10 Festivals That Black Metal Fans Need to Know About
Although some black metal fans may not enjoy the circus of massive outdoor festivals, there’s no denying that this year’s circuit of major festivals is going to feature some of the world’s best and biggest black metal outfits. In the interest of getting you out of the house and in front of those bands, we’ve collected a list of 10 festivals any black metal fan would appreciate.
Of course, most of our picks include performances by artists of other genres as well, since darkness transcends all labels. In addition to the 10 festivals listed below, the following are some alternative options: A Sinister Purpose, Cosmic Void, Hell Unleashed Untertage, Throne Fest, Unholy Congregation, Prophecy Fest, Hellbotn Metalfest, Black Hole Fest, and Messe Des Morts. This December, Eindhoven Metal Meeting will feature greats like Shining, Darvaza, Koldbrann, Urgehal. Last year, Sweden’s December Darkness had a killer lineup with Ritual Death among others. Thus, we eagerly await their schedule for 2023.
The new yet already mighty ORGIVM SATANICVM has demonstrated the potential to take Oslo by storm. Organized by Espen Rock Nørvåg Slapgård, Anlov P. Mathiesen, and Helene Landmark, these events have showcased an exciting selection of artists: Mork, Koldbrann, Svarttjern, Strid, Totalselfhatred, Urarv, Acârash, Voodus, Diablery, and so forth.
ORGIVM SATANICVM III — The Return is set to be a can’t-miss event that will take place from January 5-6, 2024, at the hip Blå venue. Although you should stay tuned for further updates, the following bands have already been announced: Sweden’s Ultra Silvam, the UK’s Stahlsarg, and Norway’s Jordsjuk — an emerging supergroup that mixes death metal and blackened thrash. Jordsjuk boasts the incredible talents of Renton, Sagstad, and Mannevond. Speaking of Renton, be sure to check out his latest album with Nattverd, I helvetes forakt, which drops on May 26. We’ve heard it — it’s excellent.
Beyond the Gates
Like the other picks on our list, the reason why Beyond the Gates is such a stellar festival is because of the phenomenal people running it. This year’s festivities will take place between August 2 and 5. The planned lineup features Mare, Gorgoroth, Marduk, Kreator, etc. Enslaved have made a tradition of performing their classic albums at Beyond the Gates. Thus, this year, they will be conquering Eld (1997). Once again, black metal’s greatest producer, Pytten, will be conducting tours of Grieghallen to show guests where countless BM classics were made, and pioneering musician Tore Bratseth will offer excursions to the outskirts of Bergen. Finn Håkon Rødland — leading black metal expert and owner of the world’s best black metal collection — will be presenting an exhibition of photography focusing on Dimmu Borgir. For Beyond the Gates’ historic 2022 edition, Rødland curated the stunning Mayhem photo exhibition “De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas.” This was meant to complement Mayhem’s performance of the definitive black metal album, De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas (1994).
On May 11, Beyond the Gates is actually bringing New Yorkers a taste of the magic with a performance at Saint Vitus by the NYBM kings Black Anvil and more.
This April, Inferno hosted household names like Emperor, Watain, Abbath, and even Cannibal Corpse. Some of the most interesting bands were Djevel, Dold Vorde Ens Navn, Urgehal, Vemod, Mork, Odium, and Darvaza. Fortunately for attendees, Cadaver’s Anders Odden resurrected his black metal tour bus sightseeing trips. Festival-goers also had the opportunity to visit an exhibition at the National Library in Oslo called “Bad Vibes” / “Dårlig Stemning,” which will run through September 16. The legendary artist Jannicke Wiese-Hansen designed logos for this exhibition, which she helped to oversee. In addition, Jannicke participated in Inferno’s tattoo fair, where she inked patrons with the same hands that have created so many historic album covers and logos — she will be returning to Beyond the Gates this year as well. The festival furthermore featured a variety of talks. Finn Håkon Rødland led a discussion that was followed by a screening of Helvete: Historien om norsk black metal — a most excellent and influential NRK TV series in which he played a major behind-the-scenes role. The panelists were Mortem and ex-Thorns’ Marius Vold; Bömbers and ex-Old Funeral’s Tore Bratseth; ex-Vomit and ex-Mayhem’s Torben Grue; and directors Thomas Alkärr, who curated Bad Vibes, and Håvard Bråthen.
