At the Gates

Purgatory Unleashed: Live at Wacken

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Swedish death metal band At the Gates broke up in 1996, after releasing four studio albums and an EP. Their final album, 1995's Slaughter of the Soul, was a hugely influential blend of death metal ferocity and the Scandinavian gift for melody; it was that rare extreme metal disc you could pump your fist at and sing along to, and it's provided a template for dozens, if not hundreds, of successful metal bands since, including Arch Enemy and Darkest Hour. In 2008, At the Gates reunited -- not for a studio album, but for a reunion/farewell tour, blasting through their old anthems for sold-out crowds across the globe. The capper to it all was a performance at 2008's Wacken Open Air festival in Germany, which is preserved on this disc (as well as on the second disc of their three-DVD set The Flames of the End). In the years since At the Gates' breakup, the members have gone on to join bands like the Haunted, the Crown, and Cradle of Filth, but reunited like this, they drive the thousands of fans at Wacken wild. "Thanks for waiting," says vocalist Tomas Lindberg early on. "Thanks for remembering." The set list spans all four albums, though it's weighted heavily in favor of Slaughter material. The performances are high-energy and extremely well recorded; the tracks roar from the speakers. This shouldn't be anybody's introduction to At the Gates, but no real fan should be without it.

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