Yesterday the weather in Halden was pretty “British”; cloudy, a bit rainy and a bit sunny. Today there was a thunderstorm brewing, so myself and my fellow photographers arrived in the press room equipped with plastic bags of various descriptions in an attempt to keep our pricey gear dry in the event of rain.
With the sky a deep and scary grey/blue I headed to the tent stage to see the first band of the day; Sibiir from Oslo, who brought their hardcore-infused metal to the fortress. The band gave everything to their performance and were full of energy; bouncing around every inch of the stage. Their groovy riffs drew the weary from their tents nearby and throughout their set the tent steadily filled with sleepy metal-heads ready to begin a second day of partying. Sibiir mix elements technical metal and hardcore with thrash and groove metal to create wonderfully head-bangable tunes.
First on the main stage were Swedish rock n roll band Imperial State Electric. Lead singer Nicke Andersson (from The Hellacopters) had a Jagger-esque vibe to him as he moved and grooved with his guitar whilst delivering his vocals. The band had a great old-school rock n’ roll vibe that kept the crowd entertained despite the threatening rain clouds closing in.
Next I headed back to the tent stage to catch Carach Angren from The Netherlands. The last time I saw them live, supporting Fleshgod Apocalypse at The Underworld in January 2017, I really enjoyed their horror metal show, and I was looking forward to seeing them on a slightly larger stage. You have to admire the dedication and skill displayed in the corpse paint of Carach Angren, particularly that of vocalist Seregor – contouring that any makeup lover would be jealous of! Not only are the band visually engaging, their innovative symphonic black / horror metal is brilliant and their set was a delight to witness. As I left the photopit I noticed that the tent was bursting with people. I also noticed that the heavens had opened. F*ck – I have to go out in this.
I put up my hood, tucked my camera under my jacket and made my way to the main stage for another Dutch band: Epica. At this point, it was really hammering it down with rain, but I really wanted to shoot this band into the photo pit I went. Despite the awful weather there were a fair few die-hard fans lined up at the barrier as Epica took to the stage to damp but enthusiastic applause. I saw Epica for the first time back in April and I enjoyed symphonic / progressive metal. Vocalist Simone Simons looked a little chilly dressed up tightly in a black coat, but that didn’t prevent her from twirling her flame-red hair and putting on a wonderful vocal performance. Despite our best precautions, as myself and my fellow photographers pointed our cameras up to the stage rain inevitably began to get where it shouldn’t, so the majority of us beat a hasty retreat after just one song. Listening in from the press room however, I could her the rest of Epica’s set and it sounded brilliant – the band clearly wanted to give it their all for the dedicated fans who braved the wind and the rain to watch their set.
The rain eventually subsided enough for me to venture outside and I headed back to the main stage to photograph Abbath – some say the most charismatic leading man in Norwegian metal. They were not wrong. Despite the painted face and the black metal sound coming from the stage, there was also a definite streak of humor to the band’s performance, with their leader regularly sticking out his tongue to fans and photographers, and shuffling across the stage like a crab at various points throughout their set. After my allotted three songs in the photo pit I made my way to meet some friends and enjoy some craft beer from a local brewery, and as we stood watching the rest of Abbath’s set the sun suddenly came out – finally!
Next, I headed back to the tent stage to check out Witchcraft from Sweden. With a name like Witchcraft I was half expecting a black metal or folk band, but these guys were heavy rock through and through. Apparently, the band haven’t played live for a few years, but you couldn’t tell as their set was brilliant and drew a big crowd keen to enjoy some psychedelic and catchy hard rock.
Shortly before Alice In Chains took to the stage we were informed that they were not allowing any photographers into the photo pit for their set. A few of us tried our luck taking some shots from the crowd, but without a large lens I wasn’t getting very far so retreated back to the craft beer stall to watch their performance. While I have certainly heard the name Alice In Chains, I have to confess that I wasn’t familiar with their music. I did enjoy it however; a mix of rock, alternative and grunge with some catchy choruses and groovy riffs. Vocalist William DuVall was very animated and bounced and posed all over the stage. The band seemed really popular with the crowd, and at one point I saw someone crowd-surf over the barrier whilst holding a pink balloon… which I found strangely impressive and beautiful!
The other bands playing day two of the festival who I didn’t have time to photograph were Malignant Eternal (black / industrial metal from Norway), Gothminister (electro / gothic / industrial metal from Norway), At The Gates (death metal from Sweden), Ragnarok (Norwegian black metal), Marduk (Swedish black metal), W.A.S.P. (American heavy metal), and Gåte (Norwegian folk rock mixed with metal and electronica).
Photos by Katie Frost Photography