At the Gates releases title track from At War With Reality

First observation from the newest At the Gates track is encouraging. This is clearly better than the sing-song candy-pop that blighted Slaughter of the Soul and ventures tentatively into the land of darker melodies and stark contrasts that defines the death metal approach to mood.

Approximating the descending chord progressions from Terminal Spirit Disease, “At War With Reality” reveals At the Gates applying the more popular aspects of their sound as a means of intensifying older-style tremolo riffs. The solo comes straight from modern death metal and incorporates many elements of older heavy metal and hard rock, and the song builds itself out of a strict verse-chorus loop with overlays and internal melodies via lead rhythm guitar. As such, “At War With Reality” does not return to the good old days, but mixes the later days of the formative period of this band with newer styles and produces a song with more depth and power than the singalong material of Slaughter of the Soul.

As far as those hoping for the complex arrangements and internal melodic dialogue of the first At the Gates album, “At War With Reality” does not go that far. It is however only one track from the album, albeit the title track, so the rest remains an unknown quantity. But this shows the band moving closer to a form of music which has greater intensity, and in the process tempering the lite jazz and post-hardcore/emo influences of recent death metal hybrids, and so takes a positive step for At the Gates and death metal as a whole.

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34 thoughts on “At the Gates releases title track from At War With Reality

  1. discodjango says:

    Sounds like “Slaughter Of The Soul” with melodies that want to be “Terminal Spirit Disease” but end up being emo. I also dislike the midtempo headbanging parts.

  2. melodramaticaust says:

    I hope Alf Svensson makes another Oxiplegatz album.

    1. trystero says:

      Really? I mean there is a spark of musicality in the first album (all I have heard) but its aesthetically… odd to say the least, far too experimental to be lasting and all over the place.

      Would likely be more listenable than this turd Atg have half pushed out though.

      Damning with faint praise is such a poor style for this website, it can be honest while feeling like it isnt. The article is a fair assessment of the track, but the first comment is more immediately descriptive. Anyway, at least I know to avoid it.

      1. melodramaticaust says:

        The odd aesthetic is true (even the guitar tone changes throughout those albums). Even if it’s a bit “wacky” I think a lot of attention to detail was paid on the last Oxiplegatz album and it comes together well despite integration of cheesy keyboards and myriad vocals.

      2. fenrir says:

        Actually the second album Worlds and Worlds has some of his best writing on the first half. The choice for synths and voices may not be the most popular, but the composition itself is a highlight of his skills. Awesome arrangement, beautiful counterpoints while keeping it aggressive. It’s downright At the Gates’ melodic side extended and developed to its full potential.

        I wish he had done more of that. Unfortunately, the latter half of that album falls into something similar to what was going on in Sweden at the time, one track even sounds akin to SotS.

      3. fenrir says:

        First half of Worlds and Worlds is Alf Svensson’s best work, composition-wise, even if the tone/instrument/setting choice isn’t preferred by people around here.

        1. trystero says:

          Thanks man, will look into it.

  3. Sugartits says:

    If this had been the good ATG that promising chorus would not have been a short loop within another loop but instead a mood marker for the rest of the song. I was halfway expecting that chorus to keep enveloping into a long spacious chord progression; instead they hold back for some stupid reason, probably because Anders doesn’t want to ‘ruin the flow’.

    Check on Wikipedia how Anders puts down Alf Svensson’s songwriting on The Red by the way, he seems completely clueless about what made ATG good, which is understandable because he had nothing to do with it.

    1. melodramaticaust says:

      Here’s an interview from blabbermouth:

      “In the beginning, I guess we did what many other bands did as well. We tried too hard. We threw in hundreds of riffs in each song which left a cascading noise attack. Pretty schizophrenic, if you listen to it now almost 20 years later. We gradually learned how to compose songs, and when Alf left, one of the persons who came up with the most twisted ideas suddenly was gone.

      In 1993 we started working on songs for “Terminal Spirit Disease” where we took a more straight approach — both lyrically and musically. It was more direct, and the songs were basically simple rock songs (verse/bridge/chorus structured). This style continued and was perfected on “Slaughter of the Soul”.”

      Basically re-purposed the band like Sepultura without Wagner Antichrist but much worse (Sepultura still had 3 good albums).

