Inferno Metal Festival: A Comprehensive Guide

Inferno Metal Festival is the best metal festival in Norway. If you're a fan of extreme metal, it's definitely worth your attention, and in this article, I'll try to prove it.

Every year, Inferno Metal Festival takes place in the capital of black metal mecca — Oslo — during Easter, which falls in the spring. Since 2001, the event has only been canceled twice — in 2020 and 2021 — due to COVID restrictions.

Metal, especially black metal, is so ingrained in Norwegian culture that this festival is supported by the local Ministry of Culture. Where else would you see such a thing?

Inferno Metal Festival 2023 Aftermovie

Inferno can be characterized as a so-called boutique festival. Such events typically adhere to a specific genre of music, attract a hardcore fan base, and promote maximum closeness among participants, making them well-suited for more specialized music styles, including black metal.

Like most boutique festivals, Inferno not only offers performances by bands but also creates a whole infrastructure around the event, additional attractions, entertainment, and activities, which sets it apart from regular festivals entirely.

Festival Stages, Amenities, and Features

The festival takes place in the spring in a Nordic country, so logically, it's not an outdoor event.

The heart of Inferno is Rockefeller and John Dee. The first one is a well-known club founded in 1986. It accommodates 1300 people and is the largest stage at Inferno, which is quite small for an international festival. John Dee club, with a capacity of 400 people, is often referred to as Rockefeller's younger brother and is literally located in the basement of the same building.


Boris Danielsen photo

Bands from the main festival program play in a chess-like order on these two stages, which is a huge plus for everyone, as visitors can literally see all the performances, and artists, in turn, have enough time for a full changeover.

However, it's worth noting that the festival also has additional stages, the number of which grows every year: Kniven, Rock In, Brewgata, Goldie, Vega, and Vaterland. Smaller bands usually perform at these venues, but even here, the festival has made every effort to give visitors the opportunity to see them — performances take place before or after the main program.

It's worth mentioning that all these buildings are within walking distance of each other, allowing visitors to explore Oslo at a leisurely pace.

I want to mention separately that the festival offers free water and earplugs, and also note the sufficient number of toilets and bars, which eliminates the usual queues for such events. All of this creates a certain level of comfort and care for the visitors.

What about the Lineup?

Is Inferno purely a black metal festival? Perhaps it was at the beginning. However, over the years, its lineup has become more diverse, and from the stage, you can hear not only extreme vocals but also clean vocals, acoustic instruments, unconventional arrangements, or simply other genres — death/doom/melodeath, and so on.

Me And That Man.

Boris Danielsen photo

This year, the festival headliners were Dimmu Borgir, Taake, Kampfar, and Gorgoroth. At the same time, the black metal sound was complemented by bands like Me and That Man, Candlemass, Sólstafir, Vltimas, Orbit Culture and Arthur Brown.


Inferno stands out in that on a relatively small stage, you can see very well-known bands. For example, Cannibal Corpse, Emperor, Obituary, Abbath, Gorgoroth, or Mayhem, who usually perform in front of tens of thousands of people, will play here in a more intimate setting for a thousand (the capacity of the largest stage, as we remember, is limited).

if you want to see something during the headliner's performance, whether at Rockefeller or John Dee (especially if you're short like me), make sure to secure a spot at least an hour before the show. And that's no exaggeration! You might miss one festival band, but you'll definitely catch your favorites.

Despite Inferno taking place indoors, headliners spare no expense on high-class pyrotechnic shows, as seen during this year's performance by Kampfar, and last year the entire stage was literally engulfed in flames during Watain's performance.


Boris Danielsen photo

Also, due to the cult status of the festival and the legendary status of Rockefeller, bands often make certain unexpected surprises. So this year, Dimmu Borgir invited former members of the band - Tjodalv, Vortex, and Mustis - onto the Inferno stage for the first time in many years, causing incredible excitement among fans who were present at the festival, as well as frustration among those who couldn't witness it firsthand.


Merch at the Inferno festival is a painful issue, for several reasons.

Firstly, the merch corner is very small, so you'll have to stand in a considerable line (probably the only one at the entire festival), so allocate enough time for this.


Helle Bohdanova photo

Secondly, bands usually don't bring much merch to Norway because it's not a member of the EU Customs Union, so importing goods incurs additional customs duties. Some bands even refuse to bring merch because of this. Additionally, being a festival, it's most likely that a band's merch will only be available on the day of their performance. So, don't hesitate if you've got your eye on a particular t-shirt or hoodie.

