Blastfest 2016: Part 2, Live at the Garage, Bergen NO

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Day three of Blastfest saw a lot of people starting to look slightly more tired, which made sense knowing that some of the many foreigners started partying 3-4 days earlier upon arrival in Bergen, and some of them brought enormous amounts of duty free liquids.

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Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

What was more fitting than starting the auditory pleasures with Funeral? They were originally one of the very first funeral doom bands around, and by Norwegian standards they are a somewhat strange occurrence seeing as Norway isn’t exactly renowned for its abundance of doom metal acts. Unlike some of the most extreme bands, Funeral seemed to fit the intimate Studio stage perfectly, in terms of how the room seem to resonate well with the slow doomy bands, just as it has done before with Swallow The Sun and last year with Saturnus. The set flowed seamlessly through songs like ‘This barren Skin’, ‘Vagrant God’, and ‘The Will To Die’. Strangely enough, considering the gloomy atmosphere of both music and lyrics, the band really seemed to enjoy themselves. Although they only got to perform a quite short set due to the time limitations, they managed to put on one of the best performances of the festival.

 Djevil, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Djevil, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Djevel delivered a slab of straight-forward bleak black metal. Sadly, as with some of the other bands playing the Studio stage, the sound production sounded a bit off. Although with such an unbalanced and harsh production it ironically fitted both the approach the band has to black metal and their stage performance. As much as the band has a few scene stalwarts in their ranks, it might very well be Erlend Hjelvik of Kvelertak that makes the strongest impression. It’s not just that he delivers a good vocal performance, but just as much the fact that he is usually seen on far bigger stages fronting Kvelertak, making this all the more exotic.

 

I remember seeing Arcturus twice about ten years back, and I wrote them off as a live ensemble. It was just chaotic, and the songs that sounded amazing on record were lost in second-rate live performances, a lot of theatrics, and awful sound productions. Seeing them live from Maryland Deathfest was an eye-opener. Could they actually pull it off these days? Well, the answer, as given at Blastfest, was a clear and resounding yes!. Except ICS Vortex sitting while performing vocals on some of the tracks it was a band showcasing their musicianship fully, and playing a selection of songs spanning their entire career. All the way from ‘To Thou Who Dwellest In The Night’, via Master of Disguise, to ‘Arcturian Sign’ this was a remarkably good performance from the all-star cast.

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1349, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

1349 has been drummer Frost’s more extreme black metal outlet, and despite some later albums not living up to the standards set by their 2005 release Hellfire, the band continues to be relentless in a live setting. And so they were at Blastfest. Set opener was none other than ‘I Am Abomination’, and it was succeeded by none other than the brilliant two songs ‘Nathicana’, and ‘Sculptor of Flesh’, all off of the aforementioned Hellfire album. Until the very closing number ‘Cauldron’ the band were simply amazing, providing the proper Norwegian black metal alibi of the evening.

 Ihsahn, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Ihsahn, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Ihsahn seems like somewhat strange headliner material. Or, at least if you consider the fact that he was part of Emperor, but that his solo project seems somewhat in that band’s very shadow. Not that there are that many similarities except both bands being extreme metal and with Ihsahn’s characteristic voice spearheading them. As far as musicianship goes it’s stellar stuff, but in terms of musical expression. Well, it seemed like half the audience really enjoyed, me probably being amongst those who think it best to let prog be prog and metal be metal, being more fond of the 70s when it comes to the progressive side of things.

 Einherjer, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Einherjer, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Einherjer are purveyors of the craft known as viking metal. Unlike most folk-/viking metal acts of latter years they are not overly jolly, and neither are they sporting costumes more fit for role play. They are about the music, and the viking image is mostly channeled through the lyrics and artwork, not through helmets and horns – noting that viking helmets didn’t actually historically have any horns. With last year’s well-crafted ‘Av Oss, For Oss’ in their belts they delivered a stunning set of just as many old songs as new ones. Einherjer is also one of the bands that have recorded in the now defunct yet infamous Grieghallen studio, and introduced their song ‘Dragons Of The North”\’ by mentioning that very fact.

Sahg never ceases to amaze. What an incredible live band! And not just are they an incredible live band, but their song material is of the kind that leaves whoever lends them an ear with a newfound favourite. The Sardinen stage downstairs main venue was pretty packed for this show, and as mentioned, it’s easy to see why considering their performance.