      1. There is always audience — and money, and power — in making any form of music into simple rock songs. Brett’s law of musical entropy.

        1. bitterman says:

          Giving this song the benefit of the doubt, the beginning has inspired counterpoint melodies like Terminal Spirit Disease, but then it jumps into a lazy mid-tempo headbanging part as someone else put it and falls apart. The question is, who is At the Gates trying to appeal to here with this music? The lyrics seem more intricate than the ones on Slaughter of the Soul (more than one word choruses at least), but is this what Joe Public really wants from At the Gates? It’s too stupid for the old fans and is too intricate for metalcore/Slaughter of the Soul fans. Did At the Gates write this album “for themselves” as they mentioned, or did they consciously make concessions along the way toward what the majority remembers them for? The “With Fear… meets TSD” style they mentioned as the path they took for this album seems to suggest as much. Taking a middle path that will leave neither audience satisfied. Even if Slaughter of the Soul was crap, it (like Heartwork) was a perfect example of pandering to the lowest common denominator – giving them (mainstream America) everything they want (so, no surprise about the Metal Hammer and Kerrang accolades). This song just comes across as uncertain about it’s own direction. Even the production is middle of the road, coming across as the bland template most metalcore/”bands these days” use to get recording their music over with (unacceptable considering the producer and resources going into this project – the band should be angry at this lifeless mix). I guess this will be a big money maker for Century Media and the band since nostalgia is the most profitable platform to operate from (the blind praise this is receiving elsewhere suggests about as much) regardless of quality. With all that said, this song at least elicits feelings of disappointment which is more than I can say about most bands these days (who don’t even at least have a good intro).

          1. fenrir says:

            Always spot on, bitterman.

            I still want to hope for the rest of the album. A little more With Fear… please!

    2. trystero says:

      In most bands its easy to pinpoint just a single individual who provided the bulk of the creative impetus behind the band. In the rare cases this isnt true, collaboration is still not the rule. Darkthrone is Fenriz`s baby, Immortal was more collaborative but it started out with mostly Demonaz and ended up almost entirely Abbath. Its rare that other bandmembers fully understand what is going on even if they can appreciate it. Richard Brunelle seems to be Morbid Angels biggest fan and he was able to get into the mentality of the band while he was in it but his later stuff doesnt even hint at his time in MA. What made At the gates good was surely abstract stuff like integrity, artistry and creativity in songwriting but its source was concrete: Alf Svensson.

  4. tiny midget says:

    i hope when i die god will hold me close to his chest

    1. Atheism is boring and probably inaccurate; the “say the magic words and the faeries come” version of religion is also surely inaccurate. Materialism is certainly inaccurate, and dualism is ludicrous. Solution: take a middle path.

      1. BB says:

        Materialism “certainly” inaccurate? Depends on one’s definition (and knowledge) of “matter”.

        Taking a middle path in a way is just dressed up dualisme, as it acknowledges 2 poles to navigate in between.

        1. trystero says:

          Wonderfully reduced to abstract logic while totally missing the point. Or rather, perhaps you did not miss it and the dualism bit is simply argument for its own sake. The middle way means nothing more or less than reasonableness. What is reasonable? Not incantations and not a faithless faith in the solely material. These are your poles. What that has to do with dualism is beyond me.

          1. BB says:

            So, ‘reasonable’ is some fuzzy ‘feeling’ about something you can’t explain and that isn’t matter (or energy)?

            I’d rather say: reality clearly consists of matter (and it’s other form, energy). Of course we don’t understand all of it fully, and of course reality as such is a miracle of which the origin will be beyond our scientific grasp forever, but I don’t need fairy nor middle path religion because of that.

            As such, materialism is the most adequate way to describe and deal with reality as we experience it. As to inexplicable rest, it isn’t the middle path that brings ‘salvation’, but the often quoted Wittgensteinian dictum: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.”

            1. veien says:

              I have to admit firstly that I don’t give a fuck about much because I oscillate between being highly emotionally unstable and considering the world and our lives in it as some sick joke vomited forth by elder gods. But yes, no matter how many times I consider it, this thinking (your viewpoint) that life is to be viewed purely in material forms is BORING and probably no way near flexible enough to be a useful representation of reality for most people.

