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BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...
Earth @ Inferno 2012
I stepped into the elevator at 2AM and almost slipped. Blood was all over the tile. It's hard to know what the source is when you're dealing with raging metalheads... costume? Drunken stumble? I'm back in Oslo at the heart of the Inferno Festival (at the Clarion Royal Christiana) which features some heavy hitters in the world of metal; the possibilities are endless.
Inferno Festival is in its eleventh year and features mostly Scandinavian artists with some touring bands. This year's fest features appearances from Autopsy, Borknagar, Arcturus, Agalloch, Velnias, Church of Misery, Anaal Nathrakh, and many more over four days at multiple venues. The first night (last night, 4/4) is "club night" where smaller bands play across a litany of small stages. The rest of the shows happen at John Dee and Rockefeller, a pair of stages that are connected by a stairway.
Last night started at Victoria, a jazz club decorated with the standard issue acoutrements: a mirrored bar with wood and glass, brass railings from floor to ceiling, and tons of tufted burgundy leather couches. The center of the room was a 200 capacity floor space (that usually houses tables and chairs), with the back wall housing stadium style seating and a pair of balconys above it all.
The show was a stop on the ongoing Earth/Mount Eerie/O Paon tour, a five week jaunt in Europe. The bands on this tour all specialize in darkly melodic tunes with clean guitar tones, so some might find their inclusion in Inferno Festival odd, but Earth has considerable metal pedigree and influence.
O Paon started the evening with her one-woman show. French is the primary tongue for Geneviève Castrée, whose compositions use looped vocals and guitar. Her performance was moving, with some of the songs being completely spontaneous despite the fact that she was fighting a cold.
"Sorry this is our 35th show and sometimes I like to get weird," she said after performing a short interlude with multiple interlocked vocal harmonies. One person's scratchpad is another's gold mine, I guess.
Mount Eerie followed O Paon, featuring Phil Elverum performing solo with a looping pedal and twelve-string. Elverum's fantastic bright guitar tone was the highlight of his outstanding set, which was comprised entirely of new material due on a pair of records coming in May and October. Some of the new material seemed to be in sketchbook form, others sounded like they were cut from the same reverby cloth as the black-metal influenced Wind's Poem, but there was definitely a song or two that sounded like the time on the road with Dylan Carlson had made its mark.
The room was full by the time Earth took the stage, mixed with Inferno festival-goers and indie folk alike. Earth was a four-piece in Oslo that night with a cello to add droney mid-tones in between Carlson's bright Telecaster and the basslines. As usual, Earth was somber, powerful and stunning.
After Earth, I made a pit stop to catch a bit of DJ Nocturno Culto's set before heading to see Solstorm at Rock In. Solstorm mixed elements of Isis-style post-metal with doom and a heavier post-rock influence, and unfortunately, a bit of uncontrollable noise. Despite the band's roots in the noise scene, they couldn't seem to control the waves of noise. Noise music to me is the art of controlling noise and feedback, but Solstorm's seemingl-random ear-piercing squeals didn't do anything but distract from their set.
More pictures from the first night, below...
O Paon at Victoria
Mt. Eerie at Victoria
Earth at Victoria
DJ Nocturno Culto at Royal Christiana
Solstorm at Rock In