The contrast was huge to what was going on as Red Harvest took to the main stage for a reunion show. The industrial extreme metallers … Well, where black metal has this little hopeful spark to it, Red Harvest is a descent into a hopeless dark abyss. There’s no light, there’s no hope, it’s mechanistic, it’s industrial. It’s truly as their song ‘Cold Dark Matter’. Except some small things to complain about in terms of sound production, their set was one that made me simply want to catch them again as soon as possible. 

 Green Carnation, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Green Carnation, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Green Carnation disbanded at some point in 2007, leaving Tchort as the band’s sole member. Their return as a unified whole would be marked by their appearance at Blastfest 2016, and what a grand return it was. Ancient has been around since the early 90’s, but hasn’t played in their hometown of Bergen for something like 20 years. This time around mainman Aphazel, now residing in Southern Europe, brought none other than Nicholas Barker of Cradle Of Filth and Dimmu Borgir fame on drums. Little did that help the fact that their sound was way too loud, and so dense that it was difficult to hear those good riffs. As for the guitar solos, they completely drowned in all the rest that was going on. A wall of guitar noise, drums, and vocals, an unpenetrable wall. Sadly this ruined what could have been a most memorable experience. For their closing act they invited local sticksman Kjetil Grønvigh to play “Lilith’s Embrace” together with them, as he was the original drummer on the 1996 recording nothing seemed more fitting as a celebration of that very era, the one when Ancient was most relevant in the scene.

 Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Abbath shouldn’t be in need of much of an introduction, not after fronting Immortal for two decades. However, this was his first show on home turf where he flew under the new moniker. With his larger-than-life on-stage persona he and his minions presented us with a set covering most of his career. There was some Immortal songs, some songs from the I record, and of course songs from the newly released Abbath album. The audience seemed ecstatic, and especially so as the band played the hits from Immortal’s Sons Of Northern Darkness; ‘Tyrants’ and ‘One By One’. With a show like this comes the usual theatrics, and if there’s one thing Abbath knows it’s how to keep an audience engaged throughout a concert. There’s never a dull moment. So once again he delivered a great show, with good sound, a great performance, and he and his comrades put a worthy end to four days of metal bliss in the lovely and scenic Bergen. And as this is being written the bands for the 2017 edition are already being booked. See you all next year!

 Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

 Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Abbath, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

BLASTFEST 2016 REVIEW PART I

 

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WORDS BY PAL LYSTRUP

PHOTOS BY JARL H. MOE

 

Blastfest 2016: Part 1, Live at the Garage, Bergen NO

 

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The third year of Blastfest was to be something of a special one. Where the two first years had been about metal in a global perspective, this edition of the festival was to be one with the sole focus being the Norwegian metal scene. By that was meant that the entire festival consisted solely of bands from Norway. The audience on the other hand hailed from all around, with more than forty countries in attendance.

 The crowd at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

The crowd at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Before moving on to the main venue for the three main festival days, there was a kick-off day. The infamous rock club Garage was were things started off, a 350 capacity club venue closer to the center of town. With such a small total capacity the club makes for a much more intimate experience, and needless to say, it was also sold out a long time in advance. This third year also seemed to be a turning point in that sense, the economical one. Most of the festival tickets had been sold out and in good time before the festival. It actually went so well that the 2017 edition was secured long before the 2016 edition got off the ground, and is currently already being booked.

Hadens were the local youngsters to get the festival off the ground proper, followed by Endezzma, before it really got hot as the third band took the stage, Blodhemn. By that time the venue was pretty crammed, and despite the band not really putting on anything particular in terms of the visual, they were nevertheless fully capable of delivering their message in terms of auditory ferocity. The national romanticism was taken even a step further as Voluspaa took to the stage, not to mention how the small stage got pretty crowded by the sevenpiece. Formed all the way back in 1994, the band has since only delivered one fullength album, 2010’s Åsa. On the other hand, who needs multiple releases if they have one that garners lots of praise? Violinist and all, the band put on a great show of hymns dedicated to the old cultural heritage.

 Mistur at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Mistur at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Svarttjern brought things right back to present day with their black metal onslaught, before Mistur showcased their brand of sognametal, made famous by bands like Windir and Vreid. At first the sound was a bit too dense to really make out any detail, but it broke up a little bit into the show, and needless to say, by now the place was crammed.

