Wednesday, 25 April 2012

AT THE GATES - The Red In The Sky Is Ours (1992)

01  The Red In The Sky Is Ours/The Season To Come
02  Kingdom Gone
03  Through Gardens Of Grief
04  Within
05  Windows
06  Claws Of Laughter Dead
07  Neverwhere
08  The Scar
09  Night Comes, Blood Black
10  City Of Screaming Statues

'The Red in the Sky Is Ours' is the debut album by the Swedish death metal band At the Gates released in July 27, 1992 via Peaceville Records. At the Gates was formed in 1990 by former members of the death/black metal band Grotesque. They recorded an EP titled 'Gardens of Grief', for the Dolores label and sold cassettes, vinyl, and t-shirts to help promote the recording. Upon securing the deal with Peaceville for the debut LP, the band consisted of; Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Anders Björler (guitar), Alf Svensson (guitar), Jonas Björler (bass) and Adrian Erlandsson (drums).

At the Gates went on to define a genre and inspired an entire scene, along with a slew of knockoff acts. What they accomplished on this album is nothing short of legendary. From the chaotic opening track, through to the melodic wonderland of "Windows" and beyond, this album is how melodic death metal should have stayed (sadly, it didn't). Alf Svensson's ability to craft such elegant, yet evil melodies and riffs is unparalleled. Regrettably, the band was never quite the same after he left. The vocals aren't quite what one would expect from a death metal band, as Tomas Lindberg's vocals on this album are more reminiscent of black metal vocals than in his later vocal performances. The first negative point - the production overall is lacking and sounds very muddy. According to an interview, the band thought so too at the time. Anders Björler dubbed it "weird and very weak". The second gripe I have is that a lot of the songs do seem overwrought, as if the band and producer were possibly indecisive over how to structure particular tracks. This however, would obviously improve immensely on At The Gates next few releases.

I found that the inclusion of violins in certain places was a particularly interesting move, and really helped separate At the Gates from their peers. It also added a particularly creepy edge to the band's sprawling, twisting death metal. Their use of more melodic guitar harmonies worked particularly well too, and I'm sure acts as diverse as Edge of Sanity and Opeth would have took note, as well as some of the Swedish black metal acts. This is certainly not an album for the casual fan, as it does demand repeated listens to fully grasp what is going on. You're likely to wonder what just happened after listening to it the first time, and even on repeated listens it's a bit of an erractic experience. There are no real standout tracks, as nearly all songs except "The Scar" are in the same vein. My personal favorites include the concert favorite "Kingdom Gone", the melodic "Within" and the sheer ferocity of the closing track, "City of Screaming Statues".

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