At the Gates – Gardens of Grief

Rating: 2.5/5
Distributor/label URL: Dissonance Productions
Released: 2018
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Band line-up:

Jonas Björler – Bass
Adrian Erlandsson – Drums
Anders Björler – Guitars
Tomas “Tompa” Lindberg – Vocals
Alf Svensson – Guitars


1.) Souls of the Evil Departed
2.) At the Gates
3.) All Life Ends
4.) City of Screaming Statues


At the Gates’ new album, “To Drink From the Night Itself” is getting some pretty solid reviews all round. As such, it might be a good time to take a look back at where they started out, and you can’t go back much further than this.

Gardens of Grief was the band’s first demo release, from way back in 1991, and this is a 2018 re-release of that from Dissonance Productions.

It’s important to go into this one with the right expectations, because while this is a part of their musical evolution, it is noticeably more primitive than what the band is more well-known for. There’s no real melodeath to be heard here, just straight up death metal. This isn’t the contractions and birth pangs of melodic death metal heard in The Red in the Sky is Ours, and it’s a far cry indeed from the refined butchery of Slaughter of the Soul. Instead it follows a path closer to other early Swedish death metal contemporaries like Entombed or Dismember.

This sort of rawness would later be tempered and laced with more structure, but for now that’s still to come. The closest it ever gets is in the occasional slower segment (as in parts of “All Life Ends”) which calls to mind some of the death-doom works of the time, like Paradise Lost’s earliest material. For the time being, the songs are composed of some decent parts, but put together sloppily. The music does move through different tempos and riffs quickly and aggressively, in a way the band will later utilise to full effect, but here the technique still needs work.

As such, this will only really be of interest to big fans of the band looking to investigate their origins. For anyone else, it’s really just another early death metal release.

Review by

Kieron Hayes