Three years ago, rather than staying at home over Easter only to realise the bars shut early, we decided to travel to Norway to the annual Inferno Festival. Founded in 2001, the Festival has gone from strength to strength over the years, and 2017 sees 44 bands play in various venues around the city of Oslo during the Easter period; not to mention that bands and fans all stay together in the same hotel which has various heavy metal activities for all four days.
So, after a brief flight over from Ireland we dumped the cases at the hotel and headed out for the ‘club night’, but with 16 bands playing in four venues across the city, decisions had to be made. In the end we decided to head to Parkteatret to see Slidhr, and then to the Vulkan arena for Red Harvest and Borknagar.
I had heard great things about Slidhr, following Siege of Limerick two years ago, so was looking forward to them. The Parkteatert is the furthest away of all Inferno venues, and people were still arriving when Slidhr were well into their set. The 30 minute set was far too short in my opinion as the crowd was really only getting into the set two songs before the end. An extremely proficient black metal band with a combination of memorable guitar riffs and tight drums otherwise made this an excellent way to kick off my 2017 Inferno Festival.
Every time I mentioned that Red Harvest were playing Inferno, I was met with the same response, ‘Are they still going?’ Formed in 1989, the Norwegian’s were initially a thrash band but over the years have changed to an extreme industrial sound.
The Vulkan Arena was absolutely packed, with everyone clearly looking forward to seeing Red Harvest, as their live shows have been few and far between in the past few years. The set had a great mixture of tracks from the band’s back catalogue, and the changes from slower tracks such as “Sick Transit Gloria Mundi” to the blistering speed of “Mouth of Madness” kept the crowd engaged throughout the set. One the older tracks “Mekanizm” was absolutely superb, and the solid guitars during “Cold Dark Matter” and “Beyond the End” finished the set with a crushing finale.
Inferno was founded by Borknagar guitarist Jens Ryland in 2001 and the band were of course one of the first to play the Festival.
It seemed to take Borknagar a song or two get warmed up, but after the third track the band came into their own. The layering of clean vocals of ICS Vortex and Lars Nedland combined with Pål Mathiesen’s (a.k.a. Athera, covering live vocal duties – thanks to Erik Emilsson for pointing this out to us) low growl at times became chaotic, but still mesmerising. I am not a fan of the more progressive sounding tracks, however that is just my personal taste, but even I could see the depth and complexity of the song writing in these.
As Borknagar finished their set everyone was left fully prepared for the three main days of the festival that were left to come!
Photos by Exposing Shadows Photography