Karmøygeddon 2014 / Sognametal 20th Anniversary

I booked my ticket for Karmøygeddon Festival 2014 the moment I discovered that it was to be the first stop for the Sognametal 20th Anniversary, a show that would see Windir, Vreid and Ulcus perform. I went without cinnamon rolls, bus rides to Oslo and decent shampoo for quite some time so I could get myself a ticket, as I knew, without a shadow of a doubt that it would be the musical experience of my life.

In case you’re thinking ‘what’s this Sognametal she’s talking about?’ Well, it’s a sub genre of black metal created by the late Terje Bakken (better known as Valfar) and bought into existence with his majorly influential band Windir. Windir’s music combined melodic folk and electronic elements with the raw, primitive sound of black metal.

Bakken, hailed from Sogndal, a small town in the region of Sogn og Fjordane, and the music he created for Windir was inspired by the landscapes and history of his homelands. A good portion of the lyrics were written in the local dialect called Sognamål, before Bakken decided to sing in English so as to reach a wider scope of people. Bakken died tragically from hypothermia in 2004 after releasing four monumental albums.

Windir was the first Sognametal band to come into existence, though others have followed, including Vreid, Cor Scorpi and Ulcus, all of which are highly influential bands in their own rights, well worth checking out.

My journey to Karmøygeddon started in Nærsnes and sixteen hours later I arrived, wobbly legged, off the coach in Haugesund – the location for Karmøygeddon. The journey from Oslo to Haugesund by coach is spectacular, and if you ever have the chance to take it, do so. Normally before a festival, I find myself getting a bit anxious, but Haugesund was unbelievably calm, almost serene, (probably helped by the fact it was a public holiday) and I felt unbelievably relaxed before stepping through the doors.

Once I was inside though, that gloriously relaxed feeling stayed with me. The place wasn’t packed to the point that I had to shuffle instead of walk. It dawned on me that I’d never felt so at ease at a festival before. The other metal heads milling about were wonderfully friendly, the staff insanely polite and the venue itself was clean, with excellent sound and more than enough space for the metal hordes.

The build up to the Sognametal show was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in all my years of attending festivals. The giddy, excited feeling was all consuming, and I found myself breathless more than a number of times. When eleven pm came around – the kick off time for the Sognametal show – I was practically hyperventilating. What passed over the next few hours will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Bakken’s brother Vegard took over the vocals for the Windir tracks, and the show was utterly awe inspiring, with the bands alternating from song to song. I could feel the emotion in the room, I could see it regularly on the band members faces as they re-lived tracks that they hadn’t performed in years. It was truly humbling. For a few minutes after the show had finished, I was wandering around in some kind of daze. I had been waiting years for the experience, and it had exceed all of my expectations. I realised that if I was to slip over to the other side that night, I would die an extremely happy woman.