Four years have passed since the critically acclaimed triumphant return of At The Gates, which in turn succeeded a twenty year long hiatus after the band left an undeniable mark on the 90’s with at least one genre-defining album and other great releases. At War With Reality (2014) left me with the feeling of greeting an old friend that had somewhat matured over time, without losing the main personality traits that made me call him a friend in the first place. Similarly, the death-metal titans’ latest studio release – titled To Drink From The Night Itself (2018) – builds further upon that sentiment, while simultaneously adding subtle hints of experimentation that do wonders at keeping the mould from spreading in their sound.
As expected, the album is a heavy, hard-hitting testament to fast-paced aggression, although not completely devoid of slower tunes. However, the band did great at retaining their typical fast-tempo madness without sacrificing subtlety and groove. So, make no mistake, this is not your typical generic modern death-metal album, and such is not to be expected from one of the forefathers of the more melodic side death-metal. The crushing and sometimes dissonant riffs often intertwine with catchy and epic melodies in the classic approach that defines the subgenre that At The Gates assisted in inventing. Drums are basically what you would expect in an At The Gates record – tons of skank beat alternated with groovier bits filled with copious amounts of double-bass pedal. Instrumentally, “To Drink From The Night Itself” has moments that are almost new to the band – such as the song “Daggers Of Black Haze” – where we can see them explore a more experimental side.
As per usual, Tomas Lindberg fills this record with his rough, gnarled vocal lines, accompanied by spectacular lyrics that really paint a picture reminiscent of great classical authors such as Poe and Wilde. These are delivered with metrics that actually get stuck in your head – as it did on mine, regarding the album’s title track. Production value is average, with every instrument easily listenable and distinguishable from the rest, although it would be interesting to hear these songs with a slightly less organic and more aggressive sound.
Overall, this album is yet another great work by At The Gates, and a very positive contribution to their discography. Despite the inevitability regarding comparisons with more successful releases such as “Slaughter Of The Soul” or “The Red In The Sky Is Ours”, this album is far from being a simple imitation of previous works, and should not be regarded as such. Despite the fact of being slightly “business as usual”, To Drink From The Night Itself remains its own beast, and an impressive one at that.