Playing at Inferno has been a dream (alongside dreams of playing at Wacken Open Air) and I was over the moon when we got confirmed for the festival, not to mention that Rikskonsertene (concerts Norway) were funding our trip as part of their exchange program with India. However we had to wait a whole month and a half before we could announce the good news to our fans in India. But when we did the support we received was incredible.
We started getting our Visas done in March (Viru finally has a passport) and it still didn't hit me that we were indeed going to Norway to play Inferno. We were scheduled to leave India on Tuesday 30th March at 2am. So the entire band got together at my place to pick up the gear and have a celebratory dinner before leaving for the airport. The fact that there was free booze on the flight heightened our excitement. We reached the airport on time (for a change) and got all our check in formalities done with plenty of time to spare, thankfully we were also not overweight with the luggage so that was a big relief. We chilled out at Coffee and Tea leaf where Mephisto's 300 Rs Ice Cafe Mocha was quite yummy. Finally we boarded the flight, which was thankfully on time and we geared up for the journey to Norway.
We were served a light snack on the flight which was abysmal to say the least, we flew on Air France. I stayed up watching 2012 on the flight which was the perfect inflight movie to watch :) and finally fell asleep only to wake up to a rather smelly omelette for breakfast. We landed in Paris and made our way to the terminal for our connecting flight. It was raining in Paris and even though we couldn't see much out of the city it was quite beautiful and gloomy. I think this is when it really hit me that I was on a plane to Norway. We had a 4 hour wait before the connecting flight where Husain again rejoiced at the free booze coming his way. Two hours later we touched down in Norway. On the flight Daniel and (I think) Viru chatted up this tattoo artist from Chile who was sitting next to them. We landed in Oslo airport which was pretty empty only to find out that the airline had left Viru's Demon Drive pedal in Paris. Thankfully they knew where it was an assured us that it would come to Oslo on the next flight and be delivered to our hotel the next morning at 9am. So we collected the baggage that did arrive and head out to catch a train to the hotel while Mephisto ran to catch his flight to Bergen where we had a mini vacation planned.
We stepped out of the nice warm airport into the cold outside and caught our 1st glimpse of the snow. We also deviated from the train plan and caught a bus that would drop us right outside our hotel and was leaving in 2minutes so without much deliberation we hopped on board. The hour long bus ride was beautiful and we saw a lot of open space covered in snow, factories and industrial looking areas. But the scenery was really beautiful and not to mention dark and gloomy since there was no sun so to speak. The bus dropped us a block away from our hotel and as nature ran its course I spotted a Burger King in the distance and I knew I would eat dinner there. So we hauled our asses and our luggage to our hotel. Once we reached our hotel we checked in but they could not find either Daniel or Viru's name so after a phone call and the festival organizer reaching the reception in 2minutes exactly (turns out their office was a room in the hotel) we had our rooms. The hotel rooms were great, comfortable and there was free porn on the telly! (Not to mention the most boring porn in world!!). After settling down in our rooms we all met in the lobby and headed to Burger King where I enjoyed the Whopper \m/ yummmm 2 beef patties in a bun with fries. All for about 80NOK which is 640 bucks. After our early dinner (I think it was some 6pm Norway time) we just strolled around and checked out the area around the hotel. However by the time we got back I had got a severe headache from all the hot cold hot cold and popped a crocin and went off to sleep as I had a big day tomorrow at the Inferno Music Conference.
