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Hole in the Sky 2010

24th – 28th August 2010, Bergen Norway
Arriving in picturesque Bergen is an experience, no matter how you do it. After travelling the magical Oslo-Bergen railway in 2008 and taking a coastal ferry in 2009, it was time to fly. Even though Norway is famous for it´s high prices travelling isn´t that expensive at all, if you book the tickets well in advance. And when it comes to accommodation, there are hotels and hostels near the venues and a variety of apartments in traditional wooden houses which can be rented at a reasonable price.

photo: Jane Oliver

Hole in the Sky was arranged for the 11th time this year. Besides three club nights at Garage and the weekend at USF Verftet there were various day-time and other night-time happenings throughout the week, most of them related to the festival. The “non-live” program consisted of Dark Essence and Indie Recordings listening sessions including a live set from Sahg, Alan Nemtheanga DJ´ing, Jason Rouse stand-up show, some seminars, a metal auction and a flea market to raise funds for Bergen children in orphanage care, just to name a few. There was also a chance to visit an art exhibition at USF and go and see Svartediket, world´s first black metal musical taking place at The National Venue of Theatre (Den Nationale Scene).

photo: Jane Oliver

And, did it rain or did it rain? Well, the weather was mostly cloudy with a hint of sunshine and occasional showers. Unlike last year´s continuous rain forcing people to pack inside the venue also during change-overs, it was now possible to enjoy the spacious decking outside, facing the fjord…

Like in the past years, the festival line-up was absolutely marvellous! And there was no need to choose between bands because everybody played on the same stage. It was good to be back in Bergen and once again get an opportunity to be a part of it´s unique event Hole in the Sky, probably the most atmospheric metal fest there is in the whole world. (MT)

photo: Jane Oliver

Friday 27th August 2010

Secrets of the Moon 18.00 – 18.35
The German black metallers Secrets of the Moon had received the honour of being the opening band of the weekend. There could had been more people joining in but those who were there were led into a good festival mood by a successful show. Although I wasn´t too familiar with the dark tunes of Secrets of the Moon it was a pleasure to see them live for the first time. After releasing their newest album “Privilegivm” last year, they are said to be stronger than ever. The band played also another show next day at HITS for Kidz at Garage. (MT)

Sûlstafir 18 .55 – 19.30
The Friday night of Black Mass continued with less black yet tempting sounds from Iceland. There were more people gathering in front of the stage than earlier, including both old and future SÛlstafir fans. As a strong quartet A_albjˆrn Tryggvason, Gu_mundur ”li P·lmason, SÊ_Ûr MarÌus SÊ_Ûrsson and Svavar Austmann have been able to create such a fascinating style they stand out at any company. The crowd seemed spellbound already from the beginning standing there in awe, while the band performed with passion. The shortest set of the festival started with beautiful “Kˆld” and was followed by and finished with atmospheric and extremely long “Ritual of Fire”. Because of such a short time on stage (35 minutes or so) considering the intensity of the show the end came surprisingly soon. Afterwards you could hear confused listeners repeating “what, only two songs?” (MT)

The Devils Blood 20.00 – 20.45
Obviously highly influenced by music of the past, TDB sound so vintage that it´s only when witnessing them live you believe that they are of the present. There is no messing about, it´s almost as if the band aren´t playing for an audience, no stopping between songs for introductions and many of these psychedelic rock gems turn into what seems like an intimate jamming session, with River Of Gold, Voodoo Dust and the unbelievable Christ Or Cocaine being played tonight. As is a live feature, each member appeared drenched in blood, and singer, “The Mouth Of Hell” seemingly in an eerie trance, only added to this atmosphere of this amazing performance. (JO)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Ihsahn 21.20 – 22.05
Ihsahn´s show didn´t lack skill. To be able to perform live, the wizard of extreme metal has combined forces with a rising Notodden band Leprous. There´s some unexplainable coolness about the relatively young men on stage with Ihsahn. Together they make a group who for sure gives the audience the very best every time. The performance´s and probably the whole festival´s instrumental climax was reached when there were three 8-string guitars and a 5-string bass being played at the same time. I´d call that a heavy sound.

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Besides Ihsahn´s releases, the Leprous´ debut album “Tall Poppy Syndrome” is worth checking out. By releasing the third album “After” Ihsahn completed the impressive trilogy of his solo career. We´ll see what the future will bring for the fans of Ihsahn´s music. (MT)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Cathedral 22.45 – 23.45
Happy groove doomsters have been doing the rounds for 20 years now, and are a welcomed addition to this years HITS extravaganza. Obviously very comfortable in the live setting, the band fronted by the enigmatic Mr Lee Dorrian get things underway with Vampire Sun which was a great choice to get the crowd in the mood.

