Inferno Music Conference 2023
At the start of April, Slow Dragon Music flew out to Norway once more, for the Inferno Metal Festival and Music Conference.
On our second run, this is fast becoming one of the highlights of our year. The festival itself plays host to a superb array of extreme metal bands. However, here we will be giving our experiential overview of the music industry conference. Which accompanies it.
We arrived a few days early, watching Oslo fill up with the various cast and crew, mostly dressed in black. The city itself is very welcoming of the event, and all involved. People you would never expect approach, to discuss the upcoming festivities. By the Wednesday, there is a throng in prepared attendance, and we are treated to a warm-up show. Indie Recordings have prepared a three band bill of their artists at the harbour venue, Salt.
Headliners, Kristiansand’s In Vain, hit us some progressive, melodic death metal, preceded by even more technical heaviness from Vorbid. It is the openers, Eradikated, however, who really grab us. Formerly known as The Generations Army, the four piece power house are blasting thrash, in their own words, as “its supposed to sound – hard, fast and mean”.
Inferno Music Conference 2023 Day One
The conference opens up to bleary yet eager eyes. Over 250 pairs, in fact. After a brief introductory speech, we open up with The Power Of A Live Concept : Bringing Theatre To A Metal Stage. Hosted by Frank Godla (Metal Injection, US), it runs the gamut from operatics, lighting, and projection, to the power of headbanging in unison, and stage diving. It’s lively start, thanks to the guests, Thomas Respondek (Kingstar, DE) and Kate Pendry (London born, NO). Pendry brings in some personal and exotic experiences as a performing artist, and gets deep into the difference between theatre and theatrics.
Our second selection of the day one is Thirty Years Of Hate: Black Metal And Subcultural Development In Turkey. Hosted by researcher Douglas Mattsson (SE), it is a bit drier, but a real insight into a significantly different scene. (as someone who has studied similar subjects, this was actually one of my favourites of the week – Slow Dragon)
Up next is one we have been looking forward to, and it doesn’t disappoint; Boutique Indoor Festivals – The New Tendency?
The style of event being discussed is an alternative to the bigger festivals, focused on a niche in the genre itself, and tend to be smaller. Gavin McInally (Damnation), Freek Koster (Soulcrusher, NL), and Andre Mendes (Amplifest, PL) get down to what it’s all about with host, Jose Carlos Santos. The light-hearted conversation covers the importance of community in bringing back an audience, the international restrictions of smaller fests, post pandemic hardships, and much more. It is informative, and in-depth, but also very fun!
We complete the first day of our festival with Greener Touring Two: Merchandise. This is a more concentrated follow up to the Greener Touring panel from last year, and, to be honest, things still look a bit grim. There’s a lot more to the ‘cost’ of a t-shirt than how much we pay for it. It is important to look into the impact we have on the environment, and make what efforts we can. This talk did bring us crashing back down to Earth, though. A story to be investigated further, and consistently. It’s just as well we have the first day of Inferno Festival proper to look forward to right after this!
Inferno Music Conference 2023 Day Two
The Open Air Festival Presentation sets of day two, with some unfortunate technical difficulties. We are introduced to four festivals, each with a unique character. The Water Tower art festival, now operating for ten years in Sofia Bulgaria, seems to be quite interactive, and very socially aware. It was based around re-purposing the area surrounding a disused water tower. Now in Gdansk shipyard, Mystic festival is an urban fest with some big names on board. Gojira, Testament, Ghost, Behemoth, & Danzig all head to the event this year.
The 3rd festival is probably the most interesting for us; Midsgartblot. Based in the Midgard Viking Centre (Borre, NO), it features a host of metal, folk, and industrial acts. It’s site is reportedly by the largest burial mound in Northern Europe, with a huge mead hall, and fjord-side camping. Visitors can take in academic seminars, a Viking market, and even join in a Blot ritual on the opening night. It sounds like there is a lot to love about this event.
We’re slightly rushed as the Art mania presentation begins. The Transylvanian fest has an interesting story, though, launched by mistake when Nightwish were invited to play a show, which then spiralled into something much bigger. One highlight of their tale involved a Priest attempting to cut their main electric cable with an axe! Luckily for him, he was prevented.
We really wanted to catch this next talk; Mutilated Tyrant: A Conversation About The Navajo Black Metal Scene.
Not your regular Friday afternoon chat, we’re sure you’ll agree. Hosted by Harald Fossberg, the band discussed the unique character of the Native American reservation metal scene. It is made up of quite different sub genres of metal, patching together desert shows with generators, gigs in people’s houses, and splitting gear with others living several hours apart.
Moving on to more in-depth subjects about Mutilated Tyrant’s musical and cultural roots, and how they intertwine, was really enjoyable. They also revealed that they plan to move on to more lyrics in Diné, the Navajo language, and to delve into traditional stories. Playing at Inferno has certainly opened their experience to more of the world, and it would be superb to see this continue.
The next discussion is all about – Presales – What Are We Going To Do About It?
The answer still seems unclear, but Brent Oostrum (NL), Rubén Barros (EC), Juan Antonio (SP) appear to agree on a couple of things. First of all, big names are still selling well. They always did, though, so no real change there. Where the difficulty lies is that people are lower in confidence that events will go ahead, and so, don’t buy tickets until a lot closer to show day. It’s interesting to hear the views from across the board, but this is another discussion which could have gone on at length.
Following this, we are treated to a Career Talk from Rotting Christ’s Sakis Tolis (hosted by Frank Godla). It is a lovely, heartfelt 45 minutes hearing his personal allegories. Who would have thought one of Greece’s main voices in extreme music would suggest the secret to great metal albums is table tennis..? Sakis discusses growing up poor, how that drives creativity, and how he recently learnt about himself that “The world doesn’t change, and I have a lot of psychological problems.” This is a man who also says he doesn’t regret his past risk taking, and, basically, won’t slow down his playing until he shuffles of the mortal coil. Seemingly, on stage would be preferable.
For our absolutely final sitting of the conference, we slink off to a lesser known side room of The Clarion for the Helvete Documentary Panel.
In this tiny space are the creators of the documentary, which covers the history of Norwegian black metal. That’s pretty cool in itself. They are joined, though, by people from the early scene; Marius Vold (Mortem, ex-Thorns, ex_Arcturus), Tore Bratseth (The Batallion, Old Funeral), and the rather lively and cheery Torben Grue (ex-Mayhem, ex-Vomit). This is quite the enlightening discussion, with those who were there, and saw behind the black curtain. Not too many people seem to have known about this panel, and it is a great, intimate end to proceedings.
So, with our heads crammed full of new knowledge, we head off to day two of the Inferno Metal Festival, to beat our brain cells back to reality, with copious amounts of headbanging and expensive booze. If you love heavy music, and have an interest or involvement in the industry side of things, the IMC conference is to be highly recommended!
Slow Dragon & AVZD
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Inferno Music Conference 2023