The Midgardsblot Diaries started HERE.
So, here we are – the penultimate Midgardsblot Diary. I honestly feel pretty strange about approaching the end of this series. By the time number 5 is done and dusted, our Norwegian adventure will be well and truly over, and I have no idea when – or even, if – I’ll be able to attend this unique festival again. At the same time, it’s already pretty foggy in my memory, so I should probably crack on and finish it before all the finer details are lost on the altar of a good time.
Today was an obnoxiously stacked day in terms of the line-up, with Swedish giants TYR headlining and a score of cool bands on the run-up. I just checked my phone’s photo gallery to try and jog my memory as to what we got up to today, and the only thing I could find before the bands was a picture of Aass’ Energi Ol, which more or less explains why I don’t remember that morning.
Anyway – let’s have some bands, shall we?
Skald has been on my list for a long time. The French group have seen plenty of success in the genre, garnering plenty of attention for their unique cover of The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army. They have an animated presence on stage, and main vocalist Lily Jung brings an intense, brooding element to the band’s forefront that sharply contrasts against how much of a good time everyone else seems to be having.
Skáld‘s music is a long, mystical meander through distant lands. They tell stories backed by music and vocals that create a landscape around the listener, and the crowd ate it up. This was probably one of the most chilled out crowds I’ve ever been in, even with being relatively close to to the front. One girl was even drawing pictures of the band as they played:
I found Skáld entertaining, but Jimmy was less than amazed – he reckoned he’d heard some poor mixing and playing out of time. I think they put on a great show.
Northern titans Einherjer celebrated their 30th anniversary at Midgardsblot this year, bringing their old-school army of viking metal hits to the main stage. This is what some of my new, temporary Norwegian friends called ‘proper Norwegian metal’, and it’s true that they brought the same amount of intensity, prowess and just downright professionalism to their performance. They loved the crowd, and the crowd loved them – Einherjer carry a lot of prestige in this music scene, and it’s easy to see why, even as a newcomer.
There was a ton of hype around Blackbraid‘s Midgardsblot performance. The Native American black metal outfit were welcomed to Norway with open arms, and there was surely no better festival for this inaugural performance than Midgardsblot, which proudly supports the power of indigenous peoples and their inclusion on the world stage. It’s unfortunate, then, that Blackbraid‘s performance was underscored by the weekend’s one bit of unnecessary drama.
I don’t want to go into that too much here, as no-one besides the band and the organisers really knew what happened there. Blackbraid promised a solo pipe set at the legendary bonfire later in the evening, which he ultimately did not deliver thanks to the incident in question (which, just based on how wild those bonfires were getting, was probably for the best. It might have tipped that intensity over the edge). But for us personally, Blackbraid wasn’t our jam. It’s cool to see the cultural influences shining through into some very intense black metal, and it does create something unique.
From a technical standpoint the band was very impressive, but I didn’t find it compelling enough to stick around for the whole set. I think the hype just set the bar a bit too far here.
Tyr‘s performance has to be up there as not only one of the absolute storming highlights of the weekend, but also one of my favourite live shows of all time. There’s something incredibly sincere and powerful about Tyr‘s live show – considering this genre’s slight tendency to devolve into cheese (looking at you, Brothers of Metal) they handle their mythological influences with gravitas and sheer strength. They achieve a very fine balance between intensity and catchy, memorable songs like Hail The Hammer and Hold The Heathen Hammer High, which were both total anthems that went down perfectly with an amped up crowd.
By The Sword In My Hand was another tour-de-force, delivered with bellowing confidence from frontman Heri Joenson, just another gem in a relentless maelstrom of music. I don’t know how, but I ended up incredibly close to the front for this one again, which resulted in even my iPhone 13’s crappy camera capturing some half-decent images. Tyr is straight on the list of bands I absolutely have to see again, although I doubt it’ll match the atmosphere and intimacy Midgardsblot achieves with its headliners.
Midgardsblot day four overall thoughts
This was probably the Midgardsblot festival’s strongest day, line-up-wise. The sun was high and hot, lending the festival grounds that classic vibe that was just perfect to soak up some great music with a few great beers. It really was just hit after hit on the main stage. I would go as far as to say that Friday was the festival’s climax, with just one exception still to come tomorrow. This feeling wasn’t exactly helped by the knowledge that tomorrow, rain was coming. Quite a lot of rain, in fact – and me and Jimmy were both starting to creak from our camp life and collective hangover.
We returned to Camp Utgard for what would turn out to be our final night at the camp. I remember feeling profoundly sad that night, on a personal note. I attended Midgardsblot this year as we had planned it way ahead of time – around the same time bands were announced for the 2022 instalment. But life, as it does, changed quite a lot in that time. In the year between festivals, my partner had become pregnant AND given birth to a lovely, healthy (but typically demanding) baby boy. It was this night at Midgardsblot, days away from the blot ritual, practically on the eve of going home, that I realised the true significance of sacrifice in the modern day.
Sacrifice is not necessarily the blood of the animal we all shared and sacraments with on Wednesday. Sacrifice is a powerful force. By leaving my lovely girlfriend home alone with a needy infant baby, I had essentially sacrificed her happiness for mine – and that was no happiness worth having. I think that realisation has probably changed my life and perspective on relationships forever. Anyway, deep personal revelations aside, the bands at Midgardsblot were great today. Moving swiftly on. Next week we’ve got the almighty poetic misery of My Dying Bride – a band I’ve been waiting a decade and a half to see live. Excited was not a big enough word.
You can find all the other instalments from our Midgardsblot diaries in our lifestyle & general section.