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Gig review: Inferno London

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Perhaps unknown to many metal-fans, the Inferno festival has been playing the last four Easters in Oslo, Norway. The English have been the festival’s biggest horde from abroad, so the festival kicked off the Inferno 2005 with a warm-up event at the Underworld in Camden, London.

Featured bands were (in running order): Enslaved, Grimfist, Madder Mortem, Red Harvest, and Arcturus. Most of the audience were amazed to see Enslaved going on first, but they simply had to finish early as the drummer was going fishing on some remote island in the middle of the Atlantic. Norwegians….

Enslaved focused their concert mainly on the lastest record, Isa, a great album where they continue their brutal black-metal style with full intensity. The set was technically well performed, and sound quality was surprisingly good despite the challenging Underworld stage. Even though playing early in the evening, Enslaved managed to thrill the audience, and draw impressive response from still sober punters. (Something which the lads in Enslaved commented on several times during their set.)

Death-metal Grimfist had a difficult job following Enslaved, and with their first live perfomance ever, they certainly faced quite a challenge. However, with members from Deride and Immortal, the members were certainly not inexperienced . The mixture of death metal with black style vocals did not bring the audience in as much Enslaved. It was a bit too much by the numbers to have overcome the task of following Enslaved.

Madder Mortem was very interesting, and one that we didn’t know very well up front. Although the band not exactly unique in using a female vocalist, singer Agnete Kirkevaag has an impressive voice that can be compared to the best out there. The music is a mixture of doom, goth, and more heavy, with some original riffs here and there. Agnete certainly has the pipes to deliver the goods and was very impressive.

Industrial-band Red Harvest, with its latest album Internal Punishment Programs just released, was something eagerly anticipated by the audience. They did not disappoint, and managed to deliver a concert where the melody of each song carried through as a red line between the black, technoid, and other parts of their songs. Red Harvest was notably different live compared to its studio work – the drums played a heavier role, and the vocals felt slightly less aggressive. But don’t get us wrong – Red Harvest plays brutal industrial metal.

Headliner Arcturus followed after a rather boring raffle and a quick presentation of the full lineup for the Inferno Festival (Check bottom of review). Arcturus have seen band members coming and going, and vocalists seem to be the hardest to retain. The new frontman this time was Simen Hestnaes (Dimmu Borgir), who entered the stage in a baroque costume. His costume reminded me of Santa Claus (or should that be Kris Kringle) but did not distract from his awesome delivery. Many of the audience, including Gnorhat (who co-wrote this review) and I, had to leave before the end of this band’s set due to travel arrangements. I managed to chat to the guys and get a free copy of their newest release, which I can report is rather good. Arcturus certainly were an excellent bookend to the stunning performance by Enslaved.

The full set for the Oslo Inferno Festival:
Dissection, Morbid Angel, Candlemass, Arcturus, Amon Amarth, Aura
Noir, Gehenna, Sunno, Grimfist, Mortiis, Green Carnation, Mantas,
Grave, Bloodthorn, Seth, Tsjunder, Vreid, Gorelord, Lamented Souls,
Chton, Naer Mataron, Horricane, Zeenon, Goatlord, Obliteration,
Deceiver, Nebular Mystic, Slogstorm, Taakeferd and She Said Destroy

According to the organizers, Inferno London will be a 2-night event next year, and is likely to be held at the Underworld in January 2006. More info on both can be found at Inferno Festival.

Here are some shots I took:

More shots can be found at Rockers Digest

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