Some twenty-five years since its release and Slaughter of the Soul, the 1995 album by Gothenburg melodic death metal troop At The Gates, is still one of the finest metal recordings of all time. But, as frontman Tomas Linberg told us recently, it has been important for the group not to rehash that album over and over again. So, after returning from hiatus and putting out two well-received records in the form of 2014’s At War With Reality (read our review) and 2018’s To Drink From The Night Itself (read our review), fans of the band now find themselves faced with their seventh and most daring album of their career.
A ten-track effort, The Nightmare Of Being is an album full of twists and turns and, while there are some ragers on here like recent single “The Paradox” where the ferocious At The Gates of old rears its ugly head, the majority of The Nightmare of Being sees the band in a more experimental mood. For a while though, it would seem that The Nightmare of Being is going to be bit of a neck-snapper as the opening two tracks certainly don’t hold anything back.
However, things take a darker, moodier turn for the title track where the Swedes rein in the riffs in favour of a more progressive, sombre style. Continuing down the more experimental route, “Garden of Cyrus” takes fans back to earlier ATG material, while the intro to “Touched By The White Hands Of Death” sounds more akin to a movie soundtrack than a death metal album. Don’t be put off though, for all their experimentation, At The Gates haven’t forgotten the core of their sound and, as demonstrated on tracks like “The Paradox,” the Swedes haven’t consigned those delicious solos or those swathes of breakneck riffing to the history books just yet.
In essence, the Swedes’ seventh offering gives fans the best of both worlds. During it’s heavier moments, there is plenty to satisfy fans of At The Gates more extreme work whereas, at it’s most experimental, as on the jazz-soaked “Cosmic Pessimism,” the album will sit nicely with those fans who like to be challenged by the music they’re immersing themselves in. With Lindberg inspired by the works of horror writer Thomas Ligotti, the subject matter is darker than anything the band have previously explored while musically, The Nightmare of Being is the kind of brave, experimental, musically challenging album that only a group of this pedigree could ever have a hope of pulling off.
The Nightmare of Being Track Listing:
1. Spectre of Extinction
2. The Paradox
3. The Nightmare of Being
4. Garden of Cyrus
5. Touched by the White Hands of Death
6. The Fall into Time
7. Cult of Salvation
8. The Abstract Enthroned
9. Cosmic Pessimism
10. Eternal Winter of Reason
Run Time: 45:42
Release Date: July 2, 2021
Record Label: Century Media Records