, leading me to believe that this is literally a pop album. Everything here is either incredibly guitar-centric or vocal-centric depending on the part of the song that it’s insulting. Of course, this is metal, so being guitar-centric should be good, except the guitar parts are utterly boring. We either have a stale riff, a wimpy lead melody, or a solo. How fun. There is no intricacy whatsoever, nor is there anything remotely interesting. The riffs are headbang-able, though, so if you want some mindless music to stupidly wave your hair to, then go for it.

If the tracks don’t start to blend together by now, then god (satan?) bless you. The main problem here is that everything is interchangeable. There is simply no cohesion going on, and that at any given moment, you could feasible trade out any riff here and put in another riff from the album. This is a significant problem in that it shows that nothing really builds off anything. There is no cohesive whole entity with which to listen to and understand the development of. Instead, this is pop drivel. Poppy, generic, melodeath drivel.

I’d like to give special mention to another track that simply bothers me, ‘Into the Dead Sky,’ an acoustic instrumental piece. As odd as it may seem, this track is the one that most exemplifies my gripes with Slaughter of the Soul as a whole. On its own, this is a nice little piece. There is nothing offensive about it in any way. However, it also doesn’t really do anything at all, feeling completely out of place, while also not adding anything to the atmosphere of the album (which is completely not-existent, by the way). I’d like to compare this to ‘The Scar,’ from their debut album, The Red in the Sky is Ours. ‘The Scar,’ even with its shit-tastic production value, does an excellent job of evoking a sense of emotion through simple layering and counterpoint, with melodies contrasting each other to create a very tense feeling throughout. There is nothing complicated about it, but it has its slight changes throughout, while also serving as an excellent gap between the last two songs. In addition, it maintains the air of bleakness that The Red in the Sky is Ours had.

In the end, this seems to be the main problem. At the Gates showed a great degree of creativity with their debut, crafting an interesting, decently complex, emotive album that had its own special kind of atmosphere, despite its utterly shit production. That album had character! Slaughter of the Soul dropped all of that in favor of some dolled up, plastic, dumbed-down version of that. Instead of winding song structures, we now have some of the most predictable metal you can find, complete with a sterile sound and utterly unconvincing performances from anyone, especially Tomas Lindberg, whose vocals were phenomenally charismatic on their debut (“KINGDOM! FUCKING! GONE!”), now sounding empty and purposeless.

But it’s not just that transition to sterility that makes this such a hated album in more purist circles. It’s more the fact that this is the album that has had the influence on so much modern music as we know it. If anything, The Red in the Sky is Ours had some interesting ideas that could have really been great for other death metal bands to work with (the violins, no matter how haphazardly placed they were on the album, were an original touch that could have been greatly expanded on in future works). Slaughter of the Soul is, if anything, a direct contrast to this creativity in favor of an incredibly streamlined and palatable sound to appeal to the masses. Well, it certainly did appeal to the masses, and metal suffered as a whole from it.

Written for

Slaughter of the Soul - 50%

Noctir, September 25th, 2009

Typically, the early albums from any given band best represent their vision and tend to be the best ones; those fueled by a passion to create. Often, the debut album from a band will be the most thought-out, since the band usually has a few years to perfect their music before getting signed and releasing a full-length. In many cases, bands will progress and improve, over time. At the Gates is a curious anomaly, as they seem to have regressed as they went along. Stylistically, Slaughter of the Soul is a very simplistic, stripped-down album. When compared to the absolute brilliance of their debut, The Red in the Sky is Ours, it seems quite childish. The members of At the Gates were never able to recreate the genius that was so prominently displayed on that album. There were hints of it, but nothing that ever came close. As time passed, they descended deeper into the murky swamp of mediocrity. However, when this album was released in November 1995, it was met with great praise. Truth be told, I was a fan of this album when I first heard it.

My first exposure to this band came when I heard their cover of Slayer's "Captor of Sin", late one night, on a college radio program. My friend picked up a copy of Slaughter of the Soul, not too long after, and I recorded it onto a cassette and listened to it quite a bit, prior to tracking down the CD. After several months, I'd grown tired of it and spent more time listening to Dissections' Storm of the Light's Bane, which I'd also gotten around this time. Some time later, I decided to pay attention to At the Gates again, but I was bored. I ran across a copy of Terminal Spirit Disease and my interest was rekindled. As average as that album is, it still showed a lot more promise than the one that followed it. As I continued digging back into the discography of At the Gates, I grew to respect them a lot more, while becoming even more disappointed with their swansong. I couldn't figure out how or why a band could possibly be capable of such brilliance, only to throw it away in order to seek out mass appeal.

There's no need for an in-depth analysis of each track. This album features several brief Thrash songs and a semi-atmospheric outro that wasn't even intended for use on an album. The production is overdone, sounding too slick and polished. There's also something grating about the sound, in a sense. There's some decent riffs, here and there, but nothing that hasn't been done before. Worse yet, this is all far below what these musicians were capable of doing. This is an extremely dumbed-down version of At the Gates. Somehow, they managed to take the riffing style of Dismember (which they had adopted earlier in their career, only utilized to a lesser extent) and to simplify it even more in an attempt to make the music accessible to every metalhead under the sun (or "Under A Serpent Sun"). Hey, a lame album deserves a lame joke.

