This article simply doesn’t come close at all in fully capturing the enormously good festival atmosphere at Inferno. From beer tastings with Nøgne Ø and pre-parties and afterparties, to all the food, drinks, good people and merch stands, to the music conference and the actual live shows, Inferno is a well-oiled machine that sees no stopping. Happily this makes each year’s Easter plans set in stone. There’s no other place like Oslo during Easter, if you’re into extreme metal that is, and aren’t we all?
For the first day of the festival there was a lot of different venues being used, some involving a little bit of walking. Basically the easiest way of dealing with this was picking the Scandic hotel Vulkan stage, since this not only is the biggest of the venues, but it also has two stages, a big 1500 or so capacity stage upstairs and a smaller stage on ground level. The first act to be caught live was Australia’s tech death band Psycroptic, impressing with just how groovy and catchy they manage to make a bombardment of death metal sound. It seems effortless as they stomp their auditory boot in our faces. Following the impressive performance by Psycroptic was Gorguts. They sadly came off as a bit too technical for a lot of the audience members , judging from how the room cleared a little bit. Maybe it is their almost jazzy approach at times, or their slightly introverted and inaccesible music, who knows? After catching a very impressive performance by the Icelandic brutal death metal band Beneath dowstairs in the pub venue, we all headed up to catch headliners Exodus. With Steve “Zetro” Souza back, the band – this time missing Gary Holt on guitar – focused slightly more on the material from albums he originally appeared on, making room for songs like ‘Blacklist’ and ‘Impaler’ from Tempo Of The Damned. As usual Exodus deliver the goods, if not in a slightly too relaxed manner, lacking that youthful energy. But hey, who can complain when ‘The Toxic Waltz’, ‘Bonded By Blood’, and ‘Piranha’ are being played? After an hour or so of happy tough-guy-lyrics thrash metal it was nice to go to bed though, knowing that the rest of the festival would be within a 100 meter walking distance from our hotel, and all in one single venue. As we all know, festivals are hard.
The first band Thursday that we were able to catch, was none other than Polish masters of death metal, Vader. As usual they delivered the goods, dealing out songs spanning all of their career, even though the focus seemed to be on their earliest material, with songs like ‘Carnal’, ‘Dark Age’, ‘Vicious Circle’, and ‘Wings’. Yet again, they also gave us strong renditions of ‘Come See My Sacrifice’, ‘Helleluyah!!! (God Is Dead)’, and ‘Triumph Of Death’. It would also be wrong not to mention the enormous effort taken on by guitarist Spider in keeping the audience thoroughly engaged throughout the show. He basically made up fifty percent of the Vader machine.
Next band, delivering blitzkrieg just after the Polish death metal barrage, were Marduk. Opening their set with ‘Frontschwein’ and ‘Blond Beast’, they also proved themselves as one of the better and more relevant bands out there when it comes to a solid live show. Classics like ‘Slay The Nazarene’ and ‘Burn My Coffin’ were intermixed with newer material like ‘Womb Of Perishableness and The Levelling Dust’, and that the band has come to the point were they have to leave out classic songs, is yet another sign that they have been delivering good material for a long time now.
Both Vader and Marduk were mainstage bands, playing the Rockfeller stage. Cattle Decapitation were to headline the smaller stage downstairs, at John Dee. With last year’s phenomenal The Anthropocene Extinction (Metal Blade) under their belts, the American ensemble had managed to fill John Dee to the very brim with their fans. The band is also clever enough to focus on that album and the one before it, Monolith Of Inhumanity, by far their two best albums in terms of both quality material that separates them from the rest, and also probably their two most popular releases within the metal community. ‘Forced Gender Reassignment’, ‘Your Disposal’, ‘Manufactured Extinct’, and ‘The Prophets Of Loss’ are all really good songs, and with a convincing performance to a Cattle Decapitated-straved audience this went down as a concert to remember. Too bad they were placed on the smaller stage, especially since the sound production is much better at the mainstage at Rockefeller.
The biggest surprise and the most memorable performance of this year’s festival was easily that of Norwegian veterans Mysticum. They performed live for the first time in Norway in ages, and they brought with them a grand production worthy of an headliner act. All three members were elevated on three tall platforms, the poles for said stands being large videoscreens, as most of the stage was one big videoshow. If not displaying static to accompany the light show, the screens showed huge satanic symbols, war imagery and so on. It was … Well, for the first time in years someone brought something exciting and new to the concert stage, even making a blasé writer like myself smile from ear to ear.
WORDS BY PÅL TEIGLAND LYSTRUP AND JULIA TUOMINEN