Okay, so it’s been quite a bit since I’ve done a Retro Review but I’ve been thinking of how I wanted to approach this. So I decided, I’ll do one at the end of each month but I’ll leave it to YOU, the readers, to decide what album to do next. To suggest an album, simply leave a comment below with what you’d like me to review. The only guideline is that the album has to be at least 10 years old. I know that my first Retro Review (Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia) doesn’t fit that guideline, but hey, I’m starting this anew. So from here on out, with each Retro Review, leave a comment, I’ll pick an album at random and that will be the next month’s review. But for now, on to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’.
NOTE: I am reviewing the 2002 re-issue as that is the copy I own.
In 1995, an album was released that would forever change the world of metal: ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ by At The Gates. I had never even heard about it until sometime in 2003. I was honestly clueless and just happened to find out about them when I went to a random girl’s MySpace page (hey, she was really hot…) and ‘World of Lies’ started blasting through my speakers. Immediate thought: What the hell is this and where can I get it??? So, the next day, I went to Mediaplay (we’re going old school here), placed a special order and flash-forward one week and there it was in my hands. History, as they say, was made.
But how has the album withstood the test of time? This album came out 15 years ago and I picked it up seven years ago. Does the album still hold the same punch, the same intensity and the same effect that it once did? Well, onwards to see!
The album starts off with ‘Blinded By Fear’, a track that many of you may have played the ever-living hell out of on Rock Band (I know I have). It’s a fast-paced, frantic song that perfectly exemplifies the Goethenburg sound that At The Gates (along with early In Flames and Dark Tranquillity) is credited with creating. Mixing intense ferocity with melodic passages and harmonizations, it’s a track that must have caused untold injuries in mosh pits everywhere.
The production of the album still stands out to me as incredibly impressive considering when it was recorded and how far we’ve come with recording, production and engineering techniques that At The Gates did not have access to at the time. The drums sound thick and powerful (just listen to the intro of ‘World of Lies’) with the cymbals having just the right amount of top end to cut through. The bass creates a solid foundation that peeks it’s head out when needed but sits back comfortably as it should. The guitar tones are something truly unique: They are thick yet articulate, mixing a perfect amount of distortion with fuzz. The vocals are placed just right, allowing for the listener to understand what he is saying (a rarity in this style of music). The additions of synths and electronics here and there help add to the atmosphere that this album creates.
The effects of the release of this album are still widely felt in the world of melodic rock/metal. An album that was well ahead of its time, ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ is a must-have album for any metal fan. And having said that, I give my first perfect score for an album.
5 out of 5 skulls