It is Inferno time of the year again. Oslo is bathing in the Sun but low temperature, spiced up with chilly breeze, keep people well covered in layers of clothing.
This year´s lineup consists of a variety of bands, and for the fans of good music there is a lot more in store than one is able to receive. The first festival day is a club day, spread around at six venues in the center of the town. The clubs and bars involved this year are John Dee, Rock In, Victoria, De Ville´s Rock Lounge, Revolver and BLÅ, where the Dark Essence Records label night takes place.
Some of the side events taking place during the festival are two shows by stand-up comedian Jason Rouse, the usual tattoo fair at Rockefeller and Inferno Film, screening movies at Cinemateket.
Interactive photo gallery at the bottom
Wednesday the 27th of March
BLÅ is a former gold and diamond storage, located at a fascinatingly decorated block by a river. When arriving at the courtyard it becomes clear that due to the popularity of the event, there is no chance getting in right away. The queue outside reaches a few meters around the corner from the entry door. BLÅ has a capacity of 400 people and obviously the club is already packed.
Fortunately it does not take too long to get inside. The sognametal tunes of Cor Scorpii welcome persistent queuers in. Although the club is crowded, the night is dominated by warm and welcoming atmosphere and people seem to be enjoying it at its full.
From the world of wistful and beautiful melodies of Sogndal based Cor Scorpii, the audience is dragged to a different reality, as the incarnation of peculiarity named Vulture Industries hit the stage. The Bergen band keeps charming crowds with its impassioned experimental music and extraordinary style. Despite some technical problems, the audience is treated with a vibrant show, with the usual twists and turns.
The last band performing at BLÅ tonight, Helheim from Bergen, is no doubt one of the most anticipated acts of the Dark Essence Records label night. Even though, it feels like an amount of people have disappeared, perhaps to check out other clubs or to continue the night at the official festival hotel Royal Christiania, which again serves as a base camp for vorspiels and nachspiels.
Helheim looks glorious on stage and they are the ones beginning a series of guest vocal action witnessed throughout the festival, as Hoest of Taake appears in front of the audience and performs his parts in the song Dualitet og Ulver, dressed in the same costume as on the music video. The fans are extremely pleased and on the way home some might even drift away mentally, thinking about the balance of light and darkness within…
Although feeling a bit disappointed about not making it in time for the first band Kraków, the night at BLÅ offered a lot in the field of music and ambiance.
Thursday the 28th of March
The festival continues at the main venue Rockefeller and the smaller club John Dee downstairs. While walking up the ramp from the main entrance towards the Rockefeller stage, the tempting grooves of Hate´s Polish death metal catch the attention and kick off the second Inferno day. The concert lacks a sort of intimacy provided by smaller venues, but the good sound and the energy deriving from interaction between the band and a large audience make it all up. Unfortunately, the show in Oslo remains one of the last ones for the charismatic bass player Mortifer.
Although Swedish black metallers Dark Funeral gather numerous people to see them performing at Rockefeller after Hate warming up the stage, their art seems to divide the crowd in two camps – to fans who consider Dark Funeral intense and to bystanders who do not get any vibes at all.
Again back on the first floor of the main venue where another well known Bergen band Taake is about to climb on stage. During their twenty years of existence the band has gathered a vast fan base. There is a lot happening on stage throughout the whole performance. As guest vocals seem to be the thing at this year´s festival, the large audience is treated with appearances of Niklas Kvarforth of Shining, Jørn Inge Tunsberg of Hades Almighty, Morten Shax of Endezzma and last but not least, Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen of Vulture Industries.
Watching the concert at the back of the venue, behind the mixing desk, is soundwise possibly the worst place to be. Although trying to avoid standing there under the balcony, Taake´s concert does not mesmerize to run to the front. Not tonight.
A nice addition at the venue complex is a shared art exhibition by cartoonist Kim Holm and photographer Stig Pallesen, located at Bushwick bar in the basement of John Dee. Perhaps a gallery space could make more justice for the drawings and photos but the location could not be more central.
At John Dee, Norwegian Chrome Division entertains the crowd with their rock ´n rollish biker themed heavy metal. People queue in to get their parts of the phenomenon consisting mostly of black leather and rocking guitar riffs, before trampling up the stairs again to see the last band of the night, Florida death metal veterans Deicide. Without any props on stage Deicide perform with routine and are greeted with a large audience.
There is still some time to cool down on the roof terrace before the doors get closed. The sky is clear and the air crispy outside. Jupiter is watching people getting drunk and leading the minds towards the next day.
