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Hole in the Sky XII 2011

24th – 27th August 2011, Bergen Norway

You don´t realize it´s over until it´s over. Thinking back all the captivating experiences, the stunning performances witnessed, the magical setting in picturesque Bergen, surrounded by the most beautiful nature you can imagine, new friendships made, the completely packed Garage club, the kilos of shrimps eaten, the rain, the emotional incidents occurred and the magnificent calm moments sipping wine by the fjord watching the Sun setting behind the hills, you feel wistful but at the same time extremely proud of having been part of such a significant event.
If possible, the atmosphere of the twelfth and last Hole in the Sky ever was even more enthusiastic and pulsating than in previous years. The fans of music celebrated as passionately as if the world was coming to an end. As characteristic for HITS the line up was killer, culminating into an ending cavalcade of Norwegian bands playing at USF Verftet on Saturday.

Friday August 26, USF – The Dawn of a New Age

Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
No doubt one of the most visible and popular bands at festivals this summer has been Swedish Ghost. With their striking stage outfit and a recognizable Marshall sound they stand out in any company. Ghost´s debut album, an undisputed masterpiece Opus Eponymous is the only album they´ve released so far so there was no need to guess tonight either which songs they´d play. The show at USF was entertaining and enjoyable to listen to and the band got to perform to a full house. According to their official website they are now recording some new material. What a perfect timing as the same songs, as catchy as they are, won´t carry Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls much further doing shows at this fast pace and, of course, the fans insist on more.

Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
Thankfully a worthy replacement for Wolf (who had to pull out of this years festivities along with another disappointment with Pagan Altar) the mightily good fun and energetic Nifelheim step in. Heating things up a little after the break from Ghost the stage fills up with leather clad men sporting an unbelievable amount of spikes – it’s surprising no one gets impaled during the set. Always delivering quality live music and never failing to put a smile on your face these Swedish mentalists abuse you with black/thrash metal with obvious influence from all the classic NWOBHM bands. After this, it’s certainly time to catch your breath with a nice cold beer!

Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
Primordial 21:10
Photo: Christian Misje Hole In The Sky
Only relatively recently have the magical metal pride of Ireland seen the recognition they deserve after many, many years of quality releases – they have been around for 20 years. They receive a very warm and supportive welcome on their second invitation to Hole In The Sky. Best described as doom/black metal with Irish/Celtic folk elements blended in perfectly. Vocals from front man Nemtheanga have gone from strength to strength especially carried off well in the live setting, he is also a charismatic and energetic performer. You can’t help but feel a little Irish pride whilst watching these lads perform, with the Celtic/tribal drumming. A fully enjoyable experience that surely could have gone on longer and if you weren’t squeezed up close and personal as you could possibly be in this cramped little venue be to get the full feel of the music rattling through your soul you missed out.


Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
Presenting perhaps the most massive sound of the weekend English industrial metal pioneer Godflesh was something else. After disbanding in 2002 and reforming in 2010 the duo has done a few shows in Europe including Hellfest last year. Despite their unique style, interesting riffs and the incredible energy of their live set, you might find it hard to digest the synthetic sound and merciless beat of the drum machine mixed with the timbre of guitar, bass and vocals (and actually watch the relatively empty stage for very long time). I believe the gig fulfilled fans´ expectations but wasn´t necessarily a mindblowing experience for those unfamiliar with Godflesh´s music.


Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
Friday night ended wildly in the lead of Satyricon, who played a special show with all seven studio albums presented, beginning with atmospheric Walk the Path of Sorrow. With a new bass player and keyboardist the band sounded absolutely fantastic! Satyr had perhaps more face paint than usually and slightly longer hair than in past few years and in addition to the actual set, the infatuated fans were treated with an excellent two-song encore starting with emotional To the Mountains and finishing with (surprise, surprise) Mother North.