Caerimonia Nidrosiæ is presented to you by Terratur Possessions, my vote for the best black metal label, and the beautiful Trondheim venue Byscenen. In 2022, Caerimonia Nidrosiæ Pt. 1 featured Slagmaur, Whoredom Rife, and Misotheist. That may not be a big lineup, but it is a perfect one. We are especially pleased that all three of those bands should be releasing albums this year. Terratur brings us the fantastic news that the next Caerimonia Nidrosiæ, which will take place from January 12-13, 2024, will not only showcase Mare but also Djevel and Syn. While the first two acts are among the greatest BM bands of all time, Syn is a brilliant new project from the south of Norway that includes an Askeregn member. Syn is a yet another band from whom we can expect an exceptional record in 2023 if all proceeds according to plan.
The first Imperium Fest was held in 2019 and showcased artists like Ragnarok and Kampfar, who recently won a Spellemann Award. From July 6-8, you can see Tulus; Dødheimsgard; Doedsvangr; Khold, who were also nominated for a Spellemann in the metal category this year; Strid; Kringa; Taake; Kvaen; Tilintetgjort; and others at the Fortress of Fredriksten. That’s where Mork, who has appeared at the festival, shot the video for “Arv” from the acclaimed Katedralen (2021). As a tribute to Halden, a drawing of the Fortress of Fredriksten is displayed on the cover of Mork’s EP Den svevende festning (2022).
This February, Imperium presented Urban Seige #1 at Blå, where there were performances by Strid, Gehenna, Slagmaur, and an afterparty at Kniven with the genius DJ Vicotnik.
Video by Finn Håkon Rødland.
Skien Metalfest kicked off in 2019. Sadly, however, 2020 and 2021 were cancelled due to the pandemic. In 2022, Skien Metalfest starred Hild, Visegard, Djevelkult, etc. Surprisingly, Nattefrost delivered his first solo show in 15 years, and Vrangsinn and the Arsonists gave their first solo appearance in 11 years. The festival featured an art exhibition, where the works of Nattefrost, Vrangsinn, Vera Wolfsberger, and Antoinette Fosdal Johnsen were displayed. TA spoke with Nattefrost concerning the event, and he revealed the intriguing fact that he has painted the young soccer player Erling Braut Haaland in blood. On the TV series Den følelsen, Nattefrost explained that he uses even more disturbing materials from his own body as well. Mr. Daniel Vrangsinn is also an extremist when it comes to finding unique materials with which to fill his canvases.
Legend Metalfest is an intimate Trondheim festival that took place for the first time in 2022. Last year’s performers included Ragnarok and Djevelkult. This September, the Legend Metalfest audience will have the special privilege of witnessing the very first show by the highly recommended blackened doom band Nathr, which consists of the remarkable talents of Ond, Northr, and Nathas. In addition, there will be established acts, such as Mortem, Den Saakaldte, the Spellemann / “Norwegian-Grammy”-winning thrashers Nekromantheon, a certain group that took third place in Eurovision, etc.
Prague Death Mass
Prague Death Mass IV will wreak havoc on October 27 and 28. It will feature Mare, Hell Militia, Diocletian, Dead Congregation, Djevel, Mortuary Drape, Aborym, Misotheist, Baxaxaxa, Attila Csihar’s Void Ov Voices, Thy Darkened Shade, Dakhma, Ritualization, Hierophant, Thelma Ramon, Altars Ablaze, Heaving Earth, The House, and Bohemyst. In the past, Prague Death Mass has hosted the disbanded powerhouse One Tail, One Head, whose live shows have become legendary due to the band’s intensity and physical energy.
The latest edition of Metal Threat Fest rocked Illinois from April 13-16. Although Gehenna’s decision not to fly over from Norway would have proved a huge bummer, Slagmaur’s willingness to take their slot turned out to be a thrilling surprise. Thus, Slagmaur played on the first day with the likes Ved Buens Ende. The festival was graced by other important outfits, such as Aura Noir and Impaled Nazarene.
Head over to Austria to enjoy the underground BM festival Celebrare Noctem. This September, Celebrare Noctem Fest VIII will provide a great opportunity to soak in the black majesty of Mare, Misotheist, Vemod, etc. Six bands will play per day for a minimum of 50 minutes each. The 2022 lineup included Nifelheim, Archgoat, Fides Inversa, Djevel, and Baxaxaxa.