Interview with At The Gates: The Soul’s Swan Song

At The Gates (Niklas Sundin)At The Gates, in a way, have been mute for 12 years, since their breakup in the summer of 1996. But their collective parts have been anything but silent since the innovators of the Gothenburg sound went their separate ways. The brothers Bjorler, Anders and Jonas (guitar and bass), started The Haunted with drummer Adrian Erlandsson. Erlandsson went on to join Cradle Of Filth. And singer Tomas Lindberg has worked on a number of projects since, most recently Disfear.

But along with rhythm guitarist Martin Larsson, 13 years ago, they crafted a watershed metal release, one that has steadily gained fame as metal fans have grown up and rediscovered it. It’s called Slaughter Of The Soul. If you don’t own it by this paragraph, put down the paper, go to your local record store, and buy it. If you do, congratulations. You own a unique moment in death metal history.

Now that we’re all back, it’s 2008, and At The Gates are more popular now than they ever were, despite not having touched a stage together, until just recently, for over a decade. The fame is due to nothing other than that seminal release’s steadfast excellence. Slaughter Of The Soul has been relentlessly cited as an influence almost ubiquitously across the metal community, and it’s held as a paradigms of melodic death metal.

Until now, rumors of the band rejoining have been little more than that. But late last year it was announced that At The Gates would be reuniting for some European festivals, and to the joy of many a metalhead, that reunion has parlayed into a full- blown tour of the United States, hitting New York this week. Lindberg fills us in.

So why now?

It’s been on and off, we’ve talked about it for eight years, more or less. It’s been timing, and the fact that we didn’t want it to be known before. We wanted to make a little bit of a surprise of it. Last time we were talking about it, trying to do something, it got out, the rumor. Then we kind of were like, ‘Oh, let’s wait.’ (chuckles) We wanted to make it a surprise thing, the announcement.

And this is good timing, all of our bands, it is perfect for our schedule too, in the way that The Haunted have just recorded a new album and are releasing an album after the summer, after [At The Gates] is done. And Disfear, we got a few U.S. tours out of the way before we started doing this, and we have a European tour in the fall. What we have been talking about is this draws a bit of attention to what our other bands are doing too, so in two ways, it kind of helps our current projects as well.

Well, you’ve said that you’re not planning on doing any new At The Gates material, ever.

No, it’s almost like a promise to the fans. That could end up being so disappointing, not because of the quality of the material, but like, even how good the material we could come up with [would be], it would be a disappointment anyway, because everyone would compare it to their idea of what the band should be, and maybe we have another idea, and we might ruin the historic perception that has kind of developed through these 12 years.