Feb 192012

“We are blind to the world within us… waiting to be reborn.”

No more badass sentence could’ve been uttered to brace you for the impact of this album.

Five bands define melodic death metal for me: At The Gates, Arch Enemy on their first three records, Soilwork pre-Natural Born Chaos, In Flames on Jester Race and Whoracle, and Carcass on Heartwork.  If a band isn’t borrowing from these audio “how to do melodic death metal right” 101 manuals, I usually have no interest in their music.  While others were busy playing with themselves over how folksy or even poppy they could make their melodies, these three bands knew how to bring the melody, the darkness, and the intensity, all in a single package.

Obviously, you know who I’m talking about today: Slaughter Of The Soul is one of my top 20 albums of all time.

I’ve already touched on my love for this album in a prior installment of my Revisiting the Classics series (which I really need to get off my ass and continue). I labeled it with accolades such as “The melodic death metal standard”.  I still stand by this, although I do think there is more than one standard (and others will eventually appear on this list).  This album is vicious, fast (a must), memorable, and technical, all at once.

The riffs may not seem like much to some, but the intricacy with which they were crafted is to me simply self-evident. Such careful attention was paid to the melodies, which are tastefully direct and no-nonsense.  That guitar tone that sounds like the impact of a sledgehammer splitting a hunk of stone still gets me every time as well, not to mention the inhumanly tight playing of guitarists Anders Björler and Martin Larsson.

I’ve often heard this album characterized as the Reign In Blood of melodeath, and this is definitely true.  It’s only 34 minutes long, and it is nothing but ruthless, fast, and thrashy while still maintaining the melodic death metal core.  These songs are all of perfect length, brutalizing the listener in as proficient and succinct a way as possible.  The cherry on top comes with Tomas Lindberg’s morbid and agony-ridden lyrics, which really add to the darkness of the album.

Did I mention the aggression? Man . . . I don’t think I’ve ever heard a melodic death metal album this unrelenting, either before or since.  I remember always screwing up my neck while listening to this because I couldn’t resist windmilling and headbanging the fuck out of my skull.

It would probably be redundant for me to continue on with this, because I think I said my piece in that Revisiting the Classics article.  Besides, more words would still leave me unable to fully express  what I feel to be the timelessness of this album, and the cathartic explosion of rage and sadness it encompasses.


“Slaughter of the Soul”

[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/02-Slaughter-Of-The-Soul.mp3|titles=At the Gates – Slaughter Of The Soul]


  1. Their finest hour before they split up. I actually like all of Lindberg’s toher projects, and the first 2 The Haunted records better than anything else ATG did

    • I wish Lindberg would’ve stayed in Nightrage. Their first two albums were melodic death metal gold.

      I also enjoyed his stint in The Crown, but I’ll be honest, I prefer the re-recorded version of that album with Johan Lindstrand’s vocals on it. I couldn’t get over them having only one album without him on it.

    • I’ll have to disagree, ATGs whole discography is great. The earlier material is a bit quirkier though as Alf had a tendency to write weirder stuff, but listen to it on the live DVD from Wacken where you get the benefit of modern technology and sound and it’s just amazing stuff.

      The Haunted albums are good in their own right, but if you imagine ATG having released the Haunted’s self titled as the follow-up to SotS I’m pretty sure most people would have been disappointed.

  2. No complaints about your comments on this album, but how can any list of the five defining melo-death bands NOT include Dark Tranquility? I know, not as fast and ugly as early Soilwork, but one of the most consistently good to great bands I know of. Also, some of the best lyrics in the genre, which is something that I consider important.

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