Live Report: At The Gates

Estimated reading time: 10 minute(s)

At the Gates/Engel
Liquidroom, Ebisu, Japan
February 9, 2015

I caught At the Gates in Ebisu, Tokyo, where I used to live when I had money. I was grading papers all day, so I arrived just before curtain. First up were openers Engel. I immediately noticed Engel were Engelin-less: Niclas Engelin, the band’s founding guitarist and presumably the source of their name, no longer tours with his band, I guess because he joined In Flames. And they replaced him with…nobody! Hitting the stage as a four piece, they played a more than 40-minute set of slick, glammy (?!?!), melodic death metal. Their new singer seemed psyched to be in Japan but I wasn’t that into it. I’d seen them live before with different members and it wasn’t any better. I just don’t respond to their music.

At the Gates hit the stage at 8:15 and was done and gone by 9:30. In the interim, they bended space and time, making the venue seem bigger and me feel younger. The 18-song set list was mostly taken from the classic Slaughter of the Soul and their fine new album, At War with Reality. When the band launched into opening tune “Death and the Labyrinth,” Tomas’s distinctive growl was the first thing I noticed. What a live performer! In between his parts, he darted backstage only to return each time visibly more energized. I don’t know what he was doing in the back (oxygen, Jager shots, meth?), but I would like plenty of the same, please! I secured a choice spot a few fans back in front of the Björler brothers and was able to hold it all night, a sure sign the venue was not sold out. Too bad for those that didn’t come out; although the sound wasn’t great (a long-standing venue problem, not the band’s), At the Gates played with passion and precision. The passion showed when they suddenly had to stop in the middle of the iconic opening to “Slaughter of the Soul” (just before the “Go!”) because Adrian Erlandsson had broken the snare drum head! He held it up to show the crowd and we all cheered like in Lord of the Flies. And so the night went, classic followed by terrific new song, rinse and repeat.

Over the course of the night, I had a few amusing interactions with other fans, who upon clocking my Babymetal tee-shirt (which I was wearing as penance for eliminating At the Gates from the Arsies) gave me the fox sign. These little funny moments culminated in Jonas Björler giving the entire venue “double foxes” near the end of the show. My guilt melted away. I am absolved.

Put your kitsune up @ the Gates!

Set List
  • Intro: El Altar del Dios Desconocido
  1. Death and the Labyrinth (At War with Reality)
  2. Slaughter of the Soul (Slaughter of the Soul)
  3. Cold (Slaughter of the Soul)
  4. At War With Reality (At War with Reality)
  5. Terminal Spirit Disease (Terminal Spirit Disease)
  6. Raped by the Light of Christ (With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness)
  7. The Circular Ruins (At War with Reality)
  8. Under a Serpent Sun (Slaughter of the Soul)
  9. Windows (The Red in the Sky Is Ours)
  • Interlude: City of Mirrors (At War With Reality)
  1. Suicide Nation (Slaughter of the Soul)
  2. Heroes and Tombs (At War with Reality)
  3. Nausea (Slaughter of the Soul)
  4. World of Lies (Slaughter of the Soul)
  5. The Burning Darkness (With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness)
  6. The Book of Sand (The Abomination) (At War with Reality)
  • Encore
  1. Blinded by Fear (Slaughter of the Soul)
  2. Kingdom Gone (The Red in the Sky Is Ours)
  3. The Night Eternal (At War with Reality)

Band: Tomas Lindberg, vocals; Anders Björler, guitar; Adrian Erlandsson, drums; Jonas Björler, bass; Martin Larsson, guitar.