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Interview With At The Gates Vocalist Tomas Lindberg

By now, most of the metal world has probably listened to At The Gates' brand new, critically-acclaimed album "At War With Reality." With this relentless recording, the legendary Swedish band demonstrated that it was possible to live up to the hype and create something as imposing as the previous, highly influential opus "Slaughter Of The Soul."

MetalUnderground.com had the opportunity to interview vocalist Tomas Lindberg about the genesis of the album, how it developed in the studio and its importance for At The Gates' decades-long musical journey.

Oscuro: At what point, after your initial 2008 reunion shows, you decided not to be just a "nostalgia act" but to write/record a proper album?

Tomas: From the beginning of the reunion we had a really good feeling. We had fantastic feedback from the crowds, we really enjoyed playing together and we felt that musically we were better than ever before. As we kept playing more and more shows the feeling never wore off, so the creative urge slowly crept up on us. Once the rest of us heard Anders' first musical ideas it was a no-brainer, we just had to make this record.

Oscuro: The album is simply relentless from beginning to end. As happened with "Slaughter..." you've managed to achieve a very direct-yet-expansive sound and very concise song structures. Is there any specific writing formula or particular criteria that you follow to not over-extent the length of your songs and still retain a certain epic feel?

Tomas: There's no conscious strategy or formula that I know of. We've all had our say in the arrangements and it's been an ongoing process for about a year before we were ready to enter the studio. But it's mostly a gut feeling if something is right or not.

Oscuro: You've mentioned in previous statements that you weren't interested in making a 'Slaughter of the Soul Pt. 2'. In which ways (both musically and lyrically) is this new album a step forward and different from your previous recordings?

Tomas: Musically, I'd say it's not as "obvious" as "Slaughter Of The Soul." While the song structures are pretty similar to later ATG-albums, as opposed to the organised chaos of the earlier stuff, the content is more varied. I think we all felt with "Slaughter..." that it turned out pretty one-dimensional. That's not necessarily a bad thing but we didn't want to make another album like that. Also there are songs on this album that differ from anything we've done before. Songs like "Heroes and Tombs," "Order from Chaos" and "The Night Eternal." They are some of my favourite songs on the album. Lyrically, it's not as direct and cathartic but more philosophical and multi-layered.

Oscuro: Once again, the album was recorded at Studio Fredman. How did it feel to come back there as a band after more than 15 years? Have the working dynamics changed since then?

Tomas: It felt like coming home in a sense. After such a long absence recording with people who are both professional and familiar definitely contributed to a safe and relaxed atmosphere. It's too long ago to compare but the most prominent difference this time is that we had (engineer/producer) Henrik Udd along with (engineer/producer) Fredrik Nordström. He played a huge part in pushing us to do our best.

Oscuro: Given the influential role of "Slaughter of the Soul" in defining the sound of a whole generation of metal acts, it would be logical to think that there was a lot of pressure from yourselves and the label to create a deserving follow-up. Was that the case?

Tomas: The only slight pressure we felt was from ourselves before we started. Once we begun, creative excitement took over. Century Media has been nothing but supportive through the whole process.

Oscuro: Between the album's cover/inner illustrations by artist Costin Chioreanu, the lyrics and the music's natural flow, it feels like this is a sort of quasi-conceptual album. Is that the case? Is there a central theme running throughout "At War with Reality"?

Tomas: Yes, all of Costin's artwork is inspired by the lyrics. Each song has its own artwork and they're all connected thematically. There's no coherent storyline, though.

Oscuro: The term "magic realism" has been used to partly describe this new album. Can you comment about that? Are there any specific philosophical ideas going on behind the title "At War with Reality"?

Tomas: Magic realism is a literary subgenre that originated in Latin America in the last century. That style of writing inspired the lyrics and whole theme of At War with Reality. I already mentioned Sabato, but you should really check out Jorge Luis Borges too if you want more depth to the whole thing. There are a lot of aspects to the album title but mainly it's about challenging how you perceive reality.

Oscuro: Any concrete touring plans in support of the album, especially in North America?

Tomas: Yes, we have the Decibel tour in March/April with Converge and others. Looking forward to that quite a bit.

Oscuro: Is "At War with Reality" a one time thing or is this indeed, the start of a new recording chapter in At the Gates' career?

Tomas: We can't say really. We have no plans of stopping but we've broken promises before so it's best not to say anything.

Oscuro's avatar

Ramon Martos Garcia proudly writes for Metal Underground.com, PureGrainAudio.com and other metal/rock related websites. He's the owner of an indie record label and runs a site about Metal album covers, And Justice for Art.

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3 Comments on "Interview With At The Gates"

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Anonymous Reader
1. Albert cro writes:

Good interview.

# Nov 18, 2014 @ 12:40 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
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2. ZMA writes:

I didn't think I'd get into their new album and I actually did. =] Sick interview.

# Nov 20, 2014 @ 1:44 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
3. Ranter writes:

personally maybe I need to get up with the times. IO don't like it. Sucks. Sounds like crap to me. Pure noise.
Now for the record, I am famous for that. Not liking something at 1st and then being in love later. So...... With that being said, To be continued....

# Dec 9, 2014 @ 11:52 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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