HITS 2011 – Day 3 – USF Verftet
So this is it then? The Last Supper? Boys and girls, ladies and gents….it sucks more than Ozzy Osbourne’s spine that this to be the last time that we – the outcasts of all society – gather ourselves in a mess of hair and less than bright clothing.
Throughout it’s eleven year run Hole In The Sky established itself as one of the absolute best festival gatherings in the more extreme outskirts of the Metal world. Started as a tribute to a friend who had died in 1999, HITS grew to be more than most people ever imagined it would, especially considering the economic and geographical odds stacked against it by being way out on the west coast of Norway.
Credit goes to all the crew that they held on to the same ethical chalice in 2011 as they had done in 2000. It has become a case study in creative booking to see the line ups they have managed to compile, especially with a budget that would suffer the limitations of having no more than 1000 tickets to sell. Yet Hole In The Sky did it year after year.
It could well have been a sad occasion indeed only for….well, we had Hole In The Sky to take care of first…..after that we could mourn whatever it was we had to mourn. (Paul Kearns)
Photo: Stefan Raduta
The band that I looked forward to seeing, together with Marduk. I missed Marduk due to illness, but headed to USB Verftet to see Negative Plane kick off the last two days at the bigger venue of Hole In The Sky. What met me was three musicians surrounded by smoke. You could see them, but they could just as well have been statues. Not that it matters, since they are males and when males are performing their art, I’m more interested in the art than in the creators behind. Thinking of it, this also goes for female artists. Bullshit aside, Negative Plane did a gig that must’ve been some of their worst case scenario. The sound was horrible. If I didn’t now the music, I would probably have found something better to do. You could spot the guitars if you paid extra attention. And the bass sounded like thunder. Well, if I ever get a second chance I hope they play at a club like John Dee or one of those smaller venues which will suit their intricate music way more. Album 1 – live 0.
Photo: Stefan Raduta
So, Ghost? Opinion has become rather split of late and would we expect anything less? Time honoured tradition in our Heavy Metal world is the backlash against bands who make any sort of breakthrough. It’s nothing new. Question is though…are Ghost deserving of this criticism more than others? Some feel their coming outta nowhere into the spotlight makes them prime targets. Bottom line as far I can see is that the band released an album that, when you look past the image and the hype, is just really, really good. I mean, it is that simple. Contrived? planned? That’s a matter for further debate but it’s certain you don’t create this sort of album without this music having made a huge impact at some point. The show itself is very good. Like the album the wheel is not re-invented or anything and it is more or less just as you would expect it to be based on how the album is and that works just perfectly.The sound is crisp, clear and with just about enough punch to keep the uninitiated happy that Ghost are worthy of their spot at Hole In The Sky. In fact everything sounds…well, more or less perfect actually. The band employ the expected heads down approach whilst the Papa blesses us periodically whilst leading the sermon. A criticism? I suppose it is a bit too perfect, if that makes any sense? Although I am sure that the Papa is sweating like a public masturbator under that mask but on the surface some blood, sweat and good old fashioned Catholic torture would not go amiss. It is, however, a minor complaint with all things considered. The man from Delmonte, he say Yes. (Paul Kearns)
Photo: Stefan Raduta
What else to say than Nifelheim is fun to watch, their music is groovy and cool when they get a sound that does justice to their music, a Nifelheim gig is a necessary evil. Last time I saw them, in Strømstad, Sweden, the sound was horrible. No sound in the vocals. So, a greater performance at Hole In The Sky. Major fun…
Photo: Stefan Raduta
Primordial’s 2008 Hole In The Sky show was something special. Primordial and HITS are very suited actually – both have reached heights that defy most odds, both have had ‘success’ come to them rather than chasing it and both could be considered pillar stones of integrity and of doing what they do for all the right reasons in an age where that is far less common than it should be. Fitting then that the final instalment of this Bergen Metal Fest had these Irish heathens on board.Most will know through experience or through word of mouth that Primordial have a live reputation held in very high regard. What many might not have realised though is that this was just the second Primordial show (the first being Summer Breeze) after Bloodstock Open Air