BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...
One Tail One Head @ Inferno Fest
There's no way to put it nicely. My final day at Inferno Festival was an extremely up and down affair. Thumbs down to the bloated and overthought bands that had polished themselves and dulled their edges. But a big thumbs up goes out to the "true Norwegian Black Metal" hordes that stood out by delivering laser-precise performances at their corpse painted, blood-soaked, and firebreathing best.
Coming onto a stage lit by candelabra, accompanied by a fire-breather and adorned with animal skulls (shocker: they were actually the first and only band to do so at the fest!), Throne of Katarsis played a killer set of blasting old school black metal with some doomy breakdowns. The corpse painted quartet were the first band on the main stage and though the turnout was small, it was positively worth getting to the venue early for.
Svarttjern was next on the John Dee stage, a band cut from a similar cloth as Throne of Katarsis, but with less breaks in between blasts... a relentless full on assault. The band came on stage covered with blood and in full corpse painted glory, complete with both the beastial inhuman growls, and the uniquely black metal "deer in headlights" looks at the audience. Theatrical yet never campy, and totally fun.
Einherjer, a pagan-y viking metal band that helped pave the way for much of the genre (along with names like Enslaved and many others), was next on the main stage. 99% of the time pagan-metal & viking metal gets the gas face, and live I found it even more repellent. As I type this, my laptop keeps wanting to autocorrect their name as Winger... coincidence?
Ancient Wisdom was next up on John Dee, playing their pagan style folk influenced by bands like Death in June. Outside of those clad with the hellion skull, manson's face, or some other holy terror indicator like Vegas, it seemed like a lot of the metal crowd didn't quite "get it", a sentiment I also heard a few times when they toured North America with Ghost. Regardless of the overall temperature of the room, I found the music to be interesting but the vocals didnt seem to fit in.
My losing streak continued with Decapitated, the Polish metal band that rebuilt itself after a horrid accident a few years ago, and Monolith Death Cult, a long-winded death metal band with technical tendencies but very little to offer in the good riffs department. Decapitated has definitely crafted their live show to a fine point and the foursome handled the stage well. I'm just not a fan of the chugga-chugga-squeal-style of tech death. Witchery, the "supergroup" made up of ex-members fo Brujeria, Arch Enemy, Mercyful Fate, Dismember, Opeth, The Haunted and more, were similarly not my cup of tea but knew how to handle the stage and kept it interesting.
Then came One Tail One Head, the headliner at John Dee and a truly indestructible live juggernaut. One Tail One Head was yet another Norwegian band (that made three on Saturday) to reach into their country's storied black metal playbook and knock it out of the park. Musically speaking, these bands aren't breaking any new ground, but their approach with reverence and ferocity is so pure and devastating, it's hard to ignore them. I think bands like Borknagar and Arcturus (I'll... yawn... get into that later) forget that black metal is rooted in punk, and it's punk's "don't give a fuck" attitude that is so important to keeping the music's spirit alive (it's the difference between Discharge and MXPX).
One Tail One Head was one of my favorite performances from the whole fest, and definitely my favorite of the day (Svarttjern & Throne of Katarsis were the day's other highlights). The lead vocalist swings and thrashes like Erik of Watain, with the band keeping that same stage energy and intensity. The guitar/bass/drums trio are impeccably tight, much more so than I would expect for a band with only a couple demos and EPs to their name. Awesome set. This band needs to play in the US and soon.
After that amazing set it was on to the final band of the night, Arcturus at Rockefeller main stage. I don't particularly dig on symphonic black metal and for the most part progessive can be a dirty word for me, so the Arcturus set definitely fell on deaf ears. Their set, peppered with oodles of pyro felt like a Jerry Bruckheimer production; explosions hide the fact that the storyline, dialogue and execution were all weak.
Overall, an excellent weekend and I feel lucky to have been able to catch such great talent on foriegn soil. Inferno 2013, here I come.
Throne of Katarsis
The Monolith Deathcult
One Tail, One Head