Saturday August 27, USF – A Perfect Vision of the Rising Northland

Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
Saturday´s crowd arrived on time, the reason being Bergen band Helheim, who played a short but enthusiastic gig already on Thursday in cooperation with the media and art-gathering Man¯ver at Logen Teater. Both the band and the audience were in full flow when we reached the main hall at USF. Helheim´s reputation as an amazing live performer, using incredibly cool instrumentation made them one of the most interesting bands to catch live. Unfortunately, due to a shorter showtime than we expected, we only heard the last song of the set.. If you ever get a chance to go and see them live, don´t waste it.


Photo: Christian Misje, Hole In The Sky
What an awesome gig! For Norwegian avant-garde metalists Virus the show at HITS was their second live performance ever and as they sound so good on the albums you didn´t really know what to expect.. But the show was a blast! We got to hear a fine set of songs and even the beautiful instrumental Road was included in the cavalcade. You couldn´t appreciate Carl-Michael Eide´s work much more and Virus is a good example of his versatility. The award of the most characteristic musician of the weekend goes to the bass player Kai _svik.

Photo: Jarle H. Moe
A sturdy backbone of the Norwegian metal scene, it would have been rude not to invite Enslaved to The Last Supper. One of those bands who have made several musical progressions over the years and always putting out high quality records, of course makes for a varied set list tonight, encompassing proggy soundscapes of latter days with “Ethica Odini” and “Axioma” from the latest album going right back to raw classics such as “Jotunblod” . Ears were also treated to a new song, “Heimvegen” from the last EP. And what… a Zeppelin cover “Immigrant Song” ? Awesome!

Photo: Jarle H. Moe
The second last to go, one of the absolute highlights of the line up, the legend of all legends Mayhem took over the stage after Enslaved. Beginning with Deathcrush EP´s primitive drumming intro Silvester Anfang (composed by Conrad Schnitzler) and continuing with Pagan Fears, we experienced a basic Mayhem show, without the pyros nor dramatic stage decoration. Attila Csihar´s inhumane rasp is always fascinating to listen to and it was nice to see and hear Teloch (Nidingr, God Seed, Ov Hell) on guitar.

Photo: Jarle H. Moe
It would had been surprising if the closing act of the last HITS would had been someone else other than Immortal, also opening the very first festival back in 2000. The mighty pride of Bergen proved again being first class professionals in the field of entertaining and playing live. All those present got to witness an intense farewell show, with a perfect opener “Mountains Of Might” and “The Sun No Longer Rises “ was a fitting last ever live song played at the last ever Hole In The Sky and admittedly an emotional one – followed by hard partying into the wee hours..!

It was delightful to see all those involved gather together onstage after all the music was done – artists and organisers who put so much hard graft into making this extraordinarily special event one to treasure for always. Many bows were taken, cheers yelled, horns issued forth and rounds of applause made until you felt your hands were going to smash and fall onto the floor. Then off to get the party truly finished with more booze and dancing, wherever you ended up with the infamous HITS Nachspiels. The end of and era indeed, all who became familiar with this intimate and awesome festival will miss it madly, but as the saying goes – all good things must come to an end… …m/

Other happenings related to the festival were daytime gigs at Garage, a special Wardruna show at Logen Teater, a listening session of Taake´s brilliant new album Noregs Vaapen and a small art exhibition at USF called Devil Eyes by Metalion from Slayer mag and Watain´s Erik Danielsson, again responsible for the cool festival artwork and merchandise.
The venue USF Verftet will go through a renovation next year. Since it´s hard to imagine Bergen without a metal festival, we´ll now withdraw to wait for news about a new event – fingers crossed.
Our sincere thanks and appreciation to organizers for making the past events so special and the last supper as palatable as it was. A perfect ending for a perfect festival.
At the same time next year a new festival called Bunker will see daylight at Parkteatret in Oslo. There will be only 500 tickets sold and as the event seems quite promising with the lineup announced so far, there´s no doubt it´ll sell out in no time.

Text: Jane Oliver & Meri Tikkala

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