Woke up bright and early at 8am sans the headache and I was feeling good. Woke up the rest of the band and headed down for breakfast only to be greeted by the most amazing fucking breakfast spread EVER! There were 8 kinds of cold cuts, 8 kinds of cheese, breads, fruits, cereal, juice, milk, fish, coffee of all kinds, tea and yada yada yada. Needless to say we all ate till we were ready to BURST! We also saw Gaahl from Gorgoroth walking around the hotel. At breakfast we were also joined by Amit Saigal, Reuben and Sid from RSJ and Shashwath from GnS and it was a big Indian metal party going on. Post breakfast spent some time discussing the presentation at the conference with Shashwath and Amit to ensure that we didn’t repeat the same stuff. We got all our stuff together and headed to the IMC by noon. We loaded up our presentations and ensured everything was working fine. The conference was headed by Anders who is the IMC founder and an important person in the Norwegian music scene. He opened the conference with his seminar on the music biz and how to deal with it in 2010. Bård Torstensen (Clawfinger) was up next with a workshop on studio methods and songwriting which was ok but nothing that I didn’t know but I guess informative for others. The next panel was to be about music in movies and games but 2 of 3 people from the panel were not there and Anders stepped in with the 1 person who was there and tried to get the most out of it but it was quite a fruitless hour IMHO. The Indians (thats us) were up next. Amit Saigal did his presentation 1st giving an overview of the culture in India and how young the rock culture is along with highlighting the scene points about cover bands , great Indian rock, RSJ magazine etc. I followed that up with my words of wisdom on metal in India and went through all the aspects of the scene like the bands, venues, labels, concerts etc etc. I spoke a bit about DSR and Resurrection the festival. Shashwat followed it up with his interesting presentation after which we concluded the conference for that day. The sad part was that there were all of 12 people there for it. On the bright side the coffee was awesome and the cinnamon buns were good. We all went and relaxed for an hour before we had to head to John Dee for the VIP after party and Indie Records listening sessions at John Dee.
So I was late and so was Shaswat so one of the Inferno volunteers took us to the venue which was 10minutes walking distance in the freezing cold. The party venue was dimly lit with a metal DJ playing some tunes, the beer flowing freely and some really appetizing looking food. Since my eyes were on the food there was a sausage and mushroom mix, Swiss cheese, meatballs, garlic butter prawns, some veggie stuff, pork in some form, bread and salad. There we met some bands (read Keep of Kalessin) and generally listened to some new releases from Indie Recordings which included The Shinning, 1349 and Keep of Kalessin. It was really cool. The party/listening session ended at 8pm after which we headed downstairs to catch ‘The Shining’ and man even though I only stayed for 2 songs they were fucking ripping the place us, their sound was intense and chaotic. So we left to catch Scribe at Bla and walked a good long way before reaching there. The stage was empty and there was almost an hour for the gig to start so we just chilled with the Scribe guys till Spearhead took the stage, tight band but their sound was so-so with the bass farting on the PA (welcome realization that bad sound can happen anywhere in the world). There must have been 30 people when these guys started and by the time Scribe took the stage maybe 70 people were there. Scribe didn’t receive the warmest welcome since most guys there seemed to be old school metal heads but 2-3 songs into the set Vishwesh got some of them on stage to do the windmill and by the end of it had them all converted. For the last song Vishwesh got me and Reuben to come on stage and do the windmill as well. Highlight of the set was Vishwesh putting a jacket over his head and doing the windmill. Insane! Scribe’s set was short, approx 40min after which Vomitry setup and waited to start. Their drummer was this huge 6 foot something monster who was insanely fast on the kit and was just blasting all through the set with some of the most amazing fills I’ve heard. Spent most of their set watching him before we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel. By this time Mephisto had reached Oslo and joined us at the hotel. So did Viru’s pedal bag.
