Given the fact that most of the world is in quarantine, you probably thought your summer metal festival plans were completely shot. Well, metal label Century Media begs to differ. They organized Isolation Fest which took place on May 14th 2020. As they put it on their Facebook event page: “Who ever said that it is impossible to build up a tent in your living room? Whoever said that it is impossible to enjoy canned ravioli & cheap warm beer indoors?”
Isolation Festival was a free online festival that was hosted on Century Media’s YouTube page. The stream began at 8pm CET / 2pm EST / 11am PST and was available to re-watch for 24 hours after the show was over. The 13 bands participating did remote performances live that were exclusively for this festival.
For the most part, bands performed from their homes separately, which led to some interesting moments seeing the band members couches, house plants, etc. (Hey, musicians are people too). A few jammed in a rehearsal room together, but most, like Hideous Divinity from Italy and headliner Voivod, were fully socially distanced playing in separate squares on the screen.
Obviously, a live streaming concert online doesn’t quite have the power of a live festival, but it is certainly better than nothing. Also, it doesn’t hurt to skip the lines to the bathroom, the warm beer, that one drunk guy who is always blocking your view and the sore feet either. Also, there was very little time between bands with no setup or takedown necessary. The whole thing lasted about 4 hours with all 13 bands playing, although some had pretty short sets (even real-life festivals have notoriously short sets). There was a short announcement between each band and then a countdown before they went on. Currently, the performance has reached 109,529 views which is pretty big for a festival full of semi-underground acts. There is even merch available at http://emp.me/isolation
Voivod’s singer was decked out in full quarantine attire and explained that they had limited resources at home, but the band did what they could. Apparently, their drummer does not have a drum set at home, so they played to a drum track. This seemed only to enhance their weird jazzy brand of metal and the fact that they were all in different places just added to the atmosphere of their music.
The highlight was definitely Borknagar who, despite their way too short set, sounded amazing for being in separate home studio setups. Their line up included a violinist and their drummer managed to play along live using an electronic drum kit. Their haunting track Voices from their latest album True North was a little heavier “live” than it sounds on the album. For those who don’t know, Borknagar is a folk black metal band founded by Øystein Garnes Brun over 25 years ago that currently features ex-Dimmu Borgir and current Arcturus member ICS Vortex. Singer and keyboardist Lars A. Nedland gave a resounding performance with as much passion as if he were in front of a huge crowd.
Openers Baest from Denmark also did a really solid set of Death meets Morbid Angel style death metal in a rehearsal studio with all of the members together.
Another surprise among the mainly extreme metal acts was the band Lucifer, with their more melodic classic rock sound in the vein of Black Sabbath. Interestingly, Lucifer’s guitarist Martin Nordin also plays with Dead Lord, the band who closed out isolation Fest. Screamer spoke with lead singer Johanna Sadonis who explained that the band’s members are all in other bands as well. Drummer Nicke Andersson “has many irons in the fire with The Hellacopters, Imperial State Electric, Death Breath and Entombed.” Lucifer is not to be confused with the television show of the same name or, as Sadonis puts it, “that dreadful shallow show! Thankfully no confusion there and yes, the band was first.”
Fans chimed in via live chat from all over the world from places such as Ireland, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, and the list goes on. Comments were generally positive (which is rare on YouTube these days) with fans saying things like “Thank You Century Media and bands for making this possible!” and asking when there would be another one. This is a question many are wondering…
Borknagar – https://Borknagar.lnk.to/TrueNorthID
Voivod – https://VOIVODBand.lnk.to/TheWakeID