The vocals are very much streamlined, possessing very little of the feeling that was present on their earlier albums. There are brief moments where you are reminded of the old days, though the band was so intent on creating another Reign In Blood (yet one more album that saw a great band trading artistic integrity for the almighty dollar) that they never expand upon the few decent ideas that appear, here. The longest song is just under four minutes, which is a departure from the ways of old. Oddly, the lengthiest song on here is the aforementioned "Under A Serpent Sun", which shows some faint signs of their previous style, though the production ruins it. These guys really lost their soul when Alf Svensson left the band. Personally, the only worthwhile song on here is "Need". This one still manages to maintaint he miserable atmosphere from the past, though it's far too short. However, it has some realy dismal guitar melodies and an eerie whispered section, at the end.

"Now let the final darkness fall"

Slaughter of the Soul is an album for those that want instant gratification, without having to put much (or any) thought into what they are listening to. It's simple music for simple-minded people. It's constructed in such a way as to appeal to all Metal fans. However, its effects are temporary. It's an album that you either love or hate, though many love it at first and then grow to hate it. It's definitely overhyped and inferior to the rest of the band's discography. If you truly want the At the Gates experience, seek out The Red in the Sky is Ours. It is the pinnacle of their careers, regardless of what other bands they've been involved in (yes, putting it just a notch above Grotesque). As for Slaughter of the Soul, it's decent if all you ask of your music is to give you something to mindlessly bang your head to, but you'll get bored with it over time. If you must purchase it, do yourself a favour and look for it in the $1 bin.

Fuck the haters - 99%

The_Boss, August 24th, 2008

Everyone knows At the Gates, Gothenburg metal, and more importantly Slaughter of the Soul; so I won’t go into a long winded journey into the back history of such and just get on with why I think this is such an amazing album. Honestly, when I first heard this I wasn’t aware of the movement called “Gothenburg melodeath” and I wasn’t aware of all those wannabe bands, all those legendary bands selling out (In Flames) and those straying into odd territory (Dark Tranquillity), but I was aware when I first heard this… that something amazing had been concieved. This one one of my first extreme metal albums I remember hearing few years ago with much enthusiasm I remember enjoying this straight from the get go.

Now that I’ve become more educated and knowledgeable towards metal and the scene I understand how split the community has become towards this. Slaughter of the Soul has some of the best melodeath riffs, melodic harmonies that perfectly fit in with the atmosphere of misanthropy brought in by the ridiculously amazing vocals of Tomas Lindberg. Those who know me, know I’m a gigantic Lindberg fanboy, loving his performances especially in Nightrage and At the Gates, he’s by far the best harsh vocalist out there. Songs like Under a Serpent Sun, Cold and the stand out title track all stick out to be some of the coolest vocal performances ever. From the opening riffs to Under a Serpent Sun to the twisted yell into distorted Gothenburg riffing the song erupts into probably the highlight of the album with one of the catchiest choruses on here.

Everything about this makes this something special, from the stellar musicianship, the aforementioned vocals, to the slickened production all makes this highly memorable. The production gets a lot of slack I’ve seen here from being too clean, too crisp or something that is frowned upon by morons who need it to be a cheap production for it to be decent or something. I think the cleanliness and heightened production only aid to the memorability of the songs, which is what Slaughter of the Soul runs on. The songs here, every fucking one of them, are highly memorable. For days, I’ll have the riff to the title track playing in my head or importantly the awesome catchy as hell choruses and how it’s possible to sing along to every song on here; Tomas Lindberg once again makes it just something above what it should be by delivering the goods with raspy goodness that is harsh as shit but still clearly understandable.

The songs on here are all highlights, even the melancholic instrumentals that meander throughout the album being somewhat skipworthy, are still enjoyable. The solos here are just as good as it should expect, even though they aren’t especially out there or some sort of shred fest, they stick out like the solo in Cold, where the sweet effects or something build up the tension before spewing forth awesome shredding notes that are so melodic and fast that they go flowing in and out of the wind like free flowing rivers. Cold also has my favorite lyric/line from Slaughter of the Soul with the convoluted vocals of Lindberg ripping out, “Only the dead are smiling! Ohhhhh!” Blinded by Fear is the perfect opener, starting from the strange and eerie opening nosies and spoken word intro, to the blasting riff and once again, awesome vocals. I dare you not to be singing along, “THE FACE OFALL YOU FEAAAARRSSS!”, it’s so fucking awesome. Then right off the bat it leads into another highlight, the title track with the sweet low riff and the pause and the infamous… “GO!” the chaos ensues with riffer and headbanging madness. It’s so energetic and wonderfully brutal that it makes for such fun. There’s another song to sing along to, being probably the second best chorus to sing along to as well as the best main riff, at 1:23 mark. Yeah, try not to headbang motherfuckers.

