Inferno Metal Festival 2018 - Oslo, Norway (Part 2)
Band Photo: Satyricon (?)
Friday, March 30th – Day Two
Being that this was the Easter holiday weekend, just about everything in Oslo was shut down to include every restaurant that wasn’t a kebab joint. I was also tipped off that beer sales would be ending by late afternoon for the duration of the holiday. I came to the harsh realization that I was going to survive these next few days on a steady diet of kebab, a set amount of canned beer and 7-11 paninis for nourishment.
The first thing that was on my agenda was to attend a screening for a movie called Rockabul. Here’s a short synopsis copy/pasted from the movie’s promotional material; “Rockabul follows Afghanistan’s first metal band District Unknown. The film features never before seen footage of underground expat party scene, at odds with an extremely conservative society. The band put themselves in the firing line to challenge conflict with culture.” Even though in all actuality I’m reviewing a heavy metal music festival, I will say this: Rockabul is a movie that highlights the harsh reality about an arts culture trying to get off the ground during the middle of a war (Operation Enduring Freedom) and socio/political uncertainty. I liked that Rockabul doesn’t sugarcoat anything and the ending leaves you with some questions regarding “what ifs” and “where are they now?” The director, Travis Beard (a separate exclusive interview forthcoming on Metalunderground.com), stated that Rockabul will be released for public consumption via streaming platforms within a year or so.
After the movie, I made my way back to the Rockefeller and settled in for the 2nd night of shenanigans. On this night, I was able to peruse more of the merch booths and art exhibits available. Compared to other metal festivals I’ve been to, Inferno doesn’t have the sheer number of merchants slinging merch. This is probably due to the fact that there really isn’t the space to house said vendors. Regardless, the selection of shirts, LPs, CDs, spiked leather gear, etc. on hand was pretty decent and the lines weren’t bad at all. I really enjoyed the art exhibits. I have made a point to check out the art exhibits at every festival I’ve been to, but I would have to say that Inferno’s are some of the best I’ve seen so far.
Emperor was the first band I checked out on this night. Without a doubt, they were one of the hometown favorites throughout the entire festival. I swear that everyone in attendance on this night was jam-packed into the main stage room. For a band that is exclusively playing festivals at the moment, you would hope that they would play a wide spread of songs from their entire catalog, and that they did. They ended their three-song encore with “Inno A Santana,” and it was absolute perfection.
The headliner for this night, Fleshgod Apocalypse, put on a brilliant show as well. Following Emperor was no easy task, but the theatrically inspired Italian death metal band did more than a fine job. This was actually my first time checking them out and it definitely won’t be the last. After partying to the wee hours of dawn the previous night, I decided to take it easy on my liver and returned to my room after Fleshgod Apocalypse’s set. Inferno Festival is a marathon, not a sprint…
Saturday, March 31st – Day Three
Today was a slow day schedule-wise for me; a day to get more than 4 hours of sleep and another chance to hunt down some grub other than kebab and 7-11 paninis. I was successful in my quest for anything other than kebab and found a Vietnamese restaurant close to the venue. It wouldn’t have mattered if it had a one-star rating on Yelp or Urbanspoon, I would’ve eaten snow with hot sauce on it at this point. After filling my gut with some hot and savory pho, I practically tripped over a local dive bar that was next door called Kniven. I remembered being briefed regarding this bar by the girl working at Neseblod, and I wished I made an effort to pre-game at it sooner. Kniven had a chill atmosphere and the drinks were reasonably priced, and by reasonably, I mean the beers were under $9 each in USD. Now that was a bargain! The best part was that it was right around the corner from the Rockefeller.
I arrived just minutes before the first band for the night started, Nordjevel. I was briefed by the stage security that the band planned on using pyrotechnics during every song of their set. Pyro comes in several forms so I really didn’t know what to expect, but the fact that they told us to position ourselves up against the back of the security barriers in the photo pit meant that some serious shit was about to go down. Playing the majority of material off of their self-titled debut album release from 2016, they played with conviction and enthusiasm. They definitely played one of the better sets throughout the four days of Inferno. The pyro? Well, I’d have to say it really enhanced their set in more ways than was expected. There was smoke, there was fire, and there were giant spark fountains. In addition, and unexpectantly by all in attendance, there were flashbangs. During my three-song allowance in the photo pit, a flashbang exploded very near to me at the end of the 3rd song and I didn’t know what the fuck had hit me. I couldn’t hear much other than constant ringing in my ears and I was left with only partial vision out of my left eye. After being ushered out of the photo pit and shaking it off for a couple of minutes, I thankfully regained those two critical senses without any more symptoms. I then moved upstairs to enjoy the rest of their set in an environment that felt substantially less like a warzone.
