Depeche Mode live in Oslo

Going to a concert of a band you used to listen to sometime like 15 years ago (even if back then I was on the ‘haters’ side) is one fantastic emotional roller-coaster. This is maybe the thought that followed me for the entire duration of Depeche Mode’s concert at Telenor Arena in Oslo. Prior to this, there was an opening band called Big Deal, but after the first two songs in which they didn’t show energy enough to warm up the first row in the crowd, I minded my own business of sorting some ticket for a friend and helping people find each other. So they were a little deal for me that evening.

When the lights turned off and the small flashlights showed the way the artists should walk on stage, I did get a good amount of goose bumps, followed by a big smile when I saw Dave Gahan entering the stage via a neverending pirouette and happy to look at the remaining 3 original DM members in flesh and bones. My enthusiasm shrank a lot when I saw that there are 3 keyboards on the stage, besides the drumkit. I quickly understood that if I am to rate the stage show of the artists, I can’t give them more than a 2. Later on it turned into a 3 due Dave’s constant dancing and ass shaking.

But if you ignore the static part of their show – afterall, their music is not based on guitar solos and fast headbanging tunes – then there’s plenty to enjoy. They have pretty skilled designers for their light show and the projections chosen for various songs. They must have melted the hearts of many by projecting puppies during ‘Precious’. And I really liked the live effects added to the musicians’ movements, especially when they were switching insanely quick between live images.

Dave Gahan’s voice sounds great and he knows how to get the crowd wrapped around his little finger by allowing them to sing famous chorus parts and then directing their ‘Ooooohhh’s. Or simply by taking off his jacket, followed by his vest and exposing his tattoos. Martin Gore can also sing the band’s ballads and the acoustic moments that he’s performing only with one of the keyboard players are quite touchy. That is, if you don’t focus on his outfit and try to figure out whether he is an alien or a character from the Wizard of Oz. But yes, the ballads are working great with his vocals.

The first part of the concert was well balanced between old hits and new songs that I personally never heard prior to the concert. But 2-3 songs before the comeback and all 5 after the comeback were some of the band’s biggest hits and that’s when the whole crowd in Telenor arena turned into a fantastic sight. I was dancing like crazy during ‘I just can’t get enough’ and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when I saw that hundreds of people were doing the same. This is the perfect concert spirit. I also smiled when one guy managed to climb the stage and started happily waving at us until the security guys took him down in a rather harsh way (or so it looked from where I watched).

The intro of Personal Jesus was nicely mixed and kept us in a bit of doubt for a while. Enjoy the silence was more or less the highlight of the evening and I never thought that Never Let Me Down Again can be such a perfect concert end. It got even better with lovely company after the show and a fantastic display of nature’s beauty during a heavy snowing session long after midnight. Perfect to, once more, enjoy the silence.


Meshuggah – Oslo concert review

While not being the most innovative band when it comes to live shows, Meshuggah is one of those live acts that cannot get old. Not yet at least. And this was one of the reason to see them live for th X-th time when they performed at Rockefeller in Oslo sometime in May.

There were two opening acts. Next life and Kong. I arrived at the venue during the Next Life gig and while initially I didn’t understand a thing out of their music, after few minutes I went close to the stage and I might not have closed my mouth for a while. The Norwegian trio performs some sick prog/thrash ‘stuff’ and they’re somewhere in the 10th gear, while their technical level has chances to soon beat half of the lineup of any modern day metal festival. They’re a band whose evolution I (and you) should keep an eye on.

Kongh acted as some sort of transition element after the initial Next Life violence. They play some softer sludge/doom kinda like metal, with songs that sounded like ballads to my ears. But I didn’t spend much time looking at their show, so it wouldn’t be fair to make too many comments on it.

The evening ended with the Meshuggah classical kind of chaos. A well organised chaos (well, except the stupid moshpit that seriously makes no sense at their concert). I don’t recall if the stage props include more than two huge banners with images from the new album and the backdrop, but I do recall the psychadelic light show. Which brought a lot of smiles due the fact that there’s a clip on youtube where you see how the lightguy handles that. The live experience of the result makes you appreciate the videoclip even more.

The kind of energy transmitted from the stage is hard to describe with words. The singer, Jens Kidman, puts to work all his anger and insanity, plus each vein on his face and neck, in order to reflect the pissed off attitude of the songs and to kick your ass to seriously give things a second and a third thought. His vocals are probably the best sounding non melodic ones ever.

Kidman is perfectly sustained by some of the tightest guitar, bass and drums playing machines on this planet. They are able to create some sort of musical reality of their own, so ugly in its distortion, yet so appealing in its perfection. The headbanging moves actually become some sort of body banging with this band and it’s incredible that even this seem to be sinchronised down to few milliseconds.

I’m running out of praise words for this band, so instead of writing long odes tot he guitar solos and super-awesome drumming and groovy bass lines, I recommend you go to a Meshuggah concert yourself. At least once. And find a place with a good view. Then just enjoy the chaos.

Stone Sour and Audrey Horne, live@Rockefeller, Oslo

Stone Sour live@RockefellerBefore the stage was to be well handled by the Iowa based Stone Sour, Rockefeller was first the host of the Norwegian hard rockers from Audrey Horne. A band with a lot of good mood and drive once they begin their performance and whose classic rock beats was well received by the numerous audience. They will probably never win an award for being too innovative in the genre, but they sure have some nice ideas in going out of the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus pattern. We got a mix of nostalgic and dynamic songs, with pretty classic drumming and guitaring, but the plus of the band is their stage presence. All the musicians are part in various projects and have touring experience, and that can be seen when the two guitarists meet up to play a solo face to face or when the singer entertaining the crowd through screams and talks and no less, by jumping off the stage and singing while climbed on the fences that mark the photopit. If you’re a fan of the genre, I’m pretty sure the songs become catchy pretty quick and I guess many were happy with the choice for tonight’s support act.

The main act went few levels up though. Everything from lights to sound and to music was meant to build an incredible rock show. And above all, Corey Taylor’s voice. This is the reason I started listening to Stone Sour and this is what made the concert such an incredible experience. A simple backdrop and an immense drum kit is what we see while we hear the intro of Gone Sovereign, the opening song on their latest release, House of Gold & Bones (part 1). After that, we are treated with an explosion of classics that quickly raise the temperature in the huge hall by several degrees. Hell & Consequences, Made of Scars, Blotter, perfect combo to get most of the hands up in the air and continuous cheering.