Woke up bright and early again and today was the big day! Went downstairs and had a good breakfast, ate a little less than the previous day. There were many more metal heads roaming the hotel today, lots of people checking in as well. After breakfast the band jammed while I made my way to the venue to deliver the merchandise. When I walked into the venue I was stunned, what a fucking venue! When you enter and cross a long passageway you reach the main stage which was a huge stage about 8 feet off the ground with enough standing space in front for 800 people at least and there was a balcony level 1 where you can watch the bands from, a 2nd balacony as well which leads out to smoking area on the terrace where there is also barbeque in the nights and a VIP. Oh yeah every single fucking room has a BAR! Moving back to the ground floor. The left hand side of the main stage had a room twice the size of razz (but shaped like a tunnel) filled with various stores selling metal merchandise. I kid you not there must have been about 2000 t-shirts of every single band from Emperor to Mayhem to Cannibal Corpse to Decide to Gojira to god knows what. CDs, patches, rings, pendants, vynl, cds, tapes, full sleeves, half sleeves, girlie t-shirts, sweat shirts, hoodies, caps, wrist bands, statues, ash trays, ear and nose piercings etc etc. It was metal heaven. The right side of the stage had 3 live tattoo artists where you could get a tattoo done at the festival. There was the official festival merch which was selling albums and t-shirts of the bands playing as well as the festival merch. From this section you go downstairs to the John Dee venue which was a 400 capacity venue which was like a better version of Razz. It was a perfect setting for metal. So after checking out the entire venue I headed back to the hotel after I dropped off the DR merch to the stall.
Once I got back we decided to get a quick bite at McDonalds at around 4:30. We were going to be picked up at 6:30 to be taken to the venue. So we did 1 last jam and got ready and headed down to the hotel lobby where we met our driver and got taken to the venue. We entered the backstage area and headed to the stage which was covered by a black curtain, we met all the technicians, got all our requirements sorted out and then got taken to our green room, which was 1 of 3 in the backstage area. We had everything we needed, chips, drinks, fruit etc to munch on, there were even showers available. We chilled out for a bit, I went down and checked out the band performing before us which was Svarttjern a local black metal band with the complete getup of corpse paint and spikes and everything, they sounded really good. I went back up and we all got ready to kick some ass. We got called once Svarttjern finished and we began our setup, all behind the black curtain. Sadly we had no contact with anyone we knew so I was worried about how to film our set. After our setup and soundcheck we were ready to go. It was one of the smoothest and most easy soundchecks ever, we had a small scare with the module when it was hitting a few extra notes but it was sorted soon. I managed to place the camera on the monitor mixer and get a decent angle but the camera gave some errors and the monitor mix engineer filmed a bit of each song and my mistake of leaving the night vision on. Anyway that side another epic fail moment was when I was to play the intro from my ipod only to realize I had not carried the file with me since I had formatted the damn thing and didn’t recopy it. So we got out a CD and managed to get it played. So here we were standing behind the black curtain, we peeked outside and saw that the place was packed.
The lights went out, the intro started playing ‘Between Infinity And Oblivion’ and the curtained was opened. The venue was full, I felt a sense of pride standing there, 10 years of hard work and dedication has taken us to that stage and this was just the beginning. The intro ended and we broke into ‘Where Dreams And Darkness Unite’ and there was no stopping us from there on. We followed it up with Apocalyptic Dawn, The Unrelenting Surge of Vengeance, The Warriors Return and Frozen Portrait. We got the audience support and had most of them banging their heads, raising their fists and doing what metal heads do. In Norway people don’t really mosh its all about watching the concert, banging your head and raising your fist. So we definitely got a great response for our. Infact even though Belphegor started playing people stayed till we finished Frozen Portrait. It was just the most amazing experience ever. The curtain closed and that was the end of our set, we did what we set out to do and that was kick some ass. So we got all our gear packed and Mephisto, Husain and Daniel ran off to catch Belphegor while I packed my stuff met a few fans who stayed back and figured out the car scenes with Viru. So once Belphegor was done we got our gear together and headed to the hotel dropped it in our rooms and headed right back. Daniel however decided to call it a night and was kind enough to give me his JD coupons. So we headed back and went straight to the catering section which was like a nice cosy restaurant where the bands and crew ate. There were some delicious chicken legs, fried Cod and something similar to cous cous salad and bread. We ate and ate and my god that was some good food!! After this we headed back to the festival area and all went our own way. I met Anders at the merch stall and spoke to him for a bit, he liked DR’s performance and he introduced me to a few important people like the editor of Metal Hammer Germany among others. After that it was party time and we went up to the room where the VIP was, everyone was there and I downed about 4 Jack and Cokes and chilled out and met people and hung with the boys from India. Caught the end of Fintrolls set and they sounded good. Followed that up by watching Marduk afterwards, man their drummer is a monster behind the kit, blasting away. By this time I was high on JD and we walked back to the hotel after Marduk played since they were the last band. So at 2:30 in the morning we decided to go to the only place that was open to eat which was some Arabic place where we got this pita bread stuffed with fried mutton, corn and lettuce covered in a killer garlic white sauce and some spicy sauce. Thankfully at 49NOR it was a fairly cheap meal. Once we finally managed to finish the monster we just went to our rooms and crashed.
