APRIL 18 - 21st 2019 
INFERNO METAL FESTIVAL
 

Review/Photos By: Char Tupper

Inferno Music Conference Photos:
http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/inferno-music-conference-2019/

Inferno Festival Day 1: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/inferno-metal-festival-day-1/
Inferno Festival Day 2: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/inferno-metal-festival-day-2/
Inferno Festival Day 3: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/inferno-metal-festival-day-3/
Inferno Festival Day 4: http://www.metaltitans.com/concertpics/inferno-metal-festival-day-4/

Oslo is the capital of Norway, a unique, modern city filled with old architecture, but abstract style built into it. The town is rich with history of Christianity, Vikings, and everything in-between.  One thing you may not see in the city full of museums, is how Black metal music has impacted the trades business of this country, and how it is the leading export in Norway for 25 years. The black metal scene, whether Norwegian or not, is a way of life, it is a culture unlike any other metal genre, it has a legion of die-hard fans that live and breathe this music day in, day out. The Inferno Music Festival is one of those key festivals, that truly highlights this style, from both around the world, but also proudly showcasing the music that has helped support this country for years. This is the 19th Inferno Festival, and it has a wide variety of bands from Norway’s own Dimmu Borgir, to the Melodic Death metal Swede’s, Hypocrisy; dipping into the diversity with America’s death metallers, The Black Dahlia Murder, to Sweden’s progressive legends, Opeth. This festival did not fall short, it had a selection of bands for every extreme music fan, I truly enjoyed myself day after day, but let me tell you more about it, and you will see, you need to attend this festival if these genres are your heart and soul.

Inferno Festival doesn’t only have band performances at night, they have the Inferno Music Conference, which has numerous different events happening during the day, from seminars, exhibits, beer tastings, even drum and guitar clinics. The conference had a lot to offer from both the business side, like managers and photographers, but also offered helpful tips for bands starting out in the scene and trying to establish themselves. The conference ran from the 18th to the 21st from 11am – 4pm, which gave fans 30min to get from the host hotel, Clarion Hub, where the conference was held, to the concert venue Rockefeller, which was a 5-minute walk from the hotel. That was extremely convenient, no paying for cab fares, taking buses or trains, saved on my expenses. This festival has loads to offer, whether it’s the seminars and clinics, or the band performances, there was literally something for everyone, no matter why you are at Inferno.

I had arrived in Norway a few days ahead of the festival, for both my own vacation purpose, but also time to adjust to being 9 hours ahead, and let me tell you, I highly recommend it! The first day had some highlights for me, for the conference events, I enjoyed looking into metal music from China, which I do sympathize with a country that is slower in musical evolution, especially for the extreme music scene. China didn’t see any real metal trends start to form until 1996, which for most of us, metal and rock has been around since easily, the early 80’s, late 70’s. Most bands that form in China, sadly still have a regular day job due to the low revenue they earn in the business on their end.  It made me appreciate how much effort bands make from China, because it makes you see, that these bands are clearly devoted and passionate musicians over “money hungry” bands from certain parts of the world, where success comes easily, with minimal effort.  Another conference event I found interesting was a seminar about Metal Music Promotion, and how social media, used properly, can boost your band’s success. I found numerous points that speaker (Matt Bacon) made, were extremely on point, and how if you are simply posting for “post volume”, doesn’t necessarily mean you will earn more likes. If you post with the thought “If I were to see this post, would I care about it?”, with that logic in mind, if you post quality over quantity, your page will be more established and have a better success rate with genuine followers as well. Later in the afternoon, shortly before doors, Silenoz of Dimmu Borgir did an interview with Jernverket, Norway’s #1 podcast for all hard rock. It was an interesting discussion about the band’s history, their latest record, “Eonian”, and various other discussions followed by a Q&A with the audience. Now onto the performances, which the venue has two stages within the main venue, there is John Dee, a small bar like stage, very low roof, small space, I wasn’t a big fan of this stage as both a fan, and photographer. It was a dark and cramped atmosphere, which was great for that “small show” feel, but that isn’t my cup of tea. The main bands I had travelled thousands of miles to see, fortunately, were all on the Rockefeller stage, which was a much larger room with a lot of space. It had great lighting, for my photography side, but as a fan, there were a lot of options for which view you wanted, whether that was upstairs on the balcony level 1 or 2, or the main floor front and centre, I loved the venue variety.  All 4 days of the festival had 9+ bands perform, and the first performance I looked forward to was Aura Noir, from Norway. This trio formed in 1993, frustrated with the ways the music scene in Norway was changing, so they returned to the basics without over production, no keyboards, simply guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. They put on a pretty great show; the audience was thrilled to see them perform their raw, aggressive sound. The night had various acts like The Black Dahlia Murder, Witchcraft, and various others. The main highlight, however, was none other then Dimmu Borgir, it had been 9 years since I saw Dimmu Borgir on their headlining North America tour in 2010. They put on a phenomenal show, playing songs off their new record, like ‘Interdimensional Summit’, but also playing classics like ‘Mourning Palace’, which even featured their drummer from the Enthrone Darkness Triumphant record, Tjodalv. The audience really enjoyed seeing Dimmu Borgir with all the fire and pyro, constant cheers, horns in the air, you name it.  When asked to sing or chant, the audience was 110% committed and enthusiastic with participating (which is more then I can say back home for a lot of shows). The performances from all the bands were great, and it made me anxious for the days to come.