Taylor know how to get the audience wrapped around his small finger. Despite the fact that sometimes he’s somewhat close to rude. Like, for example, spilling a glass of water over the mobile phones and cameras of the people in the first row, or, later during the show, directing the crowd to do some ‘ooooooooooooo’s and in the end showing them the middle finger. Yet, we hear a big ‘I love you’ from a woman in the audience, statement to which he replied that, unfortunately, he’s married. But he also is generous in telling the crowd how much they rock and asking them to sing along and simply gesturing for more applause. I admit that during the comeback, when he played a bit of an Alice in Chains song and then Bother, followed by Through glass, I got big goosebumps when more or less everyone present would sing along. Especially since the other band members had left the stage and only Taylor was singing, accompanied by his guitar.

After watching Corey Taylor’s show for a while, I focused my attention on the band he plays with and I did really enjoy when my eyes stopped on the drumkit. Besides pounding the cymbals and toms with as much power as he had, Roy Mayorga fools around a lot with his sticks and it’s fun to watch how oddly he bends his hands in order to kick the hi hat or some cymbals. The guitarists are tightly holding on to the rhythms, not going much to very extreme riffs, simply working together to get the best out of each melody. And all these is really well sustained by a mad light show, such as a band of their caliber should have on tour.

It all ended on the rhythms of 30/30-150 and Taylor stated that since this is part of a two year long tour, Oslo will most likely see them again soon. I can only recommend you give them a try, next time they are in town!
Stone Sour live@Rockefeller

Interview with ICS Vortex

Arcturus live@Tuska 2012I.C.S. Vortex, or just simply Vortex, known as the current vocalist of avant-garde metal band Arcturus, vocalist and bass guitarist of Borknagar, and the former bass guitarist and previously backing vocalist for the Norwegian symphonic black metal band Dimmu Borgir, has recently come out with a solo release under the name ICS Vortex. The album title is Storm Seeker and it was released through Century Media Records in 2011. Now, at the end of 2012, Vortex paired up with Susperia and Rendezvous Point for a Norwegian tour meant to familiarise the audience with his new material, and also to remind them of some older ones.
Prior to the concert in Oslo, I sat down with Simen (aka Vortex) and chatted about his start in the musical life, his various projects, his solo album and his impression on today’s kids in music. Below is the transcription of our dialogue.

Me: You’ve been in this music industry now for many years now, close to twenty…plus/minus
Vortex: Yea, plus/minus, I’m thinking 98 was the debut actually with the Borknagar’s ‘The Archaic Course’ album. Of course, I’ve been into music before that, but that’s when it got serious and got where I wanted to be – recording albums and playing live shows.

Me: How did it all start?
Vortex: It started with Kiss cards from candy bags actually. Some countries have football cards and such, but we had Kiss cards back then and when you were a four year old and you saw satanic dudes posing with their instruments, you just knew that this was something serious. So I wanted to be Peter Criss and later I wanted to be Gene Simmons or Ace Frehley. And now I don’t want to be anyone, but that’s another story.

Me: And then, after the cards, it went on with vinyls or cassettes or?
Vortex: First cassette that I bought was Kiss. It was during my second grade and the album was ‘Hotter than Hell’. All through the early years in school in was about Kiss and then it developed into WASP and Iron Maiden and all the usual stuff. Sounds familiar?

Me: Yea, sounds like a regular childhood.
Vortex: I started playing guitar at the age of 14.

Me: Was there any music education involved or just listen and learn?
Vortex: My father taught me the basic stuff and the rest I kinda made up along the way by listening to records and by playing 8 hours every day.

Me: And now, after all these years, you finally go solo. Was it a long term idea or?
Vortex: It’s been there for many years. Some of the songs are really old, I think I wrote ‘Skoal!’ when I was 18. All the lyrics were written during a 6 months period of time or a bit longer. Let’s say the music was half written before 2009 and the other half between 2009 and 2010. It took some time to actually get it all together. But it was worth it and I learned a lot during the process. Hopefully I can use the teaching in the next ICS Vortex album which I hope to be out in 2013.

Me: So you liked it so much that you’d happily go on with it.
Vortex: Oh, I wanna go on for sure. It’s very inspiring to get a record out and I’m very happy with Century Media Records. I can only hope it will work again. But then, Arcturus will come out with new material in 2013, Borknagar has started writing new material, I’m also doing the God of Atheists project which will come out in 2013. But everything takes times. Then there’s also Lamented Souls project which is intended to have something out in 2013. But I’ve been saying that for the past 10 years anyway, so who knows if it’s gonna happen.

Me: Since you said you learned so much in the process, how much of the whole work is yours? Did you write all the instruments? Did you produce and mix it?
Vortex: I didn’t master it. But I had the preproduction all finished when I showed it to the drummer, who came up with his own ideas about drum fills and such. I didn’t engineer it, I only started out with my own click tracks and all that in my studio. I exported all files and we just built it from there. It was originally meant to be mixed somewhere else, but it was such a long process and full of mistakes…I paid a lot of money for things that actually never made it on the record. Like for example, I paid the drummer 3000 Euros to do some drums, and I didn’t use a single hit. But now I have learned from my mistakes, I hope. If I’d be clever, I’d learn from others’ mistakes.

Me: But all the other instruments were played by you? You haven’t used any of the guys that you’re playing live with?
Vortex: Yes, I played the guitars, the bass and the keyboards. I had Terje from Susperia who did some guitar solo work on a couple of songs. I also had Arne Martinussen as a guest, doing some organ stuff on couple of songs. He just came to the studio and it was an amazing and quick experience. He’s a guy from a local band and he amazed me so I was really happy to have him working on those songs.

Me: What’s your favorite bit on this album?
Vortex: Storm Seeker.

Me: Why?
Vortex: I like the lyrics. I like all the lyrics actually. They’re personal and pretty straight forward, with some times when you have to read between the lines. It’s story telling pretty much. No picking up the coolest words in the dictionary.

ICS Vortex live@Betong, Oslo

Me: Earlier you named a bunch of bands and projects you’re involved with. How does everything fit with your time and daily routines?
Vortex: Yes, since they don’t pay my bills, they need to find their own place in between getting the kids from kindergarten and going to work. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but it’s a good hobby. I need music to be happy.

Me: You don’t see yourself doing anything else?
Vortex: I was hoping I’d get a fresh start after the Dimmu break up. You know, quit while I was on top. I tried, but I needed the music and I actually always knew that it’s not gonna work to do something else. So, music is my drug of choice and it all eventually works out.

Me: Did you ever confuse songs among these projects you work with?
Vortex: I confuse shit all the time.

Me: Did you sing Arcturus lyrics with Borknagar for example?
Vortex: No no, I’m not that distracted. But I do mix up lyrics all the time. I need to be more professional there. I actually need more time to rehearse.

