We sat down with Tomas Lindberg from the legendary Swedish death metallers At The Gates to talk about his favourite music. SPOILER: He likes some very heavy music.
Mixtape Mayhem: Tomas Lindberg from At The Gates
At The Gates' frontman gives us his favourite tracks
Morbus Chron – It Stretches In The Hollow
"There has been a bit of an old school death metal revival in Sweden lately; lots of bands have been popping up who were too young to remember it the first time round. A lot of them are fairly generic, but Morbus Chron really stood out for me because with their first record, whilst it was really pointy and a bit directionless, they were really trying to push boundaries. Then they released this new record on Century Media and it’s such a bold step a head – it has a really big, almost cinematic feel, and the melodies are fantastic, particularly in this track."
Magma – Kobaia Iss Deh Hündin
"Back in the day At The Gates used to listen to a lot of prog and kraut rock and Magma are one of those bands who still speak to us – and particularly me – very strongly. It’s very crazy and left-field – especially with their invented language and the drummer being the main guy – it’s very ‘arty farty’ but it’s still very musical and very driven. And it’s very honest too. Every death metal head should give Magma a listen – they have that same core sense of other worldly-ness that all the best death metal should have."
Obliteration – The Distant Sun
"Being an old school death metal guy as I am, with all these demos I heard in the late 80s still stuck in my head, it’s almost like I can immediately hear if a band trying to play old school death metal understands it or not. And Obliteration know exactly what they’re doing: They have exactly the right amount of old school-ness but still possess the ability to do things that move it forward. And that last record, Black Death Horizon, is just great."
Slint – Nosferatu Man
"If you really know At The Gates’ history as much as we listened to old school crusty punk, old black/death metal – Bathory and all that – progressive kraut rock and folk music, too, we were also very up to date with what was then the current ‘no wave’ stuff – post-rock before it was called ‘post-rock’; Swans, Sonic Youth, etc. – and Slint were a real driving force in that scene. They were very inventive and surprisingly challenging to listen to, but they were a really fantastic band. Again, if you’re into death metal you might question why you’d like this, but scratch below the surface and you’ll find a lot of similarities."
The Haxan Cloak – Excavation (Part 2)
"The record he made recently with The Body is amazing – it’s on my iPod now actually – but this is his best stuff. When we were making the new record I would travel on the bus to rehearsals and I would make a point not to listen to anything that might too immediately influence the music we were making, so I was listening almost exclusively to ambient, noise and drone stuff the whole summer. Believe it or not, this was probably one of the more ‘commercial’ sounding records I was listening too! But this is so dark and nightmarish, but also very rhythmic – it’s great because it shows the parallels between electronic and metal music; it’s not always about the means with which it’s created, but the atmosphere that the music creates."
Grails – All the Colours Of The Dark
"Grails are one of those great bands where every record they do is different to the last. This track, though, is actually a cover of a piece from an old Italian horror movie. It has this really sincere darkness to it; they’re brilliant musicians and it’s just very, very inspiring stuff, really. It’s proggy, yes, but it’s not all about how fast you play. They’re really brilliant."
King Crimson – Red
"This one is thrown in here almost totally for the sake of Anders and Jonas [Björler – guitar and bass, At The Gates] – that album, Red, is almost like a cornerstone in the history of At The Gates. A lot of the music we’ve listened to throughout our career has been a case of two guys like it and three don’t, or vice versa, but there are three or four bands we all agree on: Slayer, Repulsion, Thin Lizzy and King Crimson. This track just shows Robert Fripp in his prime – it’s a fantastically melancholic, dark and cinematic experience to listen to that record."
Horseback – Passing Through
"A lot of my friends whose musical taste I really trust used to recommend Horseback to me all the time, but I was initially quite resistant and lumped them in with that whole ‘hipster black metal’ thing. I was kind of wrong, but I listened to Half Blood and just couldn’t get into it, I found it quite disjointed. Then this new record came out – it’s more Kraut-y, they lost a lot of the ‘post’ aspect of Half Blood’s metal-ism and I think that really suits them. It’s very hypnotic and far more daring than a lot of their work. I’m glad I came round to it because it’s become an album that I really listen to a lot."
Swans – I Was A Prisoner In Your Skull
"It’s almost impossible to pick one particular Swans track, but I’ve been listening a lot recently to the Soundtracks For The Blind album. It’s a very scary album, it’s very dark and you can almost hear the pain and the suffering all the time; there’s a lot of claustrophobia and no-one could argue that it’s not a dark and heavy album, and that track particularly. And that’s the thing: all the stuff Michael Gira created was and is dark for real, where as in metal darkness and agony can sometimes be very contrived. This is real, though, and it’s fucking brutal. I love Swans, they’re the band whose songs I have the most of on my iPod, easily."
Tribulation – Wanderer In The Outer Darkness
"I thought I’d better put a bit more metal in this list! They put out a great album last year called The Formulas Of Death, and they’re one of the few bands who actually manage to capture that same feeling that Dissection had, but also have the ability to keep moving forward; they’re on of those bands who just get it right. Some of these old school leaning bands sound really forced and it’s all a pose, but this is real, and the harmonies are great. I don’t think they really care, to be honest, but they deserve to get a contract with a good sized record label who can get their records out there because they’re fantastic. It’s death metal, but it’s progressive and weird too."
At The Gates' new album At War With Reality is out on Monday and available to pre-order.
They're touring with Triptykon and Morbus Chron in December at the following dates:
04.12.2014 - London (UK) - Forum
05.12.2014 - Manchester (UK) - Academy 2
06.12.2014 - Glasgow (UK) - Garage
07.12.2014 - Birmingham (UK) - The Oobleck
08.12.2014 - Cardiff (UK) - The Globe
10.12.2014 - Essen (Germany) - Turock
11.12.2014 - Hamburg (Germany) - Markthalle
12.12.2014 - Eindhoven (The Netherlands) - Eindhoven Metal Meeting
13.12.2014 - Leipzig (Germany) - Conne Island
14.12.2014 - Wien (Austria) - Arena
16.12.2014 - Aarau (Switzerland) - Kiff
17.12.2014 - Munich (Germany - Backstage Werk
18.12.2014 - Antwerpen (Belgium) - Trix
19.12.2014 - Cologne (Germany) - Essigfabrik
20.12.2014 - Berlin (Germany) - Postbahnhof