At the Gates - _Suicidal Final Art_
by: Pedro Azevedo (
These days Peaceville may be more famous for My Dying Bride and Anathema, but there is huge injustice in forgetting this is also the label that released At the Gates' first three full-length records. In my view, At the Gates have always had the ability to innovate and influence other bands and a whole scene with their talent, uniqueness and vision. Their records remain as classics that to me seem not only virtually ageless but also unparalleled in some ways. _Slaughter of the Soul_ in particular sets the standard [CoC #4, #48], but the uniqueness of _The Red in the Sky Is Ours_ and _With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness_ and also the special blend found in _Terminal Spirit Disease_ remain equally unmatched in their own way. In addition to their aggressiveness, technicality and excellent songwriting skills, At the Gates further mark their importance in the history of metal with the sheer emotion they have always managed to imbue their music with. If you don't know these masters of Swedish death metal yet, then I hope that by now I have managed to impart to you at least some of the quality, importance and relevance I find in their work. _Suicidal Final Art_, the compilation now at hand, arrives six years after AtG's swansong album, _Slaughter of the Soul_, the final and also highest point of their career. Only two tracks from _Slaughter of the Soul_ (which came out on Earache) are featured, but I must say I find that a good effort from Peaceville in trying to make sure this compilation isn't flawed through the omission of the band's greatest achievement. The bonuses for those who already own the entire AtG discography are mildly appetising, but far from overwhelming. First, a band biography written by vocalist Tomas Lindberg, which in my case provided an interesting read. Second, two demo versions of songs from _With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness_, which are good but not amazingly different from the better known versions. And third, enhanced CD-ROM video clips of "Terminal Spirit Disease" and the very unique "The Burning Darkness", which constitute nice collector's items, but aren't something you are likely to be watching over and over again. All put together, there may be just about enough to justify a purchase if you already own their records, but I would have -really- appreciated a few unreleased live cuts. If you are not familiar with everything AtG released, however, you should definitely consider buying this collection of brilliant tracks as a starting point for purchasing the albums themselves (hence my balanced 7 out of 10 rating). Contrarily to, for example, the first part of the My Dying Bride compilation [CoC #51], I feel the value of _Suicidal Final Art_ depends mostly on how familiar you are with the band; it has something to offer even to those who own their whole discography, but I feel including some unreleased live tracks would have made a lot of difference. If you don't know the band, however, then either buy this or take advantage of Peaceville's current series of reissues, which includes the first three AtG full-length albums.
(article published 5/13/2001)
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