Me: Do you rely more on seriousness or enjoying what you’re doing and being able to be human and make such mistakes?
Vortex: It all goes together I think. It’s a blend of being serious and fun at the same time. I don’t want to be pretentious or something like that since I hate it when metal becomes too serious in the way they express themselves on stage. Photo sessions, metal videos are good examples of how corny things can get, just repeating themselves all over again. But I’m mainly trying to be honest with the lyrics and to find riffs that grooves. That’s what I liked when I grew up with Black Sabbath and Kiss and all that. So, as long as it’s not overly pretentious, I’m cool with it. But I need my lyrics to be serious though. This is how I like to do things.

Me: Do the lyrics make you move in a certain way? Like for example, you have quite a special dance during Arcturus shows…
Vortex: Haha. It’s Sverd’s keyboards and everything mixed together. We have a really relaxed tone among the band members. We’ve known each other for so many years and did so much crazy shit in our rehearsing room, so, you know, you can’t really do anything wrong. It can get silly and probably many don’t like it. I would’t have liked it if I saw that on stage and I was in my black metal period, I’d say that this shit is not metal. And then you grow up.

Me: But is Kiss metal with their tongues out and high heeled boots?
Vortex: That’s what I thought when I was 4 anyway. I saw them on stage in 92 or so, with Peter Criss and I’m really happy for that. But it was with the smile on my face, not with the serious horns in the air. Kiss lyrics sucks, at least 99% of them.

Me: Come on, they’re cheesy
Vortex: Yea, they’re extremely cheesy. But I didn’t know that shit when I was young. That’s when you make your own versions. You know what they’re singing, but you interpret them in your own ways and later you realise it’s actually about something else.

Me: After so many years of being around in this business, what’s the same? What’s different? What’s shocking?
Vortex: Nothing shocks me anymore. It was quite brutal when we were young and insecure and everyone was competing about being the most evil person. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m really happy we were young musicians back then and I’m really proud with the whole scene. I used to be a punk rocker for a while, but I’m happy we went to the most extreme side because after the black metal period, thing sort of got softer. Now I look at the kids and I see these emo kids walking around, thinking they’re cool and making me laugh. They’re cute but they don’t scare me. We scared people back then and that’s a good feeling when you are young and want to live on the edge. I love it, it was fantastic.

Me: But from the point of view of equipment and such. There’s so many bands returning to the old techniques because they like the sound or they feel nostalgic…
Vortex: Well, now you have these click tracks and auto tune and all that and an album is done in one, two days or a week, compared to, for example, Dimmu Borgir’s ‘Death Cult Armageddon’ that took two months in the studio. I like it better when it’s a bit more rock’n’roll or old school. I like live albums also, for capturing the moment and I’d like to release one, but there’s so much youtube stuff out there that it’s almost useless. Of course, the sound is not always of good quality, but still.
I look at the kids today and I was just a judge in a competition for the ‘Hostile territory’ festival in Stavanger. They have a battle of the bands thing and I saw 7 bands with kids from 13 to 18. Quite young kids and amazing musicians, all of them. All the bands were just amazing and they had aggressiveness and spontaneity and all the stuff that doesn’t come easy at all. They must have been practicing really hard. It was very inspirational to see these kids with synchronised headbanging and all, they surely knew how to present their music. We never thought about that when we were young. Today, they pick up everything.

Me: So, I guess youtube helps.
Vortex: For sure. You can call it youtube generation or whatever, but they get lessons straight into their home and they practice a lot so it’s gonna be fun to watch the next developments of the metal scene. It actually is interesting to watch it right now. It’s changing times, for sure, but you probably know that nobody sells records anymore. And that’s why the record companies will keep on holding to the bands that have been selling a lot in the past. It’s like their safe card. So it’s very hard to be a young talented band these days and to get your music out. The competition is way harder than it was back when we started.

Me: Do you get a lot of requests for, let’s say, guidance, from young kids?
Vortex: Yes, and I try to answer as many as I can as much as my limited time allows. Everytime I am on facebook and I am on the chat there’s like 50 people asking questions at once. So I do my best to answer because I know it can be hard as a musician, as I’ve already been there. I like to help out if possible.

Me: Is there any artist you’d like to work with but you didn’t have the chance yet?
Vortex: One of my favorite bands is Virus but I don’t know…

Arcturus live@Tuska 2012

Me: You’d surely add some flavor to their shows, since, unfortunately, their singer cannot move nor dance and I personally like it so much when there’s a lot to watch on stage.
Vortex: I could just close my eyes and listen to Virus live, I love it that much. But I also like the show part as well and like to do the makeup and the special stuff on stage. For Arcturus, that’s one of the things we want to concentrate on – to get a better stage show up and running. For this, we’re in contact with a guy who does lights for this psychedelic band, Hawkwind. They use a lot of weird stuff and I’d like to combine that, build on it and do some proper Arcturus stuff and put it in a concept for our future stage shows. I think Arcturus shows could benefit from that as I believe it’s always good fun to get both the visual and the music to work.

Me: What’s the oddest stage you played on?
Vortex: We (Dimmu Borgir) played in the back of a truck in Texas and drank a whole bottle of Jack Daniels while doing it. I was without makeup. I can’t remember much of the concert but I saw a clip afterwards and that’s how I remember bits of it, But yea, this one was pretty special. We also played in record shops and in gym halls with really bad acoustics, played at school and stuff like that.

Sunswitch interview

I don’t know how you’d react if the band on the stage in front of you had been composed of a drummer, a bass player and a tuba player, but the first time I saw this trio live I simply couldn’t leave from the spot all the way in front of the stage. It was fascinating to watch, or actually to hear that mean, almost demonic, grooviness of deep sounds. That’s how I first percieved Sunswitch and each listen only intensifies the first impression. The Norwegians have just released their debut album now ion November 2012, album only available on vinyl and for whose promotion they are currently travelling through Norway to either impress or scare people off through their music. When they stopped in Oslo, I sat down with the band and made an attempt at figuring out why they combined these instruments and how come it worked out so incredibly well. Hopefully the text below will help you figure it out.

Me: Sunswitch?
Trond: Why the name or why the band?

Me: Pick one of them.
Trond: Me, Trond, and Thomas started in 2010 as a duo with just bass and drums. We wanted to play something doom like, something slow. We didn’t quite know which way we were going, but he had three different songs and recorded one demo. Those songs are actually on our debut album. It was more of an instrumental punk doom duo.
Kristoffer: I listened to the demos last night actually. They go extremely fast and they do sound indeed more punk.

Me: Then how did you become three? Do you guys work together or did you study together?
Trond: We just started playing and recorded one demo after some rehearsals. We then decided that we needed to add something more to our sound.
Kristoffer: Thomas and I studied together at the Jazz Conservatory in Trondheim and we have a duo together as well.

