Inferno Festival 2009, Norway

Inferno festival 2009

The black metal festival held in the Norwegian capital around the Easter weekend – maybe a way to protest against the religious holiday? – came to its 9th edition. Among the headliners on the poster we could see Paradise Lost, Pestillence, Samael, Carpathian Forest. And there used to be Meshuggah but to my disappointment they got cancelled due the back problems of the drummer.

The festival usually starts with a ‘Club day’, meaning there are many small(er) bands playing in various clubs in the city and nothing big happens on the big stages. So it’s actually a promo of the event in places where people might now know what hit them when they hear the insane rhythms. I chose to go and see the death metal band Blood Red Throne at Blå, a lovely club by the side of the river. The choice was based both on the fact that I like their initial albums (didn’t get to hear much of the 2009 “Souls of Damnation”) and that such bands are the only chances to see the old members of Emperor live. And they paid back for the effort as they played an incredible fast show, making death metal feel at home in Norway. No matter what rhythm the songs had or how ‘nice’ the riffs or solos were trying to be, the brutality of the genre totally kicked in and delighted the fans.

The very next day the shows moved to the bigger stages called Rockefeller and John Dee (and luckily you can easily move from one to another without having to go outside). Before I tell you about concerts, I also have to mention that outside the concert halls they have a wide offer of merchandise and of… cosmeticians. I mean, I saw people getting interesting (or scary) haircuts, tattoos or make ups. And the girls promoting these had rather cool outfits. But there was not much time to stay and stare at them.

First band of the day at Rockefeller on Thursday was Negura Bunget, from Romania, who introduced themselves as “We are Negura Bunget from Transilvania”. I’ve seen them live before and the concerts in Romania didn’t give me the feeling of such a special music. But when they got on the stage and I saw the looks of wonder on the crowd’s faces and I heard the reactions when they had the percussion solos, then I realized that they were not offering quite the most common show. Plus I met a fellow Romanian girl who was headbanging and knew all their lyrics and was fun to chat with her for the rest of the show. But I can’t stress enough how cool it was to watch the crowd’s reaction to the ambient black/folk music performed on the stage by the guys dressed in some weird looking clothes mixed with leather pants, a girl with a huge robe headbanging at the keyboard and all of them performing on even weirder instruments such as xylophone or ’toaca’.

I took a quick trip to John Dee to watch Episode 13, a Turkish band with funny zombie outfits but I recall wanting to go away from the stage after hearing the vocals. So I can only tell you about their zombie looks and cannot recall the music at all.

Back on the main stage, the highlight of the day for me was the Norwegian folk/black metal Kampfar. Seeing the spikes around the wrists of the vocalist, I thought they’re gonna be a very extreme band. But I was very pleasantly surprised by the good metal they played, the performance of the – good looking – singer and the overall energy of their show, all spiced with pyrotechnic effects that heated the crowd even more.

Off to a more thrashy/old metal sound on the main stage, we saw the Batallion, another Norwegian band, coming from Bergen this time. But maybe because I was just returning from John Dee where we saw Azarath or well, mainly the singer of the band since he seemed to occupy the whole stage. Their music and lyrics was based on Satan and Satan related stuff. They were ok live, passionate about their work and pretty technical. The singer even got mad at the crowd asking what’s wrong with them, but I guess he wasn’t aware of the way the Norwegians enjoy metal concerts. Could as well have been opera.

Another headliner that didn’t disappoint was Septic Flesh. With songs known and mainly loved by the crowd, with amazing power and scene presence, they delivered an electrifying show. Despite the slow rhythm of some of them, the sound was loud and strong and the vocals were simply amazing. And everything can be put under the label of brutality.

We were recommended to go and hear Ramesses who played at John Dee. Almost exhausted after the day, we went to pay attention to them. They greeted us with a type of doom and very ambiental lights that made me go back to the main stage quickly. Though I heard the performance overall was pretty good.

Last band we saw on Friday (and unfortunately for me, for the whole festival) was Pestillence, the dutch masters of death metal who reunited after 15 years and played their first concert in Oslo. On the scene they don’t look anything impressive since they don’t bother with outfits. Their main concern is their performance, and they managed to make the building jump. The mosh pit was incredible and the crowd was on fire when they performed old known songs like Chemo Therapy, Chronic Infection, Process of Suffocation. Of course, they also tried to promote their new album, _Resurrection Macabre, _but the crowd came mainly for their early stuff. I heard complaints about the vocal not living up to the performance of the previous one, but I think most of the complaints simply vanished when the concert ended with Out of the body.

I couldn’t attend the rest of the festival, but I heard that there were many more awesome performances. And what makes inferno an unforgettable experience is mainly the mood and the feeling you have among the fans of some of the most extreme genres of metal that sit together for a beer and have a great time. Looking forward for Inferno 2010 now.