Sunday, February 7, 2010


I'm going to make more of an effort to update this sumbitch and hopefully get some exclusive content up here - turn it into a *real* blog, instead of just a catch-all corner of the web for my sporadic ramblings. To put my money where my mouth is, as it were (or at least give me something to do besides procrastinate on this Bethlehem feature), I wanted to share a few thoughts about my adventures with At the Gates this weekend. Keep an eye out for (legitimate) extended features in Hails & Horns, Noisecreep, and on my blog (username Catharsis), as well.

So I went up to New York this past Friday afternoon to attend an invite-only screening for Swedish melodeath behemoths At the Gates' first DVD and interview axeslinger Anders Björler. A lot of familiar faces turned up, and to his well-hidden dismay, my man Bram from The Syndicate found himself fighting for precious elbow room and fending off my excited pokes whenever Skitsystem ("THEY'RE SO FUCKING GOOD") or Niflheim ("I KNOW THAT GUY!") popped up onscreen. The camera work wasn't incredibly professional (a few too many blurry shots and pensive "driving down a random highway" frames marred an otherwise well-done production) but the content is what really matters. After watching Tompa wander through his childhood elementary school and talk about his tape trading days, or seeing the naked emotion on original guitarist Alf Svensson's face as he was asked about his decision to leave the band at the height of their upswing, the viewer is left with no illusions whatsoever about the strong, yet fragile personalities that drove At the Gates into becoming what they were - and still are. The footage from their reunion lap across the globe struck a chord with this writer especially, as the reverent, fanatical, almost heartbreaking intensity with which fans met their heroes was laid bare. I remember watching At the Gates at both of their 2008 NYC gigs and being absolutely overcome by emotion. 'Slaughter of the Soul' was one of those albums that directly influenced the course of my musical development, and struck an incredible chord in my fifteen-year-old self. Seeing Tompa and the boys rip through their perfectly calibrated setlist - heavy on SOTS material, of course, though a few oldies slipped in - was an overwhelmingly euphoric experience. The fact that I got to see them do it from the side of the fucking stage made it even better!

(there I is - tucked away on the right!)

So the DVD screening ruled. I fully recommend that you check this baby out - it's a hell of a history lesson for those lacking in vital knowledge in the early Swedish death metal scene (though diehards will find plenty of interest, as well) and a fitting epitaph for a band that know better than to tarnish an untouchable legacy by recording new material. Would that Jon Jon Nödtveidt had had the same forsight (may the devil take his soul - R.I.P.). As various media types and a few stray Earache interns milled about and began trickling out the door, I nabbed Anders and stuck a microphone in his reserved, but perfectly cordial face. We talked tape trading, downloading, horror movies and Judas Priest until Earache's publicist Anthony started looking fidgety and herded us out the door. An impromptu photo session that found Anders shivering in the middle of a New York street (nervously eyeing the heartless taxi drivers hurtling his way) and dinner at some fancy-shmancy burger joint followed. We all ended up at Arrow Bar's weekly Heavy Metal Happy Hour event, where I proceeded to outdrink a sleepy Swede (Anders was on his last legs by 9pm - that Gothenburg-to-Gotham time difference is a bitch), make several new friends whose faces I'd be hard-pressed to pick out of a police lineup, and somehow manage to tear myself away from the Big Apple and head back to the (215) before Snowmageddon hit. Two feet of snow and a couple days later, I'm sequestered in my cozy little hole-in-the-wall procrastinating by writing this blog and getting ready to transcribe my interview with Anders (and about a million and a half more). A small part of me is still marveling at the fact that - dude, I totally MET Anders from AT THE FUCKING GATES! Fifteen-year-old me would have never seen that one coming, and twenty-two-year-old me is still pretty stoked, too. I've met, drank with, interviewed, and hugged the shit out of countless musicians I admire/worship by now, but there are still a few left out there that leave me starstruck - in theory if not in person. Anders is a perfectly nice, unassuming gent with a sly sense of humor; he's probably the least intimidating 'rockstar' ever, but dude was still in At the Gates!

Anyway, here are the deets on this DVD set, in case you were too lazy to look it up on yourself :

Boxed set, Earache Records
February 22nd, 2010
Housed in a deluxe six-panel DVD digipak with a 40-page colour booklet, THE
FLAMES OF THE END will include three indispensable DVDs:

Disc 1 'Under A Serpent Sun - The Story of At The Gates' - a brand new
documentary with a running time of over 2 hours, detailing the band's entire
career with exclusive interviews and footage, filmed and directed by
guitarist Anders Bjorler.
Disc 2 'Purgatory Unleashed - Live at Wacken' - a 75-minute live set from
the band's reunion set at the Wacken festival in 2008 in front of 100,000
Disc 3 'Only the Dead Are Smiling' - 26 rare and archive live performances
of the band playing in locations around the globe from 1991 - 2008.

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