My second day of Inferno started with a trip to the Kniven bar at 1430 for Psykopath and Sepulcher who were playing during the afternoon prior to the main festival. I made my way to the venue and descended the stairs to the basement where the bands were to play. It was an intimate venue (in other words tiny!) and the stage was virtually non existent. The room was packed as Bergen’s Psykopath took to the stage and unleashed their loud and aggressive thrash to a wall of flailing hair. By the time their set was brought to a close with ‘Armageddon’ the hangovers had been blown away and the thrashers were well and truly warmed up.
After a short turnaround, Fusa’s Sepulcher picked up the baton adding a dash of death to the thrash onslaught. The room was absolutely rammed and it became almost impossible to move around or get to the bar, so I stayed put and soaked up the barrage. They were perhaps a little more pummelling than Psykopath and the headbangers down the front lapped it up.
All too soon, it was time to make my way to Rockefeller for the opening band of the day at the main venue. There was a slight delay starting due to issues setting up the pyros, but once the Norwegian beasts Ragnarok were let out of the cage they were devastating. Set amongst a raging inferno tracks such as ‘In Nomine Satanas’ were completely uncompromising, giving a stark wake up call to those arriving late. Perhaps the highlight of the set came when Hoest joined the band for an aggressive rendition of ‘Blackdoor Miracle’ completing a fitting 25th anniversary celebration.
Downstairs in John Dee, Superlynx’s velvety doom floated around the room in complete contrast to the vicious assault that preceded it. ‘Vapour’ and ‘Hex’ worked well in tandem captivating the crowd. While not completely full, the room was reasonably busy giving the Oslo based trio a good reception at their first Inferno. As the set was brought to a close with ‘Breath’ and ‘Center’ I reflected that although I can’t get Superlyx to “click” with me when listening to their studio releases, live they are a completely different proposition and I thoroughly enjoyed their set.
However, there was no time to dwell as Sweden’s Tribulation were about to make their return to Inferno festival, having justifiably graduated from the John Dee stage (2010) to the main stage this year. Incense burners helped set the atmosphere as their goth tinged melodic metal filled the room. The band looked like ghouls under subdued lighting, as the flamboyant guitarists danced around the stage looking to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. ‘Melancholia’ and ‘The Motherhood of God’ got the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands and the set went by in the blink of an eye.
Upon arriving in John Dee again, the curtain was across the stage (which seems to be the norm in Norway), but through a gap at the side it was possible to see Caronte’s vocalist Dorian performing a ritual in front of their altar. Once the curtains went back this carried on briefly and he returned to this on several occasions during their magick ritual. The packed crowd were entranced by the dense shamanic doom and despite the room becoming unbearably hot, the crowd persevered to the end.
Swedish death metal legends Vomitory brought some brutality to the evening next, and I was particularly looking forward to catching them live for the first time. As expected they brought a no nonsense set of pounding death metal sparking a decent pit with monsters such as ‘Ripe Cadavers’, ‘Madness Prevails’ and ‘Perdition’. I am glad they made the decision to re-band for more shows and am grateful for the chance to have been battered by them!
Skogen were one of the bands I was most looking forward to at the festival, and judging by how full John Dee was, I don’t think I was the only one. Opening with ‘Grifte’ and ‘När Solen’, the crowd were won over by the Swede’s atmospheric black metal as the more aggressive sections effortlessly rubbed shoulders with more subtle passages of sweeping melody. The set was brought to a close with ‘I Döden’, leaving me wanting more, but as always there was no time to waste as I knew the Rockefeller would be full to capacity for the next band.
Polish enigma Mgła had pulled a capacity crowd into the Rockefeller venue and there was a buzz of anticipation for their set. Given the degree of their popularity it is hard to remember that they played the John Dee room at the festival in 2014, although even then they were one of the bands of festival. Taking to the relatively sparse stage in traditional full face balaclavas and leather jackets they let the music speak for itself, delivering a masterclass in modern day black metal through tracks such as ‘Groza III’ and ‘With Heart’s Towards None I’. The crowd absolutely loved it and every possible vantage point was taken. Things were brought to a close with ‘Exercises in Futility VI’ and ‘Exercises in Futility V’ and as far as I could tell, every single person in attendance was blown away.
Once again John Dee was bursting at the seams, this time for The Ruins of Beverast. Playing in subdued lighting they wasted no time creating a dense, oppressive atmosphere with their doom tinged, ambient black metal. Although the speed and aggression was less than other bands on the bill, this was no less intense or captivating. They may not have been to everyone’s taste, and they are not an easy listen but this was an impressive performance.
And so it fell to Peter Tägtgren and Hypocrisy to close the day with the first ever performance at Inferno. They will need no introduction to anyone who has read this far into the review and there was a palpable excitement in the air as the sold out crowd crammed into the venue desperate for vantage points.
Taking to an impressive stage set up, the band kicked off with ’Fractured Millennium’ and from the outset there was no doubt that this was going to be a special set with the band completely on form and the crowd completely into it. ‘End of Disclosure’ and ‘Eraser’ came early on building the momentum as the Swedish melodic death metal had heads banging from front to back. There was no let up as ‘Fire in the Sky’ and ‘Killing Art’ flew by until the main portion of the set was brought to a close with ‘The Final Chapter’. Of course, this was not the end and the inevitable ‘Roswell 47’ followed finishing the set on a high.
This had been an awesome day from start to finish and I headed back to the hotel exhausted and looking forward to day three.
Review and photos Andy Pountney