Two flights, three bus rides and a ferry crossing might not be the simplest way to get to a festival, but Karmøygeddon was an event worth every moment spent on traveling.
The lineup was promising to say the least, and the harbor area in Kopervik, where Karmøygeddon Metal Festival was held, could only be called gorgeous.
With Thursday spent on Scandic stage, it was easy to get immersed in the small festival mood. In addition to the overall festival feel, the audience seemed to be mostly Norwegians staying in Haugesund centre for the event – at least judging by the language which was heard most often among the festival goers (and public transport filled mostly with metalheads).
This stage allowed the bands to easily interact with the festival goers, and this, too, had a certain charm to it. But later into the evening, things got interesting when Skálmöld, with their lineup consisting of 6 musicians, were to start playing on a stage perfectly fit for 3 band members. This Viking metal band hailing from Iceland made sure to entertain the audience with a set which was both melodic and powerful. I haven’t seen Skálmöld in a while, and I nearly forgot how fun they are live!
A darker atmosphere fell over Karmøygeddon for the gig of Harakiri For The Sky. The thudding bass sound didn’t overshadow the sorrowful vocals, and the Austrian band delivered a great performance.
Skálmöld were not the only viking metal band performing on Thursday thanks to the Swedish Månegarm. With folk-inspired melodies combined with growling vocals, their gig was just as energetic as the Icelanders’ show.
The festival’s second day promised some more breezy springtime weather and even more interesting bands than the previous evening.The Gassco stage was opened on Friday along with the metal market, in addition to the smaller stand with Karmøygeddon merchandise which was open already on Thursday. Among the myriad records, shirts and patches. one could also find, for example, candles shaped like Fantoft stave church. [twistedly brilliant! ~ed]
Both areas were set up in a tent next to the festival venue, called MM Café.
Nifelheim rocked the festival’s main stage with their punchy blackened thrash set. The band’s set full of energy and aggression entertained the already crowded venue.
Rotting Christ were among the next bands on the bill. The spoken intro to the band’s “666” gave way first to chanting and then to screaming vocals accompanied by crushing riffs. As always, the veterans of hellenic black metal created a truly captivating atmosphere during their intense show, and the moshing which started at Nifelheim’s show continued throughout Rotting Christ’s impressive ritual.
Enslaved were Friday’s headliner and definitely one of Karmøygeddon’s highlights, and the concert turned out to be well worth the wait, although the previous band started late due to technical problems, and this had an impact on Enslaved’s showtime and resulted in taking one of the songs out of the Norwegians’ setlist. The show began with “Storm Son” from the band’s newest release, their fourteenth album E.
Prog passages, clean vocals at the beginning and the song’s atmosphere unveiling with every minute, “Storm Son” was quite a monumental opening to the performance. Enslaved played some of the older material as well with “Vetrarnótt” from their debut album, bringing much-needed coldness to warm May evening.
What was special and emotional about the gig was Enslaved’s drummer Cato Bekkevold leaving the band, giving his place to new drummer Ivar.
Okay, maybe this was just ‘special’, judging by the pies thrown at former drummer during “Isa” (and by his ‘revenge’ on Grutle).
Thanks to Enslaved, the day ended with a perfect combination of progressive metal and harsh viking metal sound. One could hardly believe there was just one more day of the festival left…
On Saturday I arrived to the venue just in time to see Leprous. I hadn’t seen the band live after their latest release, Malina, and the gig was overall an enjoyable one. The Norwegians’ set with their prog approach featured some of their new stuff on the setlist, and both their newer and older work built a unique, atmospheric mood (one could almost say ‘space’) to their songs. The passionate crowd seemed just as engaged in the show as the band, chanting the lyrics and clearly having a great time.
With a gig that can only be called outstanding, Sólstafir once again proved to be an amazing live band. After the memorable “Náttfari” intro, “Silfur-refur” from the Icelanders’ newest masterpiece Berdreyminn could be heard. Masterfully built atmosphere, Aðalbjörn ‘Addi’ Tryggvason’s irreplaceable vocals and the band’s genuine dedication were what made the show special.
The first riffs of “Goddess of the Ages” meant that Sólstafir’s gig was about to end. Just as at their every concert, the band’s frontman left the stage to walk along the railing (with – literally – the fans’ helping hands). Singing in the very front of the crowd, giving high fives and hugs and taking selfies – no wonder Addi received a Norwegian flag with the Sólstafir logo from the dedicated fans in the front row.
As the most awaited Finnish act of the festival, Amorphis stood up to the expectations. With their ever-enchanting classics such as “Silver Bride” and “House of Sleep,” songs from their latest album Under the Red Cloud and upcoming Queen of Time, the band made sure to capture and captivate the audience.
Thanks to a pretty diverse artist lineup, good organisation and the overall atmosphere, Karmøygeddon was a fantastic festival experience. I’m sure Karmøygeddon’s 15th edition will be followed by many more years of decent bands and excellent metal events.