I think Slaughter of the Soul is a monumental album in At the Gates career and the best Gothenburg release to date, finding it hard to discover a better, more energetic and powerful, and especially more catchy and memorable release. Everything about this is just simply awe-striking and it blows my mind how music can be so catchy and memorable sometimes. The performances here are just beyond all expectation, major props to Tomas Lindberg for being one of the best extreme metal vocalists out there and having such presence in every work he does. This is definitely essential to extreme metal fans, melodeath fans and more importantly, metal fans. Everything about this sums up what I enjoy in melodic death metal, it’s hard to find songs that are just so downright memorable in their own individual right, short or not… my only complaint is I wish this album wouldn’t end so quickly, but that’s nit-picking, so I suggest ignoring the haters and buying this album.

Slaughter of your ears - 96%

larsen, April 18th, 2008

There are bands that have changed a lot their musical style during their career. Most of Swedish melodic death metal cult bands are among those and At The Gates is probably one of the best examples. They were the precursor of a musical orientation that exploded a couple of years later through Dark Tranquillity or In Flames. As these two disciples and plenty of others, they began playing melodic death metal and moved progressively to a more hard core/metal core oriented music.

Granted that Slaughter of the Soul is their last release before they split up, this album is the one that has the most metal core roots. Although I generally don't stand this kind of music, I must admit that it's in the case of At The Gates really well done. They are an exception and improved themselves as the best band in this musical evolution. At the opposite of some of their compatriots who have just lost their soul by playing an annoying noisy piece of shit without variation or interesting riffs, they crush our ears and blow our minds with this Slaughter of the Soul and its extremely recommended captivating violence.

The instrument that is the less audible is, as often in this style, the bass. However, that doesn't affect at all the quality of the cd and the bass is just enough present to reinforce the power and atmosphere created by the guitars, whose riffs are all excellent and whose cohesion is undeniable. The drums are pretty good too, perfectly alternating quick parts and heavier ones. The vocals are very harsh, maybe even a bit harsher than on the previous album Terminal Spirit Disease. In spite of this vocal and musical intensity, At The Gates did not just seek to play the most violent music they could do, there is really a melodic research and the quality of most of the choruses is incredible. If you have the opportunity to listen to this stuff, you'll understand how unforgettable are the choruses of songs like Unto Others, World of Lies, Suicide Nation or Blinded by Fear.

I first had the normal version of this cd, that means without the bonus tracks (there were 11 titles instead of the current version with 17 titles that is now the one we mostly find). The first edition length of 34 minutes would have been too short for a symphonic black metal or for a gothic/doom metal album, but it was just ok for the kind of music on Slaughter of the Soul. The six bonus tracks are, as often, less interesting than the rest of the cd and probably just a good way to make quick money. However, they remain quite good, before all the demo version of the excellent Unto Others, and they definitely don't reduce the quality of the album. Anyway, if you really consider them as worst than the rest, nobody obliges you to listen to them; so that they can only be positive.

To conclude, if there is one cd that marks an exception in all the albums of former melodic death metal bands who have integrated metal core influences in their later releases, it's Slaughter of the Soul. At The Gates was one of the best bands I've ever heard and this album is absolutely fantastic and shouldn't be compared to the mass of current shitty albums that are half way between melodic death and metal core. At The Gates were masters and they remained it until the end. The main difference between this album and the vast majority of so called similar releases results in the band's ability of creating a various music with crushing riffs and incredible choruses. Don't miss this masterpiece, it would be a sin.

Somewhat pathetic, considering previous output - 55%

The_Ippocalypse, August 29th, 2007

There has been much already said about this album in previous reviews, and since I only review for this website, this review will not be particularly expansive. After reading the positive reviews for this album, I feel compelled to state that there are always at least three primary ways in which to rate an album. First, one can review the album on its own merits, as objectively as possible, such as on the basis of its musicianship, its production values, its lyrical content, the quality of composition, and so forth. Secondly, one can relate the album to other albums created by the same artist, so as to determine whether the artist is progressing or regressing. Thirdly, one can relate the album to the entire musical genre to which it belongs, to assess where in the overall scheme of things the album belongs. It seems that many people reviewing Slaughter of the Soul rate this album on the first criterion, while blissfully ignoring the latter two - and even then, there is a lot that can be detracted from the "own merits" criterion.

Certainly, the album is slickly produced, and the musical talents of At the Gates are on full display (though not nearly as impressive on earlier, more technical and ambitious outings), though lyrical content is bordering on what today would be known as "emo" and is hardly inspirational or thought-inspiring, while the quality of composition is highly suspect, given the pop song, verse-chorus-versus structure of every single track on the album. There is plenty of melody present, and every track is easily digestible, but much like bubble gum pop music, the allure fades away after a few listens. The only song that seems to hearken back to earlier times of grander composition is the opener, Blinded By Fear, and even this song could only be considered "average" by the standards of any previous work by At the Gates.

Part of what made At the Gates so appealing over the course of their career between Gardens of Grief and Terminal Spirit Disease was their originality (after all, the style developed on Gardens of Grief and The Red in the Sky is Ours had an influence on the rest of death metal) and the reasonably chaotic song structures that adorned every album in this period. Melodies were beautiful yet palpably unrestrained, and song structures, while clearly premeditated, seemed to flow with an organic energy characteristic of an untamed beast that was aware of its start and end point but chose to be completely wild in the execution of its journey.

