INFERNO FESTIVAL 2006 (Live) – Day 2

at Rockefeller, Oslo, Norway, Friday, April 14, 2006


An indoor festival probably sounds a bit dull to some of you, imagining nothing but a venue with bands entering and leaving the stage in successive order and no further fuss going on. Just like the grade school nights when your parents brought brownies and coffee and everyone had to take off their shoes in order to make the floor remain clean (”We in fact have manners here at our school. Don’t we, my children?!?”).

Well, Inferno is more than that. Regular, outdoor festivals usually offer a broad array of stores and food courts. How could this be done at a limited, indoor site like Rockefeller? Well, how might be a mystery, but it was all there. With several merchandise stands displaying a wide range of clothing and souvenirs, ranging from band shirts and records, to obscure clothing displaying rather controversial opinions, to the compulsory Dungeons and Dragons ashtrays, rings, and jewelry … no one should have any problems getting rid of that extra cash (for those who did, there’s an ATM in there too, so you could always get more), and you were even allowed to keep your shoes (or huge, metal-clad boots, eventually) on anywhere you desired. Adding to that the fact that Sound of Noise, Oslo’s foremost Metal record store, is located right next to the festival site, and stays open until 10 PM all weekend, things began to sound comforting.

With five bars (four regular + VIP), everyone’s “fluidal” urges should have been taken care of –- it seemed like they were, too. With a full fast-food court selling both hot dogs, burgers, several grill dishes, and the patented whale meat kebab (Politically controversial? Yes! Good-tasting? Yes!), there should have been no reason not to gain the compulsory Metal festival pounds as well.

So, is it all just milk and honey? No, of course it’s not. The beer prices are high, as in most of Norway, and for the dedicated fans who stayed at the festival site from opening to closing hours, it was not at all difficult to spend a daily $100 – $200 without getting particularly wasted. Also, the Pro Sec guards at Rockefeller have been frequently discussed before, but then again; which security guards haven’t? A hint: It might be an idea to open the second door when 1000 people want to get out at the same time and some don’t understand that walking on top of each other is not an option.

Still, though, this year’s festival was (another) success. Except for the cancellations of Scum and Yattering –- which really wasn’t that big of a catastrophe, considering the replacements ended up being Myrkskog and Battered -– and Susperia and Dismember changed places in the schedule, everything went by as planned musically, and none were killed, none sent to the hospital, none raped, and none were drugged like people tend to do at regular Pop Music festivals, that is.


Susperia, the first band experienced by Metal Express Radio this Friday, is known for good live performances, and the Extreme Melodic Metal quintet did their best on this night. Still, some rather annoying technical difficulties did in fact ruin the overall experience, at least to a certain extent. First and foremost, the sound was not very good –- a shame, and a mystery; the overall impression of the weekend was that most bands had very good sound. The use of pyrotechnics was very effective, though, and the glitter cannon at the end was just cheesy enough to make it cool.

The inclusion of Dimmu Borgir keyboardist Mustis in the ranks – purely for live work, that is – was another nice touch. His dark and majestic keyboard intro to “Devil May Care” further added to the band’s sonic expression, and it’d be very interesting to hear him on more tracks. (Rumour is that he was to play on “The Sun Always Shines on TV” too, but that something came up all of a sudden. The rumor says nothing about what this “something” is.) As usual with Susperia gigs, the overall musicianship held a high level with Tjodalv, although considerably more extensive than during his Dimmu Borgir heydays, setting the standard with his very tasty and powerful drumming. Memnock once again showed that he’s one of Norway’s foremost Metal bassists, and the dual axe attack of Cyrus and Elvorn laid down the riffs with uttermost ease up front. Athera’s voice has to be mentioned too, as he’s grown considerably as a singer since the band was founded. It was evident on Devil May Care, the band’s latest EP, and now also live -– this man has one cool Thrash voice in the making!

Despite poor sound, it still was an entertaining hour (or so). Highlights: “Illusions of Evil” and the kick-ass version of the aforementioned A-ha cover.


Black/Death Metal (subjective note: Borknagar really doesn’t fit directly into any of those categories, but still) has for a long time had rather strict “rules” for what to wear, and especially what not to wear when playing live. Black is the key color, with elements of red (as in blood), silver (as in spikes/nails) and white (as in print on the shirt). This has for a long time been the norm, with the addition of corpse paint and other theatrical elements.

Then there is Borknagar. Being an extraordinarily tight band musically (last heard on the very good Epic album), the band cannot claim to be equally “tight” -– meaning coordinated -– when it comes to image and physical appearance. The point is: Vintersorg’s green/brown striped high school sweater does not belong on a Metal concert stage! As Metal Express Radio photographer Henrik put it, who was not familiar with the band beforehand: “Why the hell did they find their singer at Carlings?” (Norwegian clothing store specializing in jeans and “street wear.”) By all means, there are other looks than the leather-and-spikes one, but there’s still no need to look like Liam Gallagher.

