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At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul
Review: Despite the sleek package and amazing production, this is the At the Gates sellout album. It has not fallen to the depths of later Carcass or post-1992 Metallica, but it has dropped the progressive underpinnings in favor of speed metal adorned with a technical flair but mostly, through its rough permutations and basic sense of pentatonic harmonics, it remains dressed-up heavy metal as a sad coda to the career of the Gothenburg band.
The same self-unraveling harmonizing riffs, liquid solos and strong sense of color of sound are here, but each is a condiment to a main course of standard rock fare, and has gone through a sanitizing process to be brought closer to mainstream music, demonstrating that the technique layer is far from what constitutes the artistic content of each song. In particular, it sounds like Metallica attempting ...And Justice For All in a stylistic mashup between Iron Maiden and Judas Priest during Painkiller, but this album is not even that competent, as the slaphappy graceless catchy choruses repeated ad nauseam demonstrate.
For most At the Gates listeners, this album will seem a favorite until they hear it ten years from now in the context of other At the Gates works, when it will stand revealed as a transparent commercial album made to pander to the segment of the metal audience who want the predictable disguised as the unique for the sake of fashion.