On Slaughter of the Soul, the beast has been tamed, if not outright slain, and every song has a predictable and neat quality about it, very much like a lot of the nu-metal and pop metal that followed the album. That is to say, the listener could become quite familiar with the album by about the second track, and comfortably enjoy the rest of the album with a sense of expectation that was not likely to be challenged. The other major problem with Slaughter of the Soul is that there are moments on the album, including in the seemingly thematically sombre title track, where the mood is notably upbeat, thus belying the alleged spiritual intent of the album. There are perhaps hundreds of albums in death and black metal that purport to address the issue of suicide and death in general, and they create a mood that is significantly more appropriate to the topic than is to be found on Slaughter of the Soul. All of these factors contribute to the inescapable conclusion that At the Gates did not put forth all of their creative energies in the execution of this album, which in the final analysis remains an unfortunate swan song to one of the most important and most talented death metal bands to ever have existed.

Listeners of this album should listen to every other album by At the Gates - not only will you be pleasantly surprised by what is on display, but you will also be privy to some of the best of what the death metal genre has had to offer.

It's Not So Good - 34%

super_bum, August 20th, 2007

Slaughter of the Soul is an outrageous blasphemy against metal. It has more in common with a stale pop record than it does with an honest metal album. Why do people insist on holding this album in such high regard? What is it that they find here that is of such high quality? Nothing, but I bet the believers were fooled by the catchy hooks, ultra recursive songwriting and the absolutely laughable displays of “emotion”.

What’s most aggravating is that there are certain peoples whom honestly believe this is At the Gates best effort! Such persons should be laughed at, ridiculed, embarrassed, humiliated and de-trousered in public. At the Gates themselves should undergo similar punishments for betraying what they originally accomplished.

Prior to this sub-mediocre record, At the Gates pursued musical excellence. They didn’t settle for streamlined rock ‘n’ roll songs. They wrote what can be considered the most compositionally ambitious batch of songs in the history of death metal. Not only that, they were also artistically relevant. On Slaughter of the Soul, they apparently “matured”; meaning they figured that the best way to attract a metal audience is to write ultra-simple, easy to understand collection of songs. Gone are the complex compositions of old and along with any integrity. Gone is the ambitious attitude behind the beautifully chaotic masterwork: The Red in the Sky is Ours. In its place now stands the anti-metal position of “Oh, let’s just make music that every metal head can enjoy!”

Bearing that train of thought in mind, At the Gates crafted an absolutely mediocre album. It’s impossible to see why the hell people praise this crap. The band members are not particularly adept at their instruments, the songwriting is half assed, and the riffs are watered down thrash riffs. So what the hell is there worth praising?

There is only “catchy and “memorable” melodies; the same type that permeate many a pop band to be found here. Technicality-wise, the work featured here is not all that impressive. The guitar riffs are nothing more than straight thrashing that require nigh average ability. The riffs themselves consist of tremolo picking with basic melodies. Perhaps these riffs would be interesting if the notes chosen created some viable contrast, but that is not the case. Instead, each melody is awash in sappy sentimentality and cutesy stabs at novelty that it is difficult to take seriously. The drums and bass follow suit; absolutely average 1+2+1+2 rhythms played right behind the guitars. Maybe the musicianship would be more impressive if this was released twelve years before. Obviously, that is not the case. By around, or even before 1995, there were already many bands displaying a level of musicianship far greater than Slaughter of the Soul. Including, but not limited to, Atheist, Morbid Angel, Cryptopsy, Suffocation and earlier At the Gates (That’s Right!).

Perhaps the musicianship shouldn’t be taken so seriously. After all, many artists proved themselves worthy by overcoming instrumental deficiencies with powerful songwriting. Unfortunately, no such powerful songwriting is present anywhere on this album. The listener is instead treated to unspectacular rock ‘n’ roll arrangements that do little to deviate from traditional verse/chorus/repeat/bridge/verse/chorus structures, and much less innovate. The songwriting contains nothing more than catchy melodies carried by predictable, cyclical arrangements. This is also the same formula utilized by pop artists. Needless to say, there were plenty of bands at the time that dabbled in more complex compositions; including, but not limited to, Emperor, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Darkthrone, and Early At the Gates (That’s right!).

Slaughter of the Soul is a completely watered down version of At the Gates. Avoid it at all costs. There are far much better creations in the realm of metal. It is clear that At the Gates created this for the sole purpose of making safe, accessible, and inoffensive metal in order to garner more fans from the scene. Call it ‘light’ metal if you will. Or how about, At the Gates in light flavor! It’s At the Gates with all the distortion and aggression, but none of the challenging thinking required to comprehend it! Whatever you want to call it, I call it ‘Crap in the middle of the road.”

