At The Gates
To Drink From The Night Itself European Tour 2018
Nifelheim – special guest
Vampire – support act
Kulturbolaget, Malmo, Sweden
5/10 – 2019
Live review and pictures: Anders Sandvall
Earlier this year, the legendary At The Gates released a brand new studio album titled TO DRINK FROM THE NIGHT ITSELF; the album was an instant success amongst fans. Since the band’s previous album came out in 2014, the lineup has had some changes: the band lost one of the Björler twins, Anders, who was part of the original lineup. Needless to say, his loss was huge. To replace him Jonas Stålhammar (The Lurking Fear, Bombs of Hades, Darkcreed etc) was called in and he and the band recently ended the South American tour after which it was time to hit the roads in Scandinavia. Since the show would take place at Kulturbolaget on a Friday night, it meant there was going to be nightclub going on after the show so the bands had a strict schedule to follow. The first show started a bit earlier than on a weekday and the last show ended a bit earlier, not later than 11 o clock. Nifelheim and Vampire, both Swedish acts, tagged along for a few of the shows, and since both At The Gates and Nifelheim are really popular here, it was strange that the club wasn’t sold out. The show the band did in their hometown of Gothenburg was sold out forcing them to add a second one. Still, the shows in Sweden were the only ones the band did in Scandinavia on this short European tour.
To my surprise, the new CD was sold out at the merch booth, and I heard many fans say they were disappointed when they couldn’t buy the album at the show. I guess we just had to wait for the first band to start. Fortunately, time passed quickly and I soon had to head to the photo pit and take some pictures of the bands.
Without wasting time talking, the band kicked off their show straight away. After the second song the lead singer said it was nice to be in Malmo and dedicate the next song to a journalist that understood what it was about even better than the band. The five piece act didn’t have much space to move around on stage but their straight up death metal worked pretty well, at least amongst the fans, even if not for me. The lead singer asked if there were any Nifelheim fans in the club tonight and that the next song was their interpretation of a Nifelheim song. The small crowd did their best to support the band, but since I hadn’t heard them before it was a little hard for me to judge if their music were appealing to me. However, after the show I didn’t feel impressed enough to buy any of their records. The vocals felt a bit thin and he lacked the experience to own a crowd. I wished for a little more communication with the crowd, as the guys mostly looked at the floor or banged their heads.
The show lasted for about 20 minutes and that was plenty for me; the guys need to gain a little more stage experience before they take on any larger crowds. However, the guys looked young so I guess they have time to improve. It was also unfortunate the band had such poor lighting during the show, which made it really hard to take pictures of them.
It was time for gear change on stage as Nifelheim’s backdrop was put up. I guess you can say that Nifelheim is a legendary black metal band but despite that, they have never caught my attention. The band was formed back in 1990 by twin brothers Erik and Per Gustavsson. Three years later their first demo, titled UNHOLY DEATH arrived. As the years passed by, the band released many albums and EP’s; their latest is 2014’s SATANATAS EP. Many members have come and gone through the years, with the latest being the 2017 addition of well-known drummer Tobias “Tobben” Gustafsson (Cut Up, God Macabre, Vomitory, ex- Torture Division etc.) as session live member.
The crew worked really hard to get the stage ready and at 8.15 everything was ready set and go for Nifelheim to enter.
Everyone but singer Hellbutcher arrived on stage during the intro. As the first song began, he made his appearance as the crowd went crazy to start the show. The songs continued at a rushing pace; fans weren’t given any time to catch their breath between songs. Hellbutcher and his brother Tyrant moved around the most on stage; Tyrant seemed to believe he was Gene Simmons as he walked around. The lineup in the band is:
Hellbutcher – lead vocals
Tyrant – bass
Satamas – guitar
Savage Aggression – guitar
Tobias “Tobben” Gustafsson – drums (session member)
The guys didn’t do much talking in between songs, it was mostly to thank the crowd and introduce the next song. Again it was really hard to take pictures of the band as they had lots of red lights going on. It also felt like the band didn’t have a sound check because the sound wasn’t working in their favor. However, their old school black metal music worked well amongst the fans and they chanted “Nifelheilm, Nifelheim” over and over. The brothers, especially Hellbutcher, looked to be in quite poor condition because he was out of breath from singing and moving around; there were a lot of water breaks during the show to say the least. “Sodomizer”, taken from the first album was next in line which woke up the majority of the crowd. Hellbutcher had the fans scream at his command and he jumped down into the photo pit to get closer to them. He urged the fans to scream louder and louder as the song ended. “Storm of the Reaper” followed and, despite the poor lights, the fans kept on chanting for the band before “Satanic Sacrifice”. Hellbutcher spoke with someone on the side stage and said “OK, apparently we don’t have time to play our entire set list”, and together the brothers decided it was time to unleash “Bestial Rites”.
