At the Gates – The Nightmare of Being [REVIEW]

At the Gates – The Nightmare of Being is the latest offering from the influential, melodic Swedish death metal act. To say that At the Gates are influential in the metal world would be an understatement. This group of Swedish death rockers formed way back in 1990 and bands like Darkest Hour, Soilwork, Arch Enemy and many more, cite them as a major influence.

So when their new record The Nightmare of Being came across my desk I had to give it a thorough listen.

At the Gates – The Nightmare of Being

At the Gates – The Nightmare of Being kicks off with the track Spectre of Extinction. The song starts off with a beautifully played acoustic riff that eventually builds into an epic, full scale metal assault. Once it kicks into high gear it becomes apparent that At the Gates are back and none of their intensity is gone. Track 2 The Paradox continues to bludgeon listeners with intense riffs and drumming never letting up.

Track 3 The Nightmare of Being – the title track, begins with a clean guitar riff and slow rolling bass. It wastes no time building in intensity before breaking back down to a slow churn. The lead break is calm and flows well with the song. Despite it’s title, the song has a very natural, comfortable vibe during the verse sections.

The Garden of Cyrus starts with a really interesting melodic guitar riff and has a saxophone solo at one point. There aren’t even any vocals until the 2nd half of the song which makes for a really interesting arrangement.

The next track Touched by the White Hands of Death slowly builds a mood until it explodes into what is probably one of my favorite – and also one of the most memorable riffs on the album. Meanwhile, The Fall Into Time has an epic intro that starts with a melodic guitar riff and builds into a symphonic overture. The interludes and intro’s on this album are very cinematic in nature. It makes for fantastic use of the light and shade dynamic that Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) always spoke about – the more pretty your light parts are the darker and heavier your shade parts sound. The song eventually erupts into a double kick driven rager with all the breakdowns and tom rolls a metal fan could hope for.

At the Gates 2021

The song Cult of Salvation builds up to an epic melodic yet abrasive crescendo. The chorus on this song is intense and haunting. The breakdown runs that follow the chorus lead the song back into oblivion.

The Abstract Enthroned comes fast and heavy right out of the gate and only lets up for a few moments before it plows back into organized chaos.

Cosmic Pessimism is the biggest departure on the album so far. The song opens with a pretty straightforward melodic riff and a vocal that is spoken word. The song stays pretty even tempoed but it definitely works. It eventually builds up into something just as intense as its predecessors.

Finally, Eternal Winter of Reason rounds out the track list with massive, crushing verse riffs and breakdowns. The chorus has the massive symphonic synthesizers that call to memory Faith No More’s Angel Dust. A perfect and epic bookend to the album.

Whether you are a longtime fan of the band or a metalhead who just discovered them – you will not be disappointed by this release. Buy the album here – stream it on Apple Music / iTunes here or listen on Spotify here.