So, I Went Down to Slomatics Rehearsal Last Night…

Posted in Features on May 30th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

slomatics practice

I’ve been fortunate enough to do some cool stuff in my quickly-increasing number of years, but being invited to a band’s practice space is no small thing. Even putting aside whatever clichés you want about inner-sanctums or where-the-magic-happens or that kind of thing, the fact is that a band in rehearsal is much different than a band on stage, and the practice space isn’t just where songs are run through, it’s where a band finds and develops their sound to then go and refine it live or in the studio. It is a personal place.

My brilliant-ass college professor wife, The Patient Mrs., has been leading students on a study-abroad trip for this past week. We were in Dublin and got up north to Belfast on Tuesday. I’m along basically to provide childcare for The Pecan — now 19 months old and screaming brutally enough to make every black metal band you’ve ever heard sound lightweight — and the first thing I thought of when I found out we were going to be in Northern Ireland was, “I wonder what Slomatics will be up to?”

The Belfast-native three-piece are on the cusp of releasing their new album, Canyons (review here), through Black Bow Records, and their rehearsal space is in an industrial park tucked away in a corner just off the city-center, above Jimmy’s TV Repair (and Allegedly Etc.), in a room with show posters and old Terrorizer foldouts put up. Guitarist David Marjury was kind enough to pick me up at the hostel where we’re staying — that’s right: baby in a hostel; it’s going swimmingly — as he happens to live nearby, and we drove about five minutes to get to the spot through Belfast’s curvy, carved-by-livestock-then-industrialized streets, where guitarist Chris Couzens and drummer/vocalist Marty Harvey (who also plays in War Iron) were already waiting.

With the new record coming out, they obviously weren’t writing or working on anything new or anything like that, but they’re booked to fly to Siegen, Germany, next month to play Freak Valley Festival, so the task was to work out the set for that. Some debate ensued about focusing on new songs versus older material — I’m generally in favor of new — and they ran through the first half of Canyons in succession, with opener and longest track (immediate points) “Gears of Despair” leading to “Cosmic Guilt,” “Seven Echoes” and “Telemachus, My Son,” the last of which was a unanimous pick to feature at the fest. To the side of where I sat, a marker board was littered with potential setlists in what was clearly an ongoing conversation.

In between the songs, the banter was light and familiar. Chris had been all sinus’ed up earlier in the day, Marty had gotten his face scratched by a patient at work, Dave had some amp buzz that might’ve been input trouble, and so on. Everyone talked about family, and as I’ve had the pleasure to meet the band on two prior occasions, seeing them first at Høstsabbat 2016 (review here) in marker boardOslo and then again the next year at Roadburn (review here) in The Netherlands, I knew going into it they were all friendly guys and my persistent, painful awkwardness would potentially have some manner of offset by their hospitality. Sitting in front of a drum kit that was either spare or some other band’s, laughing at some story or other, I was glad to be right about that.

They played through “Mind Fortresses on Theia,” again from the new album, and one other — was it “Beyond the Canopy?” — and then dipped back to older material, which sounded very much like a refresher as opposed to stuff they were still working out how to present live. That difference was palpable mostly in ways it wouldn’t have been on stage, in things like body language and during-song communication between Marjury and Couzens, Harvey all the while devastating his already-cracked cymbals in go-hard-at-practice fashion while belting out lyrics with no less force than I’ve been lucky to see him do on stage.

Even without a mic, his snare cut through the extra-low low-end of the two guitars, and some of it was interesting to see him count through some of the ambient parts of the newer material, which indeed is even more atmospheric than what the band had on offer with 2016’s Future Echo Returns (review here), as both Couzens and Marjury would periodically depart from the central lumbering riffs in which the band has long specialized to add keyboard-style effects that lent melody to the coinciding crush. I was glad that I make it a habit to travel with earplugs. The whole place seemed to rumble, or maybe it was just me.

All told, it was about two hours of time in the room, and while I don’t know what the final setlist will be for Freak Valley, it’s safe to say it’s going to be a powerful show. Slomatics have existed for 15 years at this point, and it’s clear Harvey, Marjury and Couzens have known each other for longer than that. Harvey had to call it a night, but Marjury, Couzens and I adjourned afterward to a coffee shop around the corner from where I’m staying — not the Nordic one with the espressos I’ve been habitually downing since we got into down, that’s across the street, but a different one that was also good — and spent some time shooting the shit about the band and laughing about family stuff, their embarrassing themselves in front of Goatsnake (I’ve still never seen them live, so not had the opportunity, of which I’d inevitably take advantage), the time Marjury saw Ozzy on tour for The Ultimate Sin, and whatever else. It was pretty laid back, even with the late coffee, and I was no less glad to be there than I’d been at the rehearsal space. These are good people.

Coffees done and work/baby in the morning, we said goodnight and I headed back around the corner to crash out and wake up to another day today. I’ll be honest and say it took me a while to get to sleep, not just for that last espresso, but just from the excitement of doing something like that. It doesn’t happen every day, and to be not just brought in, but actually welcomed by Slomatics was something special I’ll long remember. I’m here for another week, but it already made my trip.

Slomatics, “Mind Fortresses on Theia” official video

Slomatics on Thee Facebooks

Slomatics on Bandcamp

Black Bow Records

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Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on May 28th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

MOUNT SATURN

In the bleary-eyed early hours of 2019, when most heads were still clearing from the panicked revelry celebrating the march into an unknown and horrifying future, there came Kiss the Ring (discussed here), the debut EP/demo from Bellingham, Washington’s Mount Saturn. Then a four-piece and currently a trio seeking a drummer, the upstart outfit follows in the Pacific Northwestern tradition of putting the focus on riffs and melody, with guitarist Ray Blum and vocalist Violet Vasquez working in partnership to set a solid foundation of both throughout Kiss the Ring‘s four tracks, with bassist Cody Barton and then-drummer Tanner Scinocco locking down a duly weighted groove to counterbalance the spaciousness of the vocals and guitar.