 Chrome Division at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Chrome Division at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

All in time for the headliners in Chrome Division, fronted by none other than Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir fame. They performed no less than fourteen of their songs to a Garage filled to the brim with people that were more than eager to have a long weekend of booze, broads, and Beelzebub. If not an evening filled with headliner material, it was indeed a great start to the festival, which at the venue even had their own stand with the 7 Fjell – Blastfest 777 cascadian ale on tap. The safest guess is that the brewery taking its name from the seven mountains surrounding Bergen fused that with the usual 666 gimmick.

 

Local thrashers Inculter have been at it for a couple of years now, but despite honing even more exceptional playing skills than before, they still look straight out of junior high school, making it all the more impressive. It’s good to see that the spirit is still very much alive in the younger generations, that people show up to catch them and show their support, and that these guys actually spend time in the rehearsal room refining something that will surely become a juggernaut of the future. Gravdal are also a local force, and they are to be reckoned with! Since the last time I caught them, they had done some lineup changes, and in was Eld (Aeternus, Taake, Krakow, Gaahl’s Wyrd) on bass and vocals, and Saur (Dominanz) on guitars. On guitar they also had Phobos, who later that same very evening was to be found behind the Gorgoroth drumkit. Their musical expression is none other than the more groove-laden midtempo black metal, and despite not really having found their own niche yet, they excell at what they do.

 Doheimsgard, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Doheimsgard, at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Second band out after Kampfar kicked it all off on the mainstage was none other than Dødheimsgard, the legends from the early 90’s black metal scene in Oslo. Never ever stopping to check with what the fans around the world want, and never ever catering to what they desire, this band continues to amaze with their avant-gardism. With a vocalist calling out for a Swedish Astrid Lindgren character during the soundcheck, we expected nothing but the most peculiar of sets, and so it was. Aldrahn ran around in a bright red blazer and red sunglasses drawing invisible patterns in the air. If there was anything keeping this from being of the utmost magnificence, it must have been the somewhat lackluster sound at the very beginning, missing all kick drum and bass, but also how the electronics that are ever-present on the albums fadeed somewhat into the background. Most importantly it was good to see that Dødheimsgard have matured, and that they can now also be enjoyed in a live setting.

 Taake at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

Taake at Blastfest, photo credit Jarl H. Moe

The extreme metal pride of Bergen these days has to be Enslaved and Taake. The latter took to the stage as the third headliner this evening, and sounded just as professional as one has come to expect of them. First we were presented with five renditions of songs from the Noregs Vaapen album, then a balaclava wearing local musician, Trond Teigland of Tarmer, joined the band for a cover of a GG Allin’s ‘Die When You Die’. After two more songs from their newest album, ‘Stridens Hus’, Hoest and his hellish crew presented us with some older gems in the shape of ‘Umenneske’, and ‘Hordaland pt 1’, closing it all with ‘Nattestid pt 1’. If there was anything to point the finger at it has to be that the show didn’t last longer.

 

Many people had eagerly been awaiting the reunion of underground legends In The Woods …, a band that hadn’t played live in some fifteen years. And the suspense was felt as they appeared from out of the dark corners of the backstage and into the Blastfest spotlight. As much as the band’s discography itself is an eclectic mix of genres, so was their Blastfest set. The old material being atmospheric black metal-ish leaning, and their newer material being more lofty psychedelic progressive rock oriented. An audience given three songs off of The Heart of Ages didn’t seem to mind being presented with this auditory amalgam though, and the reunion seemed to set the stage for what has to be further shows in the future.

 

Headlining this first evening was none other than the legendary and scandal-ridden Gorgoroth. Much has been said and much is to be said about all the things surrounding the band, but they do deliver a spectacular show. Crucified naked women, tons of sheep heads, spikes that can be seen from space …. There’s simply no holds barred, and they have the ferocious old school monotonous black metal to accompany the visual aesthetics as well. With Hoest of Taake taking care of vocal duties, he made his second appearance as main vocalist with a mainstage band in one single evening, and if he was good with his own band, he was just as good and convincing with Gorgoroth, though singing someone else’s lyrics. With a solid selection of albums to choose material from, there wasn’t a boring moment to be had as the band churned out fourteen songs all the way from the very first years to 2015’s Instinctus Bestialis.

