At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US)

AT THE GATES / CONVERGE / PALLBEARER / VALLENFYRE

Date: 06th April, 2015
Venue: House Of Blues Chicago
Ticket: $41.55 (€36)
Promoter: Decibel Magazine


MariaV: Yes, there were lots of people waiting patiently to find a good viewing spot inside the packed HoB that night, so that was the main reason that delayed our entrance inside the House few minutes after VALLENFYRE had taken over the stage, hitting the fans’ ears with their massive tunes. By the moment we finally approached the stage as near as possible, the headbanger “Odious Bliss” gave a dead-serious lesson of how UK Doom/Death Metal should sound, and it wasn’t really a surprise watching the chaos that followed in the front lines, with the most daring metalheads trying their hardest moshpit-moves – and by ‘hardest’, I mean pushing around everyone really hard while beer and other booze was getting spilled all over the rest attendees’ clothes / heads. Without losing valuable time, VALLENFYRE hit us even harder with “Cathedrals Of Dread”, revealing the band’s brave Doomed-colors having the UK initials written all over it, while Greg Mackintosh granted us with his darkest vocalisms. As expected, “Savages Arise” saw more violent fun inside HoB expressed via the biggest moshpit of the evening (till that moment). “This is a slow one”, Greg shortly commented, and of course he was referring to the slow-melting “Splinters” which marked the end of a rather interesting opening Doomed Death Metal act that, to my opinion, belonged a bit upper in this tour’s billing. But despite the slower tempo, this track was greeted by a generous and excited crowd like it happened with the rest of the VALLENFYRE tracks, creating the best mood for an early-evening concert. “Thank you, Chicago – maybe we meet again” was the last words coming out from Greg’s lips, and then we knew it was time for some spear breathes ‘cause the mighty PALLBEARER were next in line...

VALLENFYRE setlist:

01. “Bereft”
02. “Cattle”
03. “Odious Bliss”
04. “Cathedrals Of Dread”
05. “Savages Arise”
06. “Splinters”


MariaV: Ten minutes after 8pm, it was time for Little Rock, AR’s Heavy doomsters to take the reins of the Doomed fun VALLENFYRE left behind, and (re)introduce us to PALLBEARER’s haunting tunes. Whoever had done his homework regarding this band, already knew that the Doom Metal quartet would offer only 3-4 songs from their discography, since PALLBEARER’s tracks are long in duration, but this didn’t seem to matter at all, since everyone inside HoB that night was really thirsty for heavy tunes. The red lights barely lighten up the stage the moment Brett Campbell & Co. stepped onstage and took their positions in front of the suspicious crowd, while the eerie, heavy intro of “Worlds Apart” hit the speakers. The sound was crystal-clear and did justice to Brett’s vocals, who shared the vocalisms with the band’s bassist occasionally, while the guitars’ depth gave the impression of drowning slowly the crowd who starred the Doom four-piece with jaws dropped. “Thank you, how’re you doing?” laconically asked Brett after the end of the opening track for PALLBEARER, and without further ado, the band started to spread the “Foundations” tunes for the next 9 minutes or so. Having watched PALLBEARER more times than I could remember, it’s safe to say that this time was their best, since the band seems really tight and solid while onstage, and each member knows the job that has to be done, drawing metalheads’ attention without trying much.

Despite the long-in-duration tracks, the 35 minutes that PALLBEARER had in their disposal seemed to pass pretty quick, so it was time for the final (!) track of their set; “Foreigner”, from 2012’s “Sorrow And Extinction” album, greeted us with almost 15 minutes of Doom, sorrow and despair, as Brett spitted the “lost within the shade, I call out for a helping hand” lyrics, leaving us with the best of impressions and big, satisfactory smiles on our faces. Now, it was CONVERGE’s turn...

PALLBEARER setlist:

01. “Worlds Apart”
02. “Foundations”
03. “Foreigner”

PALLBEARER

Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


DimK: Then it was time to take a hard-turn having Massachusetts’ CONVERGE onstage who musically had absolutely nothing to do with the previous bands. Yeah, I am talking about a complete change of scenery that was boosted by the vein popping Hardcore-meets-Metalcore music of the US band which had no interest in making small talk. From the setlist opener “Eagles Become Vultures” it felt like being onboard a steamroller with broken breaks, since there was no warming-up part. The young on average crowd responded without any delay and the moshing/pushing/crowd-surfing started with no hesitation. It was after the third song when the already sweating frontman Jacob Bannon said: “Thank you so much for being here” with the type of honesty that bounces on the crowd getting more energy on and off the stage. Even though my ears failed to understand CONVERGE’s high energy music style, I surely appreciated their onstage presence during which the band took no prisoners playing fast like there would be no tomorrow. Add to this the equally energetic response from the people occupying the HoB arena and you immediately understand why there were only happy faces (and lots of sweat) after the CONVERGE set. By the way, trying to get a still photo of Jacob was a ‘nightmare’ because he was constantly running up and down the stage and there was no way to hold him down. Yeah, this onstage presence goes hand-in-hand with the Hardcore/Punk roots CONVERGE have, so kudos for this. After this non-stop roller coaster, everything looked pumped and ready for some Swedish melodic Death Metal.

