At the Gates On Forthcoming LP: “Heavier and More Death Metal Than the Last One”

Swedish death metal legends At the Gates are tracking their sixth studio album in London as you read this. But that didn’t stop Decibel from badgering frontman Tomas Lindberg with questions about one of 2018’s most anticipated records.

If everyone’s social media feeds are to be believed, it looks like Russ Russell (Napalm Death, Lock Up) is producing this album. What led you to decide to work with him?
We have known Russ for a long time, some of us has worked with him before on other projects, as Lock Up, the Haunted, the Great Deceiver (live sound). He was actually in the cards already on the last album, but he couldn’t do it in the time frame that we needed that time. He has a great ear, and knows what the band is about. It is a pleasure working with him. And we have 100% confidence in him and his abilities.

This is the first time the band has every recorded away from Sweden, correct? What are you looking forward to most about that new experience?
It is always good to isolate you from other distractions during a recording, it is true that At the Gates haven’t recorded abroad as a band, but we all have experiences from these circumstances before, so we know what we are in for. It gives the recording a certain focus, and we want to stay sharp for this one. The vocals will, though, be recorded here in Gothenburg, with Per Stålberg at Welfare sounds studios. I have a great relationship with him, and we work really well together. I, of course feel the same way for Russ too, but I really wanted to work with Per on this one, as he and I got along so well with the recording of the Lurking Fear’s Out of the Voiceless Grave.

This is obviously the first recording not to feature guitarist Anders Björler, who was the primary songwriter in the band. The last time ATG split with a songwriter saw a significant shift in sound and style (between With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness and Terminal Spirit Disease). Can we expect a similar shift w/ the new LP?
It is true that there is a big shift in the line-up. What you have to take into consideration is that Jonas Björler wrote 40% of both Slaughter of the Soul and At War with Reality. Some people seem to forget this. They just assume that the lead guitarist is the sole songwriter. Jonas had to take a lot more responsibility this time around, but me and him have had a really great and creative time writing this album. There is a slight change of direction, maybe, but At the Gates fans shouldn’t be worried, it is still an ATG record. If anything, it is heavier and more death metal than the last one.

How much is new guitarist Jonas Stålhammar contributing to the writing? While we’re at it, how much has bassist Jonas Björler contributed?
This one is basically Jonas and me when it comes to the writing. All the guys have contributed in some way, but the main writing comes from Jonas and me. Most of the songs were already in the finishing stages when Jonas Stålhammar joined, so there wasn’t much time for him to contribute, but we look forward to having him more involved next time around. Saying that, his solos will of course be written by himself.

Are you guys preparing your livers for Decibel Metal & Beer Fest on March 31? What breweries are you most excited to check out?
We are super excited. We already had plans to play one European and one North American show before the album release, to introduce Jonas to the live setting of At the Gates, so this was a great opportunity. I love the idea of this festival, and it will be great fun. We, of course, love 3 Floyds (Who did the ATG collab “Blood of the Sunsets” beer), but also look forward to indulging in brews from Hammerheart, TRVE, Burial and a lot of others. Should be great fun!

OK, any hints on what #TFDTNI stands for. My money is on “The Fucking Dog Takes No Income” but I’m happy to be proven incorrect.
This was actually not thought of as a promotional strategy, it just kind of happened. But it is WAY too early to give away the title already. Sorry for the tease [laughs]. But I could give away that it has a lot of the “old” ATG feel to it, the title AND the album itself—both musically and lyrically.

At the Gates’ new studio album is tentatively scheduled for a late spring 2018 release via Century Media. The band’s next U.S. show will be headlining Day 1 of Decibel Metal & Beer Fest in Philadelphia on March 31, 2008. Get your tickets here.