If you are one of those Metal heads who loves the powerful drive and intensity of Melodic Death Metal then you probably already have this molten masterpiece in your music collection for it is with At The Gates' Slaughter Of The Soul that the soon to be called "Gothenburg Sound" first earned its name. Originally released in 1995, the album is considered to be one of the seminal works in the genre and it was with this release and alongside bands like Dark Tranquillity and In Flames that a genre was defined. The music scene in 1995 over in Sweden was clearly different as those three bands delivered music like this while the heavy music fans in the States got the Grunge Movement and while some of those bands were also profound there were hundreds being signed to deals that were nothing of the sort. The more Metalized fans began to focus their attention on the European nations and allowed bands like At The Gates to become legends, inspirations, and nothing less than leaders in the field of this new brand of Death Metal. The special edition of Slaughter Of The Soul will remind both older and newer fans of this influence as tracks like "Blinded By Fear" and "Unto Others" slam you into the wall with an unbridled sense of power once again and since this is a remastered edition the songs sound brighter and cleaner than they ever have before. There is a lot of mood and aggression being delivered on this one and while it was the bands fourth studio release it is clearly one of their very best and I am happy to report that it has withstood the tests of time and stands strong and tall above all such efforts that came after it. Across the release you will find a number of different time signatures and feels that all tie together well and bring a consistency of sound that is never boring to the ear or even repetitive. There really isn't a bad number to be found on the recording and it is probably the reason behind the album getting so much popularity. The band featured Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Anders Bjorler (guitar), Jonas Bjorler (bass), Adrian Erlandsson (drums) and Martin Larsson (guitar) and while they would disband in 1996 and form or join onto other projects the influences on this release still resonate across a myriad of Metal bands from many different nations. Another thing I enjoyed about this special edition was that it was loaded with extra tracks and gives you six more to listen to immediately after the album completes its run. These are a mixture of covers done by the band for various reasons back in the day and a couple of demo versions of songs that would come to be "Slaughter Of The Soul" classics. The liner notes in the enclosed lyric book not only provide the documentation for the songs on the epic but they even take time to inform you a little bit about each track and what they thought of it. They also do this for the bonus tracks and I liked that very much since we don't often see additions to the booklet to explain the extras. Wrapped in a slipcase, this also comes with a live concert DVD from 1995 and includes a documentary film about the making of the album. The bottom line is if you already own the CD, perhaps its time to upgrade and give the old one to a friend who can use some education in this area.
DVD: Live In Krakow, Poland (12/30/1995): Terminal Spirit Disease, Cold, The Swarm, Blinded By Fear, Nausea, Forever Blind, Need, Kingdom Gone.
*** I was very surprised at the quality found on the DVD performance because shows of this kind were not always captured well in terms of both audio and video but the At The Gates performance presented here was a crystal clear visual and apparently a sound board audio. The band is also playing at what seems to be a very small club and while the audience is not included in the audio mix all that much you can see the excitement in their eyes and actions as At The Gates plays within feet of them on the small stage. This is also more than a one camera aimed at the stage shoot, and we find several different angles presented. I had to say that I found it much more interesting to watch based on these finer points and of course the bands performance was on target as well and finds them delivering earlier classics alongside four numbers from "Slaughter Of The Soul". Once the viewer recovers from the concert film they can sit down with the band and enjoy the documentary about the making of the legendary album. It offers some great insight and should be a learning experience for all who take the time to absorb it.
1. Blinded By Fear
2. Slaughter Of The Soul
4. Under A Serpent Sun
5. Into The Dead Sky
6. Suicide Nation
7. World Of Lies
8. Unto Others
11. The Flames Of The End
12. Legion (Slaughterlord cover) - bonus
13. The Dying (unreleased) - bonus
14. Captor Of Sin (Slayer cover) - bonus
15. Unto Others (95' demo) - bonus
16. Suicide Nation (95' demo) - bonus
17. Bister Verklighet (No Security cover) - bonus