Simply, AT THE GATES have always been a fearless force for extreme creativity in extreme music. The Gothenberg band’s hugely influential take on the extreme metal formula tempered with intensity and artistic hunger thrust them to the forefront of the underground with the release of their landmark fourth album, Slaughter of the Soul in 1995. That album set a standard from which they’ve never looked back, but countless bands have taken inspiration from. Ask the likes of, Killswitch Engage, Darkest Hour or fellow practitioners of what has come to be called “melo-death”. That sense of bulldozing power, artful atmospherics and otherworldly ease is unerringly synonymous with the Swedish five-piece.
AT THE GATES’ second chapter began in earnest in 2008, with a series of acclaimed reunion shows and a full-scale comeback to action with fourth album At War With Reality in 2014. A faster and nastier follow-up, 2018’s To Drink from the Night Itself provided further proof that the band’s 21st century incarnation was easily outstripping the musical achievements of the early years. Fast forward to 2021, and AT THE GATES are poised to release what can only be described as the finest album of its career to date, The Nightmare of Being. The album plumbs vocalist Tomas Lindberg’s deepest existential depths while being the most musically inventive and daring record the band have ever made.
Recorded in several different studios, The Nightmare of Being sounds colossal but weirdly intimate and oppressive. With esteemed studio guru Jens Bogren overseeing the recording of Adrian Erlandsson’s drums and legendary guitarist and producer Andy La Rocque manning the decks for guitars and bass, the album is very much a collaborative effort, with all the sonic richness and ingenuity that only the fizziest creative chemistry can achieve.
“Midway through the writing process we did our show at Roadburn 2019,” Tomas recalls. “It was the biggest project we’ve ever done and we felt that people were up for it. We opened with a King Crimson song and we did a Philip Glass cover and people didn’t flinch, and I guess that said to us that people might not think it’s too weird if we went all the way with this record. I guess a true follower would not be shocked by a saxophone. They will understand completely that we love Coltrane and Crimson, so this is logical. We had a violin on the first record, 30 years ago, you know what I mean?”