Etched in history as one of the first bands responsible for the creation of what we now refer to as metalcore, At The Gates have more than cemented their legacy in the annals of metal with 1995’s Slaughter Of The Soul still standing tall today as a mega power of extreme music. While metalcore is seen as almost something completely different today, the Swedish quintet hammered through a style in the mid 90’s which had scarcely been heard before – and would not be forgotten.
To Drink From The Night Itself is the very epitome of “It does what it says on the tin”, if you’re pressing play here you’re expecting a fair heaping of death metal – and that’s exactly what you receive. Less progressive and creative than some of the bands other works, this record comes with little surprise but a whole lot of force.
The one-two kick of the title track and ‘A Stare Bound In Stone’ are your standard death metal tropes, shattering drum sounds from Adrian Elandsson and ominous growls from Thomas Lindberg. There’s not much to criticise here but equally little to rave about either – and it feels a little too bland for an outfit with a back catalogue as strong as At The Gates’.
Thankfully things get more interesting from here on out; ‘Daggers Of Black Haze’ gives the guitars of Martin Larsson and Jonas Stalhammer time to flex their muscles with an almost flamenco-esque riff giving way to a screeching solo, a welcome stab of ingenuity at this juncture in the record. While ‘The Colours Of The Beast’ is almost beatdown-like in its unforgiving thump, this isn’t reinvention by any means but it’s certainly is where At The Gates sound at their most potent on the record.
Truth be told, at this point you’d be surprised if many of To Drink From The Night Itself’s listeners were newcomers to the band, but even if there are: ‘In Death They Shall Burn’ and ‘Labyrinth Of Tombs’ welcome you with a gut punch. Part thrash, part white knuckled metal – At The Gates do a commendable job throughout this record hitting every point pre-established fans would want, and burning with enough fire to bring newbies on board – anyone with a thirst for titan sized metal tones will be quenched here.
While To Drink From The Night Itself isn’t likely to be looked at in future years as an album that made a significant change in the wings of metal, it’s most definitely a record that adds further credence to At The Gates’ historic legacy. While bands like Behemoth continue to carry extreme metal forward, with this new effort At The Gates can sit pretty as one of the most important extreme acts of the 90’s who still have a few riffs to cave your head in with.