Some key highlights for myself for day 2 were a mix of both the conference and the performances of course, but for the conference mainly I enjoyed 2 major events, the first was “Herding Cats 101”, there was a lot of well made points about how this industry, due to the needs of “acceptance” on social media, and posting your laminates or all access passes online, how easy it is for people all over the world to see this, make fake passes, and put you and your crew/band at serious risk of theft or even your safety. They taught us that being invited on the bus is a kind gesture, don’t take advantage and start taking photos of them “in their home on wheels”, it is an invasion of privacy, and you need to respect that, no matter what. I firmly agree with these beliefs, because the world is a different place then it was 10 years ago, your actions could cause serious harm and risks that are not worth taking. Think before you act, it’s that simple. I also thoroughly enjoyed Ester Segarra, she showcased a sample of her new photography book, “Ars Umbra: The Art of Ester Segarra”, and the wide variety of images she has taken over the past 15 years of her career in photography. She truly has an eye for photography, and she captures the essence of a band, their atmosphere, their persona, it is phenomenal work. Her various portraits ranging from Erik of Watain, Gaahl, or Nergal of Behemoth, all the images pour out their souls, whether in their stance, or simply their gaze, all excellent skills Ester has in her art, and it is breath taking art. Tonight, there was a third stage, Kniven Bar, which was a couple blocks from the venue, I personally didn’t experience the bar venue, since I liked the idea of staying behind and getting a good spot photo wise for the main stage since we were limited to 1 song in the photo pit, and unless your songs are 10+ minutes, that doesn’t give us much time to get the shots we want from the pit location.  First band I was excited to witness was Tribulation, yes, I have seen them a few times in North America, but this time was a different experience. More stage presence, more atmosphere, more enthusiasm from the crowd and onstage. Their set overall, was phenomenal to see as both a photographer and fan of the band. MGŁA was a unique experience tonight, I hadn’t seen them perform before, and visually, not entirely unique with black hoods over their faces, but the crowd was excited for these guys. Musically, they weren’t my favorite, but, they put on a pretty great set and to take photos, a breeze with bright white and blue lights, which makes my job easy!  Now my #1 band tonight was none other then Hypocrisy, I really enjoy this band, and with a new record this year, I couldn’t be more excited to see Hypocrisy twice within a short period of time (within 1 week to be precise). Hypocrisy had the full works at Inferno Festival though, with the full backdrop, drum riser that illuminated “hypocrisy” underneath the inverted cross metal logos, and bright lights to see the band crystal clear. It was an amazing show, very similar setlist to when I saw them home in Vancouver, but the crowd was beyond amazing, they had a huge response here in Norway, lots of crowd surfing and moshing, great to see for such an awesome band.

Well, we are now at the halfway point of the festival, and it already feels like it has flown by. Today was the more mellow day of the festival for me, where I didn’t have a lot of bands to look forward to, and the conference events were on the lighter side, only 2 main events. The events were in fact the clinics, the drum clinic with Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth, and guitar clinic Fredrik Åkesson of Opeth. The events were very different, like night and day. I don’t play an instrument but watching Dirk and his passion for the drums and how skilled he is, to put it simply, “WOW!” He is an amazing musician who has grown a long way since his days in Soilwork, recently joining forces with Megadeth. My thoughts on Fredrik, well, he is a phenomenal guitar player, and suits the likes of Opeth extremely well. That being said, however, I feel like his clinic was very slow paced, and he had partied to celebrate Mikael’s birthday the night before, which , fair enough, but he definitely in my opinion, did not give his paying fans, 100%, it could have gone better. The headlining performance tonight was Bloodbath, which I was looking forward to, since they were supposed to come to Vancouver in 2018, but sadly due to visa issues, the show had to be cancelled, so it was exciting to know I was finally going to cross them off my list. Honestly, after about 2 songs, I wasn’t all that impressed, I may have had too high of expectations, but they didn’t move around very much, and they had this “bored stare” expressions for most of the night, I actually went back to my hotel early, caught up on much needed sleep. Gaahls WYRD, however, now there is a band I unexpectedly liked more then I expected. Photography wise, I was looking forward to getting cool shots of Gaahl, since his chances sadly of coming to North America, are very low, and this was my chance to get shots of him performing, which the shots I was extremely happy with bright white settings, to see his makeup in full and see all his band behind him clear as day. Musically, this isn’t usually my area, but I stayed for their whole set and enjoyed every minute of it, and so did the audience. Gaahls WYRD truly captures the essence and atmosphere of black metal, phenomenal show, I recommend seeing them if they come to a city near you.

