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Aline Reviews Norway's Extreme Metal Festival, Bunker 2012

One of the valuable lessons you’d hope one might learn by traveling frequently is “never trust the weather” – especially in a climate so drastically different from one’s norm.

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Always the blissfully ignorant and sunny optimist, despite a cloudy, ominous sky, and a faint electric buzz in the air, I set out on foot from my hotel in Oslo for the 15 minute walk to Parkteatret, where I’d never been previously, but *assumed* would be easy to find. (By now, I’d successfully eclipsed “blissful ignorance” and plunged deep into “outright stupidity” as I have ZERO sense of direction, and probably would not even be able to find my own head if it were not attached, and even then, it’s sometimes a challenge.)

Once I reached the approximate halfway mark between point A and point B, and was hopelessly lost and confused, I heard the proverbial, splintering crack of thunder, and froze in horror as the sky opened up and biblical flooding and torrential downpour ensued.

In addition to already having no idea where the hell I was going, the whitewall of rain successfully obscured my vision beyond a foot from my face, and I didn’t dare consult with Google Maps, and risk losing yet ANOTHER iPhone due to water damage in Oslo. (The previous one met its untimely demise the prior April, after taking a swim in a toilet filled with my urine at Inferno Festival.)

Attempting to shield my camera with my scrawny arm and flimsy handbag, I ducked under any existing awnings or recessed doorways I could find, and darted back and forth like a squirrel attempting suicide under the wheels of an oncoming truck, trying in vain to run between the raindrops as I searched for this venue which continued to evade me. Now thoroughly soaked, shivering, lost, and running late, I decided that no matter how humiliating and expensive it was going to be, I’d need to hail a cab.

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If one would present itself.

After what seemed like an eternity of quivering like a drowned rat in the doorway of an apartment building, a taxi did happen by, and I was able to fork over the last of my NOK to be robbed blind, and driven 100 feet to my destination. I didn’t even bother to do the currency conversion. I didn’t want to know.

Finally, I made it, and strolled in to Parkteatret looking exactly as if I’d just crawled out of a sewer. Shivering, cyanotic, muddy, shit broke, and blind, I’d arrived! I was greeted by the sight of a pretty well packed house, a party in full swing, and none other than DJ Fenriz (Darkthrone) spinning some tunes from a DJ booth in the front of the venue.

Nice!

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(View the photo gallery from Bunker 2012.)

Unfortunately, (and I will kick myself for this, and other side effects of my stupidity that evening which I’ll later describe, ever after) I missed most of Bunker 66’s set, and was not able to photograph them due to my camera being a “bit damp” and rather temperamental.

Making the most out of what was turning out to be a disaster so far, I sat in a dry, quiet corner, disemboweled my camera rig, and did my best to allow it to air out, and hopefully start functioning again. At no point throughout that entire evening was I ever able to feel warm enough, stop shivering, or regain sensation in my fingertips.

Partway through Virus’s set, the camera began to sluggishly respond, and shoot a few pictures, though the shutter was being slow, unreliable, and dodgy.

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Camera woes, aside, Virus were fantastic. Bringing a sophisticated avant garde feel to a festival that would mostly be offering dark and gritty black metal, Carl Michael Eide and co. (Aura Noir, Cadaver, Satyricon, et. al) played a tremendous set.

Up next were Beastcraft. An extraordinary but bittersweet moment, this would be Beastcraft’s final performance, a tribute show to one of the band’s founding members, Trondr Nefas, who unexpectedly passed away on May 13, 2012. I’d never had the opportunity to see them perform live before, and for this to be my first, and their last show under the circumstances was rather poignant. The emotion emanating from the stage, and back from the crowd was palpable. There could be no doubt in the mind of anyone present how much the members of Beastcraft, as well as the audience present, loved and respected Trondr. An appreciable feeling of warm sentiment hung in the air during the entire duration of the set, which was a beautiful tribute to a much loved, and very talented young man. It was an honor to be present for this performance.

Trondr Nefas

Closing out the night were Carpathian Forest, and it is here that I have to offer a massive apology, thanks, and promise all at the same time. Toward the middle of Beastcraft’s set, I was beginning to notice drops of condensation building up inside the body of my camera, and at this point, it was no longer taking photos. This was a a huge, crushing blow, beyond description, because I had been eagerly awaiting this moment where I’d finally see and shoot Carpathian Forest for the first time, and I couldn’t help but be angry at myself for what I perceive as a huge error in judgement on my part. I never should have set off on foot carrying my camera in weather that could have turned at any moment, and ultimately, did.

