Opening up for the band were yet another familiar act: the local melodic death metal act known as Miles to Perdition, a band whose career I've had the opportunity to follow fairly closely, since their inception coincides with the period during which I first started going to live concerts in the first place. As a result, this might have very well been the 4th if not 5th show I've seen them play.
Right off the bat, the first thing that struck me as the band started off their set was the sound level. It might just be that I had been going to exceptionnally loud live shows lately (I'm looking at you, Pallbearer), but the sound level seemed to be significantly tamer, in a fairly good way.
The overall sound of the performance however wasn't all too flattering though, with the guitars and bass blending together in an undecipherable mush rather than sitting in their respective spaces in the frequency spectrum and with the tiny and clicky drum sound further adding to the bitterness of the sound. Now I'll be honest, I regret to say that, despite my strive towards promoting bands from the local scene, I have never been a fan of Miles to Perdition. The songs came and went one after the other, and I hate to say this, but all that I took from them were a succession of riffs glued together without any hooks nor semblance of coherence or structure.
Performance-wise, it pains me to say that the band didn't seem to be in top form that night either, for the first words that pop into my mind to describe their performance would be "fairly sloppy".
I truly wish this band the best of luck, for I wish nothing more than to see a stronger metal scene in Luxemburg. I know I'm not doing myself any favor nor making myself any friends by speaking my mind, was a surprisingly disappointing performance. Sorry guys.
After a rather short intermission, the lights then dimmed down to pave the way for our headlining act to step to the stage to the sounds of El Altar Del Dios Desconocido, the introductory track to their recently released comeback album At War with Reality for which they are on tour promoting. Jumping straight to business as is custom with an At the Gates show, the band kicked their set off with the frenetic Death and the Labyrinth, a blood pumping set opener. Considering the bands' legendary status and the rarity of their live performances, I was very surprised to see how static the audience stayed throughout the entirety of the show. For a band headlining most of every major metal festival they get booked at, the reception was exceptionnally calm... Could this be the first ever At the Gates show without a wild pit raging all throughout? As soon as the first song ended, the band followed things up with the classic string-skipping introductory riff to Slaughter of the Soul, causing a roar of satisfaction from the front row of the audience. As with every song off of that iconic album, vocalist Tomas "Tompa" Lindberg was aided by a front row of fans screaming along to every verse and every chorus. The setlist for the night consisted of a hybrid between the bands' reunion show setlist and tracks off of the new record, with Slaughter of the Soul being played almost in its entirety and a few older songs being replaced with some of the newest ones. Old-school fans and newer fans alike were treated to a great mix of songs bound to win each respective fan to another side of the bands' discography. I, for one, was ever so pleased to hear some of the bands' older songs pumped up with the vitality and sound quality they deserved back in the day, and I was also very impressed as to how well the newer tracks fit in with the rest of the songs. Rather than simply attempting to measure up and compare to Slaughter of the Soul, the newer tracks added a very natural sense of progression to the bands' sound while at the same time alluding to the more sinister vibes of the band' back catalog.
The sound was a bit louder than for Miles to Perditions' set and (thankfully) way clearer, making up for a reasonnable live sound this time around. While greeted to a fairly tough crowd for the likes of their stature, Tomas proved to be fairly up to task when I came to warming up the venue with his effervescent stage presence and his superb interaction with his audience.
As the band returned to the stage for the encore, the band was thankfully treated to a bit of action in the pit during the classic Blinded by Fear. The night ended off with Kingdom Gone, followed by the satisfying closure marked by The Night Eternal, the closing track to their latest record.
Luxemburg does pass off as a place with one-of-a-kind metal scene at times. While the relatively lukewarm reception does set this show appart from the other 2 shows I've seen At the Gates play, there's simply nothing that will take anything away from the bands' terrific performance tonight. A splendid show well worth the trip.
Photos by Martine Marx.
PS : A huge thank you goes out to Martin Marx for her amazing work as well as to Tomas Lindberg, to Deborah and the rest of the Rockhal staff for their incredible hospitality, without which neither this article nor the interview would've been possible.
Miles to Perdition
At the Gates