where singer Alan ‘Nemtheanga’ Averill lost his voice mid set and there was some concern about this maybe taking away some of the edge that makes this lot so remarkable in the live arena. However, this was a concern that soon went away as both he and the rest of the band delivered a monstrous set. Due to their songs being lengthy, there was time for a mere five tracks which left some folk visibly narked but sorta puts weight behind that old theory that leaving them wanting will see ’em come back for more. Anyway, I have gone to great lengths in the past putting praise to the Primordial live show and really find it hard to find another way get that point across, it is simply something that you have to experience if their sound is something that does or could appeal to you or even if you get a kick out of left of centre music in a live setting. What was note worthy were the subtle changes in the crowd and their reaction to Primordial this time around. In 2008 it was very much a case of, I felt, their show having quite a large portion of the audience being people who had recently become familiar with the band and were seeing them for the first time or of people who had had their curiosity raised enough to hang on to see what all the fuss was about. Either way, theirs was a performance greeted by seemingly close to unanimous approval plus a lot of surprise I felt. This time it felt like Primordial were playing to a room where the new converts were vastly outnumbered by the disciples. This time it felt less like a band on a mission to prove that the hype was justified and more like a band who feel that theirs is a name and reputation associated with something a wee bit more substantial than photshop, pro tools and posh band photos. Primordial on disc or on stage are a good example of what is ‘real’ in music and as cheesy as that sounds, it is that very element that makes the perfect encounter with them so other worldly. That was how Primordial were at the last ever Friday of Hole In The Sky and, like I said already, a fitting show for an event that will be missed. (Paul Kearns)
Photo: Monika Serafinska
I really, really do not like Godflesh. On album anyway and before today I had never seen them live. Justin Broadrick’s post Godflesh band Jesu were something far more interesting for me but regardless I have full respect for the man and his place in the annals of noisy music. I also thought and still think that booking Gosflesh was an excellent move on the part of Hole In The Sky, simply because it shows yet again that they are an absolute fucking cut above when it comes to vision and execution. I just wish I coulda dug the band too.I get that Godflesh should not be judged using the same criteria a feller would use with a band like Satyricon, for example. In fact Satyricon are a fantastic example to use in highlighting just how Godflesh are not. Where the Norwegians are all about building an image of how they want to be seen and putting themselves up high on a podium so there can be no confusing just who is is to do the worshipping and who is to be worshipped, the Brits are pretty much the opposite. Maybe even like the working class bogeymen…the recession that follows the bitterly cold autumn…you never saw it coming for it blends in so well to it’s surroundings but it is darker than your bedroom when the chubby girl you brought home is about to take off her clothes. I get it, I really do but it just did not work for me today. I don’t think it worked for most but I could be off the mark there. Perhaps in a setting where the vast majority of the audience were tuned to the same frequency and the disconnect would have been one that was mutual to both band and audience rather than, as I felt it was in Bergen, a disconnect between the band and audience from one another. I said I am not into Godflesh but I still believe that their live show with all elements in place could be something quite moving. Today was not it though. (Paul Kearns)
Photo: Stefan Raduta
One of the big four. Somewhat commercial success. You know what you get. And a few more tracks. The obvious "Hvitekrists Død". But also one from their debut, in this case "Walk The Path Of Sorrow". Nice. The sound was all fine, Satyr spits sentence by sentence in a true rock’n roll pattern. You know, follow the formula. All fine. But, why does he talk shit to the audience? I mean, if you really want to have an honest audience, then shut the fuck up and let the music do the talking. But after a while Satyr skipped the bullshite and flirted a bit with the audience, hailed Hole In The Sky and did what is expected of Satyricon. That everything seems so planned and calculated is negative to some, positive to others. I don’t care. They can headbang in tune as much as they want to. To me it’s the music, and Satyricon’s music is great most of the time. Those "Fuel For Hatred" and "K.I.N.G." tracks… Well, did I say Satyricon’s music is perfect?