When there’s room for two paragraphs about clothing, there’s not much to say about the gig then, you’re probably thinking. Well, both yes and no. Borknagar are always tight, as the band sport some of the finest musicians to be found on the scene at the moment. The Inferno set was also basically a “greatest hits” parade walk -– what can be said about the set list (more or less complete) being “Oceans Rise,” “Inherit the Earth,” “The Black Token,” “Future in Innocence,” “Gods of Greed,” “Eye of Oden,” “Ruins of the Future,” “Colossus,” “Ad Noctem,” and “Dawn of the End.”

Gallagher, or Vintersorg, sounded very good most of the time. His voice cracked a bit during some of the more challenging parts, the most evident being during “Gods of Greed,” but overall he sang as cool as he usually does. The band played well, with bassist Tyr being particularly impressive. Lars Nedland’s backing vocals worked well too (and it looked as funny as it always does when he comes forward to sing with Vintersorg, and the two little men jump around, in the forest of ugly, evil creatures in the shape of the considerably grimmer-looking trio of Øystein G. Brun, Tyr, and Jens Rydland).

Asgeir Mickelson, one of the scene’s foremost drum heroes/drum hoes (whatever feels the most fitting), also played a good gig, but the drum sound was downright awful this night. What has to be the bass drum trigger from hell made the rather goofy bass drum sound come out far louder than anything else in the mix –- fitting for a Techno/Trance show, perhaps, but not for an organic, performing band.

A good performance, then, let down only by horrid tastes in stage wear and a deaf sound engineer.


Inferno has never had any problem with ticket sales, with the venue being sold out long before the deadline all previous years, but it’s probably legitimate to say that this year all the tickets would be gone even with only one band on the bill. There’s no mystery that the one-day tickets to Friday were sold considerably quicker than the all-day passes or one-day tickets to the two remaining days. People wanted Emperor, and the expectations laid thick on the faces (of those sober enough to understand what was in store) as the hours ticked by and the big moment got closer.

And Emperor they got. Helped out by Sechtdamon (Zyklon, Odium, Myrkskog) on bass, and the surprise performer of the night –- the 19 year old little brother of Ihriel (Ihsahn’s girlfriend) on keyboards — what may be one of the most anticipated comebacks ever in Metal was a fact, and the gig turned out just as phenomenal as everyone hoped. The goosebumps sprang out immediately when “Into the Infinity of Thoughts” and “Cosmic Keys to My Creations and Times” –- two of the most ingenious compositions ever -– opened the show. “Thus Spake the Nightspirit” followed, and quite a few corpse paints were cluttered as fans cried their tears of joy during the incredible ending part of this amazing piece of music. A very clever mix of all four albums were played, first and foremost emphasizing In the Nightside Eclipse and Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk — “With Strength I Burn,” “Towards the Pantheon,” “Majesty of the Nightsky,” and “Inno A Satana,” as well as “Curse You All Men!” and “An Elegy of Icarus” from IX Equilibrium, “In the Wordless Chamber” from Prometheus …, and a kick-ass version of “Wrath of the Tyrant” from the album with the same name. “Inno …” rounded off the regular set, before the band were called back by the festival’s most enthusiastic crowd by far, for two encores: “I Am the Black Wizards” and “Ye Entrancemperium.”

Emperor The band performed excellently, and it’s downright impossible to imagine that this line-up hadn’t been on stage together for some six years. The band was dead tight, and the sound was loud, powerful, and with the majesty only Emperor can create –- much due to the unique keyboard arrangements, performed with uttermost excellence by the aforementioned 19-year old. He also performed backing vocals, and did so without sounding out of tune one single time. Is this a major talent in the works here or what?

Trym did very well on the drums, actually sounding fresher than he’s done for a long time, and Samoth’s riffs laid the perfect foundation for Ihsahns lead lines and vocals. The guitar sound of both Samoth and Ihsahn has to be mentioned too -– very powerful as it was — and when Ihsahn’s vocals were of the highest caliber too, there’s really nothing more to say. This was 1.5 hours of pure magic, and something to remember by everyone present. Throughout many years of viewing many gigs, this was one of the very best of them all. For those reading this who may be thinking it was one-dimensional and far too much praise -– there was really nothing to point even a tiny, tiny finger towards. This was perfection.

Overall, there were some great moments during the second day of the festival, and what was even better –- there was more to come, with even more high-quality bands in store for Saturday. Stay tuned for all the action of Inferno’s final day! You can read the review of day 1 here.


  • Torgeir P. Krokfjord

    Torgeir was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. After hearing Malmsteen's "Vengeance" on a guitar mag CD at the age of 12 or 13, he began doing hopeless interpretations of Yngwie licks and it just took off from there. After shorter stints at other zines he was snatched to Metal Express Radio in 2003. Alongside Yngwie, Savatage, WASP, Symphony X, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Opeth, Motörhead, Manowar, and Queensrÿche are a quick list of musical faves. Torgeir is also guitarist in the Heavy/Prog/Thrash outfit Sarpedon.

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.