Doom Descends Upon Deutschland
Einherjer, Old Man's Child, Gorgoroth, Cradle of Filth
at Zeche Carl in Essen, Germany on May 7, 1998

by: Matthias Noll
The Zeche Carl is a former coal mine in the German "Ruhrgebiet". Its towers and brick wall buildings provide a very special atmosphere that completely fitted that night's unholy musical onslaught. The place was packed with about 800 people eagerly waiting for the show to begin.

First up on stage were Einherjer, a band which is supposed to portray some kind of Viking image. On stage, the four-piece looked more like devotees of the alcoholic metal style of Tankard fame. Compared to their frontman, not wearing a sword, horned skull cap and leather armor as one might expect, but a green bomber jacket and ultra tight grey jeans, my mother seemed to look like mighty Thor himself. The band's rather traditional, medium paced metal with vocals in a clear and midranged, but poor and limited, style left a lot to be desired as well. Most of the awkward choruses, during which the singer was constantly trying to conduct the crowd with a bottle of beer, seemed to come straight from a "Best of Drunken Soccer Fans" compilation. Furthermore, they suffered from a miserable sound. The fact that their only guitar player missed several breaks and riffs towards the end of their set because of a fit in his left arm (I would understand if that happens to Yngwie Malmsteen once in a while) made the group's amateurish approach even more obvious. This gig left me wondering why the hell Odin (he owns us all, according to Einherjer) didn't send some undead viking hordes to take revenge.

Next band was Old Man's Child, promoting their new album _Ill-Natured Spiritual Invasion_ on this tour. In comparison to Einherjer, at least their outfit was quite impressive, with all members wearing corpsepaint, spikes and more of the usual black metal stage gear. I had hoped that drum god Gene Hoglan would play on this tour as on the album, but, to my disappointment, he was nowhere to be seen. This band also suffered from an extremely poor sound and I had a hard time figuring out what they were playing. Nevertheless, their complex (compared to Einherjer) song material was delivered in a tight fashion. OMC's songs feature a lot of trash riffing that would have been a lot more effective if only their sound had been better. On the other hand, frontman Balder was doing his best to win the "black metal poser of the day" contest by displaying his capabilities in evil grimacing only when a certain photographer in the front row was ready to take a picture. The bass player also tried hard to entertain the crowd. The guy was definitely fighting his way through the Forest of Equilibrium, being so drunk that he constantly was in danger of falling into the drumkit. To my disappointment, he always managed to avoid collapsing and continued to stumble across the stage. Despite my criticism, OMC's performance achieved a rather good response from the crowd, but, in my opinion, totally failed to deliver heaviness and aggression.

Gorgoroth, with the new album _Destroyer_ under their belts, entered the stage cloaked, spiked and painted. Again, the sound was horrible, but reached new peaks in volume. Gorgoroth hammered their way through various (on that day) indistinguishable songs, creating the most violent aural assault I have ever witnessed. Song structures, guitar melody lines, rhythm and choruses just didn't seem to matter and they kept on blasting through their simplistic and raw material. After about 30 infernal minutes, technical problems with one of their guitars became serious and they had to leave the stage. If you were in the mood (which I was that night) to enjoy the sound of bypassing high speed trains, Gorgoroth kicked ass that night and were the first band to deliver the goods.

Finally, Cradle of Filth entered the stage. The first thing to mention was the now brilliant sound. Starting the set with "Dusk and Her Embrace", drummer Nicholas had some timing problems through the first fast parts, but immediately recovered from that and played the rest of the material in ultra tight and faster than on record style (unbelievable but true in the case of song material like "Beneath the Howling Stars"). The whole band's appearance was highly professional and tight, and especially screamer Dani energetically ruled the stage and delivered an unbelievable vocal onslaught. I always wonder how much blood this guy spits after each gig. As they didn't bring any female singers on this tour, he had to do his own interpretation of the female vocal parts, which wasn't as awkward as you might expect (nevertheless, I would have preferred samples). The set list was the expected mix of old and new material: "To Eve the Art of Witchcraft" and "The Black Goddess Rises", the fantastic and brutally heavy sounding "The Forest Whispers My Name", three songs from _Cruelty and the Beast_ and some material from _Dusk... and Her Embrace_. Briefly: A great show by a great band that doesn't need any hype to prove that they are unique and groundbreaking.

(article submitted 1/10/1998)


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