Thirdly, merch will be expensive because, like at other festivals, its cost will include the event commission and VAT. Also, merch prices are usually set based on average market prices, and in Norway, everything is expensive, of course.

On the plus side, you don't have to worry about getting Norwegian kroner because card payment is hassle-free. Additionally, at the festival, you can buy shirts not only from the performing bands but also from partners—like books about black metal or signed vinyl. Finally, autograph sessions are organized at the festival, so you'll have the opportunity not only to purchase vinyl but also to get the artists' signatures.


A significant feature of Inferno is not just the festival itself but the additional offerings it provides to attendees. The foremost of these is the Inferno Music Conference — a music conference held annually during the festival. If you're in a metal band or involved in the metal scene, this is a must-read.

The annual conference began in 2006. While it started as a small informal gathering for industry and media representatives, it now attracts metal business sharks from around the world each year: labels, booking agencies, directors of major festivals, publicists, band managers, globally renowned artists, and more. For example, in 2022, the conference hosted 243 delegates from 35 different countries, making the Inferno Music Conference the largest metal conference in the world. Just think about it, the largest METAL CONFERENCE in the world, taking place in the heart of heavy music.

The conference lasts for two days and takes place at the Clarion the Hub hotel, where all the bands from the festival lineup stay, as well as almost all the conference delegates. Lectures and panel discussions at the conference typically run from around 11–12 in the morning until the start of the first band's performance at Rockefeller, and networking, from my experience, happens around the clock.


Networking. Helle Bohdanova photo

At the conference, a wide range of topics are discussed. Here are some examples of what was discussed this year:

— The transformation of metal media —h ow podcasts and reaction channels on YouTube are displacing standard print publications and radio;
— Modern methods of musician PR and promotion — an extremely lively discussion among metal band PR managers about their approaches to work;
— Diversification of income channels for musicians (essentially, how musicians can earn more) — Patreon, advertising, endorsements, music licensing, etc;
— Psychological topics, such as metalheads against bullying, or discussion about women in metal;
— Hot topics like artificial intelligence in metal or financial problems artists encounter on tours due to rising production costs.


Conference. Helle Bohdanova photo

In addition to discussion panels, IMC often hosts presentations of metal books. This year, they included "Black Metal: The Cult Never Dies" by Dayal Patterson, as well as "Nyanser av Svart" by Harald Fossberg. Both authors personally presented their books, so attendees could not only purchase them but also get autographs right away.

Another inspiring format is career talks—a live interview about a specific artist's career. This year, the focus was on Jessica Pimentel, known as the vocalist of Brujeria and an actress in the Netflix series "Orange is the New Black," as well as Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, the vocalist of the Icelandic band Sólstafir.


Finally, at IMC, attendees can participate in special workshops led by the artists themselves. Last year, Ihsahn held a guitar and composition masterclass, and this year, vocalist Sylvaine talked about her approach to extreme vocals.

In practice, it's very difficult to overstate the importance and influence of this event, as well as the networking that takes place there. However, it is still a specialized event, so it will primarily interest metal musicians themselves.

Visuals: Dark Art Exhibition and Tattoo Fair

Inferno is not only about music, but also about visual art. During the festival, there is an exhibition of works by artists and designers who work in the style of dark art, and often collaborate with metal bands. Not only their works are often present here, but also the artists themselves, so you can communicate with them, purchase originals or prints of their works, and get autographs.


Еxhibition. Helle Bohdanova photo

Here are three artists showcased at this year's exhibition:

Zbigniew M. Bielak — his works have been featured on the covers of bands like Ghost, Carcass, Darkthrone, Entombed, Mgła, Sólstafir, Paradise Lost, Watain, and others.

Costin Chioreanu — a Romanian designer who has been working with an impressive number of metal artists since 1999. To see the extent of his collaborations, it's best to visit his website.

Kim Diaz Holm — an eccentric artist from Bergen who has collaborated with well-known bands such as Abbath, Primordial, and 1349. Kim is also a significant Tik-Toker with a million-strong audience, and you might even catch him drawing directly beneath the stage during concerts, often giving away his works for free.


Kim Diaz Holm. Boris Danielsen photo

In addition to the Inferno exhibition, there's also a tattoo fair where skilled artists from around the world gather. You're unlikely to find any flowery or cute tattoos here, but if you appreciate dark-themed tattoos or ones in Nordic/Viking styles, especially from renowned artists, then this is definitely the place for you.

