My festival year started late in 2019, as most people have already had their fill with festivals in June or/and July I had my first of three late August with the very first edition of Månegarm Open Air. Having got VIP tickets from a good friend of mine to celebrate that we (a group of three) turned 30 last year this was a good way spend a weekend with good friends, beer and class music. The line-up consisted of Mercury X, Wormwood, Grimner, Ereb Altor, Fejd, Thyrfing and of course Månegarm themselves. Having a VIP ticket meant the festival lasted two days for us, with the first day being an acoustic Månegarm show played inside a venue on Friday, then Saturday was played outside. Overall the festival was a big success, it sold out, the bands did a great job, the festival site was perfect for the event, there were no trouble that I saw and everyone was in a good mood throughout. There were even people traveling all the way from Mexico, Brazil and Japan to attend. How sick is that for a small first time festival!? They did state they will do another edition of the festival and I can only recommend this to any fan of the viking/folk/pagan/black metal school!
Månegarm (acoustic set)
Where to start…. This is one of those “you just had to be there” shows. Atmosphere was great, everyone was in such a good mood and hardcore Månegarm fans. They even had their friends and family there and it just felt very, I dunno but lets call it a “Månegarm family feeling”? A cosy, party vibe where it almost didn’t felt like watching some friends play at stage. Was a cool experience and the music was just wow! Most of the songs I’d never heard live before and hearing them all at once at this stage was wonderful. One of the highpoints here was hearing the Bathory cover “Mother Earth, Father Thunder” live! The festival couldn’t start in any better way and in all honesty this is one of the best shows I’ve been to in a really long time.
Sorry Mercury X but I didn’t get a picture of the show and I honestly only heard one song from these guys, I heard they did good from some people in attendance but sadly I got no personal experience from this band. The one song I heard was alright though and I’m sure they started the festival in a good way!
There were two bands I wanted to check out most of all at the festival because I’d never seen them live before. One of them being Wormwood because as you might remember their new album Nattarvet was chosen as July’s album of the month here at The Metal Gamer, so the hype factor was high. The band had some technical issues with the drums so the set started quite late (I think it was 20 minutes late, not sure on that though) but once it kicked off I was spellbound. Sound was great (maybe a bit low on vocals and guitar initially) and despise being a quite new band the live show seemed really tight and surprised me in a good way. They played songs from both their albums, got the crowd going and did a superb job overall. They lived up to my hype and with this performance they probably got new fans along the way. From what I gathered they had to skip a song or two from their set due to being late (don’t quote me on that, but was a rumor) but I personally don’t think that destroyed anything or was noticeable if that was the case. One thing I do think was a big missed opportunity, something me and my friends really looked forward to as well, was hearing “Sunnas hädnafärd” live with Erik Grawsiö (Månegarm) on stage. Seeing both bands were at the festival it would of been perfect, but sadly that didn’t happen which did in all honesty left a sour taste in my mouth at first. I quickly forgot about that though and saw the Wormwood show for what it was, which was great and they can obviously play with the big boys. Also has to be noted Tobias Rydsheim on guitar was freaking sick, those solos… *drools*
Now it was time to get into a party mood with the folk/viking band Grimner. Grimner is not a band I listen to a lot on CD but to me it’s one of those bands you need to see live, as that’s where the magic happens and their music really shines. Safe to say I was right! People were dancing all over the festival, beer was flowing and everyone was in high spirits. Grimner did what they came there to do, have a fucking party and we all partied hard! One thing that got it down a notch for me was the feedback (rundgång in Swedish) from what I think was the flute actually on the first few tracks that left my ears bleeding a bit. All it took was more beer though and all was fine again! Another good set at the festival and I recommend you to check this band out live if you get the chance because that’s how Grimner is meant to be experienced.
A personal favorite of mine was up next, Ereb Altor! A friend of mine was getting a small Månegarm tattoo at the festival during the set so I was going back and forth between the set and keeping him company but man does Ereb Altor always deliver. It’s the third time I see them and it’s always super tight. Pure professionals through and through with a lot of experience that shows. They always impress me and did so here too, granted now it’s starting to become common knowledge that Ereb Altor is viking metal in the flesh and mighty as Bathory reborn.
I’ve seen Fejd once before in my home town Malmö for free at Malmöfestivalen. Back then I had no idea who they were but their show blew me away. Now I knew what to expect and they bring a lot of energy to the crowd. When people might start to get tired after seeing a few bands then you know it’s good to bring a folk metal master like Fejd into the mix to get the energy levels going again. Pure folk metal at it’s peak and worked really well for this type of festival.
Next up was the other band I’d never seen live besides Wormwood, and definetely the band that I looked forward to seeing the most at the festival besides Månegarm themselves. Thyrfing has a long history with me, with the short story being that their song “Mjölner” was to my knowledge the very first black metal song I ever heard. Safe to say they have a special place in my black heart. It had now turned quite dark and getting cold, a most fitting atmosphere for what was about to be unleashed. What strikes me very quick and stands out is Jens Rydén. What raw energy this man possess! Holy moly him alone got me going headbanging hard, if I didn’t I would be afraid he was going to come down and make me. It was so dark and agressive I’d almost forgot how much I love seeing this type of black metal played live (mainly seen more melodic/atmospheric black metal bands as of late). Add to that the basically perfect playlist where Thyrfing played all of their hits, and more. For a first time Thyrfing experience I could never have wished for more!
The main act was of course Månegarm and it was time for them to close out their own festival. It was starting to get really cold now and you can tell I’m beginning to come to age when I at only soon to be 31 years old is having a hard time being this active for a full day haha. Månegarm got me going quick though, starting off with one of my personal favorites “Blodörn”. After that it was just rock and roll for over one and a half hour! Having heard a fantastic acoustic set the day before I now got the other half of Månegarm where they played a very varied setlist and made the two days becoming the ultimate Månegarm experience. What a finish and great way to close what was one of the best festival experiences I’ve had.
Ending this little summary I just want to say thanks to Månegarm for creating what I think is an awesome festival that I hope sell out every year you want to do this. I love that it was a bit smaller, had a niche metal genre that really gathered all metal vikings to one place. Everything just seemed to have a more family feeling due to it in my opinion. There were almost no technical issues, which in my opinion is quite insane seeing it was the first festival, so big horns up on making that work well straight away. Hails all around to the bands, staff, audience, my friends Kristian and Mathias and whatnot and hope to see you next year!