Their Best Work - 92%

SouthofHeaven11, June 26th, 2007

When was the last time you could recall staring at the face of hostility, only to be perplexed by the beauty surrounding it? It’s hard really to even conceive such a thought, since those two hardly go hand in hand. But maybe some of us have never been in a situation like that before, and therefore can’t comprehend it as well as another might. For instance, my father, who served in Vietnam, told me about a time that his base was under mortar fire. In-between the mortar rounds and explosions, he claimed that smoke mixed with the morning Vietnamese sun to create an inexplicable surrounding.

But At the Gates seemed to master this effect flawlessly.

“We are blind to the world within us…waiting to be born”

After 32 seconds of industrial noise and effects, those chilling words are passionately and calmly spoken on “Blinded by Fear” before you’re taken down the path of lunacy and depravity. This deranged portrait of life is known as “Slaughter of the Soul”, and you’re stepping square into its asylum. Tomas Lindberg’s seething vocals mixed with Larsson and Björler’s vindictive riffs are enough to make you collapse to the floor. However, with every lyric sung, every riff that is played, there is an undisputed presence of touching melody. The wonderful euphony of “Under a Serpent Sun” is more than a confession to the power of melody that these musicians posses. It’s no question that brutality and grace exist in harmony here, but it’s the brutal aspect that could be the selling points at critical moments. The title track is one of the most rip-roaring tracks on this album, complete with frothing vocals and searing guitars. And composing of one of the most ingenious audio clips ever used, “Suicide Nation” will send a chilling message within the first second as the sound of a shotgun being loaded is blasted into the speakers, only to be followed by maliciously crunched riffs.

“Children born of sin, tear your soul apart!”

On past albums, Lindberg had a bit more of “Death Growl”, and was certainly deeper. On here, however, his voice is a bit more rasped and stretched, making him seem even more desperate. And when Lindberg snarls, you know his giving it his all. He aims to leave his body void of all energy after every song, and it’s a wonder he got through a whole album with death by the cause of exhaustion. After listening to him put his body to the test on “Blinded by Fear”, he continues on his impressive performance throughout the whole album, notably again on “Cold” and “World of Lies”. Listening to him bark out “Suicide - jaws locked around your spine” on "Suicide Nation" will leave the vision of a man stripped of all hope.

Combine Lindberg with the experience of the guitar work, and a whole new world is opened. From the unrelenting “Blinded by Fear” to the acoustic based “Into the Dead Sky”, Larsson and Björler effortlessly put forth one of the most stunningly unique Metal albums. While the riffs they fire off on this album are a bit simpler and straight-forward than their past releases, they feel more completely written and thought out. And their solos, while short, are nicotine to the ear. “Cold” features a striking use of effects blended in with raw talent to envelop the listener and stamp its mark on the song.

While the work here is truly breathtaking, there are a few blemishes. For starters, since this isn’t as technical as their past releases, some of these songs border on being ripped off one another. This surely isn’t a problem in the beginning with the first 7 songs being completely distinguishable, but the last few, like “Nausea” and “Unto Others”, are hard to tell apart. And that being said, “Nausea” is probably the blandest track on here, as it becomes borderline hardcore punk with its overly simple riff base. And besides a shining moment on “Blinded by Fear”, the bass is still virtually non-existent. However, to cancel that out, Adrian Erlandsson does a phenomenal job on his drum parts. While it’s not anything that will drop your jaw, it’s more than solid. Adrian performs with pin-point precession, and never misses a beat.

This was the last album by At the Gates, and what a way to leave. The compassionate mix of brutality and melody that they created on “Slaughter of the Soul” has still yet to be matched within the Gothenburg genre. And besides a few hiccups here and there, this is their masterpiece. If you call yourself any kind of a metal head, I can’t stress to you enough how much you need this album.

Overall – 4.5/5 (92)

Recommended Tracks
Blinded by Fear
Slaughter of the Soul
Under a Serpent Sun
Suicide Nation

*For a better summary than the last real paragraph above, please obtain the track "Suicide Nation" and listen to the first second. Thank you.

A Swedish highlight - 81%

Agonymph, July 17th, 2006

There is an obvious dividing line in the opinions about At The Gates' classic album 'Slaughter Of The Soul'. Many people hail it as one of the few Swedish melodic Death Metal classics, but many At The Gates fans consider this album as an attempt to be too accessible. Let me point out, before I get to my own opinion, that both groups are right. 'Slaughter Of The Soul' is in deed much more melodic and accessible than anything At The Gates has ever done before, but that is exactly why I like this album so much. The debut album 'The Red In The Sky Is Ours' is just too noisy for me. That is the strongest division between "old" At The Gates and this album: the older albums are really melodic Death Metal, while 'Slaughter Of The Soul' has a lot of influences from the Thrash field and the likes of Iron Maiden. And those Thrash influences make this album an enjoyable one for me. Almost every riff you hear could, in a slightly less melodic form, have been on a Slayer album.

So what do we have here? The album starts out in the right way with 'Blinded By Fear'. The video to that song was basically my first introduction to At The Gates (forgive me, I was born in 1986) and I liked it right away. As much as I despise grunts and screams, Tomas Lindberg had something different, a more versatile grunt, which gave this song the right atmosphere. Things I loved right away as well were the guitar sound and the drumming. Plus, that main riff to 'Blinded By Fear' is just amazing!