Me: So there were two duos turning into a trio
Kristoffer: Yea, something like that. They basically asked me to join in for their existing duo and I think that especially Trond didn’t really know what he was getting himself into.

Me: But is your duo drums and tuba?
Kristoffer: Yes, drums and tuba.

Me: Interesting. So, from what I understand, you took the old songs that were initially composed and added the tuba sound to them. This means that you, Kristoffer, brought a change to the band sound
Kristoffer: I don’t know if it was me, but we pretty fast took it to a slower tempo. The tuba isn’t fit to play fast basically. It’s more suitable for a slow and heavy sound. But the record is actually faster than what we play now.
Trond: Yea, it is much faster. We’re just taking it slow and we’re already forward to the next album. Initially, we had no idea how it would work out with these three instruments together. We hoped it would be really heavy and something like the ultimate bass attack. My thought was that maybe it was a bit too much, maybe you can’t separate the sounds. But that combo has worked out really well.

Me: I personally noticed that there’s the classical tuba sound, but you’re messing around with a lot of effects, so I guess that helps in differentiating the sounds?
Kristoffer: Yes, of course.
Trond: The bass guitar is sometimes played like a guitar and other times you get a typical bass guitar sound.

Me: There’s no effects that you’re using on the bass, right?
Trond: Nope, just amps and turning them really loud. I guess neither the tuba nor the bass produce the typical overall sound for the instrument.

Me: That was my next question actually, for Kristoffer. You studied tuba at the Conservatory in Trondheim and how come you didn’t end up in a classical orchestra, but more in a metal project like this one or all the other projects you work with?
Kristoffer: I studied classical tuba and jazz tuba. That’s my education. Besides, I have much more rock and metal CDs than I have of jazz and classical CDs. For my education, I really listened a lot to jazz music, but when I ended my studies, I don’t spend a lot of time hearing that. So it feels more natural with the rock and I was thinking about a way to incorporate my tuba into that music, since that’s the music that I wanna play. Hence, I had started developing my sound in different bands, but joining Sunswitch was basically like the ultimate test. In a way, this is the band that shouldn’t have a tuba, loudness wise and song wise.
Trond: It works out really really great.

Me: How is it for the drummer to play with a tuba? I know that with a bass it’s somehow natural that the two instruments follow each other. How does the relation with the tuba go?
Kristoffer: I think this is his wet dream.
Thomas: This is the ultimate situation for me because I love bass frequencies and I love loud music. And now, as you can see, I am sitting in the middle two between two bass amps. I love it.

Me: Did you have to adjust your playing style or did it go natural to just introduce tuba sounds in the music?
Thomas: I played a couple of years with Kristoffer from before and I played quite loud since before so I don’t feel that they drive me over.

Me: But if you had only started in this project now, as a ‘normal’ drum played, do you think you’d have to adjust a lot if all of a sudden the tuba came in the band?
Thomas: It’s not the tuba per se, it’s the whole sounds and especially the volume that one needs to get used to. It’s like penetrating a wall of bass. It’s two bass instruments crashing with each other , fucking up your drum sound because you can’t hear your drums.
Kristoffer: There’s not much room for the bass drum for instance. You have to hit it really loud to get its sound heard.
Thomas: This is actually how I want to play drums. So this is just the appropriate situation.
Kristoffer: Your wet dream.
Thomas: Yea, coming true!

Me: Let’s go back to the other side of my question. Why Sunswitch as a band name?
Trond: As a band name, well, it’s something that,a s far as we think, suits the music. The name is the result of some brainstorming and it’s a mix inspired by Swedish bands such as Switchblade and Sun O)). When we came up with Sunswitch it sounded like a good idea and it’s very fit for the music.

Me: Your album has just been released and you’ve been touring a little in order to promote it…
Trond: This concerts in Oslo is the third in the tour. We played in Røros and we had a release party in our own town, in Trondheim. After Oslo we’re going to Kristiansand, Stavanger and Porsgrunn. There’s not that many gigs, but I don’t think we’re the easiest band to book.

Me: Because people don’t know you or?
Trond: I guess some promoters would like to see us maybe at some sort of show case before they decide.
Kristoffer: It’s probably also hard to explain what Sunswitch is. Besides, just listening to the record is not enough to get the whole image of how it is live. The physical impact of bass, drum and tuba, just to feel that in your chest is not easy to put in words.
Trond: If you review and album or if you’re a promoter, you most likely need to give the album some time in order to be able to digest it and see what it’s all about. I hope people do that, but I’m not so sure everyone really does it.

Me: What’s the craziest thing you heard from anyone talking about your album?
Trond: We had some great reviews so far and especially in a magazine called Ninehertz. The review can be found here – – and we’re quoting “Imagine if you will, three men of the apocalypse, tucked away in a dark Norwegian castle huddled around a melting pot like the witches in Macbeth, throwing in a bit of Sunno)), with a pinch of Neurosis, flavoured by Sleep and for added taste a smattering of Black Sabbath. The pot boils away whilst Kristoffer, Trond and Tomas stir it up slowly waiting for the potion to be completed.
When it’s ready, howls of dark laughter immerse the castle; it is ready my children, ready to be unleashed upon the miserable and unsuspecting public. You can almost imagine the high lord of evil himself sat on his fiery throne, listening to this and acclaiming that his work on earth is now complete. This really is THAT GOOD!”
Kristoffer: It also started with these words: “It’s such a shame didn’t listen to this on the day that I was sent it, which was All Hallow’s Evening, as I could have wired it up to my door bell and scared the crap out of the little buggers that dared to darken my door.”

Me: If someone should present you further to their friends for example, should they go and say it’s a doom band? As people today need to categorise everything..
Trond: Doom is more where the inspiration comes from. Doom and post rock and space rock. I think it’s an easy band where you can name references and that makes it a dream for reviewers. You can write a lot about instruments ‘this is Hawkwind like’, ‘this is an old Sabbath song’.
Kristoffer: But still, it doesn’t sound like anything else alltogether.

Me: What was the most challenging musical thing in your compositions together? Some rhythms or..?
Trond: Some timing stuff that we work with. Sometimes it’s not a beat at all, it’s just free time. We had to work a bit on that. And also the sounds, finding our own pace and getting used to it.

Me: Like which one gets to use the deepest notes?
Kristoffer: Yea, it’s a combination of those.
Thomas: We also had to get comfortable to play as slow as we do sometimes just to get the groove and the point where everybody has the same feeling about time. Making sure that nobody’s rushing nor staying behind too much. At the beginning everybody was having different ‘feelings’, but by now we have found a common ground. It’s really hard, and I’m not sure if this applies mostly to drummers, but generally playing slower is much more difficult than playing fast. That’s the biggest challenge when it comes to performing.

