Another Powerful Death Metal Release
Another release emanates from Sweden this year, as At the Gates grace the metal public with To Drink From the Night Itself. This is the second album the death metal group has released since their reformation in 2011; the first being 2014s At War with Reality. The reception of their resurgence has been generally good, as At The Gates went on to win a Swedish Grammy (Grammis) in February 2015 for their comeback release.
To Drink From the Night Itself has a lot to live up to, and it definitely measures up. At The Gates consistently employs deep aggression and piercingly quick instrumentation on this album, showing that they have not even come close to letting up over the years. Although the album and their reunion are a few notches below the splash they made on 1995s Slaughter of the Soul, their new work contains many redeeming qualities.
The introduction alone shows the mood that At The Gates constructs this time around. “Der Widerstand” begins the album in a creepy acoustic fashion, and is immediately offset by the screaming beats of the album’s title track. At about one minute into the track, To Drink From the Night Itself already displays some incredible death metal guitar work. The prolonged notes over thumping rhythms is a characteristic of many melodic death metal riffs, and At The Gates achieve that in spades. The rest of the title track oozes with the band’s trademark style as it keeps forging onto new frontiers, progressing the song structure as it moves through its unbelievable three and a half minute tenure.
“To Drink From the Night Itself” barrels over into another album single, “A Stare Bound in Stone,” which puts forth a similar aggression. With an extremely groovy chorus line, this song deviates from the former just enough to make it a unique listen and enhance the LP. The pace really slows down with the song, “Daggers of Black Haze.” The short piano and string intro sets the song up to expand and achieve a slow-moving, nightmarish context. This song is markedly different from the first few big hitters on the album, and that is what keeps the full work fresh. The bass work at the one and a half minute mark is also a special treat on this twelve track LP.
As the album progresses, songs like “The Chasm” and “In Nameless Sleep” continue to evoke the emotion of At The Gates. Both songs are rare highlights of the album: they occupy the center of the entire LP, which is often a filler section in many metal efforts. In the case of To Drink From the Night Itself though, no song is left without an impact. Aside from the orchestral arrangement component of it, the final song, “The Mirror Black” may be the album’s weakest point. Yet, the track still somehow manages to stand out among the album’s heavy hitters.
To Drink From the Night Itself might be the band’s best effort since 1995s Slaughter of the Soul. A raw demonstration of death, suffering and power, this LP is able to convey optimal emotion and also deliver it in a smart, musical way. Although no song on the album really deviates from the death metal genre, the pleasure is in the details and minor deviations across each track. At The Gates is riding a wave, and they are still succeeding with every release.