 

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WORDS BY PAL LYSTRUP

PHOTOS BY JARL H. MOE

Kitchen Kvlt Part II – Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

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In Part II of our Q & A with Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary she detailed for us what she teaches in her private cooking classes, what she thinks of “celebrity chefs”, her food and travel experiences, and her dream gig:

You teach some specialized cooking classes. What does that entail for you and depending on the class, what can I expect to walk away with skills-wise?

My cooking classes are all over the place! It’s all about the group and what they want to learn. The two that I’ve taught the most are basic butchery… and vegan menus. Haha. I’ve taught scavenger hunts as team building activities and I’ve taught ultra modern techniques like sous vide and spherification. I’m doing a really fun combination class next month for a group I’ve taught before – after we learn how to debone chickens, I’m organizing a Chopped style mystery basket competition. Each team is going to get a bunch of ingredients from the farm we’re staying on and have to work together to make a side dish for the meal. I get to offer pointers and tips about their processes, and then judge the final products. One thing every class I teach includes is a basic lesson in knife handling and safety, because that’s really the most fundamental skill you need in any kitchen. My goal is that with whatever we’re focusing on in the class, everyone walks away feeling a little more confident than they did when they walked in.

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Thanks to the Cable and YouTube, there are a ton of cooking shows and “experts” out there who are not actually chefs. What is the biggest misconceptions about being a chef?

Oh my god – you’ve hit a nerve! Almost everything, seriously. My biggest annoyance with YouTube/TV “chefs” is that SO MANY of them do things so fundamentally wrong – how they hold a knife incorrectly or hack apart an onion, or their cutting boards are so cluttered and filthy – stuff like that. I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s glamorous and we’re all making tons of money. HA. I wish! The hours are long, the pay absolutely sucks most times, and you miss out on most social events because you’re always working – and if you do get out with enough time to make a party or a show on a weekend night, you always end up showing up smelling like food, haha. With catering, there’s this weird ebb and flow of business where you’re either working 100 hours a week… or you’re practically unemployed. It’s anything but steady, so you have to be really good at budgeting. In a lot of ways, I work freelance. I am constantly trying to get my name out there, contacting every tour I hear about, trying to hopefully get the right person on the right day. In the mean time, I’m also looking for local work to sustain myself – dinner parties, classes, etc. There’s also this weird misconception that anyone who cooks professionally is a “chef”. It’s nitpicky, but it’s an annoyance across the industry – you are not a chef unless you are running a kitchen. Period. “Chef” is a title of respect that is earned after proving yourself for years and years, after being promoted, or after taking the leap and branching out on your own. If you have a boss that is not the owner, you are a cook. Just because you have a show on YouTube doesn’t mean you’re a chef. It’s really obnoxious. I run a company and I still feel kinda weird referring to myself as “a chef”. For me, the transition from “cook” to “chef” was really just a LOT of paperwork! I cannot tell you how much I now loathe emails. It’s making list after list – shopping, delivery, prep, food cost, scheduling, invoicing… it’s maddening. I actually do more paperwork than I do cooking at this point in my career! Our diets are also really fucked up. Most cooks don’t eat actual meals – we have bites here and there. I recently had to keep a food diary for my allergist and it was a nightmare – did I taste the aioli for seasoning 3 or 4 times? How many bites of that braise did I have while it was cooking? It’s absurd. Most of us develop a really weird association with food because actual meals are so few and far between.

 

Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

I know one of your passions is travel, so what are some of the cool places you have been to and what locales do you favor for amazing food experiences?

I am borderline obsessed with the city of Montreal! Honestly I’ve considered living there so many times. It’s the greatest. The metal scene is amazing, they have the best drunk food in the universe (poutine, omg) and the people are just so NICE. I’ve been to Norway twice now, and I love it there too – the scenery is ridiculous. I’m not sold on their food though, to be honest – though maybe I just haven’t found the right places! As far as amazing food experiences, I am all about trying the weirdest stuff from the most hole-in-the-wall places. My rule is that I’ll try anything twice – even Icelandic hakarl (fermented shark), which is honestly the worst thing I have ever put in my mouth. It’s cliché, but I didn’t have a bad meal when I was in Paris – one of the most memorable moments was eating a fresh savory crêpe from a cart vendor while walking through the side streets of Montmartre. Really, I think I love any type of food that makes me feel a connection to the place I’m in. I lived in South America for almost a year and worked at some of the best restaurants there were – but my most memorable meals were eating ceviche from this totally illegal back alley mom and pop operation, and eating a whole roasted guinea pig with my hands in the middle of the main square during a street festival in Cusco. I remember the experiences I can’t replicate at home the most.