The EP, preceded only by a single-version of its opening track “Dwell,” holds to a central method, but is varied in mood and approach around that enough to give its songs an organic sense of character, and as statements of intent go, it shows both a will toward progression and an ingrained penchant for songcraft, and it makes it clear that the band know where they want to reside on the spectrum of heavy and, most importantly for the longer term, they’re willing to adjust that balance as called for by their material and progressive intent.

I know you heard the thing, so I won’t prattle on, but just in case, there’s a full stream below from Bandcamp and tapes are newly available from Ice Fall Records. I wanted to get the basic background on the band and how they worked together to make the EP, and Vasquez and Blum were both kind enough to offer insight.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions.

Mount Saturn Kiss the Ring

Six Dumb Questions with Mount Saturn

How did Mount Saturn get together? Give me the origin story for the band.

Violet Vasquez: So myself and my partner Ray knew we wanted to start making “doom” or something that strayed a bit from conventional metal together, and starting by jamming together in an old storage unit. I had never sung before in a band, but really wanted to give it a shot, and Ray had been playing guitar for a while but had no projects. It started as something to do. We tried out a couple of drummers, and then decided to just write together for a bit and see what we had to say as writers. We were discovering so much new music together at this time and weren’t sure what we wanted to sound like. We took our time, for sure. Ray ended up starting the band Crystal Myth with Tanner, who he had jammed with in another band briefly, and then Cody came along by suggestion of our good friend Autumn. Essentially, the members of Crystal Myth were coerced into backing the songs that we been working on, and lending their talents to the development of new ones. They both just wanted to play music, so it wasn’t too hard to convince them. We were eager to contribute to a heavy scene that seemed to be experiencing a sort of resurrection in Bellingham and it’s been really fun to do that.

Tell me about writing Kiss the Ring. How did the songs take shape? You’d done a version of “Dwell” earlier. Was that the first song you wrote together?

VV: The first song we wrote together was a song we don’t have recorded, called “Down” about a witch who employs a wizard to fight a dragon. Perhaps a little heavy handed on the DOOM elements in retrospect, and it was a bit too long admittedly at seven minutes, but I recall it fondly! As far as writing Kiss the Ring goes, we would bring the skeletons of ideas to practice and work it out. We jammed a lot, and some of the things we expected to go one way went another based off the input and style of our rhythm section. I think songs like “Dwell” became keepers because of this. Generally, though, we had really good chemistry in jamming and got a few ideas that way. Once I found a melody that I liked to sing, that jam became a song in progress and would take shape from there.

How long were you in the studio making the EP, and what was the recording process like? Is there anything different you’d like to do next time around? Anything you’d like to keep just the same?

Ray Blum: We took a weekend in July 2018 to go to a studio in Anacortes, WA, called The Unknown with hopes of nailing down a drum and vocal sound that we liked. Erik Wallace, our engineer, suggested the space because it’s an old church with great acoustics. To this point in the band’s life, every studio experience has been successively better than the last, as we gather knowledge and an increased understanding of what we think the project should sound like. It was probably a faster process than we would have liked it to have been, but we had drums essentially done on the first day, guitar and bass done the second and vocals on the third. As far as things I would change, I would have liked to have spent a little more time trying to vary tones from song to song, but I think that’s what every guitar player thinks about studio time. Working with our friend Erik Wallace of Shibusa Sounds (who recorded, mixed and mastered the whole thing) was a blast and definitely something I would like to keep the same. He pulled not only a good sound out of us; but good performances, which at the youthful stage the band was at, was integral to the positive response that the EP received. Next time, we’d like to really take our time and try to record more things live.

Of course, the Pacific Northwest is a huge hotbed for bands and all that. What influence do you take from your surroundings, whether it’s nature, other bands, whatever? What does being from the PNW mean to you?

VV: Mount Saturn would probably not be the band we are without the doom, the gloom, and Holy Grove. We love that band, they’ve inspired our inception in a way, truly. We love our often-gloomy surroundings, too, and there’s no doubt that fuels our moods and keeps us inside jamming or writing. Being from the PNW, we are also living in a pretty socially-conscious area, and I’d say I tend to definitely focus on those kinds of issues thematically. Half our songs are about issue of feminism and the fight for equality across genders, but issues of racism and classism are also on our minds, and on the minds of people we play with or those who come to our shows. Those themes, they’re not just fueling our lyrics, but our passionate performances, too. It’s a way to heal that pain and I think it’s why we’ve gotten a good response locally; people want to be healed and empowered by music.

You seem to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in terms of your sound and style. How do you see the band growing as you move forward?

RB: It’s tough to say how we think the band will grow musically moving forward at the moment. We’re in the process of replacing our drummer (Tanner left shortly after Kiss the Ring was recorded), and we can’t make any assumptions about future sounds until we have an understanding of what that new person may bring to the table. I would say that our influences have certainly shifted slightly away from purely doom metal and more towards psych rock but I would hesitate to guess how that will be reflected in the writing at such an early stage.

Will you tour? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

VV: You know, we would love to. We’re in the process of looking for the right drummer to join us so we can start writing a full-length and at least go down the coast a bit before the end of 2020. Wish us luck! Also, keep your eye out for our pals in Dryland who are about to release their first full-length. They’re Bellinghamsters, too, and we can’t get enough of them.

Mount Saturn, Kiss the Ring (2019)

Mount Saturn on Thee Facebooks

Mount Saturn on Instagram

Mount Saturn on Bandcamp

Ice Fall Records webstore

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SubRosa Announce Breakup (For Now) and Many New Projects

Posted in Features on May 20th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Even with the many ongoing projects featuring the members as detailed below, SubRosa will be missed. The band announced their breakup with the expected level of honesty, going so far as to include a parenthetical “for now,” leaving open the possibility of doing something again in the future. They go out having released the best album of 2017 in For this We Fought the Battle of Ages (review here), which serves as their final studio outing, and the 2018 live album, SubDued: Live at Roadburn 2017 (review here), which I have absolutely zero hesitation in dubbing one of the most powerful live performances I’ve ever witnessed. About 20 minutes ago, putting my son to bed, I sang him “The Mirror,” as I do every day.

