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Inferno Metal Festival 2018 - Oslo, Norway (Part 1)

Photo of Dark Funeral

Band Photo: Dark Funeral (?)

Inferno Metal Festival, in terms of human growth, matured into adulthood in 2018. Eighteen years strong, this festival by all accounts is the reputed king of festivals throughout the Scandinavian nations. This year’s reiteration includes some of the most recognizable names in black metal and heavy metal in general; Emperor, Satyricon and Electric Wizard. One of the most anticipated bands, Carpathian Forest, are back playing the festival after more than a decade.

There will be more written about the bands since after all, this is considered a show report, but I will also be sharing my personal adventures day that transpired in Oslo, the capital of Norwegian black metal. So light a black candle or two and read on…but first, check out some photos of the festival here!

Wednesday, March 28th – Pre-Festival

After flying almost halfway around the world from Phoenix, Arizona, I attempted to get my circadian rhythm adjusted to an unapologetic time zone shift and attempted manifest some intestinal fortitude on the fly due to the 70-degree drop in temperature. It’s not an easy feat to do both of those at the same time, but this isn’t my first rodeo and I thought I adjusted quickly for the most part. My first order of business for the day was a shopping spree at the famed Neseblod Records. If you don’t know the reason for the fame, just Google Helvete Records and you’ll be in the loop for the next paragraph.

Located on a quiet street just outside of the tourist district of Oslo, you could easily walk past it if it wasn’t for the “A” frame sign with their snake laced logo propped up on the sidewalk in front. Inside? Well, it’s a heavy metal hoarders paradise. There is so much stuff, and by stuff, I mean records, CDs, cassettes, shirts, memorabilia and most of all, so much black metal history on display, that you can literally spend a whole afternoon perusing and still not get through half of it. One of the coolest things on display, located right behind the register, is the original door key to Helvete Records. If you were wondering if it was in a shadow box or some nice display case, nope…it’s in a sandwich bag tacked to the wall. Black metal has always had a “fuck it” attitude that’s for sure.

Later that evening, I checked out an Indie Recordings showcase that took place at the Hard Rock Café Oslo. The bands that played, Vorbid and Tantara, are fresh upstart thrash bands, which stood out considering the marjority of the label’s artists are of the black metal variety. Both bands played to a very enthusiastic and plentiful crowd. The show had a very DIY feel to it other than the Hard Rock Café logos splattered everywhere. The best part is when my friends and I asked the bands where the merch tables were, they ran to grab trash bags and shoeboxes stuffed with shirts and CDs to peddle their wares from. Fucking awesome.

After the show, my friends and I ran into a contingent of Spaniards that were also there to attend Inferno and a plan was set in motion to head on over to one of Oslo’s many rock bars, Rock In. While we were conversing with our new friends on our way to the Rock In in a sloppy dialect of Spanglish, we were hedging on the more we drank, the more we would understand each other. We arrived to a packed, darkened and of course, loud tavern blaring Venom’s “In League with Satan.” Yesss…my kind of place! As we became more acquainted with our amigos over several rounds of Norwegian pilsners, we lost track of time and before we knew it, ‘twas 3 o’clock in the morning and we had closed the bar. Great success!

Thursday, March 29th – Day One

After crawling out of bed too late for the complimentary breakfast at the hotel, my friends and I hatched a plan to fill our bellies and head back to Neseblod Records again because, well, why the fuck not? Actually, in my particular case, as soon as my friends back home saw my first day’s loot via my social media postings, the requests started to roll in to look for this album or that album or try finding a certain shirt. I was more than happy to oblige because in all honesty, I was overwhelmed yesterday because of the sheer amount of treasure crammed into this broom closet of a shop. I’m pretty sure my friends will be pleased with the final score.

With tonight’s lineup set to begin around the early evening hours, we donned our patch laden battle jackets (which in all actuality did little to shield us from the constant freezing temps once the sun set) and made our way to the venue. We weaved through several blocks of graffiti laden walls and majestic churches to our home away from hotel rooms for the next four days, The Rockefeller Music Hall. As we trudged up the red Christmas light lined entrance hall for the initial time, we were enveloped by awesomeness of Inferno Metal Festival within seconds.

I’m going to do my best to paint a picture of the Rockefeller Music Hall for those of you that would rather have it described to them. It’s a three-balcony, medium sized hall. If you’ve ever been to the Ram’s Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland, it’s very similar to that layout and size. There are large rooms to the right and to the left of the floor of the main stage. The second stage (John Dee), is located downstairs and has the typical neighborhood bar setup. The room to the right of the main stage hosts all the merch vendors (sadly, there were only a handful) and the room on the left side hosts the art vendors and tattoo artists who were available to ink inverted crosses and pentagrams at a moments notice! Oh, I forgot, there were bars in every direction you look, very convenient I must say.

The first band I checked out was Naglfar. I have to admit, other than the name, I have not listed to them at all. That’s why I prefer to go to festivals so I can get the most bang to my buck when it comes to bands I’m not familiar with. With what obviously seemed to be the staple at Inferno Festival, this black metal band received a horns up from me by the end of their set. I’ll be consuming their catalog once I’m back home and that’s always the ultimate compliment for any band I think.

The second band I checked out was Shining. After their Arizona date was cancelled due to Niklas Kvarforth’s shenanigans while touring the United States, this was a little redemption. The majority of their setlist came from their most recent release, “X – Varg Utan Flock.” Performance wise, this version of Niklas was pretty tame, no attacks on the crowd and not too much bantering. He messed with a photographer a little bit, but it was more in jest than anything. However, he won the prize for quotes of the night , the first one was, “We’re Shining and we’re here to ruin it for everyone” and the second being, “This next song is about connecting…god I hate you all…”

Next up that night was Sweden’s Dark Funeral. Fresh off their 2018 North American tour with Septicflesh and Thy Antichrist, they looked rested and fresh and tore through a special set that encompassed 25 years of their storied existence. After Dark Funeral was Tampa, Florida’s death metal gods, Obituary. In the middle of a European tour, and headlining on this first night of Inferno Festival, they oozed through a set list crafted for festivals that covered their whole catalog. Wrapping up their encore with “Slowly We Rot,” Obituary put the exclamation point on the first night of Inferno Fest. As I exited the Rockefeller Music Hall, I was greeted by a punch of crisp, late night arctic air. I then made my way to the 7-11 convenience store located right next to my hotel for a fine meal that included a chorizo panini and paprika flavored potato chips. What a glorious first day and what a glorious dinner!

Greekbastard's avatar

Metal isn't just a type of music, it's a lifestyle for Nikos Mixas. In addition to playing guitar for the Phoenix's own Mosara, he's a contributing writer for V13 and The Sludgelord. And when he's taking a break from it all and on vacation, you can almost be certain he's banging his head at a metal festival somewhere interesting.

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