I’m still incensed about the entire thing.

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Fearing permanent damage and corrosion to the innards of my camera, I had no choice but to return to my hotel before their set was through, and immediately dismantle the rig, turn the heat up on the bathroom floor tiles, and lay all the parts down to hopefully dry out thoroughly, and maybe work the following night.

Blessedly, and surprisingly, this tactic worked.

So, my humblest apologies to Carpathian Forest for being unable to shoot this show.

Massive thanks to the very talented and generous Haakon Hoseth who contributed some fantastic photos of Carpathian Forest at Bunker so they could be properly represented in this write-up.

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And…I promise to see and shoot Carpathian Forest at Throne Fest in Belgium this May. No matter what the weather. ;)

Night two of Bunker was opened up by a band that I had been chewing my nails to the quick in anticipation of seeing, and I was jumping up and down like a little kid with a full bladder in a candy store.

It was time for Bömbers! Abbath from Immortal’s Motorhead tribute band lent a little bit of fun to an essentially serious festival, and always the showman, Abbath was no less amusing with Bömbers than he is with Immortal. His ability to sing and gesticulate like Lemmy is no joke, however. His performance was spot on, and in between songs, he’d wow the crowd with little bits of humorous banter and interaction. My favorite moment was when he stepped forward and stomped a fan’s beer into oblivion as it sat on the edge of the stage. After a baffled reaction from onlookers, he turned around, grabbed another beer off the drum riser, and handed it to the man with a shit-eating grin on his face. Comedy gold.

Following Bömbers, were Oslo’s own Djevel, (featuring Kvelertak’s Erlend Hjelvik) getting things back to more gritty black metal basics, and onto a more serious note. The transition from fun rock and roll, straight into to filthy black metal, was one the crowd adapted to with ease.

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Then came Taake…having seen them in April of 2011 at Kings of Black Metal, and being thoroughly moved by their extremely impressive stage presence and transcendental sound, I felt as if I had waited far longer than a shade over a year to see them again. They were mesmerizing as always, and completely on top of their game on this night. The floor was packed to the gills, and the crowd was going apeshit, and rightly so. They killed it.

Closing out this small but extremely power packed festival were Sweden’s Shining. Though I’d never seen them before, obviously, I’d heard plenty about them, and wasn’t really sure how I’d react to their show, and truth be known, now months later, I’m still trying to sort out my reaction.

They’re a band obviously not lacking in genuine musical talent, and that was evident from the first opening notes of their set. They’re also not lacking in pain, angst, and pathology, and while many musicians in the past have incorporated an element of shock value into their performances, this concept can run the gamut from “amusing entertainment” to unsettling and genuinely disturbing, depending on whether or not the motivation for the performance comes from a place of showmanship, or a truly tortured psyche.

Anyone who knows a bit about Nicklas Kvarforth and Shining can attest to the depths from which this band’s art is derived from, and at risk of turning this entire write up into an in-depth psychological analysis, I’ll just say that from the viewpoint of an empathetic and intuitive individual, this performance was easy to listen to but somewhat hard to watch, which I suspect is no surprise. They aren’t there to make anyone feel comfortable.

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But they do put on a hell of a show, and after a long and emotionally exhausting (but extremely good) set, they were joined onstage by Taake’s Hoest and Carpathian Forest’s Nattefrost as well as Maniac (formerly of Mayhem), who was present throughout most of the performance, and all four of these impressive frontmen joined forces to finish up the set. It definitely wasn’t for the weak, and certainly gave the spectators their money’s worth.

Overall, Bunker was an intimate and cozy festival that felt more like a large party with friends than a “festival proper”…in other words, it was absolutely perfect.

View the photo gallery from Bunker 2012.

Special thanks to Hilde “Hipp Hurrah” Hammer, Daniel Vrangsinn Salte, Haakon Hoseth, Octavia Nefas, Trond Nefas (Official) Facebook admin. team, and Rachel Strickland for all your help and generosity. Very special thanks to Line Wiklund for lending me her jacket when I was cold.

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