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Although At The Gates' Wacken 2008 performance is a bit of a blur to me, I remember enough to know it was one of the most enjoyable sets of the festival that year. It seems the band and/or Earache agreed with me, as the show was immortalised in the form of this live album.
The sound on 'Purgatory Unleashed' is bang on. The guitars sound thicker and more powerful than on the original albums, the bass is nicely audible, the drums are punchy and powerful and Lindberg is in fine voice. Whereas ATG's original albums (especially the ultra-polished 'Slaughter of the Soul' and 'Terminal Spirit Disease') had a tendency to sound maybe too perfect, almost sterile, the songs are presented here in a much rawer, more savage form. That is not to say the sound isn't clear; one can pick out the subtleties especially in the two guitars, right down to a few minor mistakes, which give the listener a more intimate experience. I know it's a cliché, but it really does feel like you're in the same room (or, in this case, the same muddy field) as the band.
The only bad thing I have to say about this album is that it focusses far too much on the 'Slaughter of the Soul' album. Of the 18 tracks here, 9 are taken from that album, the rest distributed fairly evenly between the others. While I accept 'Slaughter of the Soul' is their most popular album, I think a more evenly distributed setlist could have pushed this album's score higher. After all, this was a reunion tour; not a tour in support of 'Slaughter of the Soul'.
That said, this is still a very good live album. It'll probably make a good starting point for newcomers, as it presents much of the more accessible later period while offering a smaller sample of the band's more extreme early days. Die-hards might be slightly disappointed with the setlist, but the atmosphere, performance and production should make it a worthy addition to the collection.