At the Gates / Darkest Hour / Municipal Waste Opera House, Toronto ON July 13

July 13 Earlier this year, Swedish death metal legends At the Gates announced a surprise reunion for European festivals this summer. North American audiences were even more surprised to learn that the band would tour over here and bring along some of the very bands they left an indelible mark upon. Sold out weeks in advance, the capacity crowd showed an immense welcome to crossover thrashers Municipal Waste. In fact, it is rare to see a band that goes at 8:30 at Toronto’s Opera House create such a fracas. By playing mostly selections from their latest, The Art of Partying, Municipal Waste put a smile on the face, a pain in the neck and a few bruises on the body of almost every headbanger in the joint. Following the crushing Municipal Waste set was a stiff task, but genre-stalwarts, Darkest Hour have always been able to work a crowd. Their set consisted mostly of selections off their last two albums and provided a satisfying follow-up to Municipal Waste. Sadly, the set was only about 30 minutes long. With At the Gates being such a huge influence on their songwriting, Darkest Hour seemed to know that everyone anticipated the headliners, so it is as if they stepped aside and let their mentors unleash 12 years of pent-up aggression. Unleash they did, as At the Gates showed no rust. The most notable thing about the performance was the incredible delivery of vocalist Tomas Lindberg. He was a step above and beyond the rest of the band, who showed little to no assertion in comparison to Lindberg. The set consisted of the entire Slaughter of the Soul album as well as select cuts from previous albums (including "The Swarm,” "Raped by the Light of Christ” and night-ender, "Kingdom Gone”). To no surprise, it was the Slaughter of the Soul material that drew out the best crowd reactions, almost as if the other material were rest points between that album for the crowd. Nonetheless, the throbbing mass of bodies emerged from the fray in disbelief that they actually witnessed the legendary band live. The incredible performance by the veterans added to this disbelief, as they haven’t lost a step after 12 long years. Bill Whish