FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 1: At The Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 1: At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 1: At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul

This is the first entry in my new series of mini articles FIRST IMPRESSIONS, which finds me listening to and reacting to several seminal albums from the umbrella of rock and metal, usually pre-selected by my good friend Magnum Valentino.

For this first entry I will be listening to Slaughter Of The Soul by the Swedish Melodeath band At The Gates. In all honesty I didn’t really know what to expect with this album. The only thing I really know about At The Gates is that this album, Slaughter Of The Soul is often listed in lists of great albums, and that it is a good example of the Melodeath style.

The only two Melodeath artists that I listen to are Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy, and I am not even a complete-discography kind of fan to either of those bands, so can’t claim to really respond to the style or know good from bad all that well at this stage. One vaguely related band that I do like a lot however is Devil Driver, who incorporated a lot of melodeath influences into their sound.

From what I understand, Melodeath is a largely European phenomenon that takes a lot of influence from the Death Metal genre, but swaps out most of the atonality and blast beats now common there for a more Iron Maiden and Judas Priest influenced style. In terms of synesthesia, the notes are a lot more orange to Death Metal’s brown and grey and Maiden/Priest’s Yellow.

From the first two tracks, I could feel the similarities in sound to Arch Enemy and Devil Driver, although Amon Amarth’s similarities became more evident with track three, ‘Cold.’

Aggression and energy are two wholly overused yet misunderstood descriptions used in conjunction with all rock and metal music. I think both can be fairly used to describe Slaughter Of The Soul, the music is very insistent and feels like it is almost popping out of the speakers at a pace slightly faster than the speakers are equipped to handle.

‘Under A Serpent Sun’ is largely enjoyable. With a lot of energy and some great guitar moments. ‘Suicide Nation’ perhaps best exemplifies that aforementioned popping out description. ‘World Of Lies’ has a really great riff in the middle when it slows down.

I understand that there is a lot of variety on the album, but at the same time the overwhelming feeling that has sank in to me by the halfway point on this first listen is one of saminess. The drumming is pretty inventive and fun and the guitars cover a lot of ground, but the vocals kind of grate on me and kill the spirit of variety. I can’t help think that the album would appeal to me a lot more with either a full out low pitched Death vocal in the style of Zyklon or a shouty American vocal in the style of Pantera.

When the music slows down or when the guitar takes on a more soloy style (like the drum roll based middle of ‘Need,’ which is tremendous fun) then I find that I really like this album but the core of the album, which centers around Euro-Carcass Vocals over the Lombardo-Beat is just something that never did it for me in metal.
Well, to be honest that is inaccurate, as most of Kreator’s music would fit that exact same description but sits with me better for no cleary identifiable reason.

Overall, The only thing sitting in the way of me really liking this album is that most songs begin with the off-putting combination of raspy screech’s and the systematically overused and not-musical-enough slapping drum beat that I’ve been largely bored of for the last ten years. When I think of tracks like the slightly symphonic instrumental ‘To The End’ or the middle section of most of the other tracks that I have singled out however, I then feel like Slaughter Of The Soul is something I may want to give a lot of time to, and allow to grow on me.

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