That bit of personal affinity aside, SubRosa were legitimately a band pushing post-metal to places it hadn’t been, representative of a varied, passion-driven creative force that set a standard few could match. If this is it and they never do anything else, it’s a genuine loss. And if they come back at some point — any point, really, whenever — they’ll be welcome. For now, I’ll put on the last record and be glad to have seen the band when I did.

Here’s their announcement, as just posted on the social medias:

subrosa

To all of our beautiful, supportive fans and friends,

After a magical 13-year run, SubRosa is calling it quits (for now). Rebecca decided she wanted to focus on her solo project, The Keening, and Kim, Sarah, Levi and Andy have all been able to focus their creative energies on other musical ventures. We would never have experienced our dreams as reality without you, and we cannot thank you enough. Rather than despairing over what is lost, we want to continue this journey with you. We are all on fire right now writing new music:

• Kim and her partner are soon releasing their noise/doom/electro-magma love child into the world as Teleprom.

Bandcamp: https://teleprom.bandcamp.com/releases

• Andy is about to put out a new record with his 2-piece Bass and Drums band DØNE.

Bandcamp: https://donebandmusic.bandcamp.com/

• Sarah and Zachary Livingston from Minsk are releasing the first Asphodel Wine album “Slowdance Macabre” – a dynamic sonic narrative of love, passion, fire and the perils of consciousness – early next year, and are already writing their second album.

Instagram: @asphodelwine
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/asphodelwine/

• Rebecca has started writing music for her solo project The Keening.

Instagram: @thekeeningmusic
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekeeningmusic/

• And last but not least, Andy, Kim, Levi, and Sarah are writing an album that is heavier than a truckload of lead bricks. Our band is unnamed as of this announcement, but we will keep you posted on that.

If you ever came to a SubRosa show, listened to a song, gave us a place to crash, booked a show, promoted our music, or worked with us in any way, you were part of our dream. In particular, we’d like to thank our label owners and booking agents: Chris Bruni, Nathan Carson, Nanouk de Meijere and Ola Blomkvist, for supporting us continually through the years.

We love you.

SubRosa, For This We Fought the Battle of Ages (2016)

SubRosa website

SubRosa on Bandcamp

SubRosa on Instagram

SubRosa on Thee Facebooks

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Here’s the Bio I Wrote for Worshipper’s Light in the Wire

Posted in Features on May 17th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Today marks the release date of Worshipper‘s second album, Light in the Wire (review here). Out on Tee Pee Records, it lands immediately following the return of the Boston four-piece from a European tour alongside labelmates The Skull that included stops at Desertfest in London and Berlin to follow-up on both bands’ appearance at the inaugural Desertfest NYC a few weeks back (review here).

The release will be celebrated tonight in Cambridge, MA, with a live in-store performance at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square. The retail outlet also has an exclusive color vinyl edition available that looks just lovely in the pictures that I’ve seen. I was fortunate enough to be asked when they were putting the promo package together to write the bio for the album, and I did so happily.

For the occasion of the release, here’s that bio I wrote, as it appears currently on their Bandcamp page:

worshipper light in the wire

Worshipper – Light in the Wire bio

Whatever frame you want to give it, Worshipper’s story is one of growth. What started four years ago with a couple digital singles has blossomed — yes, blossomed — into an expansive and individualized sound that’s like nothing else in heavy rock and roll. With patient and graceful songwriting, and thoughtful, detailed arrangements, the Boston-based four-piece bring something new to the hordes of those building altars to the capital ‘r’ Riff. Their second album, Light in the Wire, presents a progressive vision that’s not just about “oh hey we threw a keyboard on some guitar,” but instead bleeds into every melody, every smoothly-delivered rhythmic change, and every performance captured on the recording.

Worshipper’s first album, Shadow Hymns, came out in 2016 on Tee Pee, and they followed it with the 2017 covers EP Mirage Daze, a four-song jaunt exploring influences like Pink Floyd, The Who, Uriah Heep and doom rockers The Oath. That release gave new context to Shadow Hymns, and it informs Light in the Wire as well, though with the new LP, Worshipper are most recognizable as themselves.

Led by would-be-reluctant-were-it-not-for-all-that-pesky-stage-presence frontman John Brookhouse (guitar/vocals/synth), with Alejandro Necochea on lead guitar/synth, Bob Maloney on bass and backing vocals and Dave Jarvis on drums, Worshipper recorded Light in the Wire with Chris Johnson (also of Deafheaven, Summoner, etc.) at GodCity Studios and The Electric Bunker. Their intention to capture a sonic narrative has resulted in a fluidity tying the two sides of the album together even as individual pieces stand out with a sheen of classic heavy metal, rock, psychedelia and prog. At the center, always, is the crafting of the songs themselves, so that each verse isn’t simply a placeholder for the next hook, but a statement unto itself, and each solo drips soul rather than devolving into a needless showcase of wankery.

Light in the Wire not only sees Worshipper grow as songwriters and performers, but it expands the palette they’re working with to do that. A stage-born chemistry pervades their musical conversation, but even more, the confidence with which they take on darkness and light, weight and drift, brings into focus how faithworthy their sound has become. They may push farther still, but hearing Light in the Wire leaves no question of their realization.

-JJ Koczan

https://www.facebook.com/worshipperband/
https://www.instagram/worshipperband
https://worshipper.bandcamp.com/
http://teepeerecords.com

Worshipper, Light in the Wire (2019)

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The Gates of Slumber: Karl Simon Talks Reuniting the Band, Future Plans and More

Posted in Features on May 3rd, 2019 by JJ Koczan

the gates of slumber

It’s only too fitting that The Gates of Slumber‘s reunion after five years of inactivity should focus on their 2004 debut, …The Awakening. Founded in 1997 in Indianapolis as The Keep by guitarist/vocalist Karl Simon, the band would go on to release five full-lengths between ’04 and 2011, as well as a slew of splits and EPs, thereby spearheading an American traditionalist doom outside the geographic confines of Maryland’s scene. Their sound embraced epic metal on Conqueror (2008) and 2009’s Hymns of Blood and Thunder (review here), but never wavered from its core purpose in doom, and their final LP, 2011’s The Wretch (review here), was a gloriously downtrodden exploration of drunken regret set to riffage that used the open spaces of the recording to create an even more oppressive sphere.