Me: Based on what you just told me, do you think the next album will be a smoother experience since you guys found the same tempo by now?
Trond: Most likely. We have to do something else on the next album. Or well, we could keep the same idea, but try to add new elements. Right now we only have some new ideas for songs but we need to carve them out. Hopefully we’ll have an album out in a year.

Me: You told me that there’s improvised parts in your live performances. Do you have someone in the band leading at those moments, someone who everyone tries to follow or…?
Trond: I guess that when we notice one of us wanting to play something, the rest is just trying to follow and play together with that part. On a song called ‘Imaginary skull’ there’s a part that’s improvised and during which anything can happen. We played it differently for each gig and it will probably be something else tonight as well. It can be very loud and powerful or way softer.
Kristoffer: It gives us a lot of energy as well just knowing that there’s such open parts coming up. We don’t know what will happen, we just find out in that moment and I really like that idea.

Me: How do you know when to stop improvising? I think I heard you saying you could turn a song into a 40 minutes performance.
Thomas: We have some pre defined sort of signals. Like for example, on the song we previously mentioned, Trond is supposed to start a certain riff and then we know that we’re going back to the song. But we don’t know when that will happen, it can be after two or ten minutes. Some evenings we simply notice that it doesn’t work at all, so you’d hear that riff after some 30 seconds.

Me: Why did you stop at a trio and didn’t add more instruments? Was it because of the ‘low sounds’ of the instruments you guys play?
Trond: It’s mainly because of the challenge to get a lot out of three instruments. We like that challenge.

Kristoffer: We really don’t want a guitar players. There’s enough of them in other bands. This way we can be critical among ourselves. Except the drummer. He’s actually starting to get closer to the front of the stage so we have to push him back.

Me: Why did you choose to release this on vinyl only?
Trond: We love the format. I think the vinyl sound and the artwork you can put on it, plus the gatefold, they all suits the music rather well. I think the album really sounds better on vinyl. When people buy CDs today, they RIP the songs on their computers and that’s it. The physical product ends up full of dust in a shelf somewhere.
Kristoffer: We listened to this product ourselves on the computer through mp3s and such. But first time I heard it on vinyl, it simply blew my mind. It was so different.

Me: Then I hope I find someone with a vinyl player so I can have a similar experience.

Kamelot Interview

Kamelot’s tenth album studio, Silverthorn, was just released in October this year and the band embarked on a tour through Europe in order to promote the new material, but also to show the skills of their new singer, Tommy Karevik. The show in Oslo was the last one of the tour, and, despite the accumulated tiredness and probably hundreds of other interviews by this date, the band’s keyboard played, Oliver Palotai, took some time to sit down with me and answer few questions about tour life and Tommy and more. You can find out his answers in the below text.

Me: This is the last show of the European Silverthorn tour. How did it go so far and how does it feel when it’s about to end?
Oliver: It went ok, and when a tour ends, it’s always a mix of feelings. Of course, you’re looking forward to go home after three months on the road. Plus, there’s certain luxuries you are missing on tour. You never have real privacy, or there’s never like a real shower that you don’t have to share with thirty people. I’m especially looking forward to regular work because I’m a studio musician orchestrator and producer. I usually wake up early, I have my regular meals and then I work late. These are some of the things I am missing on tour. But on the other hand, when I come home, after a while I miss the tour as well.
Even if I’m more of a studio person and not so much a ‘live’ one, but it’s always the company of friends that is quickly missed when not touring.
Me: If you’re asked which is the best memory of this tour, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Oliver: It’s always funny, we get a lot of these questions, but in my opinion, a tour is a great tour if it actually runs smoothly. If there’s nothing really out of the ordinary. If something like that happens, then it’s usually not good. We had an accident in France, for example, when a bus tire exploded. If you’re in the bed and that happens, it’s not a very pleasant moment. But besides that, it all went very smooth and that’s the best thing about it.
Me: Do you personally have your own ritual before going on stage?
Oliver: Not at all. I sometimes read a book until five minutes before the show. It’s like a joke in the band. I can even sleep until ten minutes before the show and then just go on stage. it’s because on stage I’m very much in my bubble and it doesn’t matter if I’m in my living room or on stage.
Me: I read that on the latest Kamelot release you actually contributed way more than you did until now. And I know that what happens often with people who compose music is that they constantly want to improve and change things. And now, after you have gotten to play the songs live, would there be things you’d like to change?
Oliver: It’s always when I finish the CD, or well, the master, when I keep thinking that ‘Yea, I could’ve changed this or that to make it become better’. But one of the aspects of my development as a musician, or as a personal evolution let’s say, is also that you accept that you’re never perfect. You always strive for perfection but you will never get to the point where everything is one hundred percent perfect. In the past, it was really bad for me, because I often stopped projects in the middle. I always wanted it to be perfect and sometimes you could already foresee that it will not be perfect. But now, I guess as part of being more experienced and being older, is to accept that there’s no perfection in this world.
Me: You also started working with Tommy Karevik as main singer on this release. How was that as a cooperation? Did that bring many changes in your Kamelot life style or did it go smooth as if he’d always been there?
Oliver: Live, it is as if we’d played for years together and I believe that’s a good thing. Behind the stage, he kinda re energised and refreshed the band a lot. This was one of the funniest or happiest tour since many many years. For example, compared to Roy, Tommy is always around. Roy used to be all day separated. Tommy is always there, joking around, we’re having so many silly shitty things, like making jokes to kill time. He has a very special humor that fits perfectly. He’s a very nice guy and the song writing process was a very creative flow. He is full of ideas. Another good thing about him is that he is very disciplined. He comes from a steady job – fire fighter – and he doesn’t have this thing that, unfortunately, many musicians, especially singers, have and makes it very difficult work with them.
Me: You just told me that for you it’s the same whether you play in your studio or on stage. But is there anything you like in particular about being on stage?
Oliver: Yea, if the audience is full of energy. Which doesn’t mean they have to go crazy. Sometimes, when I’m in the Southern countries, they are almost too crazy. Sometimes I also wish they listened more and wouldn’t clap along all the time. For example, during my keyboard solos I’m totally happy if the audience is quiet. They are not meant for jumping or clapping or starting a mosh pit or so. But, in general, it’s the exchange with the audience which I love.
Me: Do you think a band can survive without touring today?
Oliver: No, not anymore.
Me: If you weren’t a Kamelot savvy and only listened to the album for the first time, what do you think would strike you from the musical content?
Oliver: I had this experience actually. I was asked to join the Black Halo tour ten days before and prior to that I never ever heard about Kamelot. Back then I had to study the songs and such.
Me: And what do you remember making you think ‘wow, this is so cool’?
Oliver: The very unique mixture of style while at the same time being very groovy. I’m coming from a jazz and classical background and what I often don’t like about metal is that it’s almost dead to the point that it’s not grooving. It has no groove. There’s no blues in it, it’s often really really straight. It probably has something to do with the production methods, they quantify it. Kamelot doesn’t do it and that’s what I really liked about it. Besides, there’s orchestration, synthesizers, really rough guitars, it’s like a very unique mixture that I loved right from the start.
Me: You are both a guitar and a keyboards player. When you have to produce new material, what’s your first choice among the two?
Oliver: It totally depends on the style. There’s no rule. Sometimes I start with a guitar riff, other times with the piano melodies.
Me: Do you contribute at all on Kamelot guitars?
Oliver: Yea, when I deliver songs, I record guitars. Then it depends if Thomas is changing the guitars or not. Sometimes he’s thinking that what I did is cool and will just copy it, maybe alternating a bit, other times he doesn’t consider it’s Kamelot style and then he takes my keyboards ideas and records a completely new guitar line. But I don’t record the guitars on the album. Actually, on the Swedish bonus song ‘Welcome Home’ there’s an acoustic guitar which I played.
Me: You have recently toured US as well. Looking at the experiences on the two continents, what makes them different?
Oliver: US is one big country. It might be a little bit of difference between North and South, but Americans are Americans no matter where. They might say it’s different, but coming from Europe it doesn’t feel like that. Even in Germany we have a huge difference between North and South with totally different dialects. It makes me laugh when I hear them saying that there’s a difference between somebody from Seattle or Los Angeles. If there is, it’s very little. But people are very enthusiastic there, all over US. It’s very steady, constantly at a high level, the reception is always great. In Europe, there are major differences between each country we’ve played in.
Me: You told me the European tour went smooth. Do you find the same smoothness in the US experience? Are people there well organised and professional?
Oliver: It’s more chaotic there actually. The venues are often pretty shitty. Especially in smaller and middle size venues there’s no catering in the morning, they don’t even have coffee prepared. It happens often that it is dirty as well.
In some European countries, like Netherlands and Sweden, many venues are supported by the cities so they get some financial help. I don’t know if that happens in US, but it seems it doesn’t. What often goes on my nerves is that it happens often to lack a lot of things. Even showers sometimes. I love the US, don’t get me wrong, it’s just the experience as a musician that makes a big difference. If I come to a venue in the morning and I have a little bit of bread, some cheese and coffee I am happy. And this happens in every European country, no matter the venue, while the situation is not the same in US.
Me: For the future of Kamelot, are you guys only finishing the tour now and there’s no plans for the near future or?
Oliver: We’re working on a second video. We recorded everything and now it’s our Serbian film team supposed to do their job. We are thinking about a new live DVD because the ‘One cold winter’s night’ is quite old by now.
Me: Did you record materials for it on this tour?
Oliver: Nono, it will be a big production like last time, with special guests, special venue, lots of pyros, stage acting and all these things. We want to make a big show out of it. It’s a hard choice about which country we’ll choose to film in. Last time it was here in Norway, so we’ll see where we go next time.
Me: Norway again?
Oliver: It is a country where we are very successful and have a great audience. But besides that, there’s a lot of technique and production stuff that needs to be considered.
We also want to tour a lot or we will tour a lot.
Me: What do you want from Santa?
Oliver: Peace on earth! Yea, that’s a very unique answer. I just want some peaceful days with my family. That’s all, since it happens pretty rare.
Me: I hope you get them and thanks for your time.

