Inferno Festival Day 4, April 4th 2015
Photos by Eivind Nakken.
In the months leading up to this year’s festival, the Inferno management arranged a contest where fans could vote for a band. The winner would earn an opening spot on the last day of the festival, at the ungodly hour of 05:30 in the afternoon. Making the most of their early performance, the winners were Swedish black/thrash terror cell IXXI. It’s hardly surprising that the somewhat sparse crowd is full of tired faces, but the band does their best to inspire a proper response. It’s a shame that the sound-guy seems to be asleep behind the mixing board, resulting in the band’s twin guitars being drowned out by the drums. In spite of the unfavorable conditions, however, IXXI put on a good concert in their scarcely 30 minutes of show time. With a longer set and audible guitars this could have been brilliant, but such is life.
After turning up early to catch IXXI, we retreat for a while to socialize and recuperate. Some hours later, we return to John Dee to the sound of a pompous voiceover introducing Slagmaur. A particularly weird take on Norwegian black metal, this esoteric group have carefully cultivated a patently ridiculous image. From the band’s name (meaning “battle ant”) to their Halloween-mask stage attire, it would be impossible to take Slagmaur seriously if not for the quality of their music. Their slightly experimental hypnotic rhythms are mesmerizing, if not outright depressive in their repetitious droning. It’s a mind-bending experience, and a proper treat to see one of the band’s very rare live performances. Add another band to the “theatrically excellent”-pile, then.
It’s only been two weeks since Dødheimsgard released their newest album A Umbra Omega, and already it is being lauded as a classic in some circles. The relative freshness of the record means that the somewhat thinly spread audience at Rockefeller haven’t quite had time to familiarize themselves, creating a somewhat odd atmosphere. When the band proceeds to play a few lengthy numbers from the new album, the flabbergasted crowd simply doesn’t know quite how to react. Having stripped away some of the theatrics that used to characterize their performances, this incarnation of the band signifies a change in both visual and sonic style. It’s a rather bare-boned affair, but the band is well served by letting the frankly brilliant music speak for itself. Of course, they also make time for some classics, and particularly fan-favorite “Traces Of Reality” gets more traditional reaction from the attendees. It seem like 2015 is already set to be the year of Dødheimsgard.
Subtlety and low-key performances does not figure into the vocabulary of Italian proto-black metal legends Mortuary Drape. A visibly boozed up audience is teeming with anticipation as the cloaked veterans take the stage, launching straight into a furious whiplash of old school heavy metal wrapped in a black metal shroud. The sole original member Wildness Perversion is an enchanting frontman, riling up the crowd into chanting along while belting out shrill whiskey-soaked lyrics. Despite standing like fish in a barrel, a few fans even proceed to kick up a moshpit as the band rages on. In short, the oldest-standing group of the festival also prove themselves the greatest live band, and putting on a fantastic performance that is sure to be remembered as a Inferno highlight.
As the night falls over Oslo, it is time for the final slaughter of this year’s festival. The task falls on Swedish death metal supergroup extraordinaire Bloodbath. With a new album and a controversial new singer, Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes, behind the mic, the booming roar of the audience proves that nobody here have lost faith in the band. They put on a brutal show, showcasing new and old material in equal measures, with Holmes being jokingly apologetic for not being former vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt. It’s a crushing sendoff for a great extended weekend, and it’s time to scurry away to some form of afterparty, or perhaps a comfortable bed. See you next Easter!
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