When bassist Jason McCash left the band in Sept. 2013Simon said, “I always said I’d never go on doing TGoS without Jason, I don’t think anyone ever really believed it, but yeah, it’s done.” Soon enough, Simon would go on to found Wretch as a continuation of The Gates of Slumber‘s cathartic outlet, and their self-titled debut LP (review here) showed up in 2016, followed the next year by an EP, Bastards Born (discussed here), as the new unit began to find its own direction within the sphere of doom. The legacy of The Gates of Slumber and McCash, who passed away in 2014, loomed large, but Simon was always upfront about what he wanted the band to be and Wretch went so far as to play select The Gates of Slumber songs live. You don’t name your new band after your old band’s last album if you’re trying to distance yourself from what you’ve done in the past. Wretch worked and continues to work as a project precisely because of its direct engagement and honesty about its origins.

News came down earlier this week that The Gates of Slumber would reunite for Hell Over Hammaburg in Hamburg, Germany, next year, playing alongside NifelheimArgusHauntBellrope and a slew more not yet announced. The new lineup of the band features Steve Janiak of Devil to Pay and Apostle of Solitude on bass and Chuck Brown of Apostle of Solitude on drums. The latter is also a veteran of The Gates of Slumber, having played on …The Awakening before being ousted and starting his own band. Together, the new trio will embark on the trip to Germany in 2020 and then…? It’s up in the air. Simon notes below they’re willing to take it as far as people want without affecting anyone’s work in other bands, including his own, and of course one recalls that at the time of their breakup, The Gates of Slumber were slated to do nearly three weeks on the road supporting Church of Misery the next month. I don’t think they’ll pickup right where they left off, but perhaps there’s some sense of work still to be done on the part of one of this millennium’s most essential US doom purveyors.

So, with Germany ahead and Wretch on tour now (playing New England Stoner & Doom Fest in CT this weekend), behold The Gates of Slumber‘s reawakening. Thanks to Simon for taking the time to talk about it on short notice, and to you for reading.

The Gates of Slumber Interview with Karl Simon

First things first: How did the reunion come about? Did Hell Over Hammaburg bring the idea to you? What made you think this was the time to bring back The Gates of Slumber?

Well, Wolf [Mühlmann] from HOH asked me a while back about TGoS playing, and I was not in a place to really deal with it. My mother had just passed after a long illness and Wretch was on hold due to drama in the band, so I said something non-committal about the whole thing and left it at that. I basically took a chunk of time and quit thinking about bands. I learned a bunch of songs arranged for an acoustic and just kind of played for myself. Last year I asked Dustin Boltjes formerly of Skeletonwitch, The Dream is Dead, Demiricous and all around raging dude to take the throne and we started working on songs for the next Wretch record. In the middle of that, I tore my Achilles and had to take months off. And Oli [Richling] from Church Within contacted me asking about The Awakening, I’d been trying to pitch the live LP from the The Wretch tour forever, and we got a deal worked out for the Live record, The Awakening AND Like a Plague Upon the Land — the last recorded stuff with that lineup. Chuck had come by a bit during my downtime and we’d been talking a lot. We had this deal where our records were going to come back out and the way I saw it it would be a dumb thing to not at least play a few shows to support it. Jason would have done it in a minute…. and it gave me an excuse to play those songs with Chuck again and just hang out with an old friend. And that’s that.

How did the the lineup end up being you, Chuck and Steve? Was the fact that Chuck had been in Gates before a factor? Obviously they’re both in Apostle of Solitude now, but how did that all come together?

We both wanted to take this chance for sure, TGoS had a decent profile and we wanted to ride the goddamn snake, but we did not want any stress. It’s all super laid back for a change. Steve fell right in because he could commit right away and he was into it. His gear was at Chuck‘s where we practice and we just went with it. It’s all been very chill and easy. Which is how we want it.

It’s been nearly six years since the band first broke up. How do you feel about what The Gates of Slumber accomplished during its initial run? I know Wretch has played some Gates songs in the past, but how do you feel looking back on that material now that the band is going again? Has your appreciation for it changed at all?

We’ve been relearning songs from that era that basically stopped when we fired Chuck in ’05… it’s been fun and in a dippy sense healing. We realized how destructive we were to each other back then and how insecure we were as people and players, at least I have been. As far as what Wretch will do, basically the only song from TGoS we do is the namesake, I see that as a rallying point for Wretch… the other songs are going to stay with TGoS… I mean maybe someday we’ll trot out “Scovrge of Drvnkeness” or something, but in Wretch we are focused on writing new songs.

Do you have any idea of what you’ll play live yet?

We’ll be focusing exclusively on songs from The Awakening era. Sorry if you’re a fan of the later stuff. This is going back to the beginning and we plan to play at least an hour and 20 min, focusing mostly on songs that never got played live. You’ll hear “The Leach” for the first time, “The Burial” will be back, along with “Dweller in the Deep” and a bunch of other stuff.

It goes without saying that Jason’s legacy looms large in all things concerning The Gates of Slumber. The band initially quit when he left. How much is he in your mind when you think about what makes The Gates of Slumber what it was and is?

He’s there constantly, you know. His shadow looms over TGoS and Wretch a lot. I’ve had a lot of time with death. And grief never goes away. It’s softens… it’s like, Wretch just played our first show in two years on his birthday. His widow and son were there. It’s a family thing.

How far will this reunion go? Will you play other shows besides Hell Over Hammaburg? How will it affect Wretch, Apostle of Solitude and Devil to Pay? Will there ever be another Gates record?

As far as folks want it to, if there is a demand we’ll play… it’s not going to effect Apostle of Solitude or Wretch or Devil to Pay. For me Wretch is number one. We actually leave for tour tomorrow May 2. So, dear reader, if you’re trying to ask some questions about this you’d best see me at the merch table, get it? Got it? Good.

See you all soon!