Motorpsycho – The Death Defying Unicorn live@Opera

I simply love it when the Oslo Opera house is holding non opera shows. It’s a place where I witnessed special shows from Ulver and Vreid and this 2012 November evening, my eyes and ears were fully captivated for 90 minutes by one hell of a mad show put up by the three Norwegians in Motorpsycho together with gues musicians Ola Kvernberg, Kåre Chr. Vestrheim and Ståle Storløkken plus a bunch musicians from Trondheim Jazzorchestra and Trondheimsolistene (if I got those info right). These folks were responsible for handling a wide range of brass and strings instruments (trumpets, violins, bass, etc).

One advantage of the Opera is the seating, especially those at the balconies where you really get a cool full view over the entire stage and you can say you fully digest the show from there. Then, its acoustic. Probably also thanks to a talented soundguy, but the sound of each instrument and effect and voice were so clear as you could easily focus on whatever you enjoyed best in the madness of stimuli goinng inside your ears.

Madness is actually the word I associate best with Motorpsycho, a band who’s been around since the beginning of the nineties. First times I heard them, I didn’t make any sense of their tunes so I simply gave up my attempts. I don’t know if it was a live show or some more ‘normal’ song who caught my attention later after that, but ever since I am simply fascinated by their live performances. They have a way of making a perfect disorder in their music, full of rhythm and yet, atypical. Feeling that hasn’t left me when I briefly browsed through the songs of their latest release, ‘The Death Defying Unicorn’, release on which the band also collaborated with today’s guests: Ståle Storløkken on keyboards/organ, jazz violinist Ola Kvernberg, string group Trondheimsolistene and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. And today’s event had the same name as the album, so one could easily figure that it might be fully performed on stage. What you couldn’t predict though, was the stage setting. There’s some carton waves in front of the stage, the orchestra people wear sailor tops and hats, the band musicians look like magicians, Storløkken wears a white robe while standing behind his countless keyboards and all I could see of Vestrheim was a tall pointed greenish hat. And a gong by his side.

The show is opened by a guy dressed as sailor who quickly announces that Motorpsycho will perform the album and what we’re about to experience is nothing less than a sailor’s tale. Ah, now the decor makes sense. Lots of applauding, main hall lights turn off, stage lights turn on and, surprise. A transparent material is hung from the ceiling in front of the musicians and a wild show of lights is projected on it (projection that will follow all the way through the end, getting less wilder and even funnier, in the shape of some flying fish, and then wild again, depending on the music).

The music is rarely leaving you time to realise how many songs you’ve been through. Actually, they didn’t even stop between songs, making everything flow nicely from mad sea storms, to peacefully visits in the harbor inns, then back to sea and starting all over again. I guess the fact that all the artists collaborated on the album itself, and it wasn’t just orchestra quickly learning the band’s metal songs, it never felt like two opposite teams trying to overcome the others. It was a perfect harmony between the two, except the fact that Motorpsycho music is anything but harmonious. Yet, there were lovely slow instrumental moments when you could just close your eyes and think of, well, unicorns afterall.

