Behemoth and At the Gates maintain extreme-metal mastery in third decade of desecration | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Behemoth and At the Gates maintain extreme-metal mastery in third decade of desecration


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Two of Europe’s extreme-metal influencers, Poland’s Behemoth and Sweden’s At the Gates, represent a relative rarity in heavy music: beloved 90s veterans who are churning out some of their best work nearly 30 years after they formed. With its 11th album, I Loved You at Your Darkest (released in October on Metal Blade), Behemoth continues imbuing its blazing-fast blackened death metal with a sharp sense of dynamics and symphonic accompaniment. The results are just as sinister and blasphemous as on previous albums, but the band’s evolving songcraft is also on full display in the moderate tempos and the melodic passages supported by a 17-piece orchestra and a children’s choir. Meanwhile, At the Gates is touring in support of May’s To Drink From the Night Itself (Century Media), its second LP since 1995’s Slaughter of the Soul—which is widely regarded as one of melodic death-metal’s finest albums. To Drink From the Night Itself is the group’s first album without cofounding guitarist Anders Björler, but it manages to eclipse 2014’s At War With Reality. Its 12 tracks combine the catchiest aspects of Slaughter of the Soul with pummeling thrash and blackened death metal, and are underpinned by the most orchestral elements of the band’s catalog; a string section appears alongside acoustic guitar and keyboards to add more color to the music. Opening for these juggernauts are Wolves in the Throne Room, whose atmospheric black metal is potent in its own right.   v

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