The final day, it felt like only yesterday, and I was walking into the festival to start the photo metal madness, and now, it was the last day to see friends, have drinks, and take photos of unique, extreme metal bands in Norway! Before the concert, Satyr of Satyricon hosted a wine tasting for his infamous, Wongraven wine at the host hotel, Clarion – The Hub. The event was almost sold out, filling a conference room with hundreds of people, ready to taste wine, and enjoy the stories behind each wine with Satyr himself. He showcased 4 different selections of wine to taste, including one champagne. It was quite the experience, I don’t think I will ever have another experience like this, since metal isn’t known for its wine, more so it’s beer, so was cool to take part in something like this for a chance of scenery. It was great to see Satyr as well afterwards, not just leave, but stay and talk with fans; talk music, wine, and take photos with people., it was a nice change of pace compared to some events at the NAMM convention, where it is impersonal and no interaction. Performances wise, I thoroughly enjoyed both Carach Angren and 1349 the most. Slightly biased that Carach Angren is my favorite band, musically amazing both live and on record, I always make a point of seeing multiple shows when they tour North America. This time, however, would be unlike any other time I had seen them, because in Europe only, they have huge stage risers that Ardek and The Butcher stand on and it raises them a few feet into the air above Seregor and Namtar. The risers were made by Namtar himself, and I will say, he has some serious skill, that was the coolest thing to see, it created such an epic look to their stage presence. I will have to make sure any other time I return to Europe, Carach Angren is on my agenda! Risers aside, the band put on a killer show with great energy, a little on the dark side photo wise, but my heart and soul were happy, and yes, photos matter to me a lot, but when it comes to my favorite bands, it is nice to sit back and enjoy them, and I truly did tonight. 1349 would have to be my next highlight, simply for the fact that to take photos, they were so much fun to photograph with all the fire! So much fire that photographers didn’t get to go in the photo pit due to all the pyro. They put on a great set as well, full of energy and the crowd was energetic to see these guys perform. Frost came out from behind the drums later in the set and spat fire over the crowd, which the audience went insane for, they loved it.  The fire cannons were everywhere blowing upwards in front of the band, then there were candles and fire torches lit all around the stage, it was true Hell fire. Did I mention there was fire? It may have sound like overkill, but visually, it was stunning.  Opeth was the headliner for the final night, and honestly, I have never liked Opeth. I like a few tracks off a record of theirs here and there, but to sit through their whole set, let’s just say after capturing some stills, I kicked back and had drinks with friends near the back to enjoy from a distance and relax.  They had a large red curtain, draped behind them, almost like an old vintage theatre look, which added a unique look to the band’s performance. The crowd, however, didn’t feel the same as I did, and they had a lot of energy left for these guys, cheering and horns all around me. They were, in my opinion, kind of a mellow band to end the festival with, but the crowd clearly didn’t feel the same way and loved having Opeth close out the festival.

That is all she wrote; it was such a life changing experience to go overseas and finally attend a metal festival on European shores. Norway alone, is a beautiful country to go see, it has beautiful fjords, the northern lights, museums, trolls, and an opportunity to take in its diverse history. Throw in a metal festival on top of it all, just adds to the adventure in a whole new way. I want to thank Inferno Festival for welcoming MetalTitans to partake as media at this amazing festival, I felt extremely welcomed by the staff, they were all helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable, which made getting my accreditation and picking up passes very easy, thanks to the amazing staff, so a huge thanks to you all! It was such a fun concert from a fan perspective, but from a photography one, there is a thing or two I may have changed (more than 1 song in the photo pit preferably), but overall a wonderful experience that has given me thousands of new memories, to cherish forever. I truly hope to embark to Norway again for the 20th anniversary of the mighty Inferno Festival 2020, and I hope you too, make the journey, it is worth every penny.

 

 

Inferno Metal Festival Website: https://www.infernofestival.net/no/Festival/News.aspx
**check the website for updated information for 2020**