At the end, the band got a well deserved portion of applause and an extra one when they came back for a final bow. I also bow to them since they actually played that show twice, in the same day, with only few hours distance between them. And they didn’t seem to be sparing any energy while guitaring or drumming, which I believe was the case with the first show as well. It was a lovely evening that allowed me to discover this album in a ‘complete’ manner, assuming that for the live shows they got to fix whatever musicians consider ‘oh, I should have done this better on the album’. But at least now I’ll have the right imagery in the back of my mind whenever I put it on play again.

Gotthard live in Oslo – concert review

Even if they’ve been around since 1992, I only discovered Gotthard’s music this year at Graspop festival and I quickly fell in love with the voice of their current frontman, Nic Maeder. That’s why I gladly decided to go to their Oslo show, held at John Dee venue, but I was less glad today before the show as the day before I attended few other insane concerts and the amount of headbanging made it impossible for me to move much on Sunday. So I witnessed the Gotthard concert from way back, stiff like a plank of wood and very annoyed by that. Plus I also missed the first band, Gotham Saints, a Norwegian-Swedish mix of glam metallers. But I got in just in time for the opening tune of Gotthard, ‘Dream On’.

I was glad to see a pretty active Oslo crowd, who bothered to lift their hands in the air, sing along and applaud often. But then again, the singer has a lot of charm and energy and easily gets the audience to do ‘Oooohh’ and ‘Aaaaahs’ in any way he wants. He gets good support by the two guitarists and the bass player who do a lot of faces towards he crowd, inciting them to applaud or to sing, or they simply come forward and play a guitar solo in a fancy way, enough to trigger even more intense applause. They’re really cool to watch, even if after my Saturday’s concerts, where each band was trying to break a bunch of musical rules and patterns and would come up with a unique sound, Gotthard’s solos and rhythms felt kinda dull. I don’t mean to say they make bad music, yet, if it hadn’t been for the lovely voice, I’d simply have considered it another hard rock band that is cool live and that’s about it. But since the taste is a subjective matter, I’d much rather focus on enjoying the whole live experience and most of all, of being glad when a band succeeds in being so acclaimed by the Norwegian crowd.

The playlist probably followed the pattern of most other shows they played, trying to cover most of their discography but also to promote their 2012 release, ‘Firebirth’, with some decent time dedicated to a very intense ‘Hush’ cover. Like they did at Graspop, the ballad ‘One life, one soul’ was dedicated to the band’s original singer, Steve Lee, who died in a motorcycle accident almost two years ago. Then the sound gets a bit heavier with some of the tunes from the new track, especially with the presence of a double necked guitar during the rhythms of ‘Give me real’. Each song is a good example of good band communication and chemistry, as the smiles are always present and the guitar duos are often and done with good mood. Another funny moment of the show was when they announced ‘Mountain Mamma’ as the next song, yet the singer had to stop his colleagues as they were playing the wrong song intro. It’s obviously a rehearsed act, but it’s efficient in building a good mood. ‘Mountain Mamma’ was followed by ‘Right on’, songs during which the guitarist, Leo Leoni used a talk box to modify his voice and make robotic sounds and speak oddly to the Oslo audience.

They left the stage after ‘Right On’ and I’m pretty sure there was a comeback, but it was really frustrating not to be able to even clap nor sing along, so I just left and hope to make up for the missed fun next time I see them.

European Progressive Assault Tour – Review of the first show, Oslo, Norway

It’s not easy to explain the joy of ‘discovering’ a band, seeing them live at the beginning when they’re still a bit shy and sober on stage and slowly see their evolution by attending show after show, both their own release concerts or as support band during a long tour. And now, I get to see them as headliners of their own tour. I am talking about the Norwegians in Leprous, who never cease to amaze me live and overcome themselves with each performance I witness. The joy is even bigger when the support acts chosen for this tour (or well, at least for the Oslo concert) are so brilliant that each moment of live music from a quarter to nine til one AM is just breath taking. So, before trying to put them in chronological order, I recommend you take all necessary actions for you to attend at least one of the shows headlined by Leprous, supported by Ørkenkjøtt, Loch Vostok and Persephone. This is the list of upcoming shows.

The starting band at John Dee show (the Oslo venue), was a Norwegian duo called Aiming for Enrike and formed by the Leprous drummer, Tobias Ørnes and Simen Følstad Nilsen on guitar. They launched their debut album, ‘Mao Miro’ (name inspired by two cats, as far as I found out this evening) and the album itself, as well as their live performance, is an epic musical journey in an experimental progressive world that might just embarrass a lot of famous instrumental duos. Both musicians are very talented and few minutes after their tandem started, I noticed how everyone in front was moving to the rhythm and the applauses just got more and more intense with each song. I even heard someone who mainly came to see this band and then the others. The guitar comes with such catchy sounds, backed up by a pile of wisely used pedals and the man behind the minimal drum kit pulls off a mad increasing explosive tempo. If you want to check them out for yourselves, their sounds are available here . It’s a pity they don’t get to play as openers for the rest of the European shows and I’m sure Persephone has a lot of work to do to set the intro band standards as high as these two did tonight in Oslo.

The Swedish neighbors have toured together with Leprous before (but both as support acts for Therion) so they seemed quite comfortable to take over the stage and start performing their progressive songs, both old and new, as their latest album, ‘V – The Doctrine Decoded’, had the same release date as the Oslo gig. The thing that stood out the most for me, as it did the first time, is the unexpected changes in their rhythm, especially when it brings up very harsher and aggressive sounds and riffs, something in the lines of death metal. These riffs are quite abundant and Loch Vostok has found the right balance in blending them with the keyboards, so that they don’t fall in the category of yet another one of those prog bands out there who follow the same patterns. Some might obviously not like the harsh parts, but I found them nicely fitted with Teddy Möller’s pleasant vocals and most of all, perfect to put in evidence the crazy drummer they have on stage, Lawrence Dinamarca. The minus of the Swedes is that they were the least intense, stage show wise. But the next two appearances compensated enough for this.

Back to local acts, Ørkenkjøtt (translated as Desert meat) and their ‘Ørken’ metal, a very refreshing and original mix of metal styles with oriental sounds. The sound needs a lot of exploration, especially since the album that they are singing from, ‘Ønskediktet’ is a concept album meant to take you to a special Ørken Universe.In this sound you discover groovy slow parts, brutally kicked away by rough, almost devilish, growlings; somehow old-fashioned guitar riffs, slow and soft, building up to pure insanity that messes with your ears. I almost wish they don’t release a new album too soon so I get to chance to experience these songs live few more times. But what makes Ørkenkjøtt’s show unforgettable is what the guys actually do on stage. First, the decently sized singer comes up wearing a white prophet robe (they sing about a prophet in one of their songs, afterall). The guitarists and bass player wear face paint and sparkling stuff which might raise a few eyebrows in the audience.Eyebrows that would quickly turn to a surprised expression when they witness the show: the guitarists are most of the time standing on the monitors and leaning towards the excited front row audience, then they run to switch places, then they stop in the middle of the stage for a duo solo, then one of them runs to the other guitarist’s side to play a solo together there, then they shake someone’s hand or cheer a beer with the crowd in between songs. Or during. Meanwhile, the ‘prophet’ does a mix of dramatic gestures and headbanging, switching between the two(?) microphones and the megaphone. For the comeback, he impersonates Randy Redneck, main subject of the song, displaying not the best part of his body, but going insane by the end of the show when he’s rolling and kneeling on the floor. It’s a performance that makes you sweat just by trying to follow everyone on stage.

