It has been a little over two months since Borknagar toured Europe together with four other bands, including In Vain. They did not have a concert in the Netherlands unfortunately. They did however perform just across the border in Oberhausen, Germany. When I arrived, it took me a while to get used to club Helvete. It looks like a large English pub that is transformed into a metal café rather than the typical music venues one sees in the Netherlands. The stage is rather small, but that comes with the advantage that you can get so close to the band members that you can almost touch them.
My phone display shows it’s 20 minutes to nine, perfectly acceptable given that I had to have a 2-hour ride (I don’t live that close to the border). Unfortunately though, Shade Empire, the first act of the evening, starts playing their last song just when I enter the venue. Since one song is obviously way too little for me to make a valuable comment about them, I won’t. way too little for me to make a valuable comment about them, I won’t. It’s about 8 o’ clock when Ereb Altor starts playing. You can’t help but notice that this Swedish band brought their face paint, which makes their appearance somewhat similar to the Dutch band Slechtvalk. But even though they look rather similar, this band has a different style when it comes to music for they play their songs a lot slower than Slechtvalk. All in all, their music could best be described as Viking metal. Despite the fact that the vocal harmonies of both guitar players are very infectious, it must be said that after a couple of songs the music starts to sound all the same. The volume of the nature samples is too low, which is not in their favour either. All of this doesn’t appear to really bother the present German, Dutch and Belgian people, given the amount of hair that is already dancing around.
Third act of the night is the band In Vain. The fact that yours truly travelled to Oberhausen only to see this band is barely a secret. This Norse company made a great impression on the Brainstorm Festival a couple of years ago, which definitely left the public wanting more. During the line check they appear to have some problems (with) connecting the mac computer. Because of this, the band had to skip two of their songs on the set list, as would turn out later. At 8.50 p.m. In Vain kicks off with an explosive performance of Captivating Solitude. Given the amount of metalheads quietly standing, watching and listening, In Vain appears not to be very well-known. Regardless, the guys from Norway gave everything they have which shows best in the songs they play from their new album, such as Against the Grain and Himne till Havet. Slowly but steadily people loosen up until more and more hair is dancing around again.
The pre-final song by In Vain brings a surprise: Lazare from the band Borknagar enters the stage and enthusiastically partakes in singing Image of Time. Finally, the crowd has fully warmed up and doesn’t hold back anymore. About time, because Floating on the Murmuring Tide is the song that concludes In Vain’s performance in Helvete. Even though the sound of these Norse guys is perfectly fine and highly infectious, the stage is too small for them to truly shine. By the way, fun fact: the drummer from Borknagar also plays the drums for In Vain during their Europe-tour. After In Vain, the time has come for the Swedish band Managarm to perform as pre-final act. Borknagar has the honour of playing the final performance of the night. However, since I have a two-hour drive ahead of me, the time has come for me to go home. Even though the sound in club Helvete isn’t of the best quality, the ambiance was absolutely fine and all in all, the experience was worth repeating. I still hope that on their next tour, they will also be booked by a Dutch venue. An amazing night, without a doubt!
Written by KR
Translated by Janet Render and Twan van Tilborg