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At The Gates – At War With Reality

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Always a huge discussion, always a huge decision. Do you leave the legacy as it is or do you think you have something to offer? Are the fans ready to embrace your new material after all those years or do they want to keep the memories closer to them? So many things have been said about the reunion and the news that At The Gates was recording again. Be it positive, negative…or just simply indifference. But it doesn’t matter if you like it or not; here it is, the official comeback after almost 2 decades. “At War With Reality” is unmistakably At The Gates, but you can definitely hear the Björler brothers have done something else the years after At The Gates. There are certainly some The Haunted moments in it, but hell…how many people said they heard At The Gates moments in The Haunted. Let’s call it the typical Björler-new-millennium-riff-trademark. If you ask me what the difference is between “Slaughter of the Soul” and “At War With Reality”, I would say the 2014 version is much more mature as there is less youthful fury and more emphasis on musicianship. Don’t forget these guys were only 22 or 23 years of age during the “Slaughter of the Soul”-era. This album is the result of all the experiences and growth as musicians of every band member throughout the years. The pace and fury is less; the accent on (slightly progressive) song structures, technique and a bit of dark and epic atmosphere is increased. Tracks like “At War with Reality” and “The Conspiracy of the Blind” can be easily added into the setlist between all the other killer tracks. And I consider the chorus of “Heroes and Tombs” as a great one among other good leads, vocal performances and melodies. There is without doubt a lot to enjoy on “At War With Reality” and I also don’t think a lot of people want a “Slaughter of the Soul” part II. Personally I miss that youthful fury or that worked up rage from time to time during this album, without considering this album as a miss or disappointment. But maybe the lack of fury is explainable as At The Gates had some irritating experiences on tour before “Slaughter of the Soul” and wanted to make their own “Reign in Blood”. This album is more than a good addition into the discography of At The Gates and maybe one of the better albums of this year, but sometimes it’s hard not to compare it with the past. Probably, as a musician, when you get older and more experienced, you change your standard considering fury and rage. And probably a lot of listeners do the same as well. I compare the impact of this album with Carcass’ “Surgical Steel”, both are beyond good and will be recognized, yet a group will always grab back to the old albums because of nostalgic value. At the end: This is At The Gates 2014, it’s up to you if you can keep your nostalgic feelings aside. But if you do, I think you will find this one hell of an album. (Ricardo)