The album continues in the same vein with the title track, which might just be even better and the same line is continued throughout most of the songs, which is my only complaint about the album; it could have used a little more variation.

Personal highlights include 'Blinded By Fear', the title track, the absolutely amazing 'Suicide Nation', the "slower" (which in case of At The Gates means moderately fast) 'World Of Lies' and that nifty opening riff to 'Under A Serpent Sun'. Another nice thing on the album is Andy LaRoque's guest guitar solo on the track 'Cold'. While not being one of Andy's best, it's definitely the most memorable solo on the album. It fits the song quite well; 'Cold' is one of the more melodic tracks on the album and really breathes a desperate atmosphere.

'Into The Dead Sky' is one of the few non-Metal moments on the album. It's a tranquil instrumental and I've always quite liked those. Especially on albums of Swedish bands. There's something with the way Swedes play the acoustic guitar...maybe it's just their musical tradition, but somehow, there's always wonderful melodies coming out of an acoustic guitar played by a Swede... The other non-Metal track is the closing instrumental 'Flames Of The End', which is a really, really strange one. It's an experimental, soundtrack-ish mood that sets the tension for something which is never to come. It sets a climax for something that just isn't there. Even though it is a good track quality wise, I think it's in the wrong place on the album.

After that, if you have the remastered version, there is a handful of completely useless bonus tracks. Among those, there are demos of two album tracks ('Unto Others' and 'Suicide Nation') which are vastly inferior to the album versions, if only because the tuning is different. The cover songs aren't that good as well, but something I have to note with that is that I hate cover tracks, so maybe some of you will like them.

'Slaughter Of The Soul' is an amazing Thrash album with just the right amounts of melody and aggression. I never cared much for terms as "classics" or "milestones", but when it was up to me, both would fit this album very well. Not one of the musicians did anything better before or after the album.

The Pinnacle of Gothenburg Experience - 85%

Uom, April 25th, 2006

This is the album responsible for inciting a musical movement called The New Wave of Swedish Death Metal a.k.a. Melodeath, more so than The Gallery, Jester Race, or any other album out there. The melodic, yet crushing sound have become the signature of Gothenburg bands. The album has reached its influences into broad areas of rock/metal music, especially with American bands like Shadows Fall, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, etc. etc.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, this album is vilified and scorned by metal purists, claiming that the band has sold out from its original sound to create this pop-structured album. This album single-handedly produced a stream of copycats that has diluted the metal scene, which eventually destroyed the movement the band once owned.

Now, everybody has their own opinion about this album. But as far as I’m concerned, Slaughter of the Soul is simply one of the better albums released in the 90’s, one of the best guitar-oriented Metal albums ever, and easily one of the most influential albums in the current wave of Metal music. At the same time, Slaughter of the Soul is a flawed album that shows flashes of brilliance, only to leave listeners ultimately unsatisfied.

The songs are typified by an in-your-face attack, heralded by the sterling guitar work, a mix between brutal Death Metal and the vigor of Power Metal, and tight, active rhythm section. The vocals are a mix of Hardcore shouts and Black Metal screams. The album is appropriately produced by Fredrik Nordstrom, notable for his guitar-heavy recordings.

The guitars really stand out in this album, production-wise, as well as song-wise. Slaughter of the Soul boasts some of the most visceral riffs in metal music. ‘Cold’, ‘Suicide Nation’, and ‘World of Lies’ contain creative and powerful guitar lines with loads of melody that makes the music whistle-able, ala Heartwork.

In ‘Cold’, At the Gates has crafted a timeless Metal classic that will surely stand the test of time. The crushing intro which leads to the lurching mid-tempo riff is the stuff made for headbanging. The off-kilter bridge riff and the serene acoustic part, leading back to the bridge with an overlaying short, but sweet lead is excellent. And the chorus is damn infectious. A must hear for any Metal fans.

However, the problem with the album is that most of the songs follow a verse-chorus-lead formula that becomes predictable as the album wears on, which renders them easily digestible. The songs have the tendency to be powerful and memorable at one point, but after repeated listens, they lose their luster and impact. Another gripe with the album is that the band recycles chord progressions heard on previous songs. Nevertheless, this doesn’t discount the songs from its greatness, since all of them are performed with venomous intensity and urgency.

Overall, despite its shortcomings, Slaughter of the Soul is still highly recommended. My suggestion: buy the album, and make your opinion about it.

The Coca Cola of Death Metal - 79%

OlympicSharpshooter, September 11th, 2005

When one thinks about the creation and evolution of the melodic death metal sound, it really comes down to three bands: Carcass, At the Gates, and In Flames. Sure, in the early 90’s Entombed set the stage with their pioneering death & roll landmark Wolverine Blues, and Sepultura was busy reshaping death in its own proudly South American image, but these bands only opened the door; they never stepped through. Carcass brought the big hooks and the basic concept, At the Gates presented us with a new and exciting guitar tuning and the roots of the melodeath style, and In Flames… well, they really really liked Iron Maiden.

