Sounding much like Borknagar’s nastier, snarling sibling with a riff obsession, In Vain recall how it’s possible to sound immediately Norwegian without having to rip off 20-year-old filth. The guitar-based bombast the band embrace is very much from the cleaner end of the Norwegian black metal brigade (the Immortal school).
Similarly, the eerie, minor-key tenor vocal melodies touch on Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir and the aforementioned Borknagar. But what’s impressive is that the melody and progressive structures never come at the cost of heaviness. The double bass drum kicks rarely lets up, the riffage – even when melodic – is crunching and razor sharp, and the production makes the whole thing sound like it’s coming to beat your door in.
While the inspirations are obvious – the main guitar melody in Image Of Time screams Keep Of Kalessin, and those vocals really are blatant – it’s all put together with enough personality to make it genuinely interesting. Even if it’s too long, and the first two and last two songs are easily the best.