INFERNO FESTIVAL 2017 – Day three #1 – Rockefeller & John Dee

INFERNO FESTIVAL 2017 – Day three #1 – Rockefeller & John Dee

On a Saturday that theoretically makes people accept the existence of zombies, the metalheads gathered in the Norwegian capital have a last chance at extreme music and shows at Rockefeller and John Dee stages. Or even at a smaller stage like the one at Mono where a bunch of people gathered for a free concert of Golden Core – the Norwegian Stoner Machine formed by 2 young (under 15) kids from Ammerud in Oslo. They play guitar and drums and they’re simply fascinating live since it’s not an everyday sight that two kids deliver riffs of such intensity and with such skills and attitude. I hope they are at the beginning of a long and successful journey and will soon get to headline festivals where are other artists are 3 times older than them.

Rockefeller was rather full for 6PM on Saturday but the reason was easy to guess: Slagmaur promised utter madness on stage and I guess the hungover had to be really extreme for people to not show up. The promo video showed a bunch of guys jumping around on the side of a very tall building and it promised a live witch burning. The first visual once the curtains were pulled apart was that of a gigantic inverted cross hanging in between two persons, each standing on a tall table and having a hangman noose around their neck. And then the band members with faces covered in different masks: a gasmask, a pig-head mask, a white mask with the American flag painted on it and a plague doctor black and long nose mask. There were surely plenty of details to keep you busy. With a musical background that can make you understand what madness feels like, with its neverending repetitions that slowly but surely build up to a massive and psychedelic soundtrack to accompany the visuals. An extra guy was playing the role of the priest and when indicated by the band members he would walk to each of the two condemned souls, push away their table and get them hanged. After the few seconds fight for the last breath would end, the corpse would just hang there and be kicked in all directions to add up to the horror of the show. One negative side comment though – the priest could have had the inspiration of wearing darker colored jeans.

SLAGMAUR live @ Inferno Festival 2017
(Photo: Kenneth Sporsheim/Metal Hammer Norway)

After they got rid of the swinging bodies, the band performed their last act of madness, during which the cross was lowered down and a – hopefully – well trained stuntman/witch was placed on it and it all got lifted back up. Someone set him on fire and I must admit that the next seconds were filled of one of the most intense mixture of feelings I ever got from watching a show. Without getting sick, my stomach cringed strongly. My thoughts varied between ‘WOW’, ‘WOW’…and more ‘WOW’ and then ‘it must take some balls to accept being on that cross’. And it must surely take some balls to stay there and continue playing. Or stay there with the fire extinguishers and wait til the last moment. A moment that got quite delayed. I guess we were all expecting a 2-3 seconds of burning, but this went on for what it felt more like 30. I think I wasn’t the only person who froze in place. Even one of the people who was supposed to pull back the curtain was so captivated that she just stood there holding the curtain and allowing us to watch the ending and to get the feeling of relief when the stunt man nodded he’s ok. The www must be already having videos of the event so you’d better just watch it, since it’s really beyond words to describe more than what I managed here.

Due the strong impressions and the need to unwind in a little gossip, I skipped Zhrine at John Dee (John Dee had a nice Icelandic offering for the whole day and I feel bad for missing 2 of them already). It was also a good time for a last stroll through the merch stands with tshirts, belts, jewelry, materials to support the Metalheads against bullying project or the one where you could get info and tickets for the Midgarsblot festival. And then get back to Rockefeller and get ready for a dose of Irish extreme metal from Primordial. 30 years and still going strong as they still manage to release all their demons during the live shows. A personal favorite on this show was that, at least form where I was standing, the sound was finally giving right of way to the powerful vocals and I could finally appreciate Alan’s skills at being both a fantastic frontman but also at singing with such power.

The good mix of black metal and Irish tunes and stories made the time fly really fast and soon it was time for the 3rd Icelandic act of the evening, Kontinuum. I did enjoy hearing their albums and was a bit surprised to see them on the bill of an extreme metal festival. Even the band stated on stage that they were the only progressive ones around and I ended up joking with my friends that it was nice to finally hear some music. It was a cozy music, with an air of mystery and elegance which reveals a lot of skills in composing on so many layers and in almost different directions at the same time. I guess you could see that they were the outsiders of the festival since for once you could actually enter and exit the venue without fighting your way through.

BELPHEGOR live @ Inferno Festival 2017
(Photo: Stig Pallesen)

Back to more mean sounds, made by the Austrians in Belphegor who turned the stage and the venue into an incense stinky place, so I was quite glad we ended up on the top balcony, next to the exit. I think they also used some impaled ribs to decorate the side of the stage, besides the horned heads displayed on each side of the singer. But after Slagmaur…none of such visuals had any charm anymore. The band is extremely tight though, as each time I watched them live. A cascade of riffs and blast beats executed with precision and with short breaks in between songs to ensure everyone is hailing for the dark lord, the Austrians deliver a clockwork concert that could lead to a lot of neck pain afterwards.

Last Icelandic band on John Dee were the local black metal gods – according to some reviews – Svartidauði. Formed in 2002 and with only one album released up to date (the rest are EPs), the Reykjavik based band has gained quite a name in the black metal scene and they are often invited to play at festivals along the very big names of the genre. They leveled the litte John Dee stage with a tenacity that might have been better appreciated during the earlier days of the festival. I was too tired to enjoy at full pace the otherworldly and almost disturbing tunes so I did not stay the whole concert.

This meant a rather long idle time waiting for the last act on the main stage and making mental bets whether he would show up or not, as Abbath has already cancelled an interview announced for Friday at the festival’s hotel, Scandic. To everyone’s relief, he actually started on time and after a long boring instrumental intro, he came on stage alone with a torch and offered a little flame spitting show, which made a good first impression. It also left a lot of petroleum spots on the stage, which added some extra activity from the roadie who was trying to clean them without disrupting the show, without much success at that. I must admit I find it impressive that you breathe fire and then you start performing a metal show, which is supposed to last for at least 60 minutes. More about this supposition later.

ABBATH live @ Inferno Festival 2017
(Photo: Stig Pallesen)

It all started promising, lots of power and intensity in the music, good light show (a bit exaggerated with the ‘travelling’ spotlights around the raven-banners on each side of the drumkit). And then Abbath opened his mouth between songs and all the intensity was reset to 0 or below. The fast ‘Abbath’, ‘Abbath’ jokes were fun only the first time I watched him. And then only once or twice. But well, that’s how one choses to be on stage and I can only respect that and not like it. As usual, the Abbath live show consists of his newer compositions and old Immortal songs that really excite the fans and make the atmosphere more intense. Something seemed a bit off though, and thinking it is maybe just the tiredness I found my way out after the first 4 or 5 songs. But on the way out I noticed a long break, a drum solo and then even more silence on the stage. And as I got home I read that the rest of the show got cancelled and an official statement will be made by the band sooner or later. So keep an eye on the social medias to find out whether there’s still an Abbath to be or that’s about it.

This was all for Inferno 2017, an edition with a good mix of everything, with probably a hard to beat record of a horror live show and a very disappointing ending. And a very abusive use of strobes at John Dee. (luckily the two bands I watched on Saturday had less of that). Until Inferno 2018, tye tye!