2010: Blackened Summer

As if Live Evil wasn’t enough this year in the UK, there are a ton of great looking festivals spreading across the world this summer. Europe seems to have got the lion’s share with the strongest looking roster. Under The Black Sun, Hole In The Sky and Hammer Open Air Metal Festival all boast cult favourites like Venom, Watain, Obituary, Urfaust, Angantyr or Mortifera. Take your pick, a festival near you is probably putting them on. America steps up to the plate this year with the Northwestern Black Circle Festival. Though only the second event of its kind, the festival has managed to swag quite an impressive line-up. Who wouldn’t see Inquisition headline? And of course the dark horse of the batch, the Gathering of Shadows. An invite only event in the forests of the Rocky Mountains, with the sole purpose of transcending entertainment in the live setting.


Under The Black Sun Festival: Berlin, Germany 2 – 3 July


After 12 years of quality bands gracing this German festival’s stage, Under The Black Sun continues to strive for brilliant and diverse line-ups. A few of my favourites from past and present are proving enough reason for me to want to go. Denmark’s finest, Angantyr are set to play as well as Noctu and Neige’s Mortifera, the act that heavily influenced Neige’s direction thereon. Poland is well represented with a couple of great bands, the furious Kriegsmachine featuring members of Mgla and the challenging Furia. But this is just for starters…




Hammer Open Air Festival: Lieto, Finland 11 – 12 June


Finland’s Hammer Open Air fest are newcomers to the game, but fresh-faced and determined they’ve built a sturdy line-up this year. This is my second favourite offering from Europe but to be honest, I’ll go wherever Urfaust go. Other highlights include England’s doom metal grandad’s, Pagan Altar, occult rock from The Devil’s Blood and godfathers of quality USBM, Grand Belial’s Key. If all goes to plan this year Hammer Open Air is definitely a festival to watch in the future.



Hole In The Sky Festival: Bergen, Norway 24 – 28 August


The big guns are coming out now. Bergen’s Hole In The Sky was the first annual festival in Norway. The event was established in 1999 as a tribute to Erik Brødreskifts (Gorgoroth, Immortal, Borknagar) who died that same year. All profits from ticket sales have since gone into the Erik Brødreskifts Memorial Fund, a foundation focussed on the promotion of heavy metal related activities in Bergen. So at least you know your money is going to a good place. The line-up is unrivaled and varied; Venom, Cathedral, Suffocation, Watain, Secrets of the Moon and Obituary to reel off the big names. But if you strain your eyes and look closer, Urfaust are once again on the bill. As are England’s unsung heroes of blackened death metal, Grave Miasma. I envy you Norsemen!




Northwestern Black Circle Festival: Portland OR, USA 21 – 22 May


Oregon’s Dark Forest Productions are keeping it low key with an underground selection of bands from the Northwestern region. I’m unfamiliar with a majority of the acts but I’d relish the chance to be introduced in the live habitat. Inquisition on the other hand are one of those special bands with an inimitable sound and vision. If you’re in the area, at least go for them. Averse Sefira are also headlining and while I’ve seen them live and have one of their records, they’re slightly lacklustre in the face of what else the festival circuit has to offer. The Northwestern Black Circle is THIS FRIDAY so sort some tickets out.




Gathering of Shadows VII: Culmination of the Pleiades: Green Mountain Falls, CO 4 – 5 June


The one that everyone knows about but have never been to, the Gathering of Shadows is now in its 7th successful year. The formula remains unchanged: no profits, no tickets, no money. Just black metal offered under the night sky of the Rocky Mountains. The bands travel at their own expense to perform here making it a privilege to attend. Any form of ‘business’ is totally eradicated so that the music to speak for itself, unhindered in the inspiring surroundings. I’d love to go to this, but with it so far away it would have to be an expedition of military precision. The line-up is brilliant as always: Nightbringer lead the way as their members organise the Gathering of Shadows each year. And if Apocalypse Sun is anything to go by, you want to be at this show. The brutal and uncompromising Nazxul are making the exhausting trip from Australia and the esoteric Black Seas of Infinity will also be performing. The main problem with the event is securing that elusive invitation. Undoubtedly rife with elitism, this is the one ‘festival’ most regular black metal fans will never lay eyes upon.


There are bound to be far more festivals on this year. If there’s one going on near you that I haven’t mentioned, please tell us about it. I’m also open to receiving reviews that we can post if readers are planning on heading to any of the above? I’m essentially limited to Live Evil and would love to hear about the others.

Hates music and writing. Unfortunately, he's a journalist.

11 Comments

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Jorden

    The lineups for the German & Finnish show are…..wow. Would love to see Urfaust.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Anonymous

    Dude, you're missing perhaps the best festival of all. I'd say this deserves a spot.. http://www.terraturpossessions.com/nbm/

    One Tail One Head, Dødsengel, Ride For Revenge, and many more! I mean.. This is epic.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Alex

    Damn, Baptism too! Thats a killer line up – although I'd still rate Urfaust > any other BM band to see live.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Anonymous

    I've seen Urfaust before.. They usually play at NBM actually.. Anyways, I really can't resist the urge to tell you to listen to Dødsengel, haha. Mirium Occultum!

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    excellentsword

    It has a spot now you've commented. Are you going to that show? Because you should write a review.

    Line-up does looks okay. Like Min Kniv and One Tail One Head recorded some terrible demos… but I suppose the best way to experience them would be to see them live. I would definitely be up for Behexen and Satanic Warmaster though.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    Anonymous

    Actually I think One Tail One Head and Min Kniv both recorded spectacular demos! Have you heard both OTOH demos? The second one is completely awesome. Anyways, writing a review could be fun! I'll have to take it up for consideration.

  • Reply May 18, 2010

    excellentsword

    I gave the demos a couple of listens each a couple of years ago and thought they sounded like ass. I will always relisten when a contrary opinion is given though!

  • Reply May 19, 2010

    Anonymous

    I'd love to hear what you think of them.. It all depends on what you want from your metal, I guess, and probably on what you define as "sounding like ass". When we're on the topic of metal, that can be a positive thing, at least when it comes to production values. But I guess I really don't need to argue that particular point with someone who likes the genre. Behexen and Satanic Warmaster are probably the two bands that I could handle missing, along with Goatmoon..

  • Reply May 19, 2010

    excellentsword

    I'm definitely not averse to 'raw black metal' in any way as long as it's done well. What I remember from listening to those demos (this was almost 2 years ago now) is that I couldn't quite hear the ideas they wanted to present because the production stunted it. I haven't relistened them yet buddy, I'll comment again when I have.

  • Reply May 23, 2010

    excellentsword

    OTOH sounded like it was recorded underwater (in a bad way) so I couldn't hear them being anything better than a bog-standard bm act. Min Kniv is slightly better, but I listen to a lot better 'droning, repetitive' black metal than that. Anyway I don't want to be a dick, those are merely my thoughts on those bands.

  • Reply May 23, 2010

    Anonymous

    Well, to each his own I guess. I can understand what you're saying if you're referring to the first OTOH demo.. The second one, not so much. Oh, and don't worry, I won't take offense, it's not like it's my band or anything. You guys encourage discussion, and I just couldn't resist the urge to voice my opinion regarding these bands..

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