Guitar World Invades Norway's 2010 Hole in the Sky Festival
The meeting was to take place at Garage at 2PM, and I had about an hour and a half to kill. Bergen is extremely convenient in that it doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to walk anywhere in the downtown area. I stumbled upon an awesome record store called Apollon, which was just across the street from Garage. Awesome!
The first thing that I needed to purchase was Stronghold of Men, the debut album of Bergen’s awesome thrash band, The Batallion. Another purchase was Nicke Andersson’s new band, Imperial State Electric. For those of you who may not be familiar with him, he’s the guy responsible for Nihilist/Entombed (basically the entire Swedish death metal movement of the late-Eighties), The Hellacopters (R.I.P.) and Death Breath. Imperial State Electric is his new Seventies-hard rock/powerpop band and is worth checking out. Also in my bag was the debut long-player from Norwegian blackened crust punk group Okkultokrati, No Light for Mass. This is one of the most insane bands I had heard in a while, since they take the black metal elements that I enjoy most and fuse it with the most vile crust punk/hardcore. This is some seriously vicious stuff.
As I made my way to the cashier to drop what I suspected would be an obscene amount of money for three records, I asked the owner of the shop to recommend something from the Norwegian underground. Without hesitation, he led me over to the self-titled debut of Kvelertak. Why the hell not? I’m dropping close to $100 as it is. Why not add another album? With my goods secured, it was about time I headed over to Garage for my interview with BA.
Guitar World makes the Bergen newspaper
I was greeted by Ivar Bjørnson, guitarist/songwriter of Enslaved. He introduced me to the caretaker of Garage, Dennis Reksten, who turned out to be a seriously epic guy. Soon after, Steffen Opheim, the journalist from BA, came over with his photographer. This situation was getting weirder by the minute, but, whatever, I went with it. After the photoshoot ended, Steffen asked me a couple of questions, which basically led us to talking about how amazing The Batallion are. All in all, it wasn’t too painful, but I will say I’m way more used to being the interviewer rather than the interviewee! Once it was over, I bought myself a victory beer. Skål!
The vibe was pretty chill at the Garage, so I decided to hang there until the festival kicked off. Mr. Reksten gave me a private tour of the facilities, which were more historic than I expected. The venue used to be an old wine cellar, and he decided to not change the layout at all. The room still has the feeling of being in a cave. He was telling me that the ideal rock venue should make you uncomfortable… I guess having a pillar right in the middle of the room towards the front gets the job done.
A classic photo of Immortal's Abbath on Garage's wall
Soon Kristian Valbo, drummer extraordinaire of Obliteration, showed up, and I was happy to see him again (Valbo and Obliteration slaughtered New York City and Maryland Deathfest earlier this summer). He came a day early to play drums in the doom-rock band Valhall, filling in for Darkthrone’s Fenriz. After we caught up for a bit, he headed downstairs to gather his gear and get ready for the show.
I started to chat with a few people, and one of the more interesting characters that I met was Munich Tom. He rode his motorcycle to Bergen all the way from his hometown of, you guessed it, Munich. Later on, I met up with another New Yorker; Hallie from Vice. She had come over to Bergen to catch NWOBHM gods Angel Witch and the fathers of black metal, Venom.
After some beers and stories, it was show time. While this was the first night of Hole in the Sky, it was billed as the official “pre-party.” The theme of tonight was "Incoming," as the bands playing were from Bergen and Oslo. It was basically an underground showcase.
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