Entries tagged with: Inferno Festival

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BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...

by BBG

One Tail One Head @ Inferno Fest
Inferno Festival Day 4

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.

Check out pics and review of DAY ONE, DAY TWO, and DAY THREE, and the rest of DAY FOUR, below...

Continue reading "Inferno Festival 2012 -- night 4 pics & review (One Tail One Head, Svarttjern, Throne of Katarsis & more)"

BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...

by BBG

Autopsy @ Inferno
Inferno

It's true. Everything in Europe is a little bit different than the states. Case in point, the classic European mosh pit. In the USA, there's always a few knuckleheads walking in circles and trying to assert their pit supremacy with flailing arms, swing kicks, picking-up-change, and skanking. Kudos to an American band, Autopsy for showing me that European moshing is basically a mass of ear-to-ear smiles, pogoing, and kids bouncing off of each other like pinballs.

Agalloch had just started their set at Inferno by the time I got to the venue on the festival's third night, so I missed sets by Merah, Necronomicon and Aeon Throne. I have seen Agalloch a few times and am used to seeing them in a much smaller space; the Portland band on the gigantic Rockefeller stage was nothing less than epic, probably aided by the amazing knob-twiddling skills of the one and only Billy Anderson (who is touring with them as their soundman). Songs from their recent Marrow Of The Spirit and Ashes Against the Grain never sounded so good.

Agalloch's touring partners, the great Velnias, held down the John Dee in the set directly following, and their grand statements of black metal majesty have never sounded so big. The last time I saw the band was at the DIY space Acheron in NYC, so this was decidedly different.

No offense to either Agalloch or Velnias, but after two sets of multi-part epic black metal, catching Tsjuder on the main stage was a welcome change. Tsjuder were everything I wanted at that moment from a "true Norwegian black metal band" (self described, of course); simple in approach, nihilstic, relentless, hooky but without the corny, and with breakdowns straight from the Celtic Frost playbook. The crowd ate it up like it was a coconut curry (one of the only things to eat at the venue), and so did I. Side note: Tsjuder wins the prize for band with the most fans with a tattoo of their logo at Inferno.

Dead Trooper was next on the John Dee stage, and their thrash hybrid contained elements of black metal and many other different influences mixed in. While that in itself isn't a deal breaker, the alternating growls and clean singing in Hetfield style (sorrow becomes sorroooooo-wah) truly put this band over the "not interested" hump for me. Sorry homies.

I washed my hands clean of Dead Trooper with the always amazing Absu. The lightning fast Texas crew played favorites like the new album opener "Earth Ripper", "Four Crossed Wands", "Thirteen Blows" and my personal favorite Absu track, "Pillars of Mercy." The last time I saw Absu (at Europa), I was told that the song was arranged for two guitars so I am happy that the trio figured out a way to take that Tara classic on the road. Such a unique band, one of the few that can get away with campy song introductions and still rip as hard as the best of them.

Clad in cowboy attire, hair braided, and opening with riffs that sounded like more metallic versions of Morricone soundtracks, I thought I had Solstafir pegged as a progressive metal band with a southwestern slant. Though they started a bit shaky, the band tightened up by the end of the first song and played an interesting set of psychedelic metal with black metal parts that had some great moments. The crowd were nuts for the band, and I was surprised and definitely impressed.

Autopsy was the main attraction of the night, and rightfully so. The primitive death metal legends got the crow riled up and brought the first mosh pit of the evening with songs like "Severed Survival", "Gasping for Air", and later fare like "Maggot Holes" and "Hand of Darkness". So animated. So brutal. So amazing. I can't wait for the Bell House show.

Pictures from day three of Inferno are below.

Continue reading "Inferno Festival 2012 -- night 3 pics & review (Autopsy, Agalloch, Absu, Solstafir & more)"

BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...

by BBG

Church of Misery
Inferno Festival 2012 Day 2

It's late and I'm strolling down Karl Johan's Gate in Oslo, trying to snag a snack at one of the only late-night spots in the area, 7-11 (it's not only NYC that they've infiltrated). A young woman aggressively walks over to me and says something in Norwegian that I clearly don't understand, and like any ugly American I respond with an "excuse me?". The girl fires back with a "Hi, handsome" and asks if I like her with a very pointed look of intent... Like Whodini said, the freaks come out at night.

