Have you ever engaged in or overheard a conversation that went something like this?

Metalhead 1: “Dude! Nice Slayer shirt”.

Metalhead 2: “Haha thanks.  SLAYYEERRR!!” (flashes horns).

Metalhead 1: “Hell yeah.  So what else do you like?”

Metalhead 2: “Alot of stuff man, like thrash, death metal, metalcore, and other good shit”.

Metalhead 1: “Metalcore? really? All of those bands just rip off At the Gates”.

This is a pretty standard remark for whenever somebody brings up the word metalcore in a discussion of heavy metal.  While I tend to disagree with the claim that all metalcore bands rip off At the Gates, the influence of their riffing clearly bleeds through many of the American metal bands of the 21st century.  So let’s talk about them.

At the Gates formed in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1990.  Their first couple of albums were solid death metal releases.  They were dark, very brutal, and even had some elements of black metal in the mix.  With that said, it was also nothing particularly ground breaking. That all changed with the release of “Terminal Spirit Disease” in 1994.  With this album At the Gates really showed their maturity as they began to organize their various ideas into cohesive song-structures.  This was more or less the turning point for the band as it hinted at the greatness that would come next.

“Slaughter of the Soul” (1995) is their album that everybody tends to reference, whether in a discussion about melodic death metal, metalcore, or the band itself.  Maybe this is due to the fact that it helped to shape the Gothenburg melodic death metal sound, or possibly because it sent the message to American bands to start playing metal again.  Or it could also be a result of the fact that shortly after it’s release At the Gates broke up, making it their last album.  All of these are plausible explanations for why “Slaughter of the Soul” has become a legendary album in the world of extreme metal. But, regardless of the album’s status and legacy,  it’s an absolute masterpiece.  They really brought out everything on “Slaughter of the Soul”, and as a result it became the heaviest, most aggressive melodic death metal album of its time.  Check out the tracks below and see for yourself.

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