CONVERGE setlist:

01. “Eagles Become Vultures”
02. “Dark Horse”
03. “Aimless Arrow”
04. “You Fail Me”
05. “Trespasses”
06. “All We Love We Leave Behind”
07. “Predatory Glow”
08. “Reap What You Sow”
09. “Cutter”
10. “Worms Will Feed / Rats Will Feast”
11. “Concubine”
12. “Jane Doe”

CONVERGE

Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Converge @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


DimK: The lights went out, the crowd’s excitement peaked and the “El Altar del Dios Desconocido” intro brought AT THE GATES onstage with “Death And The Labyrinth”. I remember what Anders told METAL KAOZ about how being in AT THE GATES is no longer a matter of surviving but enjoying playing this music, and this is how the band looked onstage; happy and playing music for fun enjoying every minute of it. Tomas Lindberg was walking up down the stage constantly smiling and urging the already enthusiastic US crowd which exploded after the ‘go’ grunt following the trademark riff of “Slaughter Of The Soul” that was followed non-stop by “Cold” with the really nice solo. Yeah, the floor was oscillating as the front lines were kept busy jumping up and down and moshing around, while there was quite a lot of singing-along although the AT THE GATES songs are not fit for this…

“Thank you Chicago, we are AT THE GATES from Gothenburg, Sweden and we are back” Tomas said and got a loud cheer as a response, but it was time for another new song and the title track of the latest AT THE GATES album. I’d say that listening the old and the new songs live, there was no striking difference between them, even though there are two decades in between. Indeed, the Swedes managed to create an album that to some extent can be considered as an unofficial continuation of the mid-‘90s. The same thing happened with “The Circular Ruins” and “Under A Serpent Sun” where the new passed the baton to the old which by the way saw some circle pit action, courtesy of the fast riff action. After a short break, the two guitarists walked in front of the drum-kit and kicked off “Windows” that soon enough saw more moshing action.

The set had minimum breaks, so it was mainly focused on the music, something everyone appreciated because it kept the momentum going. I mean, it’s ok to listen to a couple of words but getting on and off the moshing mood can be a party killer in the end. But no, this was not the case for AT THE GATES who kept serving the good old Gothenburg Metal like they know best and sent shivers down my spine with the opening riff of “Suicide Nation”. “Thank you Chicago, we are happy to be back!” said Tomas before giving us a chance to catch a couple of breathes with the mid-tempo “Heroes And Tombs” because next was the neck-breaker “Nausea”. The AT THE GATES, AT THE GATES chanting was the perfect intro for the “The Burning Darkness” which Tomas dedicated to the old-school fans who were responded with more moshing around.

“The Book Of Sand (The Abomination)” was the final song of the regular set that I have to admit passed by really fast and this is another indication of how tight AT THE GATES performed, leaving absolutely no space for weak moments - it was a headbanging feast from start to finish. Of course, the band returned onstage and Tomas had a question for us: “Do you like Death Metal? We don’t like Death Metal…” was an almost impossible followup but soon enough the balanced was restored; “We love Death Metal” he added and let “Blinded By Fear” do the rest of the talking. It was a great night that ended with “The Night Eternal” which during the clean guitar arpeggios saw one by one the AT THE GATES members leaving the stage. I think it is suitable to say that AT THE GATES are still on the melodic Death Metal tracks and hopefully it won’t take them too much time to release the “At War With Reality” follow-up.

AT THE GATES setlist:

01. “Death And The Labyrinth”
02. “Slaughter Of The Soul”
03. “Cold”
04. “At War With Reality”
05. “Terminal Spirit Disease”
06. “Raped By The Light Of Christ”
07. “The Circular Ruins
08. “Under A Serpent Sun”
09. “Windows”
10. “City Of Mirrors”
11. “Suicide Nation”
12. “Heroes And Tombs”
13. “Nausea”
14. “Eater Of Gods”
15. “World Of Lies”
16. “The Burning Darkness”
17. “The Book Of Sand (The Abomination)”
18. “Blinded By Fear”
19. “Kingdom Gone”
20. “The Night Eternal”

AT THE GATES

At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) At The Gates @ House Of Blues, Chicago (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)