Each year at Easter, when the western and Christian world celebrates the rebirth of Jesus over the dates of an ancient fertility festival, in Norway’s capital the mandatory days off are used by the metal community to celebrate a darker get together: Inferno Metalfest. The festival and the connected Inferno Metal Conference celebrates Norway’s role and focus on Metal Music from its own stables as well as new things and greats from abroad.Continue reading →
The spring festival season kicks off in earnest this weekend in Oslo, Norway with the amazingly kvlt experience that is Inferno Metal Festival. The four-day festival of extreme music and culture takes over one of the birthplace cities of heavy music in the world. The fest is sold out once again, adding to the excitement. It’s great to see this scene surviving and thriving after many years. Continue reading →
Enigmatic Swedish metal band Shining has been added to Inferno Festival 2018, as a replacement for Katatonia, who canceled their appearance after going on hiatus. Shining is still touring in support of their tenth album X , Varg utan flock (Dark Essence/Season Of Mist) from 2016. Inferno Metal Festival is the longest-running and most extreme metal festival in Norway and one of the most important extreme metal festivals in the entire world. The festival still has 8 more bands to add between now and March 29t,h. When the fest kicks off. Continue reading →
With California Deathfest in the rearview, the team behind Maryland Deathfest turns its attention to already completed Netherlands Deathfest event next March, less than six months away. Details below: Continue reading →
Myrkur has generated lots of attention, and seemingly Amalie Bruun, primus motor, has received threats to her life for being a female musician doing the post black metal thing. It seems to be the ultimate blasphemy to certain individuals, that probably haven’t been there from the inception of the scene nor have they understood the rebellious primary foundation of the initial scene, where most of the legendary figures embrace both musical diversity and experimentation. I must admit to first seeing it as yet another cash-cow of everything that is black metal, like most things these days, it seems. However, with the release of her début album, M (Relapse), she won me over. Therefore I really wanted to catch her full set, as this would be my first exposure to her music in a live setting. Sadly, we didn’t manage to be at the festival site until Myrkur were in the middle of their set. Yet, even from afar, in between all the bustle from festival-goers elsewhere on the site, her angelic voice penetrated and created a welcoming atmosphere.
Gojira, by TJ Fowler Photography
Gojira were simply incredible! It’s not the band I have played the most, although I became a fan around From Mars To Sirius (Roadrunner). But as a live band they are simply amazing! The level of musicianship, the songs’ ability to balance brutality and catchiness… It’s simply one of the best live bands in the metal genre these days, just like Behemoth. Both bands are able to create this energy that just makes the audience feed from it for the entire time the show lasts. With a set consisting of twelve songs, and with a good variation of songs from all their five albums, the show had a little for everyone of their fans. But maybe the most spectacular about the show was seeing them perform ‘Stranded’ live for the first time. That song manages to take some minor details and create an enormously catchy extreme metal song.
Tuska Festival 2016, by TJ Fowler Photography
The mood was entirely different as we entered the tent stage again to catch Swedish gloomsters Katatonia. The band used to struggle live, but has since the mid 2000’s also become a live band worth catching. Their new album, The Fall Of Hearts (Peaceville) is really good, and it was nice to get to hear a couple of songs from it. The only negative aspect of the show was really that it didn’t last long enough, and that they neglected their back catalogue somewhat. Then again, they played ‘Nephilim’, and ‘In The White’, two personal favourites of mine, and two songs I never had expected for them to play. And of course the band played the hits, and by saying that, I am thinking of ‘My Twin’, and ‘July’.
Children Of Bodom, by TJ Fowler Photography
Finishing off the Tuska experience: Children Of Bodom. Actually they seem to be more about calling themselves The Children of Bodom Hate Crew these days, which makes Alexi Laiho slightly come across as an emo boy at 37 years of age with mascara and nailpolish and an attempt at the teenage rebellion thing going with his image. Musically on the other hand the band are rock solid, and if you enjoy seeing keyboards tilted forwards to show off solo skills or you enjoy endless solos more reminding of power metal than extreme metal, I’m sure this would be the show for you. I, as you might have figured out, think Children Of Bodom are a bit too cheesy to my taste. I enjoyed my sixth serving of muiku immensely more than this last Tuska headliner.
