Midgardsblot Diaries started HERE.
After a couple of sleepless nights, bonfire parties and rowing an actual Viking ship out into a cloudy Norwegian fjord, Jimmy and I realised the festival we’d travelled to attend had yet to actually begin. The remnants of last night’s horde of beers still swam through our heads, the saltwater of the fjord still clung to my soul (I think it’s still there, actually), and we’d overcome our introverted natures to introduce ourselves to a few friendly faces. The festival opened at 14:00, which seemed absolutely miles away from my early awakening.
Today, a food stall properly opened just outside the camp, which was an absolute blessing. Armed with a cup of black coffee and an only slightly overpriced breakfast baguette, I steeled myself for another day of exploration and revelry.
DAY THREE: The Blot Ceremony, Finntroll, Lili Refrain and Sylvaine
Midgardsblot is not your average festival. It is steeped deeply in pagan traditions, and borne from honouring the ancestral power places like Borre hold. What struck me about this taste of Norway was how proudly they lived alongside their history, and the festival always opens with a ceremony that welcomes people of all creeds, nationalities, ethnicities and faiths into a sacred circle. I would love to do a deep dive into the meanings and traditions this ceremony draws from, but I fear I am not nearly educated enough to do so.
This place is for everyone – regardless of where you are from or what you believe. Folket Bortenfor Nordavinden made that very clear. No hatred, no harm to anyone, and a powerful beseeching of the earth’s natural forces to bring prosperity and good vibes to the festival. This is an especially valuable message considering some small part of the Norwegian metal scene’s links to white supremacy. That’s not something I want to go into great detail about here, because it’s only relevant as something Midgardsblot very, very strongly opposes.
Inclusivity is the keyword here. Despite the intensity of some of the upcoming bands, this festival wants to offer everyone a safe space to come and enjoy it. I would say wholeheartedly that it achieves that aim, creating a safe, clean environment to just go have some fun, no matter what you believe in.
One by one people trickled into the circle to anoint themselves and the godposts with sacrificial blood, uniting everybody in a ritual accompanied by pounding drums and chanting. There were a vast amount of people taking part, so it wasn’t exactly intimate, but it’s still a very special moment you’re not likely to encounter anywhere else. After Jimmy and I had taken part, we wandered off to find beer, which was in generous supply. There were a handful of different beers on offer, and probably the best among them was the Frydenlund Juicy IPA – a mellow drink with just enough fruity tones to refresh us on a day that seemed to be getting hotter and hotter.
Unfortunately, the festival ran out of the Juicy IPA the next day – probably a testament to its supremacy over the other options.
What a way to kick the festival’s main stage off. Finntroll powered through a shorter set than intended – thanks to hold-ups at the airport – but they made a serious impact in the time that they had. The fusion of folk and black metal is almost emblematic of Midgardsblot, so there is almost no band better for that than Finntroll.
Att Doda Med En Sten was a thunderous highlight, but the crowd went absolutely berserk for Trollhammeren, which was naturally played as their final song. Finntroll has been on my list for a while now, and I feel like I got a decent taste of the live experience here. It didn’t feel like the full-fat version, as sets at Midgardsblot are already a bit on the shorter side and theirs was shorter still. But I will certainly be making the trip to see them again if there’s a UK tour on the horizon.
I’ll admit, we only wandered back to the main stage from our mead-induced haze out of boredom while Lili Refrain played her set, but I was instantly captivated by the sheer technique of her mystical electronic performance. It’s hard to even assign a genre to her dark, labyrinthine spirals of electric guitar, drum loops and synth – made even more impressive by the fact that absolutely nothing is pre-recorded.
I didn’t know any of the songs she played. But I was absolutely drawn into it – each track flowed effortlessly into the next, and she seemed incredibly grateful to be there playing to the Midgardsblot crowd. Even Jimmy, who was a little dubious about this strange and absolutely not heavy metal performance, was captivated by the end.
Another band I had heard of, but not heard – Sylvaine was powerful, ethereal and spellbinding. The depth of her vocal range was made all the more impressive on the rare occasion she spoke to the crowd between songs, sounding almost delicate in comparison to her stage presence. It was heavy, it was atmospheric, and I really recommend any metal fan giving her music a shot because it’s impressive stuff.
One of the really great things about this festival – perhaps even more so than seeing the big names – was discovering some real hidden gems of the scene. There aren’t many places you can take in amazing natural history, heavy metal and accidentally wander into an aptly named Smertekirken (Church of Pain) ritual human suspension taking place. In fact, I think Midgardsblot might be the only one.
Midgardsblot opening day first impressions
This was our first real taste of what Midgardsblot had to offer beyond the campsite, and I was genuinely very impressed. The opening ritual was a magnificent thing to be a part of, the festival site itself was well-organised and maintained. Litter was hardly an issue within the festival grounds, and facilities like toilets, bars and food were never too far away. There was a small but impressive selection of food stalls, each offering something unique, and I’m always down for a bar that sells mead.
The blot day itself is only open to people who hold the full four-day festival pass – they don’t sell single-day tickets for it. I think this is perhaps why the stages weren’t as packed as they would be in the coming days. The biggest highlights for me were definitely the blot ritual itself and Finntroll‘s short set, bringing us into the festival’s famous community spirit and giving us some much-needed mid-day energy respectively.
We returned to camp before Kampfar took the stage. We were dirty, tired, and sleep-deprived. But, as literally everyone who stayed to watch would later tell us, they put on an incredible show. We spent the evening sitting next to the bonfire and wading along the beach, which is really such an incredible part of this festival. Though I wasn’t brave enough to go for a swim with all that beer and mead in my gut, the water was lovely, and an incredible natural antidote to the punishment your feet endure at these festivals.
Tonight, our small campsite finally had a few more friendly faces sitting around it. A friendly Norwegian couple, both with wry senses of humour decided to drink with us over the next few days because we were ‘social, but not TOO social.’ Which is probably the nicest way anyone’s ever told me that I’m quiet, to be totally honest. Torbjørn and your girlfriend, if you’re reading this – thanks for sharing a few laughs and beers with us!
Tomorrow was set to be a special day. Some big bands were playing, we’d heard rumours that the bonfire was going to be ‘next level’, and, most importantly, Jimmy turned thirty (and got his first ever post-30 hangover. Happy birthday! It’s all downhill from here.
You can read the previous entry to the Midgardsblot Diaries HERE.