Karl

The Gates of Slumber on Thee Facebooks

The Gates of Slumber on Twitter

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Four, 04.14.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 14th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 banner day four

04.14.19 – 01.17 CET – Sunday night – Hotel

Just now, before I sat down to write this post, I went to the tap in the bathroom to refill my water bottle. You can drink the tap water here — it’s really something. Anyhow, I stick the bottle under the cold water and look down about two seconds later to see I’ve left the cap on. Water running down the side of bottle. That’s about where one’s head is at on this last day of Roadburn 2019. You ever been nostalgic about something while it’s still going on? Yeah, emotions are running high in Tilburg. Many hugs, many slaps on the back, many see-you-next-years from one denizen of this temporary planet to another. Lucy in Blue (Photo by JJ Koczan)Indeed, even strung out on caffeine and obliterated by volume, it’s difficult to say goodbye to Roadburn, always.

Still somewhat reminiscent of when it was the Afterburner, Roadburn‘s Day Four has fewer stages, but I mean, it’s still four. Five if you count the Ladybird Skatepark, which I was at twice today. So yeah, not a laid back affair. And while the shows ended earlier — Imperial Triumphant and Cave both ended at 00.30, in Patronaat and the Green Room, respectively — the day also started early, with Lucy in Blue going on in the Green Room at 14.00 presenting their new album, In Flight, in its entirety. Based in Iceland, their sound is a classically progressive kind of rock with notable use of keys and vocal harmonies to go with the kraut-ish riffing and repetitive progressions.

They were young, but had both a firm grip on their aesthetic intentions and many aspects of their performance. Maybe some kinks to work out in terms of songwriting efficiency and their onstage persona, but the elements were there in a way that you couldn’t call anything other than encouraging. They were a mellow start to the day for those not watching Have a Nice Life on the Main Stage next door, and as far as I’m concerned, that was welcome. I did pop over to check out some of the Connecticut-based unit, Supersonic Blues (Photo by JJ Koczan)but only after Lucy in Blue were well in flight and had left the ground behind. It was a palpable contrast.

Didn’t watch Daughters. I know. But, well, Supersonic Blues were added last-minute to play at the skatepark, and well, they ruled last year, so it seemed like an easy-enough pick to head up and see them again. There were more skaters than yesterday, but they cleared out so the Dutch three-piece could play. Like Lucy in Blue, Supersonic Blues are probably under 30 — unless I’m just old enough now that 30 year olds look like kids; possible — but they command a warmth of tone and a sense of appreciation for classic boogie rock that comes complemented by an easy-rolling sense of craft and a sans-pretense approach to what they’re doing. I’ll take that any, any, any day of the week. I heard they got added yesterday and was only stoked that I’d get to see them again. They’ve had two singles out but sound like they’re about ready for a first LP, or at very least an EP.

A little bit of continuity to the start of the day between Lucy in Blue and Supersonic Blues, and though that coolest of colors wouldn’t factor into the moniker of Stuck in Motion, there was plenty of blues in their sound, and a fervent ’70s stylization as well. They fit with what I was looking for, is the short version of theStuck in Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan) story, and I stood and watched from the Green Room balcony as they classic-heavied their way into the hearts and heads of the assembled, easing out sleek grooves and keyboards/organ that only added to the depth of the melody. Cool band, and I felt justified in not fighting my way to the front to take photos by how chill their sound was. As if to say, “It’s cool man, you go ahead and take this one easy. We will too.” It was a winning decision all the way around, I think.

I had gotten turned onto their 2018 self-titled debut (review here) by Walter on Facebook posting about them, so checking them out in the flesh only seemed fair. They were cool, but I felt like I owed it to myself to watch Thou close out their residency on the Main Stage. Given the set they played last night at the skatepark doing Misfits covers, somehow a straight-ahead performance seemed anticlimactic, but hell’s bells were they heavy. I mean, really. Spread out across the stage, they brought full-on volume to the kind of atmospheres they had in their almost-acoustic set the other night, something disquieting in the mood and challenging of themselves and their audience. They are a band people really like. A lot. I can’t say that I’m a Thou (Photo by JJ Koczan)huge Thou fan like the people I saw chasing down the vinyl over in the merch area, but they’re undeniably powerful on stage, whether screaming or melodic, loud or quiet, or, you know, playing Misfits tunes, as one apparently will. I know they played like 50 sets in the last four days, but how could they not be back at some point in the years to come?

That question gave me something to ponder as I plotzed up to the Ladybird Skatepark for the last time to see Bismuth, who played earlier in the fest but were given another chance to volume-pummel everything in their path. Loud? Shit. There were parts of that building vibrating that were not meant to vibrate. Bassist/vocalist Tanya Byrne won Roadburn 2019 as regards t-shirts with the selection of Khanate, and she and drummer Joe Rawlings doled out grueling nod and brutal tone with unmitigated intensity. Their 2018 album, The Slow Dying of the Great Barrier Reef (discussed here), was some manner of preparation for seeing them live in terms of the basic air-from-lungs push of low-end — also tree-trunk drumsticks — but the volume factor made it all the more of a steamroller running atop the assembled masses Bismuth (Photo by JJ Koczan)in the skatepark, that big, high-ceilinged space seeming to fill up with sound no matter where you stood. Audio as a physical presence. It was righteous.

And then, of course, Sleep played. As far as culminations go, one could hardly ask for more than Sleep returning after so dutifully handing the 013 its ass last night to play their 2018 album, The Sciences (review here), front-to-back. But here’s the thing: Sleep played last night doing Sleep’s Holy Mountain in full. It was incredible. But The Sciences was better. The material sounded fresher, the band sounded more comfortable, and I’m not sure there’s hyperbole dramatic enough for how fucking loud they were. It was incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to see Sleep a few times. My go-to for the best I ever saw them was Roadburn 2012 (review here). After tonight, I might have to change my opinion. There was a technical glitch or two along the way — Matt Pike blew out one of his several guitar heads — but he, Al Cisneros and Jason Roeder Sleep (Photo by JJ Koczan)were utterly incredible. It was the kind of set that could make you believe in the magic of Christmas. A true Santa Claus of a set. They threw in “Holy Mountain” and “Dragonaut” as well, I guess just in case anyone in the room wasn’t there the night before. I heard no complaints for the repeaters, and registered none myself. Those songs too were better the second time around.

