July 29, 2021 At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being (Album Review)
In a world of unpredictability, melodic intrusions are a delight. Live music is still just barely breathing life into the souls of those who once thrived on that existence as a therapeutic pastime. In the land of Death Metal, Scandinavia has a great reputation for bringing the world unique stylings of the Melodic Death variety. On and off the beaten path, Gothenburg, Sweden’s At The Gates is back in action with their newest studio album, The Nightmare Of Being, which was released on Friday, July 2, 2021 via Century Media Records.
One constant in this new world is the drive to survive when trauma engulfs everyday life, as the odds are against those who never had a care in the world prior. So the tables have turned where those who lived through past personal tragedy become the strongest survivors, and those who have only known bliss struggle to stay afloat. This leads into the premise of writing an album in 2020 or 2021, because the more darkness it exudes, the better.
At The Gates has been bringing a unique style to Melodic Death Metal since the early ’90s. With their 2014 comeback album, At War With Reality, being such a success, it is not an easy task to outdo that kind of notoriety. But this new release, The Nightmare of Being, says it all in a bold way. With 10 tracks of powerfully-packed songs, longtime members and newer members unite for a good cause. The collaboration includes original Vocalist Tomas Lindberg, Drummer Adrian Erlandsson, Bassist Jonas Björler, Rhythm Guitarist Martin Larsson, and Lead Guitarist Jonas Stålhammer.
Beginning the dive head first into the darkened abyss is the track “Spectre Of Extinction.” The unmistakable vocals of Lindberg bring you straight into the eye of the Melodic Death Metal storm, calming you while evoking unrest at the same time. The next heavy-hitting track is “The Paradox,” which follows both the chaotic and the symbolic; that juxtaposition of flow and tug is what makes At The Gates stand out in a unique way. They structure their songs with opposing forces in just the right way so they actually weave into your mind, forming a cohesive entity. This is further exemplified and then enhanced with the even more melodic stylings in the title-track.
The mind-warping entrapment of “Garden Of Cyrus” continues the journey which, at just over midway through, provides a Melodic Death ballad of high standards, “The Fall Of Time.” This track is the longest of its kind at over six and a half minutes long. While all tracks definitely run along the same wavelength, they definitely vary on tempo and subject, among other traits.
Taking a run on some Black Metal roots mixed in with the Death is “The Abstract Enthroned,” a speedy medley of turmoil and recovery; this one may be a fan favorite. Closing out the abstract fun is a breath of fresh melodic air, “Cosmic Pessimism.” Another unusual tune with plenty of positive energy to spare, it holds its ground for the grand finale, “Eternal Winter Of Reason,” a dark heart with a heavy beat.
Although this album finds itself in a different situation than that of its predecessors, it certainly competes at the top of its game. So what does the future hold for At The Gates? The band has some European show dates lined up in the fall to support this album, but in America the hope is for a strong state-side return for European bands of this nature. Despite this uncertainty, The Nightmare of Being is another positive result of a negative time. Thus, Cryptic Rock gives At The Gates’ newest album, The Nightmare Of Being, 4 out of 5 stars.