One of the best things about Inferno is the official festival hotel. This year everyone from fans to bands were staying in the Scandic St Olav’s Plass, and the hotel had made a fantastic effort for the festival with flaming torches at the entrance, and personalised Inferno drink and food menus. During the day there are also various activities on in the hotel meaning you get the full Inferno experience 24/7.
On the Thursday we headed to the metal auction that had items such as a first pressing of Mayhem’s Dawn of the Black Hearts, an Inferno photo book and a T-shirt signed by Borknagar. After that we headed to the hotel’s own cinema to watch Once Upon a Time in Norway, the story of Mayhem.
Suitably rested we headed to Rockafeller, the main venue for the festival for another night of quality extreme metal.
Norway’s Viking metal band Helheim emerged onto the Rockefeller stage to an intense intro of horns and tribal drums. This then switched to a clean guitar intro, softer than expected after such an introduction. The thumping 4/4 drum beat of the first track had lots of heads bobbing in the crowd. Helheim’s subtle but effective use of background animations added to the atmospheric performance. The duel chanting of H’grimnir and V’gandr over the top of a guitar solo resulted in a haunting Viking anthem.
Let me continue by making a confession, I was not the biggest Venom fan in the world. Shocking I know, but Venom Inc were up next and I couldn’t not watch this classic black metal band. Venom Inc is made up of Mantas on guitar, Abaddon on drums and Demolition Man, Tony Dolan, on bass and vocals.
From the second they hit the stage, I was hooked, I actually couldn’t wait to get out of the photo pit to start cheering and head banging with the rest of the crowd. Venom Inc were absolutely relentless in their delivery of tracks like “Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)”, “Don’t Burn the Witch”, “Welcome to Hell” and “Poison”. A packed Rockefeller chanted “Venom!” every chance they got and Abaddon behind the drum kit was absolutely loving it. “Blackened are the Priests” was the highlight and has now converted me. Anyone who says that Cronos is Venom is wrong, Venom Inc were absolutely superb.
Professing my new love for Venom Inc we headed downstairs to the smaller venue, John Dee, to see Polish death metal band, Azarath. With Zbigniew ‘Inferno’ Promiński also of Behemoth behind the skins, it was no wonder that the vibration of the drums seemed to shake the entire venue. Azarath played a varied set with older tracks such as “Sacrifice of Blood” mixed with songs from their new album, such as “At the Gates of Understanding”. At times the vocals and guitars were a little lost amidst the thundering bass and drums but it didn’t stop an enthusiastic crowd in John Dee enjoying thirty minutes of brutal death metal.
I have seen Carcass a lot. Some shows have been good, some not so good, but nostalgia for the first band that got me into more extreme metal keeps me coming back for more. This was to be one of the great shows. Bill Steer was particularly animated tonight, and really seemed to be enjoying himself. His backing vocals on some of the earlier tracks were fantastic, and despite Jeff Walker apologising at the start for having a sore mouth and therefore being unable to sing, he too was on top form tonight.
The classics such as “No Love Lost” and “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” received a fantastic response from the crowd and Carcass even threw in “Rotting in the Free World”. Jeff’s crowd banter was kept to a minimum, but was delivered with his usual dry wit as just before “Heartwork” he said “If we had played this at the start you all would have left”. He also made bemused drummer Daniel Wilding perform an impromptu drum solo. Daniel rose the challenge with Jeff laughing at the side of the stage. Overall one of the best times I have seen Carcass live, but Venom Inc were still my band of the night.
Photos by Exposing Shadows Photography