This year’s metal festivals in Norway did not disappoint with promising lineups and excellent organisation. Beyond the Gates was no exception to this.
Visiting the gorgeous city of Bergen once again and getting to see bands such as Taake, Satyricon, 1349 and Enslaved was the perfect way to end this year’s summer festival season.
1349 were among the first acts I have seen at Beyond the Gates.
Their intense show was a masterful combination of newest material and well-known classics.
The dynamic highlight of Massive Cauldron of Chaos, “Slaves”, was one of the first songs of their set, but earlier material, such as the heavy “Serpentine Sibilance” with its crushing riffs, was not forgotten.
The band’s gig has not just been photographed – Kim Holm, known from his artwork for bands such as Taake, Sólstafir and Vreid, has been working on ink pictures of 1349. Impressive to say the least!
Mysticum ended the night. Industrial metal played by the Norwegians captivated the audience and electrified the venue.
Thursday shows have prepared the festival-goers for more excellent performances.
Beyond the Gates’ lineup wasn’t the only well-thought aspect of the event. The organisers have taken care of every detail, including ‘Guest of honour’ cards for press which was both a travel card for Bergen and region + entrance to many of the city’s museums and other places worth visiting. Watch and learn, other festivals, watch and learn!
As if it wasn’t enough, the venue hosted an exhibition featuring Tormentor artworks by Costin Chioreanu, Anders Røkkum’s paintings and selected concert photographies from Uncle Allan.
Just as the other Norwegian festivals such as Karmøygeddon or Inferno, Beyond the Gates organised quite a metal market with the festival’s official merchandise, Svartekunst Produksjoner, Hate Couture, Wolf’s Lair and more. No sign of church-shaped candles like those sold at Karmøygeddon Metal Festival, but why complain if you can visit the Fantoft church yourself while in Bergen?
Churchburning trip continues with Åsane (burned by Varg Vikernes) and Storetveit (which the Count attempted to burn too), not far from Bergen.
Too many churches? Why not start the evening with One Tail, One Head and see the band before they stop playing live (as announced recently to the displeasure of many).
The horde from Trondheim was followed by another worthwhile performance.
Despite technical difficulties at the beginning of their set, Bölzer impressed the audience with passionate attitude and incredibly heavy sound.
“Hero”, title track from Bölzer’s album, seemed to be the highlight of their set for many and “Entranced by the Wolfshook” closed the set. Just like the title promises, the audience made an impression of being entranced when listening to hypnotising riffs combined with Okoi’s emotion-filled vocals.
Bölzer proved wrong to anyone who would say that two band members is not enough – and to anyone who would say the that such technical difficulties can easily destroy the gig.
Next up were Grave Pleasures, the perfect amount of post-punk among mostly black metal lineup.
The band never gets boring and despite having seen them many times before, it was a real pleasure (bad pun intended) to see them again.
The crowd (including many people who were waiting for the evening’s headliners) seemed to have good time too, with occasional singing along and cheering.
The concert I was looking forward to the most were Bergen locals from Taake performing the band’s very first album from the beginning to an end.
Usually only the first part of Nattestid Ser Porten Vid is performed live and to hear the song followed by the rest of the album was quite an experience.
Probably everyone has heard (or at least heard about) Taake’s “Myr” with its solo on a banjo, but Nattestid show in Bergen must have been the first to feature a tambourine. It was none other than Hoest who, in addition to his characteristic stage moves, played a tambourine.
Taake ended the show with the debut’s last song, no additions from other albums to the setlist. Keeping the set short has made a strong impression and hopefully next time I’ll have a chance to see Taake at a longer concert. The band members visibly do their best and every time they play the audience can expect to see the musicians’ pure dedication.
Another Norwegian act has been performing as the evening’s headliner. This time the night ended with the mighty Satyricon.
Just as their powerful concert at Inferno festival in Oslo earlier this year, the band’s gig at Beyond the Gates was both professional and full of energy.
Satyr, charismatic as always, made sure to engage the audience (or at least some of the fans in the first row) in chanting and singing.
Sadly, the crowd in general wasn’t too lively (was it because of the late hour?) during the songs from Satyricon’s newest release Deep Calleth Upon Deep. At least the dark “Now, Diabolical” filled with wicked energy, monumental classic “Mother North” and the irreplaceable “K.I.N.G.” made sure to entertain a wider audience.
If the audience wasn’t too animate during the Friday’s headliner, how would things look on Saturday? Time was about to tell.
Fortunately, Saturday turned out to be more exciting for the festivallers.
After the first bands, quite a crowd has been waiting in the first row to see Attic.
Instead of playing black metal widely represented among the lineup, the Germans went for more classic sound and played heavy metal in the vein of Mercyful Fate.
The whole effect has been enhanced by Cagliostro‘s vocals: his vocal range has immediately made me think of the one and only King Diamond.
The gig was overall an enjoyable one and has been a good addition to the festival, making it more diverse.
Those who have been at this year’s SteelFest surely recall Tormentor’s concert.
The comeback of Hungarian band met with enthusiastic response not just in Finland – Beyond the Gates crowd was just as excited as the SteelFest one.
Fans chanted the band’s name after almost every song, horns were thrown and headbanging ensued.
The musicians did well despite sound problems at the beginning of their show and minor issues throughout the gig (for some reason Tamás Buday’s guitar couldn’t stay in place and kept detaching from the strap).
One of the show’s highlights was undoubtedly Attila Csihar’s stage presence. Instead of the grim hooded figure known from Mayhem performances, the vocalist had more of an attitude of an energetic rocker.
Last but definitely not the least, Enslaved played Frost. After presenting the whole Vikingligr Veldi at Beyond the Gates 2017, the band has made another great decision and announced a Frost show for this year’s edition of the festival. They started a bit later than scheduled but, just like Taake, managed to play all of the album without adding other songs to the set. Just like during the gigs of 1349, Taake and Tormentor, this time has also featured Kim Holm making ink illustrations of the band.
Folk-inspired instrumental intro gave way to “Loke” and viking metal darkness fell over the venue…
The Norwegians’ second album would not be the same without “Yggdrasil”. The track’s slow acoustic intro was a perfect balance to more aggressive riffs of the previous songs. Grutle Kjellson sang while the bass was played by none other than Eirik ’Pytten’ Hundvin himself, producer of Taake, Gorgoroth, Burzum and (of course) Enslaved albums, to name a few.
For “Isøders Dronning”, the last song of the night, snow-like substance started falling on the crowd. It turned out to be similar to dishwashing liquid and instead of melting like snow should, it foamed up on the crowd. Quite a chance after having seen bands who opted for throwing blood (or red paint…) on the audience instead!
Enslaved’s great show was a suitable ending to such festival.
With next year’s edition planned to last four days and feature acts such as Watain and Marduk one wants to already add Beyond the Gates 2019 to their calendar. Not just because of the already promising lineup, but for the way he festival is organised and good overall atmosphere.
Thank you, Beyond the Gates!