Woke up next morning feeling pretty sick and just relaxed and chilled out and went for a late breakfast. Ate even less today than the previous day since last night’s Pita bread sickness was still lingering. Met Anders again and was introduced to SAMOTH who was chilling with him. It was quite surreal and I cursed that I didn’t carry my Emperor CDs to get signed. Since we weren’t played today I decided to relax in the afternoon after I took some time to visit a souvenir shop to buy something to bring back. Mephisto and Husain went on the black metal bus which was a tour of all the black metal related things in Norway, they were shown the 1st metal shop, some of the burnt churches etc etc. Once they got back the entire band decided to head out to Elm Street Cafe for a heavy metal burger. So we got to the cafe and tasted an ass kicking burger. Also saw a band setting up to play there that night. Little Daniel decided he was not hungry enough to order a burger but the moment we stepped out he got hungry. He rang to Burger King which was not open so we stopped at a 7 Eleven store where the young land proceeded to eat not 1 or 2 but 3 BIG BELGIAN WAFFLES covered in chocolate. Needless to say he felt ill after. I myself played it safe and had 1 for desert and it was delicious. We got back to the hotel and got ready and left for the festival. We walked in to find Nick Barker sitting at the tattoo stall getting a tattoo. Husain later managed to meet him and catch a bit. Meanwhile I managed to catch Ram-Zet which was a really interesting band. There were 3 women, 1 violin, 1 keyboardist and 1 vocalist plus the other 2 did backing vocals. Their music was really energetic and interesting. The bassist was groovy as fuck. Really enjoyed their set after which I ran down to John Dee to catch Blodspor a local band whose music seemed fairly hardcore to me. Very tight, reminded me of Scribe for some reason minus Vishwesh’s funny bone. These guys even dedicated a song to DR and I was really touched. I caught Benediction next who had Nick Barker on drums, their music is not really my thing but they were fun to watch. They were the only band at Inferno to get a mosh going and when I mean mosh it was like a very baby non violent mosh, maybe 10 guys pushing each other around for 2minutes. The Inferno crowd is more about standing, watching, raising your metal fist and headbanging or doing the windmill. Next up were Obscura at John Dee and after 1 song I got bored and went upstairs to chill. I went right up front to the main stage and waited for Ihsahn to take stage. It was not long before the curtain opened and I realized he had a really young backing band. They started with ‘The Barren Lands’ which gave me goosebumps and went straight into ‘A Grave Inversed’ it was really cool. He played Scarab, Misanthrope and a couple of other tracks from all the albums; they kept changing between their 8 string and 7 string guitars. There were 2 other guitarists apart from Ihsahn. They even did Unhealer with the keyboardist singing Akerfeldts cleans and the guitarist doing the death growls. It was pretty insane, however Ihsahn made a few mistakes here and there, he forgot a solo in one of the songs and the band made a few noticeable goof ups but I couldn’t care because I was really looking forward to their performance. I walked around and shopped for a bit while Ragnarok played at John Dee just before Mayhem took main stage. Their set was intense; they had pyros, costumes and animal carcasses. It was pretty interesting to watch and they crucified their vocalist before the last track. By this time most of DR was already back at the hotel so I rushed back and quickly got my luggage and met the band in the hotel lobby at 3am. We got into the pickup car and drove to the airport for our 6am flight. And that was the end of our trip to Inferno. It certainly was a memorable one and we can’t wait to go back again and play there.