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|At the Gates|
At the Gates performing live at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2008.
|The Burning Darkness|
At the Gates is a Swedish death metal band from Gothenburg, a major progenitor of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal. The band was initially active from 1990 to 1996, reforming in 2007 for a tour between April and September 2008. In 2011, they reformed again and have since continued to perform. They released At War with Reality, their first album in 19 years, in late 2014.
At the Gates were formed in 1990 by former members of the death/black metal band Grotesque. They recorded a debut EP, Gardens of Grief, for the Dolores record label. The EP led seminal metal label Peaceville Records to sign the band, and they released their debut full-length album, The Red in the Sky Is Ours in 1992.
After the recording of their second studio album, With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness, founding member and guitarist Alf Svensson left the band in 1993 to pursue tattoo artistry, graphic novel illustration and his solo electronic-opera-black metal project Oxiplegatz. He was soon replaced by former House of Usher guitarist Martin Larsson, who the band knew from underground tape trading. The band continued touring Europe, and were filmed for a Headbangers Ball special feature in Nottingham, UK in July 1993.
The band continued touring and in 1995 released their most commercially and critically successful album: Slaughter of the Soul, on Earache Records. The album is regarded as their strongest death metal effort, compared to previous albums. This album firmly rooted the band as one of the leaders of the Swedish metal scene, the "Gothenburg sound" of melodic death metal. The band received international attention for the album, gaining them several U.S. tours and heavy rotation of the music video for Blinded by Fear on MTV in America, but despite this international success, the Björler brothers departed in 1996. The remaining members decided it would be impossible to continue without them, so the band broke up.
When At the Gates broke up in 1996, drummer Adrian Erlandsson, bassist Jonas Björler, and guitarist Anders Björler formed The Haunted. Tomas Lindberg went on working with different bands including Skitsystem, The Crown, Lock Up, and Nightrage. Erlandsson left The Haunted in 1999 to join Cradle of Filth. In 2001, Peaceville Records released an At the Gates retrospective called Suicidal Final Art.
On October 18, 2007, At the Gates announced several reunion shows for mid-2008, including Getafe Electric Festival, Roskilde Festival, Ruisrock, Wacken Open Air, Graspop Metal Meeting, Sweden Rock Festival, Gods of Metal, Hellfest Summer Open Air and Bloodstock Open Air, as well as a tour of Japan with The Dillinger Escape Plan, Into Eternity, Pig Destroyer, and Mayhem in May 2008.
Anders Björler commented on the reunion:
|"||Well, it felt like the timing was right for once. We have been talking about a possible reunion for years now, but this was the first time everything fell into place. For me personally, it feels like getting closure. The break-up over ten years ago was abrupt and left a bad vibe between us that took years to get over. We have a better relationship today and a more relaxed approach to who we are and what we do. The time is right to get together and play some shows. Try to catch us live in the summer 2008. It could be your last chance.||"|
On the band's official website, Björler declared that "it would be pointless to release something more than ten years after Slaughter of the Soul" and "would just disappoint people."
When asked in October 2007 if the band was planning on writing a new album, Lindberg replied:
|"||No new record will be recorded. The legacy of Slaughter of the Soul will remain intact. It would be fun to write together, but not under the name of At the Gates.||"|
Throughout July 2008, they toured the US and Canada on what was dubbed the "Suicidal Final Tour", and played their final UK show at Bloodstock Open Air on Sunday on 17 August 2008. They finished their last show in Athens, Greece, with guest The Ocean on 21 September 2008.
The band's performance at Wacken Open Air in 2008 is available on The Flames of the End DVD boxed set, which also includes clips of songs from other venues and a documentary that covers the history of the band in its entirety.
In December 2010, the band announced a second reunion in their hometown (Gothenburg, Sweden), with plans to perform at Metaltown 2011. Later that month, they announced that they would perform at Bloodstock Open Air in Derbyshire, England.
On January 29, 2012, At the Gates announced on their official Facebook page that they would be doing more reunion shows in 2012. They appeared at the Brutal Assault and Vagos Open Air festivals in August, and also Resurrection Fest in Spain. They also appeared on board the Barge to Hell which sailed out of Miami in December.
On January 21, 2014, At the Gates released a video on YouTube showing a distorted video with lines of text on it, followed by text saying "2014", possibly hinting toward possible lyrics for an upcoming album. On January 27, the band revealed on Facebook via a new cover photo and profile picture, that their confirmed fifth record would be titled, At War with Reality and would be released in the fall of 2014 through Century Media.
Asked whether At War with Reality is At the Gates' final album or if the band will continue recording, Tomas Lindberg replied, "We can't say really. We have no plans of stopping but we've broken promises before so it's best not to say anything." In numerous recent interviews members of the band have expressed interest in doing a follow-up album.
At The Gates concluded the touring cycle for At War with Reality in August 2016 with a festival appearance at Elb Riot in Hamburg, Germany.
On 8 March 2017 in an official statement released by the band, they announced that Anders Björler had departed from the band. Despite Anders' departure, they went on to confirm that they are now working on a follow-up studio album to 2014's At War with Reality, which they are aiming to record and release in 2018. In September 2017, Jonas Stålhammar was announced as the new guitarist to take the place of Björler on a permanent basis, but joined too late to be involved in the writing process of the new album. They entered the studio to begin recording the album in November 2017, titled To Drink from the Night Itself, which was released through Century Media Records on May 18, 2018.
The band's melodic and melancholic death metal style "would inspire the whole Gothenburg region". According to Steve Huey, Slaughter of the Soul "lacked the intricate twin-guitar leads of In Flames, the complex song structures of Dark Tranquillity, the progressive artistry of Edge of Sanity, or even the rock & roll underpinnings of latter-day Entombed. Slaughter of the Soul was more rooted in American thrash (especially Slayer) than its peers, and didn't seem to be consciously trying to break new ground. It was simply a stripped-down, no-frills melodic death album that hit all the basic points of the style. [...] It's also important to note that in place of the usual guttural death grunts, vocalist Tomas Lindberg here adopts a strangled shriek that keeps the lyrics somewhat intelligible."
At the Gates were nominated for a Swedish Grammy (Grammis) for Slaughter of the Soul in 1996, but did not win. They won the Swedish Grammy (Grammis) in February 2015 for the 2014 comeback album At War with Reality. The band were also awarded the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Inspiration Award in June 2015.
Session and touring musicians