Inferno Festival 2016: Part 2: Various Venues – Oslo, NO

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Part II

Saturday

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.

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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!

INFERNO FESTIVAL 2016 Part 1

WORDS BY PÅL TEIGLAND LYSTRUP AND JULIA TUOMINEN

 

 

Blastfest: Day One – Bergen Norway

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The first year of Blastfest marked the beginning of a somewhat risky adventure, at least for mainman and festival promoter, Yngve “Bolt” Christiansen, a guy you might already know as front man of the Norwegian death metal band Blood Red Throne. He gave everything to get this up and going, and to secure Bergen a replacement for the much missed Hole In The Sky Festival, that unfortunately called it the day back in 2011, after twelve years of catering to Bergen’s metal needs. OK, so we did get Beyond The Gates already the year after, but they had downsized and focused on “underground” acts like Nocturnal Breed, MGLA, Nifelheim, Aeternus and the likes of them. So the gap, the segment of in between bands like these and Slayer, was really not catered to in terms of a festival. Up stepped Yngve, risking both his car and his apartment in the process. Yngve is a guy who thinks in what psychologist Kahneman has coined “System 1” thinking; he is indeed fast, instinctive and emotional, praise Satan for that!

 

I arrived just as the very first band of the festival played the last minutes of their set, thus Tantara was missed, except for that one single song, a couple of minutes of pure thrash metal. However, that was not the case with Finnish black metallers Woland, recently signed on Indie recordings. The two bands would preferably have switched places though, because Woland were a generic black metal trio, most memorable for their vocalist not just taking off his shirt, but also for him doing Fabio poses. Being remembered for poses is hardly krieg, right?

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The next band on stage was Lakei, which is Norwegian for ‘footman’. They set the bar a lot higher with their perfectly executed take on the sludgier and groovier form of metal. They’re also a local band, and really stick out in a scene mostly made up of extreme metal acts, in a city maybe most famous for black metal bands like Gorgoroth, Taake, Enslaved, Immortal and Burzum. Next up was the German thrashers of Fatal Embrace, and boy was this fatality! The lead guitarist seemed to have picked up his playing skills mainly through viewing the Abbath guitar lessons on YouTube over and over, which needless to say made for a subpar performance. And when the vocalist boastfully declared “We destroy this house tonight – this is ‘Another rotten lie’ “, I simply couldn’t help but giggle a little to myself. Said vocalist, as pointed out by some other attendees, could probably do good from a little cardio excercise too, since his face became all red already halfway into the first song. There was a lot of heavy breathing, and very little musical material of interest to be heard from Fatal Embrace.

Fellow Germans, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, were the next band on stage, and boy were they something else. Perfectly executed black metal, good sound and a lot of people left looking to buy their music in the wake of their performance. Sadly they didn’t seem to have brought anything for sale. Although, one must question what black metal has evolved into in later years, when you have a band looking as if they just came from a seminar in C++ programming, even wearing some beach loafers on stage. The aesthetical aspect seems to be more and more neglected, which might very well work out on an album, not so much so in a live setting.

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Koldbrann on the other hand; they adhere to the old school black metal aesthetics, full corpse paint and all. That being said, the vocalist had an eerily similar style to that of Batman sidekick Robin. He still came across as far more dominant and commandeering than the vocalists earlier in the evening, and the band churned out really good versions of songs like ‘Drammen’, ‘Totalt Sjelelig Bankerott’, ‘Djevelens Treskeverk’, and finished off beautifully with their cover of ‘Russian Vodka’. Then came Myrkskog, for the first time ever gracing Bergen with their presence, and with Nils “Dominator” Fjellstöm behind the kit for the occasion. And speaking of this guy; what the fuck does he do to manage to play at such infernal speeds!? The same goes for some of the guitarwork of Sechtdamon (which you might know from Morbid Angel by now). Boy can these guys play! They raced through songs like ‘Discipline Misanthropy’, ‘A Poignant Scenario Of Horror’, ‘Domain Of The Superior’, ‘Deathmachine’ and ‘Utter Human Murder’, all flawlessly executed. However a chaotic sound production probably made sure one had to know the material beforehand to really enjoy the show. The last band before headliner Shining were the veterans of Aura Noir. And one thing is always certain about this band, and that is the certainty of getting a superb performance. Blastfest got a run-through of a set filled with classics, like ‘Blood Unity’, ‘Sons Of Hades’, ‘Mirage’, ‘Released Damnation’, ‘Condor’, ‘Black Metal Jaw’ and ‘Hell’s Fire’. Sadly the band had to walk off stage before they were through with their set, but we all know that might happen at a festival. So there was no ‘Conqueror’, sadly enough. Also, at some point during their set they had to play with only one bass drum, which Apollyon referred to as “just like at the circus”. Speaking of circus … the final headlining act this first night was Sweden’s Shining. Seemingly people implicitly agree with me on the fact that Aura Noir should have been headlining, because the crowd was much thinner during the main headliner this night. we got the usual stuff, like spitting blood and drinking whiskey and whatnot, and the usual suicidal lullabies. And they are somewhat lullabies these days, as it feels more and more like the band has outplayed its role, at least to those having already passed through their teenage angst phase.

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Words: Pål Lystrup

Photos: StiPa Photography