This is how it’s done in Norway!
Saturday night, 1.600 kilometres away from home in Stavanger, the Folken student’s club opened its gates for a really great black metal lineup: Gehenna, Taake and 1349 were to play on the Hostile Terrortory Festival, that had unfortunately been cancelled due to almost no tickets sold.
Gehenna entered the stage at 21.15h and delivered their dark and melodic sound to an eager waiting black metal audience. The rather slow riffs, the low, grim growls and ghostly screams, the absence of keyboards that gives everything a very raw touch, the stage is flooded with dark red lights, and the first songs directly fade into each other; all this creating an immensely dense atmosphere that immediately washes over the audience like waves of dark water, just to stay and linger throughout the whole concert. Morten “Sanrabb” and his crew is from around Stavanger and is in business since 1993, so they are playing songs from every period of their musical career, starting with “The Decision” from their latest album Unravel and working their way back into the past.
Taake is one of these bands I simply can’t get enough from. Unfortunately, Hoest and his live-crew seldom come to the south of Germany – on the other hand, weren’t there some, let’s say: incidents, in the past …? Well, that’s another story, for sure. Their gig in Stavanger was definitely not a disappointment: Taake played a great concert. Hoest, as usual in mask and corpsepaint, wearing a long black hood, has an incredible presence on stage, and you are instantly mesmerized by this huge guy with long blonde hair, looking somewhat archaic. He’s celebrating a show you should not miss! Still being submerged by Gehenna, it takes a while to fully dig into the Taake sound that is completely different, tells of other things, has a different atmosphere. Taake delivers pieces from almost every period of their career (not “Myr”, though – didn’t bring a Banjo and we’re well out of Bergen), and songs like “Hordalands Doedskvad I” are greeted with frenetic screams. The ambience is somewhere between a Black Mass and a lonely walk through a cold forest at night, and I have once more the strong feeling that Black Metal is a solipsism in itself, not really meant to be performed on a stage. Nonetheless, a real treat, and these long songs that sing to me of dark winter nights, cold mists in the mountains, solemn landscapes covered in eternal frost are some of the most outstanding in the genre itself. I only was a bit disappointed that Hoest remained fully clothed during the whole gig – well, it was January, of course …
The hour of the Black Death
Basically, you could say about what followed: 1349 entered the stage, switched to assault-mode, screamed like all demons in hell together, didn’t take prisoners and left after they evoked total death and destruction. They were by far the fastest this evening concerning the basic tempo of their music, and as far as I can remember, they performed not one song from their Revelations of the Black Flame-album, which helped to keep the speed quite constant. Dominated by the almighty King Frost, who delivered a straight performance as usual behind the battery, 1349 just brought pure mayhem on stage. No announcements, as usual, no talking at all, from time to time a tiny pause to take a sip of whichever brew they prefer (and to give the audience a chance to straighten the muscles in the neck) – just pure inferno, a real tour de force with a lot of songs from my beloved Hellfire-album. The Stavanger-audience, as I had been told, is sort of spoiled because the people there make good money in the oil business and the metalheads travelling, for example, to London just to see a band, is not easy to please, but 1349 surely did to full extent and demanded all the stamina we could muster. A gig just like a firestorm!
Party! But: Where?
It is generally very easy to connect with Norwegian people: Just go outside, take a smoke, mention that you just came here for the concert, and you’ll have ten new friends who invite you to parties, concerts, festivals – you name it. We actually went to a great and funny after-concert-party – the kind of party where the host turns up half an hour after the guests -, on one of the islands of Stavanger. Niels, member of the great band Thurs has not only a nice house and a refrigerator full of beer, but also hosted the Brits from Wretched Soul, who should play at the Hostile Terrortory as well but also could not cancel the flights and came nonetheless for a week. What followed was a house-party, according to what seems to be international standards: music via YouTube (the German electro-combo Kraftwerk is highly esteemed by Gehenna’s Morten, very much to my surprise), everybody smokes, the beer is cold and keeps coming – almost like home! Only difference: spoken language is English, and the mandatory translation of Rammstein-lyrics. Eternal Thanks to Niels!
And one last hint for the next trip to Stavanger: Taking off with a small plane that is shaking with the heavy turbulences caused by the never-ceasing winds when you’re sprting a severe hangover is just not that advisable!
Planning your festival summer? Check out the Karmøygeddon-festival!
All photographs by The Doc – see more here!