At the Gates - At War With Reality

With the status At the Gates has in the metal community and the fact that they finished their recording career with one of the best metal albums ever recorded how could this album ever live up to the expectations surrounding it? In short it doesn't, no album can. At The Gates will never make an album like "Slaughter Of The Soul" just like Metallica will never make another "Master of Puppets". Any one with a bit of common sense will approach this album with a clean slate and just be happy they have a new album from the band at all.

I've got to be honest I was much underwhelmed on my first listen of this album, gut sinking disappointment. I don't know what I was expecting or even what I wanted from the album but the whole thing just past me like a speeding train and I was left thinking "What was that then?" Carcass - Surgical Steel this was not! After another couple of listen's I was of the opinion that it was far from a bad album you could listen to it easily enough, and I felt it had a dark, winter-y atmosphere. The same a "Slaughter..." that album along with everything else great about it, had this feeling that just complimented dark, wet miserable weather. It was a winter/night time album. This is also the case with "At War With Reality" it has that certain feeling but it lacked stand out tracks but I kept listening. I knew this wasn't a bad album..... Then a day came where I kept getting certain melodies, certain licks or solo's stuck in my head I knew where they from. On the next listen everything fell together and the album made sense.

The album opens with a one, two punch like "Slaughter…" It starts with a fast number 'Death And The Labyrinth' and then the mid paced real opener, the title track. 'The Circular Ruins' and 'Heroes And Tombs' are slow songs that build up with melodic passages that build the atmosphere while 'The Conspiracy Of The Blind' returns to vintage At the Gates. As does the rest of the album, they try new things and stick to their vintage sound which they invented and both aspects blend nicely.

I like this album the more I hear it, it works as a whole. It needs to be taken as a whole body of work unlike its predecessor which was a fantastic collection of individual songs, It is the logical follow up to "Slaughter…". They are polar opposites in that respect. Given the long gap between albums you can tell each member has taken everything they have learnt in that time and come back to their original starting point and poured everything they gained into this album.

For me this was a slow burner that rewarded repeated listens. I'm curious to see what I think of this album a year from now, the more I listen to it I have no doubt's that these songs will fit perfectly into the band's live set on their upcoming tours. If your an At the Gates fan (and who isn't?) No doubt you already have your own opinion, But it's safe to say all is well in the world of At The Gates in 2014, now about that new Haunted album!

  1. El Altar Del Dios Desconocido
  2. Death And The Labyrinth
  3. At War With Reality
  4. The Circular Ruins
  5. Heroes And Tombs
  6. The Conspiracy Of The Blind
  7. Order From Chaos
  8. The Book Of Sand (The Abomination)
  9. The Head Of The Hydra
  10. City Of Mirrors
  11. Eater Of Gods
  12. Upon Pillars Of Dust
  13. The Night Eternal