MIDGARDSBLOT 2019 (Horten, Norway)
August 15-17, 2019
by Jorge Patacas
The fifth edition of Midgardsblot was held last August. This is a festival that has been growing year by year thanks to the constant work of the managers and volunteers. There is an aspect that distinguishes it from the rest of the European summer festivals, which is the concept, since music and history centered on the Viking period coexist perfectly through shows, DJ sets, seminars, guided walks, thematic games, Viking market and all kind of activities related in one way or another with the medieval world. For making this happen, the organization chose the perfect location in the town of Borre, Horten, approximately 90 km away. south of Oslo. There is a large park (182,000 m²) where Borre’s mounds can be found, this area is considered one of the main cultural heritage of the country. It was active between the years 600 and 900, having a leading role in Viking history. A few meters away is the Midgard Viking Center, where you can see interesting exhibits that show different aspects of the history, as well as activities for kids. It is a place that undoubtedly attracts both locals and foreigners who come to these Nordic lands to live an unforgettable experience. Many choose to camp on the site during the days of the event, and there are three areas for it. There’s an area which is exclusive for volunteers, another one for those who choose outfits and tents according to the medieval era, and then there is the general campsite, which is located approximately fifteen minutes away from the festival area, crossing the park with the mounds mentioned above, by the sea. There when it gets cold at night, a bonfire is lit and it becomes the best environment for long talks between people from different parts of the world, in addition to people singing traditional songs such as “Herr Mannelig”, the Swedish ballad that has been covered many times by bands from different genres. Unforgettable memories.
In the same area, during the morning, there is a race of inflatable unicorns in the sea, which is definitely very fun to watch.
But something that is undoubtedly a must see are the seminars held at the aforementioned Midgard Viking Center, presented by Vicky Mikalsen, who is a board member of the festival. These were called Mimir Talks, since Mimir is one of the important figures in Norse mythology, renowned for his knowledge and wisdom. Upon entering the room where the talks were held, we could see an illustration of Mimir created by the French artist David Thièrrèe, who has worked with bands such as Behemoth, Gorgoroth, Enslaved, among others.
Personally, one of the seminars that most aroused my interest was that of the British author Dayal Patterson, who has written for magazines such as Decibel, Terrorizer and Metal Hammer, and now owns the publishing company Cult Never Dies, for which he has released a number of books related to metal with amazing content, including the series dedicated to Black Metal that began with the renowned “Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult”, published in 2013.
In his presentation, Patterson discussed this book, explaining its approach, which is very different from other publications on the genre that focus more on the well-known facts of the early 90’s. Among other aspects, he talked about the importance of tape trading at the time when the genre emerged, long before the Internet was a thing, and this helped the mysticism surrounding the pictures and music, something that it would not have happened in the same way these days where many musicians post even what they had for dinner on social media.
Through Cult Never Dies, Dayal has also published books on different fanzines that were essential in the development of the genre, retrieving interviews originally published at that time. Among his most recent publications are the official biography of Rotting Christ, written together with the band’s vocalist, Sakis Tolis, and another one about the Portuguese act Moonspell.
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