The make-up of hell is complicated. In Dante’s Divine Comedy its centre is frozen, and there Satan is encased to the waist in ice. However, the nine concentric outward circles feature a lot of heat and it seems that all later conceptions consider hell a very warm place, unpleasantly warm, infernally warm actually. And the term ‘inferno’ –hell’s name in the Divine Comedy- has come to denominate a turmoil of shattering forces and a tempest of elements. What better word for a metal festival then, for is it not the infernality of hell that metal brings into the day-lit world? Not that much day light is allowed to enter the orgies of metal though, and very little will reach those attending the Inferno festival in Oslo during Easter.
In its seventh year Inferno has grown to become one of the most important festivals that take place on Norwegian soil; it is the one with the highest international media attendance and, relative to size, probably the one with the largest number of foreign fans too. This should not surprise anyone, keeping in mind Norway’s standing in international metal circles. As a geographical and historical locus for much of the concepts and imagery of metal Norway is a natural place for hosting international metal events. And it is no secret that people coming here feel that there is a sense of getting closer to the world that metal bespeaks upon arrival in Norway. Especially during Easter perhaps; a well chosen time for a festival of music that features the battle against Christianity as a key concept. Easter is very pleasant in Oslo though, since well neigh every Norwegian has fled to the mountains. The streets are deserted, and there is ample room to indulge in the Inferno.
Metal Expo and Metal Conference
And even if the sun should be shining, as oftentimes it does even in Oslo, and the gloom of winter has vanished, the main venue Rockefeller music hall is as sunless and beer-stained as ever. However this year the festival expands into new concepts and with that into a new venue too. The art deco cinema Sentrum Scene is almost adjacent to Rockefeller, and its neat and stylish locale will house the novel Inferno Metal Expo.- This is a day-time chat room, instrument workshop, metal art exhibition, movies and gaming venue etc, in short a relaxing forum of information, exploration networking and mingling. The Metal Expo will take place the two first days of the festival from twelve to six, closing in time for people to relocate to the darkness of Rockefeller and the concerts. This new feature adds to last year’s expansion of the festival which introduced a music business forum called the Inferno Metal Conference. This will be held at Edderkoppen hotel, also only a short distance from the venue proper, Rockefeller. The conference will include panel discussions speed meetings etc.
Headliners this year are the resurrected Norwegian band Immortal; one of the leviathans of metal when they abruptly disbanded in 2003. “We always knew we’d come back” says front-man Abbath to Inferno’s festival mag, “but just announcing a break would not give us the peace and quite that we were after. That’s why we decided to formally disband. And this strategy has really worked; we’ve been left alone. But now it’s great to be back. Immortal runs deep in our blood, it is just a matter of finding anew that original inspiration and force. Sometimes this requires a time out. Now we have really refound some of the sources that first set us off on this path, and that is an empowering feeling.”
Many other significant bands from Scandinavia, Europe and America will perform at Inferno. From Norway outfits such as Dødheimsgaard, Koldbrann and Blood Tsunami, and not least the special feature Norwegian Metal All-Stars –a collection of the most celebrated Norwegian metal personae that come together to perform metal classics- will be playing. And another special Norwegian name is the newly founded Trinacria, which is a constellation of renowned sound artists Fe-Mail and Ivar Peersen of Enslaved fame. From Sweden Inferno presents among others Dark Funeral and Tiamat, from America Suffocation and Brutal truth, from the UK Sabbath and Anaal Nathrakh, and from Germany Sodom. The list goes on, describing the extensive and impressive line of an ever more important and bedazzling festival. Inferno 2007 kicks off on Thursday the fifth of April and culminates on the following Saturday. In Oslo the holy week reeks of sulphur.