I've got a guest post today over at Dagensskiva as part of their At the Gates "Suicidal Final Tour" coverage: [click here]
It's funny, I consider "Slaughter of the soul" to be near-perfect, but it's actually not my favorite AtG record. That honor goes to "Terminal spirit disease". I'm not sure if it's because I've burned myself out on "Slaughter..." or because I heard "Terminal..." first, but that's the way it is. I suppose it could also be because the riffs are way more intricate, striking a balance between the weird, overtly-technical songwriting of departed guitarist Alf Svensson and the straightforward, raw power of the tracks on "Slaughter". It's the sound of a band in transition, a trait made even more apparent by the addition of three live versions of old tracks, including one of their very first songs ("All life ends"). It also helps that the acoustic instrumental (a thrash album prerequisite) "And the world returned" is infinitely better than its counterpart on "Slaughter" ("Into the dead sky").
Regardless of which album you prefer, even if you're a die-hard "The red in the sky is ours" fan, At the Gates is a band that has been and will be sorely missed. If you were/are lucky enough to see them this week, I envy you.
At the Gates - Terminal spirit disease
If it wasn't for At the Gates, It's a Trap! would not exist. They were the very first band I ever heard that I associated with having a distinctive "Swedish" sound and I can still fondly remember the day I brought home "Terminal spirit disease". I must've listened to it at least three times in a row; it was an absolute revelation. When the follow-up album "Slaughter of the soul" came out, I listened to it at least once a day, every day for six months straight. So yeah, when I say that At the Gates changed my life, I'm not exaggerating in the slightest. Taking that into account, I am extremely flattered that AtG guitarist Anders Björler agreed to participate in this week's Göteborg feature.
Would you say there is a particular Gbg sound or attitude? If so, how would you describe it?
Gothenburg stood for melody, while for example the Stockholm sound was more Punk / Rock influenced. However, the Gothenburg bands didn't have that much in common. They all had unique styles.
Was there already an established metal scene in Gbg back when AtG first started? Was there ever a point when you realized that there some something special or distinctive going on or did that only happen once you started to get international attention?
There was no metal scene at all. There was only Grotesque [vocalist Tomas Lindberg's old band with scene vet Kristian Wåhlin aka Necrolord plus fellow AtG founding member Alf Svensson] in the Death Metal scene. A couple of Thrash bands like: Intoxicate, Pagandom, Dead End, Valcyrie, Megaslaughter etc...
We didn't realize how big it was going until after we split up. At the Gates were never a big band. We were basically a very small punk band that played melodic death metal.
How close-knit was the Gbg metal community back in the early 90s? Were there any rivalries?
It was very close. Especially the Billdal scene with bands like Dark Tranquillity, Desecrator (Anders Iwers, now Tiamat, and Oscar Dronjak, now Hammerfall). It was a very creative atmosphere. If there was any competition, it was a silent one. i.e - you tried to create the best music possible.
We all met at eachothers' parties, and we hung out at gigs etc. It was basically a large group of friends.
How do you think the city influenced the sound? Are there any particular artists, labels, zines, venues, etc that stand out as having helped shape the scene?
Dolores records was very important. It was also a record store. Through them I got into Carcass in 1989, the rest is history.
I also think that the Gothenburg weather served as an influence for the sound somehow. It's really melancholic sometimes. Very grey and rainy. I think it's very similar to let's say: Seattle.
Are you still based in Gbg nowadays? If so, what keeps you there? How would say things compare now to the old days?
Me and Martin live in Gothenburg. Adrian lives in London. Tomas lives on the east coast of Sweden. Jonas in the middle of Sweden.
We are all older. We experienced the At the Gates thing when we were kids basically. Everything has changed. The venues are closed down. People have moved or they have quit playing music. Basically what keeps me here is friends and family, but I can almost live anywhere in the world. I don't like to be stuck at one place too long. I have lived in other places in Sweden for a while, but always seem to come back to Gothenburg in the end.
Lastly, do you have a particular song that you think best reflects the city?
HUGE thanks again to Anders for contributing and be sure to check out the various At the Gates reunion gigs happening this summer. Also, keep an eye out for a new record from his current band The Haunted as well!
At the Gates - Cold