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At The Gates could very well be the most important band to come out of the Gothenburg death metal-scene. To say the least the band's last record, the monumental "Slaughter Of The Soul" is regarded as a essential album in metaldom. When the band made the announcement that At The Gates would reunite for a farewell tour, I know that more than a few metalheads went absolutely bezerk out of joy. The DVD "The Flames Of The End" is the mighty testimony to that final tour and a very fitting documentary of one of the best bands in the world.
Disc number one consists of an over two hours long documentary about the bands history. Now, while many documentaries can and are fairly boring (with the exception of Iron Maiden) this one isn't. Guided by singer Tompa we are given a guided tour of the Gothenburg of the band - virtually every important location in the band's history is visited, be it rehearsal-rooms or venues where the band has performed. There are also quite a number of really funny anecdotes from the owner of Studio Fredman in regards to the recording-sessions of the classic masterpiece "Slaughter Of The Soul". For fans not even born when the band was founded this should be a very good introduction to the death metal scene, not only in Gothenburg, but as a whole as Tompa describes the tape trading and fanzines that were at the core of the scene.
Disc two consist of the band's fantastic concert at Wacken Open Air 2008. While I remember the concert as a great one, I still had doubts about just how good since I had consumed quite a fill of good German beer prior to the concert. The DVD made me feel at ease, because the show was as good as I remembered it to be. Songwise the concert gives the listener every track off "Slaughter Of The Soul" - a fact that ought to satisfy even the most discerning viewer. But the fact that we're also given quite a few song from the rest of the discography is what makes the concert an exceptional one in this regard.
Personally I have always felt that the older material, as good as it is, didn't get the proper production on the records. With the very good sound on stage songs such as "The Burning Darkness", "All Life Ends" and "Raped By The Light Of Christ" sound just awesome. Filmed with a plethora of cameras, each band member gets good screentime. It's quite satisfying to see the Björler-twins, usually quite sombre on stage, with a glow in their eyes that I haven't seen in a while. And rightly so, because that day at Wacken the band sounded and played fantastic.
Disc three contains some very old and some very new live material from the band's trek over the years. Some of the stuff has not quite the sound-quality that we're spoilt with from the Wacken show - but I still feel that it deserves to be put on the DVD since it shows beautifully under what conditions the band was working. For example the clip showing the band playing on the tour with Morbid Angel and Dissection it's almost incredible to see just the smallness of the stage. The band seems to be standing almost in the audience!
"The Flames Of The End" is a mighty testimony of one of the greatest bands in the metal-world, and I must say when seeing the result, the DVD was well worth the long wait. For fans of At The Gates this is an essential item to have at home.
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