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At The Gates are a metal band hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, who formed in 1990. They are known for being one of the main progenitors of melodic death metal and are one of the biggest cult bands in the world as a result.
In fact, the sound that At The Gates devised was actually referred to as “The Gothenburg Sound” for a time, thanks in no small part to In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, who all emerged from the city as well. I don’t think there’s a more concrete way that you’d know you’ve perfected a genre than when it’s nicknamed after your home town. However, At The Gates are nothing if not a band that transcends culture, language and taste, they’ve earned your respect, whatever your favoured kind of music.
Their story begins with a band called Grotesque. That band was formed in 1988 by future At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg and guitarist Alf Svensson and when they split in 1990, the duo decided to forge ahead with their own project. They recruited bassist Bjorn Mankner at first, however he was soon replaced by original drummer Jonas Bjorler, whose brother Anders was recruited to play guitar and the line-up was completed by Adrian Erlandsson on the drums. The stage was set, and four months after they formed, they went into the studio to record their debut E.P.
“Gardens of Grief” was the product of those sessions, and it was enough to secure the fledgling band a record deal with the seminal British metal label Peaceville Records. With the band having only been together for a year they set to work on their debut album, and in 1992, released “The Red In The Sky Is Ours”. It was an underground hit, however, the band were in something of a creative purple patch and were back in the studio nine months later, recording their follow up album “With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness”.
While the record was as critically acclaimed as their debut, 1993 also saw the departure of founding guitarist Svensson to pursue a career in tattoo and comic artistry. While that could have kneecapped most other bands, At The Gates instead recruited Martin Larsson to take over and in 1994, made their international breakthrough. This came in two forms, the first was a special edition of MTV’s metal show Headbanger’s Ball dedicated to a gig of theirs in the U.K which raised their profile all over the world, and they capitalised with their album “Terminal Spirit Disease”.
With that record they made a form of death metal one of the most critically acclaimed and influential strands of heavy metal to pop up in the 90’s, even having its fair share of commercial success as well. Since then the group have released two further studio albums, beginning with 1995’s “Slaughter Of The Soul” and continuing after splitting up and reforming twice with 2014’s “At War With Reality”. They upend all assumptions about band reformations by still being every bit as edgy and excellent as they always were and they come highly recommended.