At the Gates - _Purgatory Unleashed - Live at Wacken_
(Earache, 2010)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
It has been written many times before that bands who quit while they are still at the top of the game often enjoy an improved status for years to come as a result. I have difficulty applying that to At the Gates, simply because each of the four releases that followed their debut EP remains at a level that to this day their myriad spawn has yet to reach. In other words, and although I might have been proved wrong at some point, I still fail to imagine a mediocre At the Gates record eventually coming out.

Having said that, with all the reunions going on out there, the risk was (and still is) quite real that a lukewarm comeback might happen at some stage. Either that or the mindblowing epitome of Swedish melodic death. But since that may never happen, old and new fans alike at least have this _Purgatory Unleashed_ album, recorded live at Wacken with their standard line-up.

The gig included virtually everything from their landmark and final album _Slaughter of the Soul_ and its predecessor _Terminal Spirit Disease_ -- "The Fevered Circle" from _TSD_ being the notable exception. Their earlier work got less air time, as one might expect: "All Life Ends" from their debut EP _Gardens of Grief_, "Windows" and concert closer "Kingdom Gone" from _The Red in the Sky Is Ours_, and "Raped by the Light of Christ" and "The Burning Darkness" from _With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness_. This should hardly be news for anyone who really appreciates this band, but there is not a weaker track to be found. For some reason I found myself especially moved by the older tracks, but the gig is impeccably performed and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.

There are two reasons why I cannot award this record a 10 out of 10. First, I don't like the timing of some of the drumming on their live rendition of the pivotal "Blinded by Fear". Second, as a live album, I fail to get any more out of the songs than the original versions already gave me, which is the hallmark of a great live album. Yes, the bass is more audible, and the older songs are brought up to a more consistent, updated sound; but the band's controlled performance lacked any truly great, defining moments that could really add value to the already superlative studio versions. Essential metal, but not a replacement for the original albums.

(article published 26/2/2011)


CHATS
11/8/1995 B Meloon At the Gates: At the Gates' Almighty Acclamations
ALBUMS
5/13/2001 P Azevedo 7 At the Gates - Suicidal Final Art
11/8/1995 B Meloon 7 At the Gates - Slaughter of the Soul
8/12/1995 B Meloon 8 At the Gates - Terminal Spirit Disease
GIGS
4/18/1996 N Bassett Morbid Angel / At the Gates / Dissection / Sadistic Intent Morbid Angel / At the Gates / Dissection / Sadistic Intent
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