If you haven’t heard of Halcyon Daysand you are a melodic metalcore fan, add them to your playlists and give them a follow. The Oslo natives resemble Architects and Underoath and were coined as one of the most promising bands of the last few years after releasing their debut Elevate in 2014. The band has slowly gained momentum throughout Norway since releasing their self-titled EP in 2016 and they are ready to make your summer that more melodic with Rain Soaked Pavements & Fresh Cut Grass (Indie Recordings).Continue reading →
Blood Red Throne have been around for some time now, and with Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen they found a vocalist able to bring something more to their shows, as he is able to communicate with the audience in a way that seems sincere and engaging. With a set list comprised of something like fifty percent classics from Altered Genesis, their most celebrated album, the band lay Rockefeller in ruins. Bolt circlebanging, puking, then continuing to circlebang. Not to mention guitarist Ivan Gujic trashing his guitar at the end of the show, then proceeding to down half a bottle of tequila. It seemed like the pep talk backstage had been had. This said, the band could have added some more visual aspects to their show, but as an opening act one couldn’t really expect much more than a backdrop.
Suffocation are veterans by now, and a band that always delivers. However, it’s somewhat disappointing to catch them with only two members from the core lineup, instead bringing replacement musicians for guitarist Guy Marchais and vocalist Frank Mullen. But then again, the stand-ins did a really good job, and we got all the classics like ‘Breeding The Spawn’, ‘Catatonia’, ‘Funeral Inception’, ‘Liege Of Inveracity’, ‘Abomination Reborn’, ‘Pierced from Within’, ‘Effigy Of The Forgotten’, ‘Thrones Of Blood’ and ‘Bind Torture Kill’. It was all delivered with conviction and by a Derek Boyer with his bass literally standing upright on the floor at times, and a Terrance Hobbes looking as he was having the time of his life playing the same songs yet again. Suffocation is indeed always a safe bet, and also grand masters of the brutal death metal genre, even when they are playing far from their own New York scene.
Last band of the night were none other than the proud Egyptophile Americans in Nile. They are usually worth catching for George Kollias jaw-drop inducing drumming on its own. Throw in the fact that they have a solid discography of brutal and truly quality death metal by now, and you can maybe forgive them the fact that they don’t offer especially much in terms of the visual part of the show except their backdrop. But when a band churns out great renditions of ‘Lashed To The Slavestick’, ‘Sacrifice Unto Sebek’, ‘Kafir!’, and’ Sarcophagus’, most are willing to ignore the lack of visual pleasing stimuli – ignoring washed out t-shirts and shorts.
World record holder in leather, spikes, and mullets, Nifelheim, proved themselves once again worthy of being THE black thrash export number one of Sweden. Lead into battle by The hard rock brothers, twins Tyrant on bass and Hellbutcher on vocals, they held Inferno captive for ten songs, including the massively enjoyable ‘Storm of the Reaper’. They proved once again that to get far all you need is some good tunes and the proper attitude.
Craft was the last band out on the John Dee stage, and saw the venue filled up with people eagerly anticipating an onslaught of Swedish black metal. And they got what they wanted, although I must admit, after seeing Craft twice now, that they sound better on record than live. They also look a bit disorganized in their appearance, as if the band members don’t have that extra cohesive interpersonal dynamic going that makes a band stand out. At the very end drummer Uruz announced that he would be leaving the band, and introduced what might be his successor, Trish Kolstad, a local Oslo-based drummer, also recently making an appearance with Gehenna. She joined the band on stage for their last song, ‘I Want To Commit Murder’.
A surprise was had with the Finnish legion of Moonsorrow, whose albums I must say I have passed by pretty much in silence and disinterest, seeing as most folk oriented black metal is rather bland, and usually far too jolly, and fits better with the typical German festival goer who enjoys drawing a dick on their forehead and wear viking helmets – the ones with historically incorrect horns stuck to them. But I stand corrected. Moonsorrow was fully enjoyable, and far darker and balanced than I remembered from earlier. If not a band with a great show to coincide with their music, they at least pulled off the musical part with excellence.
Mayhem. I have caught them a million times by now, and there’s always an element of surprise to their performances. If not in terms of theatrics, then in terms of songs selected, or even how the band has seemed to vary immensely in how well they perform the material. This time around the band not only put on a great show, had good sound, but also played some songs they haven’t played in a while. In addition they had both former vocalist Maniac on stage, as well as Attila, and Messiah, all doing vocals on selected songs from their own eras and albums with the band. First appearing was Maniac doing five songs from 2000’s Grand Declaration Of War. Then Attila did ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, ‘Life Eternal’, ‘Freezing Moon’ and ‘Illuminate Eliminate’, before Maniac was back on for songs from Deathcrush, which also saw the return of Messiah with the band, probably a byproduct of him appearing earlier on the very same stage with Order. The same band whose drummer Manheim also joined Mayhem on one of the songs he played with them on the Deathcrush EP back in 1987. Basically all in attendance were guided through the bands entire history, pigs’ heads thrown into the audience and all. Wholesome family Easter fun and games in other words. Most definitely a headliner worthy of ending this year’s Inferno festival. The entire Mayhem show is actually on YouTube now it seems, so you know what to do!
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.
Exodus, by Emma Parsons Photography
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.
Marduk, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography
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.