No clue how many times I’ve made this observation, but I think Jason Roeder might be the best drummer I’ve ever watched play. Yeah, Matt Pike just won a Grammy with High on Fire, and Al Cisneros deserves a Nobel for his work in Om, but between those two titans, Roeder — who, just to mention it so you don’t think I’m undercutting his own pedigree, was well established in fucking Neurosis before he joined Sleep in place of original drummer Chris Hakius — is crucial to the band Sleep have become. It was all the more emphasized in the The Sciences material, songs like “Sonic Titan” and “Giza Butler,” which unto itself was a highlight of the entire festival. If last night was a celebration of Sleep‘s earlier glories, then tonight was confirmation of the reason they’re the most influential riffers since Black Sabbath themselves. They were a joy to behold, and the perfect ending to my own personal Roadburn 2019.

There was a line outside Het Patronaat as I was leaving after aSleep (Photo by JJ Koczan) few quick goodbyes. Imperial Triumphant would be on shortly as the last Roadburn band ever to play the venue — there’s a bit of festival trivia for you — and I heard they were doing a whole thing with masks, but honestly, how could I ever hope to improve on the night I’d just had or what I’d just seen? Sad as it was to realize, it was time to go.

So I went. Roadburn 2019 ended on a higher note than I could’ve wished for, and I walked out of the 013 and down Weirdo Canyon to get back to the hotel sweaty, smelling like smoke, tired, hungry, thirsty and sore, but still feeling 100 percent refreshed. The only tragedy is it’s another year till the next one.

Thanks for reading. I’ll close out the Roadburn coverage tomorrow assuming I have time, but first and foremost thank you for reading. You’re pretty great.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Three, 04.13.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn 2019 banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.14.19 – 02.15 CET – Saturday night – Hotel

It snowed today. That was a first. Hail too. I wasn’t outside for it, but unless European snow bounces, it was hail, followed by snow. 11 Roadburns later, Tilburg still holds a few surprises. And no, I don’t just mean the secret Thou set where they did the Misfits covers and Emma Ruth Rundle got in on the action, though that too.

ROADBURN 2019 WEATHERThe weather wasn’t a hardship or anything — the joke was that Sumac were so heavy they made it hail, and fair enough — since apart from a short walk here or there I spent very nearly the entire day inside. I was bumming hard after finding out about a brutal fuckup on my part with today’s issue of the daily ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Basically I left out an important piece and we’ll run it tomorrow anyway, but I still felt very, very much like shit about it. Like, “I don’t deserve to be here” beating myself up. I went and found the writer in question and damn near broke out into tears apologizing.

I know it’s a festival fanzine and all, but that shit is important to me, and it was squarely my mistake that dropped the article. It won’t be as timely tomorrow when it goes in the issue. I know it’s not the end of the world, ultimately, but this fest puts its faith in me not to screw up doing this one thing, and I screwed it up. I’d already seen Temple Fang and Wolvennest and a couple seconds of Confusion Master by then, and I thought long and hard about just coming back to the hotel and going to bed, but eventually got it together. It sucks being bad at, like, everything you do.

Like I said, I saw Temple Fang again. They opened up the pre-show on Wednesday (review here), and they opened up today in a kind of super-early showcase slot at 1:30PM in an especially foggy Hall of Fame, up by the Koepelhal and the Ladybird Skatepark, which is very quickly becoming another Roadburn venue. Launching with “Gemini,” Temple Fang were this time around a little less Temple Fang (Photo by JJ Koczan)tense — maybe just waking up — and a little more locked into an overarching groove that still highlighted their progressive take on space rock and psychedelia, but seemed to give the songs a little more space to breathe. I’m not sure I can speak to exactly what the difference was. It might’ve been just as simple as playing a little more relaxed. But both sets showed the serious potential on the part of the band and my only problem with seeing them play a second time was that it meant they did not immediately on Thursday morning enter the studio to record their debut album, which had been my hope after their first show. Oh well. Always tomorrow, guys.

Wolvennest opened the Main Stage, with theremin, incense and a few skulls here and there amid their darkened cult rock atmospherics. The Brussels-based outfit are celebrating the release this month of their new EP, Vortex, which came out last week through the ever-tasteful Ván Records, and I have no doubt they persuaded a few heads with their murky vibe and swirling, obscure but still progressive heaviness. Fronted by Sharon Shazzula, who’s done work over the years with Aqua Nebula Oscillator, Kadavar, Farflung and a host of others — in addition to having founded Swamp Booking — and she and the full band alongside her brought a consuming wash of noise to the big room at the 013, and once I got back from my Wolvennest (Photo by JJ Koczan)Beto-esque apology tour (except I meant it), I found I was even more into it near the finish. It was somewhere between black metal, psychedelia and lurch, and wherever that was, that seemed definitely like the place to be. I’m sure someone cleverer than me has already invented a genre tag for it. To me it just sounded awesome.

Today was Maalstroom — a massive celebration of Dutch black metal held at Het Patronaat and given the added poignancy of also serving as an ad hoc tribute to former Dodecahedron frontman Michiel Eikenaar, who passed away yesterday after a long illness. Malstroom itself is the third of Roadburn 2019’s commissioned projects, and like last year’s Vánagandr formed of Icelandic black metallers, Maalstroom drew/draws from various projects working together on a new piece as a new entity. The whole day at the church was dedicated to it, and though my own adventure would take me on a different path, it would be hard not to admire the vision in putting that kind of thing together with Witte Wieven, Turia, Laster, Terzij de Horde, the aforementioned Dodecahedron and then Maalstroom itself to close out. One way or the other, it was going to be a special day.