Saturday was hot, and very very bright, and somehow the head had felt better. With a yearning for some sunglasses, it was time to get to the main stage and catch Primordial’s set. The band where one would think it was a solo performance with some backing musicians, but it has always seemed like nobody minds Alan Nemtheanga stealing the spotlight. Seven songs with what one can only assume is filled with the struggle of Irishmen and dissatisfaction with modern times – of course without any countering solution, but at least in ‘Bloodied Yet Unbowed’ what seems to be a defense and rationalization of black-and-white thinking.. But it’s good fun! And who were we to ever expect intellectualism or deeper psychological self-awareness from extreme metal, and to most of us I expect the intellect to seek out food for thought elsewhere.
Primordial, by TJ Fowler Photography
Next up was Tsjuder, the festival alibi for true Norwegian black metal, anti-life anti-human, so on and so forth. Right from the start no energy was saved as the band kicked off their set with ‘The Daemon Throne’ and ‘Slakt’. What from afar looked as a tent crammed to the brim with people actually turned out to be a half empty in the front towards the stage. Apart from the disappointment in terms of turnout, it didn’t seem to have any effect on the band, who kept the audience on their toes throughout their entire set. In terms of putting on a proper show the trio may have fallen short though, compared to other bands. Not that primitive black metal was ever about putting on a show – or so they would probably claim –, but three guys in makeup on a large stage lacks a little in terms of the visual aspects.
,Anthrax, by TJ Fowler Photography
Back at the main stage Anthrax was about to prove that age is no limit to putting on a good show. As someone said: “I’m amazed at how they still have all that energy and jump and run around on stage as if they were still teenagers”. Indeed this was true, the band were on fire! Yet, it was somewhat special to have crossover thrash metal legends on stage for ten songs, when one fifth were actually covers. Then again, their own songs included ‘Indians’, ‘Caught In A Mosh’, ‘Madhouse’, and they did finish it all off with ‘Among The Living’. As this for some reason was my first time experiencing the band live, I can’t say anything else than that I would sure like to be able to experience it again sometime. On our way to catch Anthrax we were also able to visit the smaller Inferno stage at the other side of the festival area. On stage Jess And The Ancient ones were seemingly pulling of a great gig, but staying at the smaller club scene was not an option when Anthrax were set to perform, as much as the Finnish band recently released a great album.
Ghost, by TJ Fowler Photography
Ghost, by TJ Fowler Photography
Finishing off the second day of the festival were none other than Ghost, the band that have grown to mega size over the course of just three albums. The melodic rock had people come from all sorts of places to catch the band live, at least judging from the people I was able to talk to before, during, and after the show. Where the first album was a bit more on the hard rock side of things the music has also taken a turn towards the more poppy. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that love songs about the devil seems a bit far out there, and almost completely surreal. The lyrics could just as easily have been about the more worldly concepts of love, but I guess the satanic stuff makes it a little more mysterious, or something like that. I think it’s starting to become slightly cartoonish by now. That the weather turned full on Marvel with thunder and lightning as they finished off their set only seemed even more fitting.
Norway is best known for churning out some of the greatest black metal in the world. Tsjuder is no exception to this fact especially with their latest release, Antilliv (Season of Mist). Sure it may not be anything brand new to the genre, but this release is certainly a staple in an already impressive legacy that continues to be written by the Norwegian outfit. Each song has its own characteristics and kept the album fresh which is quite the achievement given how cookie cutter like black metal can be churned out nowadays.
