Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. TBT number 65 rounds off a month featuring one of my favorite genres in the metalverse: Melodeath. Now, here on TBT I like to carve a large swath in the vast, blackened fields of metal.
Entries in this series could entail lesser-known gems, forgotten favorites, misunderstood memories, underrated undeniables, bonda-fide game changers, secret sounds, or landmark lovables. Today's entry lands in the 'iconic' category, for all roads paved in melodeath-laden tar lead back to At The Gates and their seminal album Slaughter of the Soul.
AT THE GATES SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL
Release Date: October 1995
Record Label: Earache
What haven't we here at Metal Injection said about Slaughter of the Soul? Back in 2013 we called it the 8th most influential metal album of all time. We called The Björler family one of the most talented families in metal. Banger TV put Slaughter of the Soul in their Metal Evolution: The Albums series calling it "highly influential, severely underrated". Earache records kept Slaughter of the Soul alive by reissues, and this 2017 Metal Injection piece dives into that history as well the story behind At The Gates break up in 1996.
Want the story behind this album? This engaging 25-minute BangerTV documentary is perfectly personal and an excellent insight on process behind Slaughter of the Soul:
Sam Dunn, documentary interviewer and a man whom I have tremendous respect for, says succinctly how I feel about Slaughter of the Soul, "back in 1995, I was listening to a lot of extreme metal. But, when I heard Slaughter of the Soul it changed my understanding of what you could do in metal. The sound of the guitars was unique, the way they combined guitar harmonies hadn't been done before in extreme metal. And the sound of Thomas Linburg's voice was very different than anything else that was going on at the time." Fredrik Nordstrom, producer for Slaughter of the Soul, goes on to say "the mentality of the recording was make it very, very precise, very tight. We talked a lot about machines, actually. Make it sound like machines."
If this isn't the first melodeath album, it's certainly one of the earliest. Slaughter of the Soul is often lauded as a genre-building album, pursuing a more melodic take on death metal which helped to establish the iconic Gothenburg scene.
Instead of going on and on about the importance of the album, just take the time to listen to track "Cold" and judge for yourself:
Machine-like, technical, melodic, deathy, gorgeous, emotional, charging, evolving and damn-near perfect. It's rare that I cut my words short but in the spirit of the mere 34-minute length of Slaughter of the Soul; I'll say with this: This album is timeless. Capturing the darkness of death metal and combining it with expressive melody in such short-sustaining riffs created a new kind of music. While there are many bands who play in the melodeath arena, Slaughter of the Soul has a magic – every single piece falls into place just 'so'. It's an absolute influence on the modern metal scene. It will take you just over an half and hour to experience some of the best music the melodeath subgenre has to offer.
Got your melodeath favorites? Share them down below or tag us in your social media @metalinjection and @melodeathmarch.