Slaughter of the Soul is really the first fully realized expression of melodic death metal’s potential, Heartwork for all its innovation still being defiantly underground at heart. This is the first death metal record where you get a sense of this potentially being mainstream, this sensation that this could become a new brand name in metal. I mean, previous to this only Cannibal Corpse and a handful of other Floridian mooks had made inroads on commercial success, but they were still creating too much of a racket with their Jurassic-era spoo. At the Gates, on the other hand, have some of what made Def Leppard stand out from the NWOBHM or Metallica from the rest of the thrashers, this sort of verve and confidence, an eye cocked toward the prize. Starting from this point, they became a separate entity from their shaggy, frostbitten contemporaries like Dark Tranquillity and Dissection and (after their break-up) began collecting the dues and boos that all innovators receive.

The really fun thing about picking up a record like this is that you get to hear both the ideas everybody and their bearded sun-fearing mothers cribbed and the ideas that were left behind, other paths that remain unexplored (see Priest’s first five records for tons of these). It seems a rule of thumb that almost all innovative bands are composed of players who refuse to sit still and play their music straight. Sometimes that means that their derivatives will reap the success, and other times it means that the watershed record will forever be held up as a superior piece of art. ATG falls somewhere in the middle of this range.

Slaughter of the Soul’s stunning guitar tone and garbled but intelligible caws are undoubtedly at the foundation of the modern sound, but the really cool thing is how much more variance you’ll find here than in the average Darkane record. The music is based much more strongly upon speed and thrash metal than death metal (truth be told, there’s hardly any death to speak of), with all sorts of black and Soundgarden and Pantera stuff overtop. The highly distorted guitars add the mechanized crunch that’s become so familiar through the works of Hypocrisy and The Crown, while the slightly more shrieky than usual vocals point towards the likes of Children of Bodom and Old Man’s Child. It’s a perfect example of how the initial influences of a form of music are slowly strained out with each successive imitation, the highly apparent Reign in Blood song structures and claustrophobic riffing disappearing in the successive generation just as Diamond Head’s overt Zeppelin affection was so mercilessly purged by Metallica and Megadeth.

The songs here are for the most part very short and to the point, four songs (if you subtract the long-ish intro to “Blinded by Fear”) clocking in at under three minutes. With the exception of the two instrumentals, each song seems calculated to get the pit moshing hard but smooth, the band wisely scraping away the more complex elements of thrash and glaring with a laser-eyed focus on the straight-forward ‘bang thy head’ riffery with an occasional Carcassian swinging hook to mix things up, dangling like a booger before the band sneezes out a compact flurry of riffage to segue back into the main thrust of the song.

The main problem with this is that many of the songs (particularly in the first half of the record) tend to blur together in one’s mind if they aren’t the ‘hits’ like “Blinded by Fear” or “Suicide Nation”. The album is also far too angsty for its own good, too much ‘nobody cares about meeeeee’ too little of the supposed philosophy the liners ramble about. Also, Tomas Lindberg may have discovered a new vocal style on this LP, but he also discovers the greatest weakness it has: it sounds like crap when it doesn’t have riffs under it. In “Cold” there is a break where he basically sits there screaming about how nobody loves him and, while I refuse to use the analogy most any other reviewer here would use, once you hear it described as such you can’t help but think of Tomas gargling back some of the white stuff while getting his angst on. Furthermore, the acoustic instrumental is beyond basic and the MIDI-sounding “The Flames of the End” wouldn’t sound out of place on the next Shadow of Death demo.

Still, the album is saved from the terrifying fate of the OVERRATED stamp by the nastier backwash that awaits on the latter half of the album, At the Gates apparently having satisfied their commercial jones and ready to show off the ugly, harsh side of their new baby boy, “World of Lies” kicking off a four-song blitzkrieg of neo-thrash with enough vitriol to strip the paint off of the walls. Three of the four are total Slayer worship, “Unto Others” in particular being a really mean piece of business, the sound of angry robots playing Tormentor while “Need” beats absolutely everyone to the ‘gothic Gothenburg’ punch.

Overall, I recommend this record to anyone who likes the less ornate Gothenburg bands out there, and for those thrash-heads who don’t mind that the tuning is slightly different and can tolerate the vocals of bands like Children of Bodom. I also have to say, in the strongest words possible, that anyone with a ‘scholarly’ interest in the evolution of heavy metal must hear this record at least five or six times in order to understand melodic death. For the rest of you out there, you won’t find many easier headbangs.

A word about the reissue: it adds six fine tracks including extremely intense covers of Slaughterlord and Slayer and a ballsy unreleased cut called “The Dying”. Some of this stuff is actually better than what you’ll find on the album proper.

Stand-Out Tracks: “Unto Others”, “Blinded by Fear”, “Nausea”

A bad influence on metal - 33%

Cheeses_Priced, August 31st, 2004

Apparently At the Gates “got bored” with their formerly complex and technical style of death metal, or they “progressed beyond” writing structurally difficult music, or they finally figured out that “the most powerful songs are the most direct ones”. You know the drill; you’ve heard it from other bands. As of this album (their final one) they just want to rock out and play some catchy music, and hey, who can blame them? They paid their dues, and I’m sure they had bills to worry about; who are we to judge them… uh, right?