              Science is science. Religion is religion. They are not aiming at the same destination i.e. the world of ‘spirit’, the human soul or whatever.

              I love science because it brought heaps of fun chems my way (which

              1. veien says:

                in turn gave me massive power rushes and made me feel kinda terrified albeit nice and fuzzy ) but ultimately it’s not a substitute for belief AKA ‘the right path through life’. Science is more like a tool to help see aspects of the material world which in itself is rather useful, sure. But even when this is built up into something of immense value (and you are probably doing a good thing by dedicating your semi-autistic brain to this field), it just isn’t a substitute for the subtle nature of life, which in it’s fairy-tale way is infinitely more true to a reality that can’t be fully known (and infinitely more mysterious). Heil Veien!

                1. BB says:

                  I don’t get that last part of your rant. What do you mean with: ‘The subtle nature of life, which is more true to a reality that can’t be fully know?’ …Life is part of reality, so of course it is “true to reality”.

                  As for the rest of your post, your view of matter/materialism is very reductionist and probably uninformed. Matter boring? Have you ever read a serious book on quantum physics? The nature of time? Snare theory? The sun as a fusion reactor? Generally any book that deals with physics and matter past Einstein?

                  Also, one doesn’t need religion for the right path through life, a form of ethics will do fine. One can have a materialistic viewpoint about reality and still lead a very ethical (‘true’, ‘right’, whatever) life. Of course, what is ‘true’ or ‘right’ is up for debate, because, like everything in human culture, also ethics evolve, just as religious beliefs.

                  But true, as I said, the existence of reality is an inexplicable miracle. On could call that miracle an act of a ‘god’. But that still doesn’t conflict with materialism.

        2. wurd says:

          I don’t get what any of this means!

          1. veien says:

            Don’t bother, so long as you can tell a true band from a false or faggot one you’re on the right track..

      2. Nick says:

        Just because something is boring doesn’t mean it isn’t true. And further, there is so much we don’t know, so all an atheist really does is admit that we are indeed ignorant still. On the other hand, claiming knowledge in fields currently impossible to do so is completely illogical.

  5. melodramaticaust says:

    I wonder if the eventual review will make mention of the mediabook version, the bonus DVD mix version, the artwork book with 40 pages version, the girls tanktop included version, etc. This is just another cash cow milking like Carcass last year.

  6. Anthony says:

    This is surprisingly non-terrible, despite the modern sterile production. It does seem like a logical follow up to Terminal Spirit Disease, as opposed to the complete devolution of Slaughter of the Soul and the Haunted. Hearing a three minute metal song that doesn’t immediately devolve into verse/chorus by one minute is a good sign nowadays.

  7. 1349 says:

    The song is unobtrusive background music, seemingly without any tension and resolution. Although composed of a number of riffs, it is very even and, umm, doesn’t want to draw my attention to itself. When it suddenly ends, i wonder where the actual song was. “Was that some kind of intro?”

    Also, Sabina Classen’s vocals are more manly than this.

  8. richard roma says:

    I actually really enjoyed Terminal Spirit Disease despite its simpler structures; this new song is better than SoTS but the melodies aren’t as classy as TSD; it’s still dumb. Plus it has that awful machinelike guitar sound of SoTS, that could ruin anything. I will download to be sure, but probably will not be picking this up unless they can at least pull off some songs like “The Swarm” or “Forever Blind”

  9. Shit 666 says:

    This isn’t too bad, but it isn’t that good. I guess when they referenced With Fear… their plan all along was to fuse Terminal Spirit Disease with the chuggy songs from the second half of With Fear. I will say it sounds like a song with actually written riffs and leaves a stronger impression than that non-entity Phobocosm song being promoted a few posts back. I probably won’t listen to this again, but I don’t hate life more for hearing it (like I did when I heard Swine Overlord).

    1. Shit 666 says:

      On second thought, what were they thinking with the production? It sounds powerless. I just hope there’s more tremolo picking and less bouncy SOTS playing on the other tracks. Let there at least be a Primal Breath.

  10. richard roma says:

    You’re more likely to get a “Surgical Steel”

    1. Shit 666 says:

      I know…

    2. trystero says:

      That album has really developed a reputation.

      1. veien says:

        Should I listen to this album? my days are getting busy?

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