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At The Gates Inspires Generations of Fans In Austin, Texas

Photo of Decapitated

Band Photo: Decapitated (?)

In Central Texas, the weekend that fell on Friday, February 12th through the 14th was filled with great shows featuring major European extreme metal bands, bands that rarely appear in North America. First, I caught Cradle of Filth (visit link) put on a spectacular show at the Aztec Theater in San Antonio. Two days later, the immortal At The Gates made it’s first ever appearance in Austin.

The forerunners of melodic death previously toured North America in 2008 with Darkest Hour and Municipal Waste. Then, they played San Antonio. Due to a publicist error, I couldn’t get into that show, so I partook in other debaucheries. I did, however, catch At The Gates tour twenty-years ago with Morbid Angel and Dissection as the opener. (Readers may have seen them on 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise or Maryland Death Fest).

I didn’t know anything about them. I was there to see Dissection (the only time I caught the band), but liked what I heard and shortly after became a fan of Gothenburg bands. Twenty years later and I can sing all the songs, pump my fest and bang my head with the rest of the packed club at the Mohawk’s punk/metal-friendly club.

At The Gates brought in the core kids, but Harm’s Way’s focus was a bit more narrow, so for some of the crowd, At The Gates was a bonus to Harm’s Way set. Hardcore never aspires to technical heights, but the bounce and brutality of bands like this, especially with singers like this who can pound you into the dirt, made for an ok experience. Plus, the band’s drummer had serious chops.

Harm’s Way may have brought in a few fans, but the intensity really picked up The Haunted took the stage. Not only does this band have the ultimate hardcore-melo-death crossover written by the dudes that wrote the book on melodic death metal, it features members of At The Gates (the dudes that wrote the book). That was what made these guys such a big deal when they formed. Here you have At the Gates members leave ATG and form these guys. It was the perfect transition, too, while maintaining much of the string play and drum beats of At the Gates.

These parts were on display tonight as the group blazed through songs from all their albums, but catching the crowd with what is arguably their finest moment, “The Haunted Made Me Do It.” The first three tracks from said album were tremendous displays of Gothenburg goodness (“Dark Intentions,” “Bury Your Dead” and “Trespass.”) Personally, I think that album is only outdone by the first, self-titled album. The group gave credence to this record, closing with the ultimate Sweden metalcore track “Hate Song.”

The last time I caught Decapitated was at Housecore Horror Film Festival II. I didn’t enjoy their set nearly as much this time. Part of it maybe due to The Haunted really bringing it and pumping me up. The other part is I blew them off because they changed their original technical death metal sound to a groovier, core style. Still, the core style with it’s ultra heavy breakdowns combined with speedy drum beats won me over. It’s also cool to see a person with dreads nearly to his/her ass swirl those snakes around the stage. The highlight of their set was “Spheres of Madness” from their second album, “Nihility.”

The influence At The Gates has on the younger, core-friendly crowd can not be understated. I used to get upset when someone would call a Swedish band a “core” band, but obviously these youn ‘uns have done their homework and realized without At The Gates bands like The Black Dahlia Murder would not exist. The whole crowd, middle aged, 20s, teens seemed to know every lyric, though, and the patent string play and fast drumming just could not contain a fist-banging, neck-snapping, fit of manic metal. Tomas Lindberg's lack of vocal oomph didn't change the crowds' minds.

Set wise, At The Gates didn’t look much further back than their crowning achievement “Slaughter of the Soul,” and updated old-time fans with material from their latest opus “At War With Reality” (including the Spanish-narrated intro). However, they treated the crowd to an old favorite from “Terminal Spirit Disease,” “The Swarm.” Personal highlights include “Cold,” “Blinded By Fear” (everybody wanted to hear that track), “Nausea” and “Suicide Nation.”

I was a bit disappointed Headcrusher played the after hours show inside the Mohawk instead of being on the big stage outside as an opener. I guess At the Gates isn’t taking local openers so they can play long sets (what everyone wants). Still, it would have been cool to see Headcrusher open since they are so influenced by ATG and even feature the talents of Anders Björler (The Haunted, At The Gates) produced and edited the band’s video for “Swimming in a Sea of Dead.” The Austin locals put on a great show, though, and featured new vocalist David Berkey.

A lot of people hadn’t seen ATG before, so they were really gun ho. The band received a big pop from the crowd every time they opened or closed a song. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time squeezing into the front for some photos. People were completely unwilling to work with me just because it was such a great experience. I read this article the other day on how metal is dying.

As long as bands like those on this tour continue to make music, whether with these artists or other prospects, metal will live on. When At the Gates is no more there will be a young generation of metal heads jamming classic, emulating them or merely just going onto something else. However, as far At The Gates is concerned, if this group continues to write good albums and tour, expect them to the band playing arenas that this article thought impossible by extreme artists.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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