Hole in the Sky 2011 + Day 3 and Day 4

Posted 09 October 2011   Event Reviews

Day 3 & Day 4
USF Verftet + Bergen, Norway
August 26th and 27th, 2011

My feet are already sore and my the vertebrae in my neck have been crushed by the unholy riffs of honest to Satan METAL…yep, it’s Day 3 of Hole in the Sky 2011. After crazy first two days in the trenches, the second half of the festival took place in an old sardine factory. Fortunately for my ears, the day’s helping of metal craftsmanship could not be contained in a can, and the Americans break out first.

Brooklyn’s Negative Plane buried themselves in a stage full of fog as they sent out a cold shrill transmission that delivered on the hype of their recent album, Stained Glass Revelations. With the eardrums fully worked out, I was most excited to see the next band… Ghost. Over the past year, this buzz band has already garnered massive amounts of praise and plenty of disdain, but to put it simply, Ghost were fun! The songs sounded great live and the evil Pope thing worked. Total bummer they dropped off the upcoming US tour, but I’m positive they will prove their worth many times over in the future.

Next up was Norway’s own spirit of Venom, Nifelheim. These guys are uniquely European with their honest, unflinching metal attack and the denim clad warriors in the audience reacted with full force. Yell, raise fist, headbang, shoot horns, repeat. In stark contrast, Primordial took the stage next for a rousing sing along. I honestly wasn’t that familiar with these Irish heroes, but their emotional stage presence was enough to make me pick up one of their albums not long after returning home. There is something irrevocably soul crushing about Celtic self loathing. Take that for what you will.

Ok, time to get extremely serious. Godflesh were up next. As the story goes, Jesus Christ came back from the dead on the 3rd day, right? On the 3rd day of the festival, Godflesh played “Christbait Rising” and crucified us all. This was quite a culminating event for me as they ripped through key tracks from Streetcleaner and Pure. If you get a chance to see the band before Justin B. loses interest again, DO IT! My inner music nerd went full circle several times over.

The night was basically done for me at this point. The final band of the evening was Satyricon, who rightfully sent the whole place into a frenzy. I get why people like them (well, maybe not the last few records), but for some reason they never really resonated with me. That being said, I was still the tourist here. Norway had a good time with them and that’s what counts.

I must have slept quite well after Day 3 because I was up and ready for Day 4 completely refreshed! Bergen’s hometown band, Helheim, set the mood with all the horns and chainmail their horses could carry. Cool band…I need to give them a real listen. Then with a quick set change, Virus, took the stage. This was another band I wasn’t very familiar with, but I’ll be damned if half the attendees weren’t wearing Virus merch. Several people told me they had an avant garde jazz tendency, but I heard more art-rock than any type of jazz. Anyway, they sounded good and helped break up all the metal that was to follow.

Up next were the much celebrated Enslaved. The band has been involved with Hole in the Sky since its first year and have grown in parallel popularity with the festival. Despite several chances, I had never seen the band up to this point. Now I’m kicking myself for not seeing them sooner because they were ferocious. The set was quite eclectic as well…even playing songs from their “Viking metal” days, some of which had never been played live before. The Last Supper indeed.

By the time Enslaved were finished, I had nearly forgotten that Mayhem were up next. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up as I realized I was about to see the band in their home country (yes, I went to the shop in Oslo where Helvete used to be…nerd). Say what you will about Mayhem and their various incarnations, they still deliver the goods live. I do have to mention that they earned extra points because they’re the only band on the festival bill that felt dangerous. The floor started to move and that Norwegian affability in the audience melted away. Plus Attila’s aging vampire look was sickening. Awesome.

Of course, many would say that the promoters saved the best for last. Immortal are icons of the scene and showed everyone why. The riffs, the imagery, the fucking pyro! They blasted through a lengthy set that touched on every era of the band. They even played “Through the Halls of Eternity.” Have they ever played that live? Insane! Ok, I’m starting to gush, but they were definitely the right band to end an incredible 4 days of top notch metal. The Immortal chants went on for what seemed like days. MORE PYRO!

Cheers to the organizers and all the great people I met. All the hard work put into every aspect of the show was incredible. If this really was the last year, it went out on the highest note possible. Hails! “I’m looking through a hole in the sky…”

– Taylor Keahey