February 21, 2016 – As the full moon rose over the city by the bay, legions of head bangers piled into the Regency Ballroom to witness one of the best lineups for European Metal fans to hit the states, outside of a festival. While most people would be stoked to just see At The Gates after the success of their incredible “come back” album ‘At War with Reality’, this was not enough. Instead, At The Gates decided to stack the bill by bringing along Decapitated, and The Haunted who just released their album with newly returned singer (Marco Aro).
With The Haunted on their first US tour since the band released ‘Exit Wounds’ with singer Marco Aro, you would have expected them to play more from that album. Thankfully though, The Haunted’s setlist comprised of a very well balanced selection from virtually all of their albums, including ‘Revolver’, ‘Made Me Do It’, and ‘The Dead Eye’. Despite the exit of original singer Peter Dolving, The Haunted managed to pummel the crowd into submission and leave them chanting for more.
After a quick set change gave the crowd time to shuffle back and forth from the bar to get more libations, the technical death metal mavens from Poland took the stage. Taking the stage first was the mastermind and orchestrator behind the band Vogg, who immediately started off the night with the powerful song Exiled in Flesh from Decapitated’s most recent album ‘Blood Mantra’. As singer “Rasta” tore through tracks like Nest, and Spheres of Madness while his floor length dredds whipped around the stage like a snakes trying to escape from Medusa’s head. Having just seen Decapitated when they came through town with GWAR at the end of 2014, I wished that they would have swapped with The Haunted, but they still put on an intense show.
Finally, At The Gates was due up. With nearly all of the original members on stage, At The Gates stuck to what they new would please the crowd. They didn’t bother playing anything pre- Slaughter of the Soul. Instead they cut up their 90 minute set with laser like precision. Starting off their show with the title track off their new album ‘At War With Reality’ before charging forward into a handful of Slaughter of the Soul tracks like Suicide Nation and Unto Others. With a cult like following At The Gates has been one of the most talked about European metal bands in the last 10 years. With frontman Tomas Lindberg running around the stage pumping his fists and growling and screeching, and a pit in the middle of the ballroom that would rival the “Big 4”, it was clear that although At The Gates has had some time off, they haven’t lost what made them great so many years ago. Highlights of the evening came when every band took a “family photo” after their set (because that’s apparently what you do now) and when The Haunted’s Marco Aro, joined Tomas on stage to sing World of Lies.