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
We are treated to a typical Cathedral set with Soul Sacrifice, the somber and beautiful Cosmic Funeral, Corpsecycle, Ride (naturally) and finishing up with Lee asking, “are there any witches in the audience tonight?!” meaning only one thing – of course Hopkins (The Witchfinder General). (JO)

Venom 00.45 – 02.15

photo: Monika Serafinska/Hole In The Sky
BM GODS Venom playing tonight is of course a very big deal for pretty much everyone attending this years festival – which is fairly obvious when you tried to cram yourself in somewhere in the maelstrom to try and get a view. Sometimes known for being a little chaotic and messy when playing live, tonight this is not the case as musically everything is pretty tight sounding. We get a pretty tasty set list throughout the 90 min headlining slot including of course Black Metal, Antichrist, Straight To Hell, Don´t Burn The Witch, 1000 Days In Sodom, 7 Gates Of Hell, At War With Satan, Buried Alive and rounding off with Witching Hour. Perfect. (JO)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky

Saturday 28th

Nunslaughter 18.55 – 19.30
The underground is going strong. These energetic punk-death maniacs from the US kicked off our Saturday of Total Death after missing Obliteration due to certain interruptions… The entertaining speaks of the drummer Jim Sadist and the singer Don of the Dead between the songs gave the performance a slightly unusual rhythm, breaking the feel of straight-forwardness in a way. As Saturday´s second band Nunslaughter was welcomed with not too massive crowd but a nice bunch of cheering headbangers who weren´t left cold. In a good 20 years the band has released an almost unbeliavable amount of records. (MT)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Triptykon 20.00 – 20.55
Triptykon presented one of the most heaviest sounds of the weekend. By an impressive performance they pleased the fans with a mixture of both Triptykon and Celtic Frost songs. “It´s an honour to be back home”, stated Warrior before the first notes of “Babylon Fell” filled the air. The living legend Thomas Gabriel Fischer or Tom Gabriel Warrior is a hell of a character on stage. He seems to be very proud of the Triptykon debut “Eparistera Daimone” which was released earlier this year.

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
A new EP “Shatter” will be released on October 25th (Europe). I had heard divergent statements of their show at Jalometalli 2010 and didn´t really know what to expect. The HITS audience embraced Triptykon and yep, they got me as well. (MT)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Watain 21.35 – 22.25
Black Metal Swedes Watain play a 50 minute set tonight to a packed house. There has been quite alot of metal media coverage lately with their last full release ´Lawless Darkness´ from which they play Malfeitor, Reaping Death and Wolves Curse. Also included in the set list is the awesome Sworn to the Dark, I Am The Earth, On Horns Impaled and Stellavore.

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Sounding great throughout, we were also witness to a pretty fantastic stage set of constant flames from the drums and numerous candles, and pyrotechnics. But perhaps a little OTT as the temperature of the room kept increasing, I for one had to retreat to the back to escape the heat! (JO)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Obituary 22.45 – 23.45
The Florida death metal legends kicked ass performing at HITS after a four-year inexistence. Obituary is an assured live performer and, year after year and album after album, they keep on attracting the listeners. They had a perfect slot on late Saturday night, since the audience had well prepared for the last hours of Hole in the Sky 2010. Next year will officially be Obituary´s 25th anniversary.

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Still, after kicking for so long time, the guys seem to enjoy performing and having a good time. (MT)

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Autopsy 00.45 – 02.15
Many, including myself, simply could not believe the announcement that the legendary gore metal gods from California, Autopsy would play HITS 2010. In this small, intimate venue, if you wanted to see anything you had to be ruthless and stand your ground at the front, or you lost the battle as the moshpit excitedly increased through Destined to Fested, Death Twitch, Gasping for Air, Human Genocide, Horrific Obsession, Severed Survival (if this had not been played there would have been an uproar!), Spinal Extraction and Voices, in total there were about 15 songs played. The genius behind the band, on vocals and drums is Chris Reifert. His banter between songs proved that they are very happy and excited to be back in the saddle, promising that these is alot more death metal on the way (true, as the EP The Tomb Within was just released).

photo: Christian Misje/Hole In The Sky
Dan Lilker (Anthrax, Brutal Truth) has been helping out live on Bass and tonight played his last show with Autopsy. A truly unmerciful live attack, this was a special performance, the climax of HITS 2010. (JO)

So to summarise, as always, Hole In The Sky brought the dedicated punters a stunning line up of first class, varied acts, with something for every underground metal fan. Once you start going to this festival, it´s hard to stop as every year is a winner, this one being no exception with Venom and Autopsy as the headliners. It draws metal fans from all corners of the globe for obvious reasons, and the location of cosy and beautiful Bergen, Norway is just one of them. All in all a first class festival and always recommended (just remember to save ridiculous amounts of money if you want to survive)! (JO)

Jane Oliver (JO) & Meri Tikkala (MT)

GastmitarbeiterInnen / guest contributions

Regular guest contributors e.g. Melanie Kircher, Tatjana Tattis Murschel, Grit Kabiersch, Marina Minkler, Jasmine Frey, Maria Levin, Elvira Visser, Nina Ratavaara, John Wisniewski