This March marks the tragic finale of Reykjavík’s premier black metal festival Oration. Since its inception only two years ago, the event has grown from a local showcase to a destination festival with concert-goers traveling from all over the world to see the best of Iceland’s top-tier black metal community show their stuff.
But times change, and this year, organiser Stephen Lockhart revealed this iteration will be the last one. Many cried at the tragic info, and perhaps some died. It’ll be an explosive end though, with foreign acts like Asagram, Vemod, Virus, and Inferno making the trip to play alongside local heavyweights like Misþyrming, Auðn, Sinmara, and Svartidauði. While the first two days of the festival will be held at Húrra, on Friday there will be a bigger show at Listasafn Reykjavíkur.
Stephen Lockhart, the organiser of the festival and also the head of Studio Emissary, sat down with us to discuss the distressing end—for the public, not for him—of Oration and also the festival as a whole. Stephen will also be playing at the festival with his solo project Rebirth of Nefast and Slidhr.
Last Oration: How are you feeling?
Surprisingly good, considering the headache of dealing with a last-minute venue change. [The festival was originally supposed to be held at Gamla Bíó]. It’s always a mixture of apprehension and excitement. Right now, it’s full power mode–little sleep, but somehow lots of energy.
For the non-Oration-aware folk: Pitch Oration to me in 20 words or less.
Oration MMXVIII will be the greatest metal event Reykavík has ever seen. Even better than Secret Solstice. Oration. Oration. Oration.
How have you watched the festival change over the years? What about the black metal community?
It’s grown a lot from what was first envisioned—that being a one-night concert to showcase bands I’d been producing at Studio Emissary. For me, the spirit is still the same, though with 75% of the attendees being foreign, it would suggest that things may have escalated since Oration MMXVI. As for the black metal community, I wouldn’t know. I live in the Mountains of Mosfellsbaer now.
Heard you’re a dad now, how’s your baby?
It’s actually two babies now, and they’re both wonderful! Thank you for asking. And both under eighteen months as well, so they keep us happily occupied!
Let’s get to the elephant in the room—why is this the last one?
Please refer to the last question… Nah, it’s of course more than that. But for now at least, I don’t want this to be my job. Writing emails and putting out fires is boring. Making music is much more fun.
Are you looking for a new (wo)man to take the helm?
Nope. I’ve poured my heart and soul into Oration. Passing it on to someone else would just feel wrong.
What are you going to do in your post-Oration life?
The same as always, only with the vague possibility of some free time—make music, work making other people’s music, make babies, build our Stylish Witch Church (a house) and a studio to die for.
What advice do you have for Oration virgins?
It’s a black metal concert, it’s going to be full of virgins. And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with waiting.
Oration MMXVIII is from March 7th to March 9th. Tickets for the whole festival are 12,900 ISK and tickets for the Friday show at Listasafn Reykjavíkur are 4,300 ISK. The festival is nearly sold out so if you want a taste of despair, pick one up ASAP.