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You have some appearances coming soon up on some pretty cool shows, so by all means please plug those!

Well, I was on the Halloween episode of Guy’s Grocery Games – it was entertaining for sure. Catch it on the Food Network if you feel like seeing me cry about my cat. There is more stuff working, but I can’t actually discuss any of it right now – ask me again in a few months!

Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

 

What is your dream music gig to cater for?

I don’t know if I actually have a dream gig – really I just want to work for bands I like, because there’s nothing better after finishing a long day of work than to turn the corner and be surrounded by amazing music. I actually really like the festival atmosphere – whether it’s just a weekend thing or a multi-city thing – the people really make the gig for me. Though if I had to pick one coming up, it’d totally be the Black Metal Warfare tour. Good cities, good bands, and in my opinion it’s the best time of the year to tour. I think I could have a lot of fun with menus on that tour. 

Have an event or occasion to book Black Cat Culinary? Contact her here:

KEITH CHACHKES

 

Kitchen Kvlt – Chef Heather Feher of Black Cat Culinary

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Chef Heather Feher has a passion for all things that involve fine food and grim music. She has catered tours and all kinds of music festivals and has channeled her love of these things into her growing business, Black Cat Culinary. We caught up with the entrepreneur and Food Network alumnus via email about her business and how the music she loves has shaped everything from her menus to her path. Continue reading

Blastfest: Part III – Bergen, NO

blastfest final poster

 

 

Saturday

Once again The Garage program was on already at noon for the festival’s last day, lines and all. First out were Finnish post-metal doomsters Crib45, then the lineup saw Esoteric and Winterfylleth, before a filled-to-the-brim Garage witnessed Blood Red Throne showcase true brutal Norwegian death metal, fronted by none other than festival organizer Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen himself. With seven full-length albums to their name, the only downside to the show was seemingly the bands too short set. Not that it was awfully short, it was just not long enough. But then again, people got a kickstart to their last day of the festival, ‘Arterial Lust’ and all.

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Blood Red Throne, by StiPa Photography

 

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Sarke, by StiPa Photography

 

Due to some unfortunate mix-up with the old- and new festival program, a lot of people weren’t aware that Sarke were the first band to step onto the mainstage this Saturday. So as Nocturno Culto walked on, no more than approximately two hundred people were in attendance. However that quickly changed as the band played through ‘The Drunken Priest’, ‘Condemned’, ‘Primitive Killing’, and their own ‘hit’, ‘Pessimist’. Nocturno Culto fronting the all-star band with his usual anti-frontman persona also through the Celtic Frost cover ‘Dethroned Emperor’, and fittingly through closer ‘Too Old, Too Cold’, a Darkthrone cover. Before going off stage, he calmly thanked people and wished them well “with drinking water or whatever they were doing”. Too old, too cold.

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Decapitated, by StiPa Photography

 

After Vallenfyre had obliterated the people showing up early at the Studio stage, the mainstage had some Polish classics on offer, in the shape of Decapitated. The band did as usual impress with both their technicality and their song material, although the fans still seem split on the band’s decision of later years to become a more modern groove metal oriented band. ‘Spheres Of Madness’ and ‘Day 69’ will forever be crowd pleasers though.

Tsjuder, by Stipa Photography

Tsjuder, by Stipa Photography

Back upstairs in Studio, the national treasure of Tsjuder, the black metal trio, were on stage and already aurally assaulting the packed room. The three piece delivers totally uncompromising black metal, devoid of anything other than pure darkness and sheer brutality, and the crowd seemed to enjoy their asses off. ‘The Daemon Throne’, ‘Helvete’, ‘Slakt’; from the looks of it they were all crowd pleasers.

