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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Reviews: At The Gates, Ihshan, Angelus Apatrida, Tons (Reviews By Rich)

At The Gates: To Drink From The Night Itself (Century Media)

Swedish melodic death metal masters At The Gates are back with their sixth album To Drink From The Night Itself which is also their second album post-reformation. It is also the first album to be recorded since the departure of founding member Anders Björler. Considering the effect and influence that At The Gates have had on extreme metal it is safe to say a new album comes with very high expectations and I think that fans are going to be divided over To Drink From The Night Itself. Those of you expecting Slaughter Of The Soul Part 2 will be disappointed as this is not a straightforward catchy melodic death metal release such as the aforementioned classic album. 

To Drink From The Night Itself definitely has more in common with earlier works such as The Red In The Sky Is Ours and With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness and has the complex and twisted song structures those albums are known for. It sounds like a cross between those early albums and the streamlined sound found on Terminal Spirit Disease, Slaughter Of The Soul and At War With Reality. This does mean that it's an album that demands your attention as the riffs and melodies are not as straightforward and memorable as to be expected. For those who can spare the time and attention To Drink From The Night Itself is a fantastic melodic death metal album that 100% sounds like At The Gates. 

The distinctive bark come shriek of frontman Tomas Lindberg sounds as good as ever and new guitarist Jonas Stålhammar sits very comfortably alongside longtime guitarist Martin Larsson to form a formidable guitar duo. The songs on To Drink From The Night Itself are some of the most complex material the band have penned for years but there are some definite highlights including the fearsome title track, Palace Of Lepers, In Nameless Sleep, The Colours Of The Beast and A Labyrinth Of Tombs.

At The Gates have with To Drink From The Night Itself produced an album which sounds legitimately like At The Gates but is a far more complex and mature affair which may have a polarizing effect on some of their fanbase. As said above if you have the time to invest in repeat listens of this album then you have a rewarding listening experience ahead of you. I'm personally very happy with this album and am very much looking forward to hearing some of the new material performed at Bloodstock Open Air this year. 8/10

Ihsahn: Ámr (Spinefarm Records)

Ever since the release of his first solo album back in 2006, Emperor frontman Ihsahn has been viewed as one of the most consistent and inspiring musicians within the progressive metal genre. Five albums later and Ihsahn is ready to blow our minds again with his sixth album Ámr. It's safe to say that no one of Ihsahn's solo albums has been the same with each having their own sound, identity and feel and Ámr is no exception with a more streamlined songwriting approach (no songs exceeds the 6 minute mark) and also a greater emphasis on use of keyboards. It seems the analogue synth revival has caught on even with Ihsahn with a prevalent use of retro sounding synthesisers throughout the album. 

The songs are a diverse bunch from the synth drenched apocalyptic dirge of opener Lend Me The Eyes Of The Millenia to the softer and somber tones of Sámr and the schizophrenic nature of Marble Soul. All instruments and vocals apart from the drums are performed by Ihsahn himself and special mention must go to his clean vocals which have never sounded better. Drums are performed by Tobias Ørnes Andersen (formerly of Leprous) who does an absolutely sterling job. You also get Fredrik Åkesson of Opeth popping up to provide a guest guitar solo on Arcana Imperii

Ámr is another fine release in the Ihsahn discography which sees him delve into other musical avenues and provide a diverse and eclectic bunch of songs that should definitely please fans of his previous solo albums. Ihsahn continues to be a driving force in progressive and experimental metal. 8/10

Angelus Apatrida: Cabaret De La Guillotine (Century Media)
Spanish thrashers Angelus Apatrida return with their sixth album Cabaret De La Guillotine. Angelus Apatrida have always been one of the most prolific bands in the 2000's thrash resurgence and they prove their worth with another great thrash album.

As with their previous albums Angelus Apatrida have mastered their own brand of thrash which as well as being fast and aggressive is plentiful in melodies and catchiness. This is most evident in Sharpen The Guillotine, Betrayed and Farewell which as well as containing raging thrashing sections also incorporate strong melodic choruses with impressive clean vocals from frontman Guillermo Izquierdo. Farewell especially channels the bands melodic sensibilities with its pseudo-ballad structure and melodic lead guitar playing. You also get some pounding thrashers on the album such as Ministry Of God, Downfall Of The Nation and One Of Us.

Angelus Apatrida have provided another strong thrashing album. I would say it does start to trail off quality wise towards the end with The Die Is Cast and Witching Hour feeling like filler more than anything but these weaker tracks are overshadowed by the albums strengths. If you after an album with strong melodies but also the ability to wreck your neck then you can go no wrong with Cabaret De La Guillotine. 8/10

Tons: Filthy Flowers Of Doom (HPS Records)

Tons are a doom/sludge metal band from Italy and Filthy Flowers Of Doom is the second album from the band. Filthy Flowers Of Doom does exactly what it says on the tin and is a dirty album of sludge crusted doom. Filthy Flowers Of Doom is packed full of riffs from the classic doom inspired to more NOLA inspired sludge riffs with plenty of power and groove. A strong loud production ensures these songs come crashing out of your speakers with maximum impact. 

Gargantuan riffs combined with the throat shredding vocals of frontman Paolo ensure an abrasive listening experience. Tons aren't reinventing the wheel by any means but are paying homage to the music they love and doing a damn good job at it. If you love the heavier end of doom then this is an album that you should be adding to your playlist immediately. 7/10

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