At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul (Re-issue)
Earache Records
Gothenburg Death / Thrash Metal
17 songs (53'10)
Release year: 2002
Earache Records
Reviewed by Crims
Album of the month

At The Gates were one of the more prominent members of the Swedish Death scene, which in my opinion, also had a strong Thrash Metal influence in most bands; the biggest influence coming in At The Gates music, and later in other bands. Some fans prefer their rawer, more drawn out work on their early releases, and of course some prefer their work on Slaughter Of The Soul, which was a better produced and more to the point. As always it is a matter of personal tastes, but I can tell you Slaughter Of The Soul is one of my favorite releases of all time in the genre. I was quite surprised to hear that Slaughter Of The Soul was being re-released, since it is still in print, but with the re-release comes 6 bonus tracks, but I’ll get into those later.

If you’re new to Slaughter Of The Soul what can you expect? Well, you get very short and hard hitting songs here, ones which come packed with speedy drumming and choppy riffs that always have a certain crunch to them. The vocals are mostly a combination scream/growl, and they fit the band well. Many songs despite the short lengths have a lot of highlights in the form of neck breaking drum runs and riffage, just check out the chorus of Blinded By Fear. It’s hard to pick out the best tracks on here, but I feel that Blinded By Fear, the title track, and Under A Serpent Sun are the most memorable, with the latter being a little more structured than the other songs. Moreover, one can not forget to mention Suicide Nation which opens up with the now classic gunshot sound effect, and also features an excellent closing to the song. At The Gates never slow down for very long, and rest assured if they do, it will be for a short lived and well placed melodic guitar lead, or they may slow down to help build up to a fast part. Some bands like this fall into the trap of not having enough variation, or all their songs having a similar sound, this is not the case with At The Gates. I have no trouble differentiating between the songs because each contains different riffs and drum patterns that are very enjoyable, despite the similar tempo usage. Like most early Swedish Death bands such as Dismember and Entombed- At The Gates bring subtle melodic leads and occasional riffs into the guitar playing, and vocals every so often (the more sublte melodies work well with the intense anger of the band) and this really helps the songs stick, and also it helps the band to further themselves away from typical Thrash Metal. All in all Slaughter Of The Soul is a close to flawless release for me; those guitars and drumming are exactly how I like them when listening to this type of music and they are played with a very high level of musicianship, however, the CD is not totally flawless. There are two instrumentals that well somewhat interesting (although not too much) seem to have no place on the release and really slow things down, and they take away from the overall feel. Even though I don't really consider any of the true songs filler, there definitely are songs that are weaker, although still enjoyable.

Now, if you already own the original release, is it worth it to pick up the reissue with the bonus tracks? That depends: some bonus tracks are really quite good. There are two terrific covers, one from Slaughter Lord (Legion) and one from Slayer (Captor Of Sin). I can’t say I’m familiar with the original version of Legion, but I can confirm At The Gates have done Captor Of Sin justice and Legion is a kick ass song (I’m seriously going to look into Slaughter Lord now). The other bonus tracks are two demos from 1995, one unreleased track from the Slaughter Of The Soul sessions, and then another cover of Bister Verklighet from No Security. The highlight for the bonus tracks is the covers, with the other songs being good, but not great (the demo version of Suicide Nation is inferior to the album version). If you’re a really huge At The Gates fan then the bonus tracks are worth it, but if you’re just a casual fan and already own Slaughter Of The Soul, then I do have trouble recommending the purchase unless of course you make a fair amount of money or can find it cheap. Of course, if you still don’t own Slaughter Of The Soul and you enjoy current bands like The Crown (At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg now sings in The Crown), Defleshed, and The Haunted (their debut featured At The Gates drummer Adrian Erlandsson, guitarist Andres Bjorler, and bassist Jonas Bjorler) then you should buy some releases by the band that heavily influenced almost all Swedish Death and Thrash metal bands. It still is unfortunate the band is no longer around

Killing Songs :
Blinded By Fear, Slaughter Of The Soul, Cold, Suicide Nation, Under A Serpent Sun, Need, Legion, Captor Of Sin
Crims quoted 95 / 100
Alex quoted 92 / 100
Jay quoted 97 / 100
Jason quoted 91 / 100
Other albums by At The Gates that we have reviewed:
At The Gates - At War With Reality reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
At The Gates - Suicidal Final Art reviewed by Danny and quoted no quote
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