Quickie: At The Gates – The Red In The Sky Is Ours
In contrast to something like Devin Townsend, this is an album that is worshiped mainly for its musicological achievements. Heavily worshipped indeed – Slaughter of the Soul gets more acclaim in the long run, but this may remain on its altar for decades at least. It’s theoretically the beginning of Gothenburg metal, although it has little to do with that said beyond its melodic tendencies.
Frankly, this album demonstrates something that’s relatively rare in metal, at least to the best of my knowledge – the use of dissonant intervals and phrases to create an overall consonant sound. This is contrast to the efforts of Kreator or such – on an album like “Terrible Certainty”, they created dissonant sounds by incorporating relatively consonant intervals like major thirds and perfect fourths into their riffage. Of course, there’s a good deal of more “obvious” melodic moments, when the consonance isn’t constructed from various dissonances, and those would become more prevalent with time. On the other hand, the production is weak – it’s rather distant and lacks much presence. The guitar tone comes through well – it’s clear, and every note is audible. Still, I wish they’d went for a more powerful sound – the “Gardens of Grief” demo had a similar sound, but with more of an abrasive edge to it, and the band’s work under the name Grotesque sounds great. At least it has good atmospheric tendencies.
The album indulges in some recursive songwriting – essentially, each song has one or two main riffs, and all the others are extensions of or relations to such – this particularly shows up on “Within”, the longest track. Outside of this, there are some short bursts of violin at various points, often at the climax of a song. The drumming is good, but not really flashy enough that I would notice it – then again, I don’t really pay much attention to it outside of general pattern changes. When the bass makes itself heard, it adds some more depth to the songs, but at points, it’s buried under the guitars.
Highlights include “Within” (which someone at ANUS’s metal site called the shortest 7 minute song ever), “Neverwhere”, and “Kingdom Gone”.