Night fell on day two of the Inferno Festival (day 1 review/pics HERE) and instead of being dispersed across many clubs in the city, the creatures of the night (in this case, the bullet belted and corpse-painted set) converged on a single area, connecting clubs Rockefeller & John Dee. The two clubs are interconnected with a third stage (Rockefeller Annex) serving as the all-important metal-merch area, housing all manner of silver rings, zillion-dollar Morbid Angel ultra-limited boxsets, and your basic assortment of metal patches. The mighty Neseblod Records (home of the black metal museum that I visited last time I was here) had also set up shop, selling wares from their jaw-droppingly extensive collection.

Bands were staggered across the two stages with the show opening at a whopping 5:45PM with an appearance by Corpus Mortale at John Dee. Due to prior obligations, I stumbled into the venue in time to catch Anaal Nathrakh, missing Trollfest, Undying Inc, and the previously mentioned festival day opener.

Anaal Nathrakh played the Rockefeller stage at 7:45PM and the band was noticeably missing Mick Kenney, one half of the mostly-studio project. Vocalist V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Dave Hunt) commented that problems at the US border (UK-born Kinney now lives in the states) had kept Kinney from performing at Inferno Festival, but the band forged on and seemed no worse for the wear. The band dedicated "Submission is For The Weak" from Codex Necro to the US Border authorities.

Maybe it was the Integrity sticker on the bassist's instrument, but I think Anaal Nathrakh has a distinct hardcore feel live. Hunt jerks around and slithers on stage like a hardcore vocalist yet when the songs require clean singing, he executes them perfectly. Awesome set, with my personal highlight being the blistering "The Final Submission".

The Konsortium, a supergroup featuring shrouded members of Mayhem and Kvelertak (I do believe it was their lead vocalist), followed on John Dee. Wearing white masks, the band played their version of black metal/thrash to the room, with the lead vocalist toting a copy of the New Testament. While bibles on stage at a metal show are hardly a new thing, this copy clearly had lyrics written inside of it (just an observation, no judgement). The band didn't leave much of an impression, positive or negative, and felt more like black metal by committee, not consortium.

White corpse-paint followed the white-masked when 1349 played the next set at the big Rockefeller stage. The band was much tighter than my previous experiences with them and the crowd energy was high during their performance as well. While I have waivered regarding 1349, their showing at Rockefeller renewed my faith.

Considering the list of bands that preceeded Vesen, a black-metal thrash crew from Oslo, I was intrigued at where they sat in the lineup. While Vesen is hardly breaking any new territory, their thrash-attack was energetic and compelling live. Fun set from this Norwegian four-piece.

Triptykon
Inferno Festival 2012 Day 2

The stage at Rockefeller was curtained when I got in place for Triptykon but I could hear the vocals being checked over the PA:

"COOKIE! COOKIE! C is for COOKIE! COOKIES GOOD! COOKIES GEEEUHRRR..." said the voice in a Cookie Monster style growl.

There is no evidence that Tom Warrior was responsible for that Sesame Street impression, but I'd like to think that he was.

Then the curtains parted and Triptykon came on stage. The band performed pieces from their recent Eparistera Daimones in addition to classic Celtic Frost tracks like "Circle of The Tyrants" and "The Usurper" featuring Ravn of 1349 on vocals. The band was definitely tight and delivered an excellent set with thick and hearty guitar tones that sounded amazing on the ample Rockefeller PA (not that a single band was poorly mixed in that room... I just think Triptykon sounded the best).

I then headed to the basement to see a band that I have longed to see for years.... Church of Misery! Church of Misery do a perfect mix of classic, bluesy doom riffs with sludge and have the sickening vocals of Hideki Fukasawa over top of it all. Booming, jaw-dropping and laser-precise, there was a moment during their set that I was convinced that Church of Misery was the baddest motherfucking band on the planet. One thing is for sure, they rip.

If there ever was a band that would enforce my "OMG Church of Misery is the best band evar" theory, it would be Borknagar who was up next. The band practices in progressive, folk-y style metal with keyboards and black metal tendencies but with none of those, you know, memorable parts. Kind of a sour note to end the night on the big stage and overall, but at least I saw some incredible music today.

More pictures from the whole day below....

Continue reading "Inferno Festival 2012 -- night 2 pics & review (Church of Misery, Triptykon, 1349, The Konsortium & more)"

BBG is back in Oslo, this time for Inferno. Here's what he's catching at the Norwegian metal festival...

by BBG

Earth @ Inferno 2012
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...

Continue reading "Inferno Festival 2012 -- night 1 pics & review (Earth, Mount Eeerie, O Paon & more)"