Inferno Metal Festival is one of my highlights of the year and this year the festivities were extended by a day as Indie Recordings ran a label night (as they did last year) the night before the festival started showcasing Diabolical, The New Death Cult and Posthum.

So, with my ears still ringing from Jungle Rot the night before, I set my alarm, headed to the airport and made my way to Oslo a day early. Once I had checked in to the hotel, grabbed some food and a beer I headed down to the relatively new Vaterland venue. There I met up with friends from previous years’ festivals and joined the huge scrum to get inside. Once in, there was another queue to get from the main bar area to the actual venue upstairs. I eventually managed to get in, but I was one of the lucky ones as shortly after I understand it became one out, one in.

The area at the front of the room was packed as Posthum took to the very low (virtually non existent) stage bathed in red light, launching into ‘Demon Black Skies’ followed by new track ‘Like Wildfire’. The crowd at the front were enthusiastic and it occurred to me that the band were less oppressive than I recalled and were almost upbeat (but I guess it’s all relative!). The mix was crystal clear allowing the majestic melodies of their progressive black metal to fill the room for what became a really impressive performance.

There was a complete change in mood as easy listening music came over the PA setting the scene for new band The New Death Cult. Having travelled from their home planet of Netuluna in the Andromeda Galaxy(!) the band took to the stage daubed in fluorescent paint grabbing the attention of the crowd as spotlights swept around them. Opening with ‘Zeitgeist’ the band laid down a marker as their pop infused rock presented a more readily accessible sound than Posthum. There were clearly influences from bands such as Biffy Clyro, Queens of the Stone Age and Pink Floyd  (and at one point I heard a melody very reminiscent of Belinda Carlisle – never thought I’d be saying that in a review!). The set was definitely entertaining, although not perhaps to the taste of everyone in attendance as the crowd thinned a little. Current (debut) single ‘Light Spills Over’ was the penultimate track before things were brought to a close with ‘Home’. The New Death Cult has great potential but this was perhaps not quite the right crowd for them, despite winning over the die hards at the front. 

The room filled to capacity once more as Wardruna played over the PA creating a calm but sombre atmosphere, ready for blackened death metallers Diabolical to blow to pieces. Having been going to 17 years, the Swedes are masters of their art and tracks such as ‘Into Oblivion’ soon brought an air of aggression to proceedings. They reflected that somehow this was their first time playing in Oslo which seems incredible but I am sure they won’t leave it another 17 years before returning given the reception they received. As things gained momentum, the growls and battery were broken up with clean vocals and melody which worked well. They got a great reaction from those the crowd and rightly so as this stellar performance.

This was a great evening and a worthy warm up night for four days of musical brutality that was to follow. Thanks Indie Recordings!

(Review and Photos Andy Pountney)

Inferno Festival Day 1