Album Review: At The Gates – The Nightmare of Being

Gothenburg’s favourite sons return with their most exhilarating yet brooding album to date – The Nightmare of Being.

Anybody who knows At the Gates know they are no strangers in pushing boundaries, take for example opening track “Spectre of Extinction”. Its mellow start weaves deceptively well into the band’s style of death metal which is then followed by back to back songs, between the two of which I can’t decide which is my highlight track: “The Paradox” or title track “The Nightmare of Being”, as they are beautifully woven together.

Remember when I mentioned pushing boundaries? Well, there’s a saxophone in “Garden of Cyrus” which sends the listener down a path of sitting out in the evening with a coffee before the later parts take the relaxing part and douse you in bleakness once again. This onslaught on the senses is continued in the haunting Lovecraftian tones of “Touched By The White Hands of Death”.

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Another twist with some fantastic bass parts is the prog-like “The Fall Into Time” and if there was a track that encapsulates the album essence it would have to be “Cult of Salvation”.

The sheer force of “The Abstract Enthroned” weaves into “Cosmic Pessimism”. The spoken elements deserve their own mention purely for how well they work.

Finally, the album ends with “Eternal Winter of Reason” and, as Edward van Sloan said, “I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So, if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now’s your chance to uh, well,––we warned you.” In all honesty, the same could be said for this entire release, as so many times through this listening experience I had to take moments to fully appreciate the album as a collective due to it pulling you in so many directions emotionally.

Easily the band’s boldest and darkest album to date.

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The Nightmare of Being is out on July 2nd

Check out all the bands we review in 2021 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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