“Possessed By Evil” ended the show. What was my opinion regarding the performance? Well, the greatest thing with this corpse-painted act was definitely the solid drumming by Gustafsson. The other members’ efforts left more to wish for but on the other hand, I am not a fan of the band. The 45-minute show was too long for me, but at least the fans seemed to enjoy it.
More people had now arrived to the club and the crew worked quickly in order to get the headline act’s gear on stage. There wasn’t much on stage other than gear and a big backdrop. At 9.30 was it time for At The Gats to finally enter the stage.
At The Gates
The first song out to please the furious fans new album’s title track, “To Drink From the Night Itself”. As soon as the intro done, singer Tomas Lindberg ran out on stage to face the roar from the fans. “Slaughter of the Soul” followed instantly; it was a bold move to fire off such an iconic song so early in the show. As always, Lindberg ran around on stage not standing still for any longer period of time, the band consists of:
Tomas Lindberg – lead vocals
Jonas Björler – bass
Adrian Erlandsson – drums
Martin Larsson – guitar
Jonas Stålhammar – guitar
The ecstatic crowd screamed at the top of their lungs when they heard “At War With Reality” and I couldn’t help but be impressed at how great this band still is. Not many bands can compete in the same live league as At The Gates. Lindberg said it was the first time the band performed under their own name in Malmo for the new album; “Here is another song from the new album in “A Stare Bound”. The stage was partially black; I don’t understand why the club didn’t use their lighting to the fullest. “Cold” followed; the song is taken from melodic death metal’s classic blueprint, SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL. Lindberg had the fans shout at his command and the ecstatic crowd did exactly as they were told. As the temperature began to rise, Lindberg took off his jacket as it was time for “The Circular Ruins”.
The entire band was really solid, nothing could ruin their focus this night. Newest member Stålhammar maybe hadn’t found his place in the band 100 %, but he gave a solid, if anonymous performance. Personally, I miss Anders Björler a lot because he was one of the original members and had always been with the band. The intro “El Altar” preceded “Death and the Labyrinth”; both songs taken from the comeback album AT WAR WITH REALITY. Lindberg looked happy with the huge response the band received from the fans. “Daggers and Black Haze” continued the night and Lindberg thanked everyone for the support, “You are great Malmo! We are At The Gates from Gothenburg and we’re going to play a song from 1995 called “Under a Serpent Sun”. The old classic was heavily anticipated by the fans who went even crazier as it played. Lindberg invited the fans to sing along with him in the chorus and had the fans scream on the top of their lungs at the end. “The Swarm” and “Raped By the Light of Christ” followed, after which Lindberg said that if the fans knew the lyrics to the next song then everyone should sing along, here is “The Chasm”.
“Heroes and Tombs” followed and Lindberg asked if we were ready for the next song. “Nausea” and “Suicide Nation” continued the show that soon was about to end. “The Book of Sand (The Abomination)” ended the first part of the show. As soon as the song ended and the members left, the fans shouted for encores. The band shortly returned and fired off “Blinded By Fear”, which was the perfect first encore. Lindberg smiled and asked if we were ready for another song. “Good! The next song is dedicated to Kristian, with whom I founded my first band together, here is “Kingdom Gone”. “After that he said, “OK Malmo, let me see your hands in “The Night Eternal”! In the middle of the song I saw one guy crowd surf his way toward the stage, which is a pretty unusual sight during a Swedish show since it’s usually forbidden in Sweden. The outro ended the show. Lindberg, Erlandsson, and Larsson were the first ones off the stage. Björler and Stålhammar ended the song together and after a few minutes the rest of the band joined forces with them on stage and thanked the crowd for a great night.
The show was 75 minutes of excellent and energetic melodic death metal that left nothing to wish for. The other two bands weren’t nearly in the same league as At The Gates. The band sure is a mean live machine that’s hard to beat. It was fun to hear them rely heavily on newer material and not just the old classics. Lindberg was, as always, the perfect front man. I wonder where he finds the energy to be so intense for 75 minutes straight. The rest of the band was solid as a rock but as I wrote earlier, I think it will take a while before Stålhammar finds his natural spot in the band and on stage. The minor gripe with the show was the lighting but that can’t be blamed on the band; that’s the club’s fault. Also, 75 minutes felt a little short; I had want a headline act to perform for at least 90 minutes. Besides that, the god fathers of the infamous Gothenburg metal sound showed why they are considered being legends!
Der Widerstand – intro
To Drink From The Night Itself
Slaughter Of The Soul
At War With Reality
A Stare Bound
The Circular Ruins
El Altar – intro
Death And Labyrinth
Daggers Of Black Haze
Under A Serpent Sun
Raped By Light Of Christ
Heroes And Tombs
The Book Of Sand
Blinded By Fear
The Night Eternal
Thanks to head of Kulturbolaget Totte Lundgren and Mona Franke Lundgren for help with press/photo pass.
Thanks to the always friendly staff and security at the club.
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