Friday the 29th of March
Friday begins with an awaited concert of Finnish Behexen. The performance at Rockefeller is filled with fine emotional nuances, and unlike to their last show in Helsinki, the musicians are not wearing robes, which adds extra sensitivity to the overall appearance. Behexen has a number of great songs and the ambiance deriving from the music and the presence of a numerous crowd makes the concert one of the better festival experiences.
In addition to Taake, another Bergen band formed in 1993 playing on the main stage is Aeternus. More and more people gather in as the concert begins. In addition to the old classics, the fans desire to hear especially the songs on the recently released album …And the Seventh his Soul Detesteth and those yet unfamiliar with their dark metal seem to be getting into it too. The band sounds great and the fact that you can feel the musicians´ passion for performing makes the Aeternus concert one of the highlights of the festival.
Some Inferno guests have indicated their disappointment regarding Swedish Ghost cancelling their performance in a short notice. Ghost is replaced by Witchcraft, also hailing from Sweden.
The enchanting sound of their 70´s style doomy tunes get the attention of the Rockefeller audience. Some people stand there in awe, some do not find it as fascinating. Witchcraft performs with a laid back yet expressive attitude, making them a welcomed short notice addition to the lineup.
At John Dee the Dutch band Carach Angren is about to start. Although getting a last minute recommendation from a friend, the decision is to politely make space for the ones really into symphonic black metal and Carach Angren´s style.
Back upstairs the fans of gothic metal will soon be pleased with a show of the Portuguese long term professionals Moonspell. Once begun, according to the immediate response of the audience, the performance is no doubt one of the most awaited ones for a number of attendants. Old songs wrap the fans inside their atmosphere, obviously taking people back in time.
Up next on the main stage is Suffocation. Being around since 1988 the brutal death metal New Yorkers do not lack experience. It does not take long until there is some serious headbanging action happening in the middle of the crowd. Feeling exhausted but rewarded due to tonight´s experiences, it is time to go and gain strength for the final day.
Saturday the 30th of March
The Sun is up early today but it is still cold in the shade. After receiving a phone call from a colleague, a decision has to be made between seeing Baptism or trying to smuggle in the camera with a high risk of not making it to the concert in time. Due to the size of the venue the festival grants only a certain amount of passes to the photo pit, and today no professional cameras are allowed in without a pass. No can do. At least it is now possible to fully concentrate in listening to the music. (the following photos were made via cellphone, the ed.)
Baptism is one of the finest black metal bands based in Finland at the moment. Being active since 1998 the band has released four full length albums and a number of other records. The man behind the music is Lord Sargofagian, whose delicate stage presence is one of a kind. Even the messy guitar sounds do not detach participants from the intense performance.
One more Bergen band to go, Hades Almighty, presents one of the most interesting concerts of the festival. They get a good grip on the crowd performing their black metal with progressive elements. You just have to watch and listen to what comes next. And the next thing to come is a guest appearance by Hoest in the song Alone Walkyng. Additionally the audience is pleased with violin sounds. All in all the Hades Almighty show goes to the box of better performances during Inferno 2013.
Next up on the stage at Rockefeller is the Oslo band Solefald. The first songs do not sound familiar at all but no wonder as it has been eight years since listening to them the last time. The band is greeted with a large audience and, bizarre enough, the man painting mountains on stage is definitely cool. There are a lot of people on stage at some point and the audience seem to like what they hear.
The headliner of the last day is Norwegian Satyricon, also recording a new album at the moment. The feeling on the first floor is like being a sardine in a can and you have to be there well on time to get a spot in front of the mixing desk. The performance does not lack power, for sure. The sound is absolutely brilliant and the lights as fabulous as they can be. An amount of pyros is being blown up and… Hold on, what? Is this confetti? Well, never mind. Where were we?
In many ways the massive audience get to experience an almost perfect Satyricon show. If only Satyr would let the music speak even more for itself. The band has so good songs that for some fans they work better without unnecessary interruptions. The great performance leaves a confused feeling. In this mood loaded with pulsating energy and puzzlement there is no way getting downstairs to see the Los Angeles doom legends Saint Vitus.
After seeing an amount of great performances, bumping into a bunch of friends, enjoying beers on the roof top terrace, playing card games and forgetting to press the stop button on a tram, ending up all the way up the hill at a beautiful park with a fjord view, it is about time to leave all the hassle behind.
* HATE-Basser Sławomir „Mortifier“ Kusterka died in the night from 5th to 6th April, reasons unknown. R.I.P.
Other performers on the billing:
From the Vastland
Man the Machetes
Causing the Exile
Purified in Blood