"Black Metal Bus" Sightseeing

The audience determines the entertainment. Every year, Inferno organizes the so-called Black Metal Bus Sightseeing — a journey to famous locations from the history of Norwegian black metal during the period of 1991–1993.


The highlight of this journey is, in fact, the tour guide — Anders Odden (Cadaver, Celtic Frost, Satyricon), who formed his first black metal band, Slaught, in 1986 after attending a rehearsal with Mayhem at the age of 14. He was one of the pioneers of the Norwegian scene, involved in tape trading, organizing concerts, and creating increasingly extreme music with his bands. This tour contains exclusive anecdotes and personal memories from the birth of this scene.

The route of the black metal bus tour includes visits to the Holmenkollen Chapel, restored after the fire of 1992, the site of Euronymous's murder, a black metal exhibition at the National Library, and Neseblod Records.

The latter deserves separate attention and a visit even outside the tour. Originally, Mayhem's guitarist, Euronymous, owned a record store called "Helvete," meaning "hell" in Swedish. Today, this store is called "Neseblod," or "nosebleed" in Norwegian. Here you will find an amazing selection of rare vinyl records, t-shirts, and other hard-to-find items.


Neseblod. Helle Bohdanova photo

In this "black metal museum," there are very old artifacts (masks, costumes, personal belongings of Euronymous, original merchandise, first presses), and a room where some Norwegian bands, such as Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor, and Thorns, gathered to write songs.

It's an incredibly atmospheric place, a real museum for heavy music enthusiasts, where every centimeter breathes history (editor's note: there was a fire in the shop in April, but funds for its restoration were quickly raised through GoFundMe).

An interesting fact: when I visited "Neseblod" this year, the saleswoman turned out to be a very pleasant girl from Odesa, who has been working there for over a year and is also studying in Oslo. For me, it's just a dream job!

Additional Tips for Visitors

Norway is indeed a very expensive country, so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

The festival takes place downtown, near the central train station. If you're traveling by plane, pay attention to which airport you're landing at. Oslo Torp Sandefjord handles most low-cost carriers, but it's located 110 km away from Oslo, so you'll spend a lot of time and money on transportation. If your flight lands at Oslo Gardermoen (the main airport), you can save money by using regular trains instead of Flytoget.

Regarding accommodation, I would recommend saving up a bit and booking rooms at the Clarion the Hub hotel. This way, you won't have to spend time and money on city transportation, and you'll fully experience the festival atmosphere, especially if you want to participate in the conference held at the same hotel.

Inferno Metal Festival & Inferno Music Conference 2024 Aftermovie

Additionally, Clarion the Hub serves incredible buffet breakfasts, which can also help you save on food expenses. It's also a unique and aesthetic pleasure to see hundreds of metalheads from different parts of the world with tattoos, piercings, and band shirts during breakfast.

Also, note that you can get a significant discount on accommodation at this hotel with a promo code from the festival.

On the other hand, near the festival venue, there's a local food court called Oslo Street Food, where you can eat cheaper than in individual restaurants. However, it can still be quite expensive, especially compared to Ukrainian prices. So, if you still want to save on food, I suggest looking into local hostels with kitchen facilities. The festival takes place during Easter, so many shops, including supermarkets, are closed, so it's worth stocking up on groceries in advance.


Typically, Inferno lasts for four days, so you can buy tickets for the entire event or for individual days. However, I recommend getting tickets for all days at once because traveling to Oslo is quite a journey, and the festival lineup is worth experiencing to the fullest.

Currently, a ticket for all days costs 3400 Norwegian kroner (approximately 290 euros). As a bonus, the ticket usually includes a branded shopper bag and a festival magazine with the current schedule and interviews with musicians. By the way, you can browse this year's digital magazine here.


So, What is Inferno?

A chamber festival where you can watch Dimmu Borgir perform alongside Nergal from Behemoth and Metal Hammer editors, have breakfast at Clarion the Hub hotel with the headliners from the previous day, meet the creators of famous metal album covers, visit the black metal museum, shop for rare vinyl records, learn about metal industry trends from the "sharks" of the business, and simply enjoy the Nordic capital.

Downsides? Besides the financial aspect — there simply aren't any, in my opinion.

Inferno Metal Festival 2025 will take place from April 17th to 20th. If I'm alive and well, I'll definitely go there again, for the third time. What a great Easter tradition, isn't it?

Official festival pages: ©