Review AT THE GATES ‘The Nightmare of Being’

I think that ‘The Nightmare of Being’ shows in an excellent way a band that never stands still and always challenge themselves as well as pushing genre framings to a next level. There is the ‘Slaughter of the Soul’ album from 1995 which is a reference album that stands for the first era of At The Gates. It’s an album that fully lives by the captured fierceness and brutality instead of many dimensions.

After a long hiatus the Swedish death metal masters returned with ‘At War With Reality’ in 2014, a longplayer that started a new phase which is equally exciting as the first leg of this exciting death metal journey. At The Gates evolved over time and that’s reflected on the various records too. ‘The Nightmare of Being’ is the next chapter and without a doubt, the band wrote and recorded their most mature longplayer today.

At The Gates newest release is a musical curveball. It is none of these records that opens the entire musical treasure box right away. This album needs time and attention which help the listeners to dive into songs that are dark, fascinating, and distracting.

In line with the music is the lyrical approach to the album. Frontman Tomas Lindberg Redant read something by Thomas Ligotti. Horror and dark philosophy are what is focus of Ligotti, the philosophy of pessimism. This was the starting point for the album and the lyrical approach. ‘The Nightmare of Being’ is darker and more philosophic than the earlier releases and still represents At The Gates.

There are the raw and unbound death metal anthems, like the racing ‘The Paradox’ and the throbbing ‘The Abstract Enthroned’. In addition, and almost as a counterpart, the album contains with ‘Garden of Cyrus’ and ‘Cosmic Pessimism’ songs with twists and layers. At The Gates enter the fields of bands like King Crimson and it’s not a threat to their trademarks. These prog-like moments are an addition that enriches their sound as well as it overcomes the risk of boring repetition. Songs from At The Gates, including a saxophone, is not the normal but what is certain in these days of uncertainty? The mentioned ‘Cosmic Pessimism’ is different too and a highlight on ‘The Nightmare of Being’. Lindberg Redant isn’t really singing nor growling. It’s a narrative approach that dominates and creates a sinister atmosphere, amplified by a hypnotic beat and a dark riff.

‘The Nightmare of Being’ showcases a band that never stands still without losing a close connection to their roots. The quintet, hailing from Gothenburg, stays true to themselves and their sound and at the same time add new elements to their songs that allow a bigger contrast which helps to intensify the different style element the guys handle in 2021. This album is massive and dark. It shares a gloom, one can’t escape from. At The Gates created another milestone that can easily stand next to earlier classics.

Rating: 9 out of 10.


  1. Spectre of Extinction
  2. The Paradox
  3. The Nightmare of Being
  4. Garden of Cyrus
  5. Touched by the White Hands of Death
  6. The Fall into Time
  7. Cult of Salvation
  8. The Abstract Enthroned
  9. Cosmic Pessimism
  10. Eternal Winter of Reason

Label: Century Media

Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Release Date EU: July 2nd, 2021



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