As for the festival, the main attractions were bands like Opeth, Aura Noir, Dimmu Borgir, Mgla, Hypocrisy, Impaled Nazarene, Gaahls Wyrd, Taake, Carach Angren, 1349, just to name a few. The main novelty was the new venue Kniven where there were concerts on the second and third days from 2.30 pm to about 4.15 pm; the festival then continued at Rockfeller / John Dee as usual. What makes Inferno so enjoyable is also the large amount of side events; if art and tattoo exhibitions, signing sessions, guitar and drum clinics are now a tradition, this year the organization also offered a wine tasting with Satyr and beer tastings. Furthermore, another novelty concerned the catering offered by the festival: for the first time, there was a stand entirely dedicated to vegan food where delicacies with fun names such as Hail Seitan and Dimmu Burger stood out. I must say that I tasted delicious vegan burgers! But of course everything revolves around music and the main attraction is always and in any case the show; to me the best bands were mainly Ragnarok, Hypocrisy, Der Weg einer Freiheit, Gaahls Wyrd, Taake, 1349, and Opeth.
It was Opeth to have the honour to play the last gig of the whole festival and my concern was that their progressive death metal with jazz influences could be too demanding after bands like Carach Angren, 1349, Archgoat and Cult of Fire who had preceded them on stage the same day. But my concern was groundless because Opeth's music is so perfect that one cannot but be mesmerized; besides, frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt is a great entertainer who amuses the audience with the funniest jokes. However, when you are in Norway it goes without saying that Norwegian black metal bands boss the show. 1349 and Ragnarok were a punch in the face. Both unleashed appalling power on stage but Ragnarok offered something extra when Hoest from Taake joined Jontho to sing “Murder” with him. Speaking about Taake, they were perfection: their show is their music, and that's it. Visually sober, without frills like inverted crosses, flames or complicated stage decorations except for a backdrop, Taake go on stage just with their instruments and some corpse paint and know how to do a visually beautiful show. And what a show! I must say that I was also very happy to see Hoest in a good shape, but he still has the habit of drinking on stage. The band featured a new, and very good, drummer for this show and also offered a titbit when suddenly Hoest took Aindiachaí's guitar and announced “We’re gonna play a cover, this is Fuck You Nazi Lover!”, actually a cover of Cold by Cure. Then Vrangsinn, a former bassist of Carpathian Forest, arrived on the stage with an old wheel phone that turned out to be a microphone; he sang the song in his telephone while Hoest played guitar. The crowd went into raptures many times and memorable was the moment when Gjermund performed what remains so far the only black metal banjo solo in the song Myr. Gaahls Wyrd, with a new guitarist, offered an exceptional performance too, and they also added a special plus to it when they played a new previously unreleased song.
And what about Dimmu Borgir? They are despised by a lot of blackmetallers who consider themselves trve and many Facebook communities dedicated to black metal have banned any posts about Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Rockefeller was full, however, when Shagrath and company came on the stage and the crowd cheered them warmly, a sign that Dimmu Borgir are still a very popular band. They have relatively sobered up their gaudy and almost glam look used in recent years. Well, without going into the question, I think that what brings Dimmu Borgir's shows down and that prevents them from ever being a live top band is when they perform songs like “Kings of the Carnival Creation” where Vortex’ clean vocals are now replaced by far-fetched synthetic choirs, which makes those moments rather pathetic and grotesque in my opinion. To me the same goes for other bombastic bands like Carach Angren, with their show full of special effects inspired by themes like pirates and spectral ships; their kitsch moment was when singer Seregor staged a fake sacrifice of a mannequin in the shape of a woman; obviously fake blood gushed from the neck of the dummy.
Polish Mgła offered their same old anonymous show with no visual aspect and perhaps a bit monotonous. I really loved Dutch Urfaust with their atmospheric depressive black metal and I was impressed by the strength with which drummer VRDRBR literally beat the drums to such an extent that he smashed a stick, almost a comical accident by the way. Perhaps the most emotionally thrilling show was that of German Der Weg einer Freiheit: I got goose bumps and the whole Rockfeller applauded them warmly. Other highlights were the excellent show of Hypocrisy, who played a lot of old classics along with new songs, Bloodbath, especially when Nick Homes invited a guy from the audience to join him on the stage, the intense show of Skogen and many more.
However, whatever your tastes are, Inferno Festival remains a great festival. Now the videos and photos below will speak and tell you about the festival in the most effective way.
Text, photos, and videos by Herjann