Considering the clamour for the return of the band, since Sweden’s At The Gates returned back in 2011, it has been a series of festival appearances or one off shows rather than tours. It was three years into that comeback before they graced us with new music with comeback album “At War With Reality”, which was always going to suffer in comparison to its seminal predecessor “Slaughter Of The Soul” despite the nineteen year gap. Since then it has been another five years’ light on news from the camp until the announcement of album number six. So where does “To Drink From The Night Itself” stack up in their rich catalogue.
The album opens with the acoustic and orchestral instrumental ‘Der Widerstand’ which starts quietly and dramatically builds up towards the end of its ninety seconds before you are hit square in the face with the title track. It immediately has that classic At The Gates guitar sound and Tomas visceral vocals that make you immediately sit up and take notice. Similarly, most of the early tracks along with ‘In Death They Shall Burn’ and ‘In Nameless Sleep’ could easily have found their way on to “Slaughter…” pace wise, so they are onto a winner from very early on.
There are a few more mid paced tracks on here than on previous At The Gates albums, the likes of ‘Daggers Of Black Haze’ and the monolithic ‘The Colours Of The Beast’ bringing something a bit different to the table and coming across very well. Arguably it’s the slower material that really stands out on this release. They have taken their trademark sound (that has been copied many times) and done something new with it, rather than reinvent themselves, which results in the familiar but fresh sound of the album. Something that a lot of bands try to do, but rarely manage to successfully attempt.
OK, “To Drink From The Night Itself” may not exactly be up there with their very best, but very little will ever reach that level to be honest, but what we have here is still a quality album. They have gone more for the “Terminal Spirit Disease” sounds rather than “Slaughter…” with a lot of the tracks having a darker, bleaker edge to them than the more recognisable thrash fuelled assault. Like Carcass have done with their comeback, they have been measured and released something when they are ready and it really shows. For many other bands, something like this could have been a landmark release, for At The Gates, it’s merely another very good album to add to the other five they have already released.