Destruction, by Stipa Photography

Destruction, by Stipa Photography

Then the mainstage welcomed the veterans of Teutonic thrash metal, Destruction, who did as they always do, lay everything in ruins, also making up the thrash alibi for the Saturday, before Impaled Nazarene, the crazy Finns were on stage upstairs, once again producing long lines of people waiting to catch a glimpse of them. During their set however, just as the band started playing ‘Flaming sword of Satan’ from their latest album, some brilliant mind intentionally hit the fire alarm. All festival-goers and bands were suddenly forced into the cold Norwegian winter outside, as routine inspections of the venue were had.

Finntroll, by Stipa Photography

Finntroll, by StiPa Photography

 

Finntroll were on next, and must have been helped by standing half naked outside the venue, because they gave it all, and impressed the many folk metal fans in attendance. So-called troll ears and all.

To the ones who witnessed the next band, they were quite in agreement about this being one of the very festival highlights. Small stage, big stage presence. We’re talking about the mighty Asphyx, fronted by none other than living death metal legend Martin Van Druunen. The band were completely killing it right from the start. ‘MS Bismarck’, ‘The Last One On Earth’, ‘Deathammer’, ‘Death The Brutal Way’, and the insanely crushing ‘Scorbutics’, they all set the old school death metal agenda of the evening.

Satyricon, by StiPa Photography

Satyricon, by StiPa Photography

 

Back down the last headliner were on stage, and they were none other that Satyricon. This time around playing more than just the normal set, even introducing material from ‘Rebel Extravaganza’ back into the setlist in terms of ‘Filthgrinder’, that lyrically somewhat obnoxiously narcissistic song. The band as usual had all the professionality to tackle the expectations from the multinational audience present. ‘Mother North’ and ‘Du Som Hater Gud’ from Nemesis Divina making sure all foreigners got the authentic Norwegian black metal experience.

 

As the main venue emptied out, some people made their way upstairs to catch a rather seldom experienced show, Finnish technical death metal band Demilich. Not exactly a band known for their plentiful live performances. Though, the most impressive part of their set was really how their vocalist manages to make those insanely deep growls. Although, their set was indeed impressive in total too. Still, at the end the room seemed half empty. Maybe people finally got tired, maybe they went to that last afterparty, or maybe Blastfest actually finally out-kvlted them?

Then it was all at an end, but even as this edition of the festival ends, the first bands for the next edition are being booked. There are only great expectations to be had.

 

WORDS BY  TRISKELION P.L. 

PHOTOS BY STIG PALLESON

Blastfest: Part II – Bergen, NO

blastfest final poster

Friday

The third day of festivities saw Wyruz, Alfahanne, Sarkom, Endstille and Keep Of Kalessin open the show with performances at the club stage at Garage. Keep Of Kalessin also proved that they should have been playing somewhere else, as the line to get in to Garage was long enough to deter many fans, and keep others waiting for the entire set length to no avail..

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Opening act at the main stage? None other than Borknagar, the local legends presenting a 20th anniversary set, playing an entire three song of ‘The Archaic Course’; ‘Ad Noctum’, ‘Universal’ and ‘Oceans Rise’. Having seen them a couple of times before, it was nice to finally see them put on a good performance, not completely ruined by bad sound or vocalists struggling. The pairing of Athera (Susperia) and ICS Vortex on vocals (and bass) seemed to be key. With showman and world class drummer Baard Kolstad, and a band playing songs like ‘Colossus’ and ‘The Dawn Of The End’, it was better than ever before.

After Finnish black metallers Baptism had catered to the needs of black metal purists upstairs, it was time for Cryptopsy on the main stage. Sadly their sound wasn’t up to par, and the show seemed somewhat uninspired, despite their front man giving speeches like only a North American “jock” can. But a set that ends with ‘Slit Your Guts’ and ‘Phobophile’ is nevertheless quite pleasing, and mostly satisfying.

 

Then for yet another highlight of the festival, Morgoth – for the first time in Norway according to their own FB page. The Germans have just lost their vocalist Marc Grewe , and many thought that this would be a disappointing performance, like a run-of-the-mill death metal experience. Far from it! From the very start they totally annihilated with sonic bliss! The vocalist sounded just as brutal as Mr Grewe. Starting off with ‘Body Count’, and finishing off with ‘Isolated’, the Germans conquered Bergen for the first time since WW2.

