By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks
At The Gates kicks off the “To Drink From the Night Itself” world tour with a splendid show in Tokyo. World-class death metal served up by the Gothenburg Sound masters.
At The Gates, Hellchild and Survive at Tsutaya O-East, Shibuya, Tokyo, 29th May 2018
At The Gates wisely chose to kick off their new world tour in Tokyo. Here they have a long history and a loyal audience ready to give the band the support and love the Gothenburg Sound masters deserve and crave.
Two seasoned local bands, thrash metal band Survive and death metal/grindcore band Hellchild, warm up the audience before At The Gates, the masters of Swedish melodic death metal, enter the stage and bring the whole venue to boiling point.
They open with “To Drink From the Night Itself”, the ttle track from the new album and immediately follow that with the classic “Slaughter of the Soul” before they deliver “At War With Reality”. What an opening! This sets the tone for the evening. We get a killer set list, including the live premiere of four songs from the new album: “A Stare Bound in Stone”, “Daggers of Black Haze”, “The Chasm” and “The Mirror Black”. The new songs fit very well with the classics. The sound has evolved, with some progressive elements added to the band’s music, but without going too far away from the band’s melodic death metal roots. One of the highlights of the set is, without doubt, the splendid “Death and the Labyrinth”. That song is one of the six songs performed this evening from 2014’s very strong comeback album, “At War with Reality”.
This is the third time I am seeing At The Gates perform in Japan and they are as great as expected. This band never underestimates its audience, it always delivers a world-class death metal knockout in Japan. Frontman Tomas Lindberg is a phenomenal leader on stage. He rarely stands still more than a few seconds. He’s all over the place and he combines his on-stage presence with terrific death metal vocals.
The band’s current line-up – Tomas Lindberg (vocals), Jonas Björler (bass), Adrian Erlandsson (drums), Martin Larsson (rhythm guitar) and Jonas Stålhammar (lead guitar) – basically can’t be bettered in my view. They have the ultimate band line-up and they fit very well together as a unit. New member Jonas Stålhammar is a great addition. The God Macabre, The Crown, Bombs of Hades and The Lurking Fear man is such an obvious choice to replace co-founder Anders Björler who left the band last year. Stålhammar shows on stage that he deserves the spot.
At The Gates finishes the evening’s massive 20-song set with “The Night Eternal”. The new world tour is off to a splendid start for the Gothenburg veterans who are still very much relevant. A show dominated by material from the last two albums shows that this band is no mere nostalgia act. Of course, they pay respect to their impressive heritage, but they are not stuck in the past. We do get classic 90s songs such as “Slaughter of the Soul”, “Cold”, “”Under a Serpent Sun”, “The Swarm”, “Raped by the Light of Christ”, ”Nausea”, “Suicide Nation”, “Blinded by Fear” and “Kingdom Gone”, but they’re outnumbered by the newer material. We get the best of both worlds in a show with no room for any fillers.