One of the enjoyable aspects of this album are the changing of languages that the lyrics are shrieked in. Most of the songs are in English but a few of the tracks are in Norwegian which gives off a whole different and almost creepier feeling. One of which is called ‘Norge’ which appears to be a salute to their home country with a sense of pride. Arguably one of the best tracks on Antilliv actually has one of the corniest names, ‘Demonic Supremacy’. The song starts off with the expected black metal feel but after a few minutes it switches over to a two-step beat that would appease many moshers. However, as suddenly as the first transition hit, the song becomes a thrash song and then hits handbrake again to finish off in an eerie breakdown.
There are so many different sounds that the three piece are able to incorporate into each of the tracks on Antilliv that it will make your head spin in more ways than one. Although this may not be one of the instant classic black metal releases as seen in the past, but it will certainly keep fans happy and I would be shocked to hear anyone utter the word disappointment when talking about this record. My only regret is not trying to catch even one song by this band at this past year’s Maryland Deathfest.
Crowd shot, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Twilight of the Gods, by Hillarie Jason Photography
The next morning was upon us, which meant more breakfast food from the diner down the street. While we mapped our days out, I determined that I would spend most of my day at Edison once again (not that this was a problem). Prior to heading out, my roommate and I gathered cheap beer, ice, and turned our bathtub into our own little fridge. Happy with our work, we applied sunscreen, threw on our denim vests, and headed out to Edison. By the time we got to the lot and got inside, Twilight of the Gods was a little over half way through their set. Personally, the entire day revolved around Triptykon, so naturally I had a lot of built up adrenaline and found myself walking around and meeting new people. To release some more energy (after buying more patches of course) I slammed in the pit for most of Blood Red Throne. As if I was rewarded for my efforts, one of the guitarists threw me a Blood Red Throne lighter! After a set by Einherjer, I took a quick bio break, filled up my water bottle, and ran straight for the barricade where Triptykon guitar and drum techs were hard at work. Fortunately, I was still able to watch Bulldozer from a distance, but was just too anxious for Tom G. Warrior to hit the stage. The time did finally arrive as I fought off crowd surfers while screaming lyrics to old Celtic Frost songs with security. Yes, security. Specifically two of them right in the middle were headbanging and screaming lyrics with all of us crazies in the front row. During ‘Circle of Tyrants’ the two security guys even jumped the barricade and crowd surfed! I spent the next set drinking water and grabbing dinner as I really gassed myself. After my quick break, I met up with my roommate for the week to watch Arcturus play a great set and then join the mass exodus over to the headliners for the day, Razor. The Canadian thrashers brought forward an amazing set (first US set since 1992 according to many) which left fans begging for more. Some of the biggest pits all weekend were during Razor’s performance which made my inner thrash fan oh so happy. Even with Edison Lot closing for the night, there was still a set to be a part of over at the Soundstage. However, a few of us took a detour to the hotel to pre-game so we could avoid the bar lines. After a brisk walk across town, we were inside Soundstage and awaiting the first ever live appearance of Massachusetts’s own grindcore legends, Agoraphobic Nosebleed. Song after song after song flew by, as did an inflatable phallus, which brought fans to hysterics and joy at the same time. Unfortunately with the shortness in song lengths, as well as the shock of seeing Anb live, I had a hard time following along all of the songs being played. If I had to guess, we may have received around 30 songs. This was probably the largest crowd of the entire festival and it seemed more than reasonable that it was for this set. After stumbling back to the hotel, sing-a-longs, shot gunning beers, and other hilarities ensued in the hotel room to close out one of the best days of the festival.
Triptykon, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Security crowdsurfing during Triptykon, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Arcturus, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Tsjuder, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Razor, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Agoraphobic Nosebleed, by Hillarie Jason Photography
Blastfest will be held 18-21st February 2015 in Bergen, Norway and in case you missed this lineup announcement, here it is again:
At The Gates
Blood Red Throne
Dead To This World
Purple Hill Witch
The 3rd Attempt
+ more yet to be announced.