Sumac (Photo by JJ Koczan)There were also more acts today from Tomas Lindberg‘s curation, including UranThe Exorcist GBG, and Orchestra of Constant Distress, and it was the Exile on Mainstream Records 20th anniversary celebration. Oh, and Sleep played Sleep’s Holy Mountain (2009 reissue review here) in its entirety. You know, because why not. I wound up flitting back and forth between 013 and the Koepelhal complex for the day, as I think a lot of people did who didn’t otherwise camp out at the Patronaat. Sumac absolutely floored me playing the Main Stage. What’s been my hesitation with those guys? I have no idea. I’ve dug both their records — last year’s Love in Shadow (review here) and 2016’s What One Becomes (review here) — but I still never really considered myself a fan. It’s Aaron Turner (ex-Isis, etc.), Bryan Cook (Russian Circles) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists), and their tone was probably the heaviest I’d heard this weekend up to that point. I don’t know what my hangup was with that band, but yeah, I’ll go ahead and credit the universe with being right on that one. More records to buy: just what I need.

Mythic Sunship had added another set at the Skatepark — they wound up playing three times, so I’m extra glad I caught them at least once — so I made my way up there and stopped in Koepelhal first to see Boston’s Morne, who were casting death across that packed and massive space. Couldn’t help but notice guitarist/vocalist Milosz Gassan wearingMorne (Photo by JJ Koczan) a t-shirt for Armageddon Shop (or Armageddon Boston, to be more specific) on the stage. Today was apparently Record Store Day, so fair enough. Roadburn never seems to lack for commerce, as the merch area just outside the Koepelhal proper shows, but I’m sure plenty of people also made it over to Sounds, which is the local shop down the road a little ways. I went once. It was cool. This year, however, my feet were glued in place for Morne, who issued their To the Night Unknown LP through that same Armageddon Shop label last year. No regrets. Their sound has the classic emotional crux of death-doom but toys with that balance effectively and still holds a pervasive sense of atmosphere.

It was almost time for that Mythic Sunship show, and I was looking forward to it, but Treedeon in the Hall of Fame for the Exile on Mainstream 20th anniversary was too good to pass up. The German trio’s bizarre noise rock is so emblematic of that label, and while I don’t think my tastes and those of Andreas Kohl, who runs imprint, always line up — though we’re both big Wino fans — it’s a fair bet that something on Exile on Mainstream is going to at very least be interesting. In the case of Treedeon, it was interestingTreedeon (Photo by JJ Koczan) like a fucking boot to the throat. Even their recorded work — the latest LP was 2018’s Under the Manchineel (review here) — doesn’t quite capture the density of their approach to noise rock, and golly it was loud in the Hall of Fame. It’s a low ceiling, so the sound just feels like it’s collapsing on you, and that suited Treedeon well in portraying another vision of extremity after Morne.

Among other things, it was about the polar opposite of seeing Mythic Sunship in a skate park, so that was fun. Indeed, dudes were skating on the ramps and rails and whatnot and looking annoyed as people started filing in for the show. Sorry. The Copenhagen four-piece have been on tour since April 4 supporting their excellent 2018 offering, Another Shape of Psychedelic Music (review here), and though they didn’t have the sax with them today as they apparently did yesterday, they still tore it up ferociously, by which I mean they played a smoothly progressive jam-based kraut-psych-rock and their chemistry was out in full force. Their drummer ate a banana right before they went on, which I’m sure helped keep his energy up, and the Ladybird filled up well for them. They’re the kind of band I’d probably never get to see if I wasn’t here, let alone see in such a context, so I was stoked on the opportunity and the outcome of it. I don’t think they will, but if they played another set tomorrow, I doubt anyone would complain, Mythic Sunship (Photo by JJ Koczan)except maybe those skateboarders.

Dinner was chicken in peanut sauce. I had a few quick bites and then went back to the Main Stage to watch the end of Cave In‘s set. I gotta say, I haven’t listened to Cave In actively in a long time, and I still knew just about every word to everything they were playing. That band can write a song. They had Nate Newton (Converge) on bass in the place of Caleb Scofield, who passed away and was memorialized with an acoustic set last year by his bandmates Steve Brodsky and Adam McGrath that’s since been released by Roadburn Records, and while I didn’t see the full set, what I caught was dead on. They’ve always occupied a space between punk, metal and rock, but they’ve also always made that space their own, and to see them do that in front of a crowd so into it as that at Roadburn was affirming even if I only caught a couple songs.

It was time for Sleep. There was the requisite changeover after Cave In, and fair enough for the mighty stacks of amps and cabinets brought out, as well as Jason Roeder‘s drum riser. I mean, Sleep playing Sleep’s Holy Mountain. In full. Sleep (Photo by JJ Koczan)Front-to-back. As the first of two nights of sets. What the hell more could you want? If your answer was, “maybe a shortened version of ‘Dopesmoker’ and ‘The Clarity,'” they did those too, but obviously the highlight was seeing Al CisnerosMatt Pike and Roeder run through those Holy Mountain tracks. Pike even switched to an acoustic guitar for an extended take on “Some Grass” ahead of “Aquarian.” The Main Stage hall was packed to the point that the upstairs balcony looked like it was about to spill over, and the whole room just became a sea of nodding heads to each riff. Everyone kept up with the changes. Everyone knew where they were going. It was yet another of those Roadburn things that make you feel so stupid lucky to be here to see. Funny how those keep popping up all weekend. Every year. All weekend. They’re back tomorrow doing The Sciences in full. Again, Roadburn.

There was still plenty of Roadburn day three to go, but I was (un)fairly beat. Still, there was one more thing I had to, had to, had to see, and it was Bellrope. They were closing out the Exile on Mainstream celebration at Hall of Fame, and though the hike up there felt daunting to my riffed-out legs, I did it anyway and got up there before the two-bass-one-guitar-all-smash German foursome got started. Their debut album, You Must Relax (review here), is on my list of 2019’s best despite (because of?) its initial feedback assault to weed out the Bellrope (Photo by JJ Koczan)weak-hearted among its listenership. They did similar on stage, by the way, but shorter, and with a mammoth and punishing low end push to fill out that feedback, it was brutal in the best way possible. They brought up two members of Treedeon for a guest vocal spot and the sort of sludge ensued that you should need a prescription to get, which should explain the line that went out the door.

Despite the day’s rough start with my stupid, stupid, stupid, unprofessional bullshit error in the ‘zine, it was still a day that was as fantastic as it was busy. Tomorrow is the end of Roadburn 2019, and it’s always bittersweet, so while I’m plenty exhausted, like At the Gates before me, I’m going to try to drink from the night itself and let adrenaline carry me through as, hopefully, it will.

