At the Gates 1996-2008
- Slaughter of the Soul (album, cd) At the Gates
The flames of the end
Everything you’ve heard about Slaughter of the Soul is true. It marks the high water point of the so-called Swedish Blackened Death Metal scene and is easily one of the finest metal albums of the 90s, if not all-time. It is also wildly overrated and revered by poseurs worldwide. However, no matter which side you come down on, its influence and legacy cannot be denied. It’s simply too important to ignore.
My own love affair with At the Gates began only months before Slaughter‘s release. I bought Terminal Spirit Disease completely on a whim, my only knowledge of band being A) that they were from Sweden and B) that they had violin. That’s it, that’s all I had to go on.
In those early, dawning ages of the internet (circa 94/95) I had no way to learn more unless one of my hesher acquaintances dropped some knowledge. Metal mags of that era outside of maybe The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds were universally terrible and I was not yet determined enough to have tapped into the tr00 kvlt metal underground. I was at the mercy of my peers and the local record store clerk, but I had luck on my side.
Of course Terminal Spirit Disease absolutely floored me, how could it not? So naturally I was beyond stoked to discover Slaughter in the racks soon thereafter. No advance notice, no hype, no expectations, but holy shit did that album change my world. I was an instant die-hard Swedish metal fan.
I sought out every artifact of AtG’s discography and beyond. I investigated every artist mentioned in the liner notes along with Tompa‘s legion of sideprojects and even those of cover artist Kristian Wåhlin (aka Necrolord). I even tracked down a copy of Luke Rhinehart‘s book The Diceman. I lived a proper heavy metal existence: slept at my mom’s house to avoid paying rent, worked the graveyard shift alone (I played a lot of Doom), drove around town in a windowless van and spent all my money on CD imports. I must’ve spent hundreds of dollars at Red Stream the summer of 96.
And throughout it all Slaughter of the Soul remained my constant soundtrack. I easily listened to it at least 3 times a day for the first six months of its release, maybe more. I don’t think I’ve ever done with another album and I don’t expect it to ever happen again. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, not like that.
It’s not all hackneyed nostalgia though; if it was, I wouldn’t be writing this. The fact of the matter is that Slaughter of the Soul sounds just as good today as the day it was released. Even the naysayers might have to agree with that one.
And yet, here I am, kicking myself for having sat out the band’s reunion tour. No matter what excuses I might conjure, I know I blew it. At least I can still comfort myself with having seen them the first time around — August 18, 1995 at the Trocadero in SF with Morbid Angel and Dissection (holy shit, what a show!). And now said farewell tour is wrapping up with a few final gigs on Swedish soil. I wish I could be there even more, especially at Trädgårn in Göteborg. Instead, I will sit at home and put Slaughter of the Soul on repeat, just like I used to.
Publicerad: 2008-09-04 23:59 / Uppdaterad: 2008-09-05 09:55