The title track of "At War With Reality", the much-anticipated comeback studio album from seminal Swedish metallers AT THE GATES, can be streamed below. Due on October 28 (one day earlier internationally) via Century Media, the CD was recorded at Studio Fredman in Gothenburg and was mixed at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden with Jens Bogren (OPETH, KATATONIA, SOILWORK, PARADISE LOST, KREATOR). The cover artwork for the effort was designed by Costin Chioreanu, who has previously also worked with bands such as ARCH ENEMY, MORGOTH and DARKTHRONE. Chioreanu gave the strong lyrical theme of "At War With Reality" an outstanding conceptual togetherness with the visuals he crafted for this project.
"At War With Reality" track listing
01. El Altar Del Dios Desconocido
02. Death And The Labyrinth
03. At War With Reality
04. The Circular Ruins
05. Heroes And Tombs
06. The Conspiracy Of The Blind
07. Order From Chaos
08. The Book Of Sand (The Abomination)
09. The Head Of The Hydra
10. City Of Mirrors
11. Eater Of Gods
12. Upon Pillars Of Dust
13. The Night Eternal
AT THE GATES vocalist and lyricist Tomas Lindberg checked in with the following comment, explaining the album's theme: "The concept of 'At War With Reality' is based on the literary genre called 'magic realism.' The main style within this genre is the notion that 'reality' is ever-changing, and needs to be constantly re-discovered and re-conquered.
"We felt that Costin's artwork style would be the perfect visual contribution to this album, so he became the natural choice..."
AT THE GATES guitarist and main songwriter Anders Björler added: "I got in touch with Costin a few years back. I was immediately impressed with his dark and original style. He collaborated on some T-shirt designs for AT THE GATES as well as designing the album artwork for my instrumental project. We realized pretty early on that his style would accompany the music and the concept perfectly."
Said Chioreanu: "I have been waiting for this album for almost 20 years and it's the biggest honor for me to illustrate it — as there is no greater achievement for a dreamer than the moment when the dream becomes reality.
"'At War With Reality' is by far the most complex visual story I have ever created, from all points of view. From the very first moment the band presented the concept, I found it extremely stunning and at the same time super-challenging.
"I like to think that visual art and music are tools to explore our minds — to create, to discover and to push the limits.
"AT THE GATES, one of my all-time favorite metal bands, offered me a chance to explore a new dimension."
In a recent interview with Noisey, Lindberg said about the songwriting process for "At War With Reality": "With this album, there was really two ways we could go into it. We could be really calculating and go, 'Oh shit, this is really important. People are gonna really expect a lot. This is the most important album we've done.' We could go into that way and overthink everything, and we're still very meticulous about all the details, of course, but the other way would be just to go wherever the thing takes us. It sounds very cosmic or philosophical, but the music is out there. You just need the fucking medium to get it out to the people."
He added: "We really just fed off each other during the whole process. I mean, this album has been in all our heads the whole time since we first started working on it. There was always an idea the whole time. A small part, and then we'd say, 'Oh yeah, that's the whole song. Let's do that!' We're all in the process, and we're all focused, so when I'd get an idea, it might be too crazy, but these two guys [bassist Jonas Björler and guitarist Anders Björler] can put in the right place."
Lindberg told Decibel magazine about what happened to change the bandmembers' minds about making a new CD in the six years since the AT THE GATES reunion was first announced: "I think a lot happened, mentally, when we decided to continue touring. When we started to do the global thing in 2011. That whole idea of being an active band, touring and hanging out, just grew on us, I guess.
"To be able to be in a band that has no internal problems whatsoever, to be able to tour around the world together with some of your best friends, it's just incredible, mind-blowing even. Then the idea just grew on us.
"I play in a band that involves some of my favorite musicians and songwriters and we are all still very hungry, creatively. I think that you can hear that in all our other projects, they are very alive and pushing boundaries still — from Anders' [Björler, guitar] solo album, to AGRIMONIA, to the new reinvigorated THE HAUNTED lineup, to DISFEAR and LOCK UP, to PARADISE LOST and VALLENFYRE. We feel that we have great and relevant new music in us. And we know how important this next album will be.
"When Anders came around saying that he had been jamming some new ideas around, it was not hard to make the decision to go 'all in,' so to say.
"I know it's kind of a gamble or what you want to call it. But this is a very creative album that we are writing right now, it's not a comfortable 'Slaughter Of The Soul Pt. 2' or anything like that, it's an album that I feel is pushing our own boundaries, and challenges our collective creative intellect. And that is the main reason for us to do this, it's for our own sake.
"We could easily go out and continue touring the old stuff successfully for quite a while, I think, but this is us putting ourselves on the line here, and we do that solely because we feel that we need to do this, this material is too strong to say no to."
Lindberg also spoke about not wanting to live up to people's expectations of making another album in the vein of "Slaughter Of The Soul".
"We have gone beyond the idea of making 'Slaughter Of The Soul Pt. 2', which was actually never the idea to start with," he explained. "This is an album that is so full on conceptually and creatively, so involved and ambitious that I am almost compelled to call it pretentious. And that brings me back to the feeling that was with us when we were creating 'With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness'. I'm not saying that this album sounds like that album, but it has that burning urge, the sense of importance that album is trying to portray.
"As I have always stated, we are an honest band, a band that is very focused on being true to ourselves and never follow any trends or try to portray a given perception of what people want us to be.
"What we decided on was really to let the music take us where it had to go, to go 'all in,' so to say.
"To answer your question, the record will be filled with a lot of the SLAYER worship and riffage that is 'Slaughter Of The Soul', but people will also recognize the more dark, melodic side that was 'With Fear I Kiss The Burning Darkness', and maybe some of the more pretentious arrangements that was part of our early career."