After NordjeveI, I spent some time catching up with my friends and exchanging stories during the time leading up to tonight’s headliner, Satyricon. There was no doubt judging by the amount of Satyricon shirts in the crowd who the darlings of Inferno Metal Festival 2018 were. And I’m going to say it right now, Satyricon was my favorite set of the entire festival. Why? Their performance was flawless; they were in complete control of the crowd from start to finish. Satyr played up the hometown crowd and they responded in earnest. There were several times between songs during the set when the crowd chanted “Satyricon! Satyricon! Satyricon!” It was so loud at times that it felt like I was at a professional sporting event. Satyricon played only a handful of songs off of their most recent album, “Deep Calleth Upon Deep,” with the rest of their setlist encompassing a discography that spans twenty-four years. They played seventeen songs in total which included an encore trio of The Pentagram Burns, Fuel for Hatred, and K.I.N.G. Inferno Festival attendees definitely got their money’s worth on this night.
Sunday, April 1st – Day Four
The last day of Inferno Metal Festival, respectively (or mockingly depending on how you look at it…) occurred on Easter Sunday. At this point, my body was happy it was almost over but deep down, I was sad. I’ve always felt that festivals end too early for my heart but not soon enough for my liver and Inferno was no exception. Feelings aside, tonight’s lineup, in my humble opinion, was the best single night lineup overall and I was really looking forward to it. After my Easter meal of Pho (again…but still better than kebab) paired with a Vietnamese beer, I made my way to the Rockefeller for the final hurrah.
The first band of the night, and personally one of my most looked forward to, Djevel, played to a sparse audience. That was probably a good thing because they were not sharp at all. They were sloppy and it appeared that there was some squabbling between bandmates at points during their set because of it. I would have to say that Djevel was probably my biggest disappointment throughout the entire festival. I’m hoping I’ll be able to catch them again at some point and they’ll be tighter performance wise.
With barely a rest between sets, Tsjuder was playing next. Before the first notes were even struck, drummer Christian Svendsen was riling up the now robust crowd by standing on his throne and raising his drumsticks in the air in the shape of an inverted cross. Tsjuder, also from Oslo, fired up the crowd almost into a frenzy at times. I remember a dude next to me screaming the lyrics, “Kill for Satan…Sacrifice!” at the top of his lungs as if the band could hear him and would they would give him a prize for being their number one fan of the night if he did so. The best part of Tsjuder’s set was their Bathory tribute to conclude it. The final three songs included Bathory’s founder, Freddan, joining them on bass on The Return of Darkness and Evil, Satan My Master and Sacrifice. Satanic Easter Eggs for everyone indeed!
Napalm Death had their work cut out for them following the black metal frenzy that Tsjuder manifested just minutes earlier. I remember thinking prior to the festival that the Napalm Death addition was a nice change up since the lineup was chock full of black metal bands. Because of this, it was not surprising that they went over so well with the crowd. In fact, some stage diving did transpire. Note: According to the local Norwegian metalheads, this is a rarity within the Norwegian metal scene, who knew?
A different spice for the Infernal Festival flavor was English stoner and doom metal royalty, Electric Wizard. Performing a variety of songs throughout their storied catalog, I was quite surprised that they didn’t play more than a single song from their most recent release, “Wizard Bloody Wizard.” After watching the crowd from the balcony, I came to the realization that other than a few obviously veteran fans, the crowd didn’t really know how to groove to Electric Wizard’s low and slow sound. The good news was that by Funeralopolis, the final song of their set, the crowd had it dialed in.
The final band of Inferno Metal Festival 2018, was Carpathian Forest. Playing their first Inferno Festival in over a decade, they could do no wrong and they did no wrong. Playing a set that comprised of 18 songs with two of them being covers (A Forest by The Cure and All My Friends Are Dead by Turbonegro), Carpathian Forest never lost the crowd’s undivided attention. Ending their set with The Suicide Song, they put the exclamation point on Inferno Metal Festival until next year. As my friends and I slowly strolled towards the hotel for the final time, we recapped the past five days and were all in agreement that we were sad that it was coming to an end. After we arrived at our hotel with 7-11 paninis in tow, we said our goodbyes, exchanged hugs and went our separate ways.
In summary, Inferno Metal Festival is a “must go” metal festival at least once in your lifetime. It may be a tad pricey for some and a bit too cold for others, but none of that shit matters when you’re in the middle of a great set (which there were many) and good company (how can you not meet cool people in Norway???). I had a blast and more than a week later, the memories of are still in the forefront of my gray matter version of RAM. I will be back…it may not be for a few years, but I will be back Inferno Metal Festival! Skol!!!
Check out some photos of the festival here!
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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