Review and photography by William Dibble
Herman’s Hideaway is a small bar venue tucked away in an industrial corner of Denver. To get to it from the interstate, one must pass under and through a few warehouses and rail area. It is, nonetheless, a very comfortable and welcoming venue. Herman’s offers a bar with some food options right near the entrance, and fans to keep airflow moving throughout the venue. There is a large pit at the front, with substantial seating throughout, making this one of the more accessible venues that the area has! They also have an outdoor patio for smoking, finding a quieter setting, or generally taking a break from the show. On this night, the headliner was Insomnium, a Finnish melodic death metal group, supported by Oceans of Slumber and two local acts, Eye of Minerva and Pile of Priests.
The venue had Pile of Priests start playing while most of the audience was still in line outside, but a significant portion of the line made it in to see them, nonetheless. Pile of Priests offers a speedy, blistering blend of guttural vocals and blistering riffs. Being the opening act wasn’t going to stop them from offering a highly-technical introduction to the night as Evan Salvador and Patrick Leyn tore up their strings. That isn’t to leave out the formidable drumming talent of their drummer, Evan Knight. Pile of Priests had the double whammy of being both the opening act, and having half the audience unable to get inside. That didn’t stop them from drawing a big enough crowd up front to fill the pit, with a few people even starting a mosh. They were an excellent choice to start off the evening’s show.
Up next was Eye of Minerva. Like Pile of Priests, they are also a three-piece group. Derek Duvak moved to Denver in 2010 and formed the band upon moving. Along with Chris Moen on drums and Jeff Wager as the front-man, they became a force of nature in the local genre. A lack of a bassist didn’t stop Eye of Minerva from being one of the heaviest bands that night. Their stage presence and blasting songs made sure that their set was extremely memorable.
Oceans of Slumber was supporting Insomnium on their US tour for Winter’s Gate. They are a Texas-based progressive metal band. They brought custom mic stands with elaborate floral metal work that complemented their style. While Oceans of Slumber is not a death metal band, they fit in perfectly between the other groups. Cammie Gilbert’s melodic vocals filled the entire venue, and the five-piece outfit certainly wasn’t lacking in heaviness or stage presence. They dominated the stage playing a series of compelling songs before giving it up for the headliner.
Winter’s Gate is a 40-minute long album that is composed of a single song. It tells the story of a group of vikings seeking a large treasure, but finding instead a land of cold and danger. Insomnium has toured several times in support of this album, but had only played several parts of the song on many of these. On this stop, they were playing it end-to-end. The moment the lights dimmed and they came on stage, everybody was waiting in anticipation. Throughout the night, the increase of people in the pit and venue had been steady enough that it was only now noticeable just how crowded it had become.
Insomnium took over the stage with banners featuring falling snow and a stylized “I”. Their long experience in the death metal genre showed with their mastery of stage presence, having the audience cheering almost nonstop. For the first half of their set, they played the entirety of Winter’s Gate non-stop, before launching into a collection of songs off of Shadows of the Dying Sun and one or two older pieces.
Between the four bands playing, it was an excellent and wonderful night of metal. Oceans of Slumber and Insomnium are still on tour, and Eye of Minerva and Pile of Priests both have upcoming shows in the Denver area. Be sure to check them out! See the full set of photos here!