 

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Another band that hadn’t played Bergen in more than ten years were the Swedes in Dark Funeral. All dressed up and showcasing new vocalist Heljarmadr and their new bass player Natt, they gave us a set where they played both songs off of their new single; ‘Temple Of Ahriman’, and ‘Nail Them To The Cross’, as well as old classics like ‘The Dawn No Longer Rises’ and ‘Vobiscum Satanas’.

 

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After Schirenc Plays Pungent Stench stunk up the Studio stage and Paradise Lost gave an impressive showcase of how to play doom metal, it was time for yet another festival highlight, Deströyer 666 at the smaller Studio stage. From the very beginning they made it clear who were in control and what to expect. They unchained the wolves! ‘Raped’, ‘I Am The Wargod’, ‘Black City – Black Fire’, they played all the black thrash that makes blood boil. The pit became intense and was packed with people crammed all together to witness the Australian and antichrist wolfpack.

 

 

Headliner this Friday were none other than At The Gates, and they sure proved themselves worthy of that spot, just as they have proven themselves still relevant with their comeback album ‘At War With Reality’ (Century Media). The crowd were taken straight to Gothenburg heaven with the likes of ‘Under A Serpent Sun’, ‘Cold’, ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ and ‘Blinded By Fear’.

Satan were in Bergen for Beyond The Gates just last fall, and based on that show and festival organizer Yngve seeing them at Bloodstock, they were brought back, once again proving themselves worthy of NWOBHM legend and lore. As someone commented: Brian Ross can still do that falsetto, which is not something to be said of similar band Angel Witch and their Kevin Heybourne.

 

WORDS BY  TRISKELION P.L. 

PHOTO BY STIG PALLESON

Blastfest Preview- Bergen Norway

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One of the best extreme metal festivals in the world, and certainly the highlight of the early year in global metal festivals takes place this week in Bergen, Norway as Blastfest kicks off tomorrow. Bands and fans from all over the world, not just from the fabled local fjords will descend for four days to consume of all types of brutal, yet diverse bands, along with countless vendors, artists, stand-up comedy acts, films and books about Black Metal culture, sightseeing around Bergen, other attractions, and plenty of metal shenanigans to be had in general!

Kicking off on Wednesday with a cruise headlined by homeland killers Grimfist, the festivities will get underway in grand style. Later on that night at The Garage venue the fest proper begins with expected crushing sets from bands such as Falloch, The Sickening, Kall and Gehenna (NO).

Starting the weekend early at 12 noon on Thursday at The Garage, headbangers and settle in for an exciting 14+ hour day of non-stop bands. The Garage will see top acts such as Hecate Enthroned and Den Saakaladte as part of the early day must see bands. Moving over to the two stages of the USF venue, rotating stage times means rarely conflicting sets by bands works out for the discerning headbanger who doesn’t want to miss a thing. Rotting Christ will start the siege at 17:00, and what fine group to kick off the late day fun. Other notable bands playing Thursday include Saturnus, Melechesh, Samael, Primordial, stoner-doom legends Orange Goblin, Dark Tranquility, Moonsorrow and headliner Watain.

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Any mention of Friday must begin at the top with melo-death comeback kings At The Gates. The early buzz of the fest was that some fans were going solely for ATG, despite their rigerous festival and headline touring schedule planned for the next year. Going back to the early portion of the day, The Garage will see bands like Sarkom, Endstille, and local legends Keep of Kalessin, bands that could fill venues on a club tour of their own (actually that would make a good tour!) warm up the early crowd. Hopefully the masses are not too hungover. The rest of the Friday night line-up is a murders row of incredible acts with notables being Borknagar, tech-death titans Cryptopsy, the reborn to kill again Morgoth, Dark Funeral, Paradise Lost (seeing their first action of 2015), Destroyer 666, ATG and Satan (UK).

Closing out what will surely go down as the best day start to finish of any Blastfest to date starts with an insane early day bill that includes Esoteric, Bolzer, Winterfylleth, and Blood Red Throne! Sarke, Vallenfyre, and Decapitated by themselves represent the best in black metal, blackened doom and death metal this fest can bring out. Added to that Tsjuder, Impaled Nazarene, Destruction, Fintroll, death metal festival fixtures Asphyx, along with headliners Satyricon, and Demilich to end the fest, you have an unbelievable experience in the making.

Friday is a total sellout, but some last minute passes have been released for the weekend and select dates so visit the fest website for tickets and info. 

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