Anyway, what we have here is the sound of older Swedish death metal crossbreeding itself back into rock music – franticly fast, hard rock-influenced riffing and scream-a-long vocals over basic thrash drumming. Fast, aggressive ear candy, basically. Indeed, when a death metal band's vocalist starts interjecting "yeah" and "do it" into songs, you might as well say farewell. If you’ve heard pretty much any heavily hyped release by a Swedish band to come out in the past several years, very little description should be necessary, because this thing’s fingerprints are all over what’s currently passed off as “melodic death metal”.

None of this is really brilliant, but now and again it’s at least as catchy and memorable as it’s trying to be, like on the first two tracks and “World of Lies”. Most of the rest of the album is kind of a blur, though, and as a whole it's woefully unambitious and not really worth the time it takes to sit through, not when there’s so much really good metal out there.

Nice guitar tone, though.

A less annoying The Haunted - 38%

UltraBoris, May 21st, 2003

So imagine if The Haunted actually threw in more than one thrash riff per career, and didn't have that idiot of a hardcore barker doing vocals... well, you'd get this album. This is pretty much staple Gothenburg death metal, with some decent riffage every once in a while... unfortunately every once in a while it succumbs to the absolute wretched dynamic excesses that make Dark Tranquillity and the other mainstays of the genre so unlistenable. These two cardinal sins are: a) Drop the guitars and make the vocals the main point of the song, and 2) lots of overlong noodling without real riff intensity.

The first two songs are straightforward and solid, with even a nice thrash riff in Blinded by Fear popping up - then Cold is where the album reveals its true "melodic" character... there's the silly acoustic passage around 1.45 and then the solo over the really fucking boring midpaced riff right after that. Then, the end of Under a Serpent Sun has the vocals interlude. Yeah, if you like Gothenburg, you'll like this one.

Then there's the dumb interlude "Into a Dead Sky", which then returns us to the "usual" sound of fast not-quite-thrash riffage of Suicide Nation. The Haunted fans, listen up... this is your album right here. The song gets better as it goes on, but it is still very repetitive. Suicide, suicide, suicide.... great.

The good parts of the album - decent solos and when they have fast riffs underneath they are quite enjoyable, it is the midpaced wankery that really sucks, and man these guys are good at that too - apparently to graduate from Gothenburg University you have to take a degree in that. Even the fast songs kinda blend into each other - the verse sections are completely interchangeable.

But hey, it's a massive step up over previous At the Gates, which was just absurdly bad.

Straightforward Melo-Death Honed To a Point - 81%

michinoku, May 10th, 2003

It's always a shame to see a band break up, and it's even more a shame when the band that breaks up is so damn good. Sadly, nothing can get At The Gates back together, but that didn't stop the Earache label from rereleasing the band's swansong, Slaughter of the Soul with some new tracks and unreleased material that makes one of the best melodic death metal albums even better.

Slaughter of the Soul finds the band at their peak form; guitarists Anders Bjoler and Martin Larsson trading off brutal riffs and excellent rhythm guitar, drummer Adrian Erlandsson showing off some excellent alternating patterns (that he still uses in Cradle of Filth), and vocalist Tomas Lindberg providing some excellent growling that is heavy, but clear enough that you can hear the rather excellent lyrics.

The re-release comes with liner notes by Tomas Lindberg, and although he offers a lot of interesting comments, it's clear that he dislikes some of the material on the album, and for the most part the tracks he dislikes aren't quite as original, or even as good as some of the standout tracks on the album. And like many melo-death albums, the potential for repetition does begin to set in after a short while, as a lot of the songs are structured similarly.

But Slaughter of the Soul is the best At the Gates album for a reason; everything is crisp, the production isn't too overblown, and the lyrics are quite good. There are a few bits of extremely original, almost Opeth-like breakdowns and mini-sections trying to get out during certain songs, but it's clear that the musical polish is when delivering the extremely refined melo-death sound. Under a Serpent Sun begins with some simple 4/4 riffing that shows holds for around twenty seconds before changing ever so slightly, a change that leads into an almost complete rhythm change as the song gets underway, alternating between these two sections with complete ease - and when the song breaks down into a brief spoken section underlined by some softer instrumentals, it really becomes apparent that the band knows what they're doing. Further proof of this is in the more concise title track, Slaughter of the Soul, which has a similar song structure but works with more efficiency at harmonizing guitar riffs, particularly during the guitar solo towards the end of the song. And anyone who hasn't heard the band's cover of Slayer's Captor of Sin needs to stop reading this review and download it immediately, as the band is talented enough with their rhythm guitar and overall speed to keep the thrash feel of original song while adding in their own subtle touch.

Slaughter of the Soul is one of the best melo-death albums from one of the best melo-death bands in the genre's history, and although much of the new material on the re-release is cheap filler, there are at least a dozen jaw-dropping moments that display such chemistry, you'll wonder why At the Gates ever disbanded.