But it’s a must that you save some energy for the main act of the evening, Leprous. They are coming up with a newer (yes, I saw it a couple of times before) own show. It starts with some monitor projections which, if you take too seriously, should better remember not to eat before the show. Then the whole light show seemed a bit darker than usual as they are using some small lamps placed on the floor, lamps that add up to the dramatism of the whole concept. The only thing I find unchanged is their stage uniforms. Else, they somehow found room for even more jumping and headbanging and making it seem like the presence of five of them could easily fill the space needed for a whole orchestra. They played a lovely mix of songs from their current two albums, ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ and ‘Bilateral’, but most important they treated us with two new songs. Ah, is the album out yet? They sounded too good to be true. Especially the first one that had so much groove and intensity in it. But, in case I didn’t make it obvious, intensity is the main ingredient of a Leprous show. They arrange the songs and the passages between songs in such a manner that when Einar Solberg is done with his vocal parts, every standing man on stage seems suddenly plugged in and going crazy as if they just started their show. They even have small choreography parts in which the headbanging and stage moves are synchronised to the rhythm, making the whole experience quite epic. Besides, their singer left the stage several times to go and sing directly in the crowd’s face, a well appreciated gesture. I think that tonight, for the first time, I experienced a Leprous comeback. And what an experience that was. Finally a band who cares about its tired audience and offers them the chance to sit down during a lovely ballad. That was quite a sight and it created a very special emotion throughout the ending song, ‘Acquired Taste’. Another special detail about the Oslo concert was the presence of a trumpet player during several songs from ‘Bilateral’. I have no idea if they will have the trumpet for the whole tour, and if not, I guess I can only be happy to have had it as a live presence.

I’m trying not to make this review much longer, as I could probably go on for few more pages about how intense and crazy and cool and awesome each performance was. But instead of extra words on paper/screen, I insist again that you go and catch one of the shows on this tour. It’s an experience that should show exactly what live music should be about: unleashed passion and talent and the artists’ dedication in giving their best as payback for your presence in front of their stage. Don’t forget earplugs!

South of Heaven, Oslo – Vulture Industries, Helheim, Taake – review

It’s been a long time now since I wished to catch a live performance by Vulture Industries, after seeing plenty of youtube videos, each of them making me more and more curious. And finally, May 2012 brings the band to Oslo for the already established event South of Heaven. It’s true that the event headliner were the band’s Bergen mates, Taake, but this didn’t make me less enthusiast when I saw the lineup, that also included Helheim.

Most of the people I spoke with expected Helheim to open the show, but to my surprise the backdrop had the name ‘Vulture Industries’ on it, so obviously they started the show, with a bit of delay caused by the crowd’s lack of interest in approaching the stage. When finally some brave ones occupied the first row, the sound of ‘Crook and Sinners’ started followed by the band joining the stage. A bunch of bare footed guys, dressed in white dress shirts and black suspenders (except one guitarist who had black clothes). They didn’t spend much time with introductions and launched their madness led by their vocalist and showman, Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen. Besides the fact that he can sing very theatrically and dramatic, he can greatly make use of all his body components to express the messages of his songs. He takes turns into looking like a mad man, an evil inquisitor, an insane appearance, a pathetic or a desperate character. He doesn’t make use of too many stage props, but the one interrogatory strong-light lamp he brings and points at his face from below adds to the drama. So did the ladder on which he climbs to play a song or the rope with the noose that he threw to the crowd and then pretended he is being pulled by the people. Not to forget the moments when he stepped off the stage and either ran through the crowd or sang very close to the ones in the first row. Bjørnar is obviously the main attraction of the band’s live show, but he is well supported by very talented musicians. So if you can ignore the singer’s craziness, you actually discover there’s a bunch of sweet guitar parts, growing in intensity and complexity with each song, plus pretty tight drumming that doesn’t linger too long in any pattern. If you heard their music before, you may occasionally miss the presence of live keyboards, but this thought crossed my mind only once during their whole performance, so they probably all do a good job at covering this minus.

After the high dose of entertainment offered by Vulture Industries, I was really wondering how the upcoming bands are going to top that. And actually, I even wondered why they bothered playing. Since you cannot really beat that. After the regular instruments-change break, Helheim took over the stage all of them wearing chainmails (which must be quite a heavy piece of equipment). In order to be more visually interesting, their show contained a bunch of projections, but I was quite distracted by their headbanging or certain song parts, so except a bunch of writing, I don’t remember what else they projected. Most likely viking related stuff, to match the ‘viking’ vibe in their black metal which easily swayed your thoughts in the direction of either huge battlefields or a mad Thor shooting his anger towards the mortals. Very atmospheric metal with high story telling capacity. One of the guitarists actually decided to tell the story from within the ground, hence he vanished from the stage at some point. Overall, I believe the band style was more appealing to the majority of the crowd, who probably came to see Taake, hence they seemed to get somehow louder cheers during the concerts. But not that many open mouths and surprised figures though.

One more break and the lights turn off, making room for a bunch of white painted macabre faces, with very thick black lines around eyes and/or mouths, while the band’s singer, Hoest, came wrapped in a Norwegian flag. Once the flag was removed, it revealed an upside down cross drawn on his abdomen. While overall I don’t find much interest in classical black metal shows (even if, as I recall now, Taake didn’t use spikes), I am always fascinated by a band who is able to conquer the audience. Which is something that Taake did. Both through the music which probably represented bed time lullabies for some of the fans, but mainly through the stage show. Hoest moved continuously from one end to another, leaned towards the crowd, played the mean angry guy with the microphone stand and most of all, looked extremely grotesque with his white eyes – lenses. I noticed one of the females present in the first row who was extremely preoccupied with caressing the guitarist leg whenever he would lean against the fence in front of the stage. I’m always happy to see satisfied crowd, but to be honest, I’d reverse the playing order. I’d even replace all the names with Vulture Industries. But, until the day I organise an event myself, I can only blabber about the ones I witness.

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