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Live Review: ROADBURN 2019 Day Two, 04.12.19

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 12th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2019 day two banner (Photo by JJ Koczan)

04.12.19 – 02.26 CET – Friday night – Hotel

You get back to the hotel, kick off your shoes like you’re breaking shackles, realize your earplugs have been in since you walked out of the 013 and you’ve been walking to the rhythm of your own breath. Also why you feel so isolated. It’s Friday at Roadburn, which in the yearly cycle of the festival is always the hardest day. Good music makes it better. Always. Even the shinsplints. You pull the plugs out of your ear and put on a record. Start typing. Radical perspective shift.

It’s Tomas Lindberg from At the Gates‘ curated day. So is some of tomorrow. Dubbed ‘The Burning Darkness’ — as in, “with fear I kiss…” — it has featured a strikingly broad range of styles and acts native to his hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden, and tonight, At the Gates headlined with a special set that, among others, featured guest vocals from Anna Von Hausswolff, who had already earlier absolutely decimated the Main Stage, and Rob Miller of Amebix, Seven That Spells (Photo by JJ Koczan)who also appears of the band’s latest EP, With the Pantheons Blind. Not the kind of thing you see every day, and that was pretty much the running theme from the early afternoon onward.

In the Green Room, Zagreb’s Seven That Spells held court for three complete sets, playing their entire The Death and Resurrection of Krautrock trilogy. Those three albums, Om, Io and Omega, were released over a period of seven years between 2011 and 2018, so to say it was an effort of considerable scope would be underselling it, but the four-piece approached the task with enviable vitality. I would be in and out for at least a little while of all three sets — the second one I watched through the open doorway; an essential Roadburn experience dating back years for those who show up late to see, well, anyone — and though they had breaks between them, it’s still basically one band playing three gigs in the span of about four and a half hours. Admirable.

During their first set, however, in the Main Stage hall next door, Tripkyton played the second of Roadburn 2019’s three commissioned works, completing the “Requiem” triptych with a previously unheard second part to go with the first, which appeared on Celtic Frost‘s Into the Pandemonium in 1988 and the third, Triptykon (Photo by JJ Koczan)which was on that band’s reunion/swansong offering, 2006’s Monotheist. Oh yeah, and they did so in the company of the Metropole Orkest, because obviously. It was nearly overwhelming on a basic sensory level, never mind the breadth of the arrangements involved to the performance aspect. It was not without its sense of space or dynamic, but there was so much to take in that you almost couldn’t do it just by watching. Fortunately, there were video cameras on hand documenting the entire affair, so I very much doubt this will be the last this performance of the complete “Requiem” is heard from.

Still, hard to think of it as anything other than a landmark, much as when Tom G. Warrior and Triptykon made either their first live appearance at Roadburn 2010 (review here), or when they presented their second album, Melana Chasmata, in 2014 (review here). The audience certainly treated it as such, packing into the venue to the point that there was nowhere to move. I tried to go over to Het Patronaat for Mythic Sunship, but the line was out the door as well, and I know how that goes, so I ran up to the merch area to pick up the Molasses two-songer that went on sale Anna Von Hausswolff (Photo by JJ Koczan)today and then back for more of Seven That Spells and, after a spell of just sitting and letting my mind numb out for a minute, Anna Von Hausswolff‘s set. I suppose I was at a disadvantage as regards the Swedish Von Hausswolff, as I went into seeing her having never heard her before, but from where I stood, that only seemed to make me happier to be blindsided both by her operatic vocal prowess and experimentalist songcraft.

With a full band supporting, she crushed. Bowed bass assured that massive waves of low end vibrated the floor of the big hall, and Von Hausswolff‘s keys and voice cut through in a fashion both melodic and weighted by more than just emotion. Late in the set, the group resolved itself in manic pulsations and strobe flashes; I wanted to look away but was mesmerized. Up in the back of the lowest level of the hall, I just kind of sat there with my mouth open — “catching flies,” as The Patient Mrs. might say. They had started about 10 minutes late and finished much the same, but I couldn’t possibly call it anything other than time well spent. It occurred to me at some point that I hadn’t eaten a proper meal in a while, Grails (Photo by JJ Koczan)so hit up a salad and some fish, and then was back in the Main Stage room for Grails.

I guess there are probably a bunch of varying opinions on Grails at this point, but I count myself as continually fascinated by the Portland, Oregon-based outfit, whose work has ranged from instrumentalist heavy rock to cinematic soundscaping, dark jazz and seemingly whatever else their creative whims might conjure for a given album. Their last one, incidentally, was 2017’s Chalice Hymnal (review here), and between this, the East Coast US dates they did earlier this year and the West Coast touring they’ll do this summer, I can’t help but wonder if they might not have something new in the works. Of course, the band shares Emil Amos with Om, and that band will be playing dates as well, but it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility. In the meantime, they turned out to be just what was needed at just that moment, so once again, I felt fortunate to be there to see them.

At the Gates (Photo by JJ Koczan)Soon enough, At the Gates would conquer Roadburn 2019. Let’s go back 20-21 years to high school me screaming along to “Blinded by Fear” blasting into my eardrums from this or that mixtape, and yes, safe to say I was fucking thrilled when Lindberg was announced as curator for this year, and all the more because I haven’t seen At the Gates since their reunion began in 2011 and, before tonight, I’d never seen them at all. So, a band for whom I’ve had affection for more than two decades — and I’ll gladly argue that Slaughter of the Soul has aged best of any melodic metal album from its era — playing a unique set at a festival curated by its frontman. Couldn’t have been any better if I got to interview Lindberg for the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Oh wait, I did.

The first half of that interview ran in today’s ‘zine, and the second is in tomorrow’s — if you’re not here, they’re all archived — but even that interview didn’t prepare me for everything At the Gates had in store for their set. Yes, they brought Rob Miller (also Tau Cross) over from the Isle of Skye to guest on vocals, and yes, they had a string quartet, and yes, the visuals were by Costin Chioreanu, but if you gave me a thousand lifetimes, I’m not sure I ever would’ve guessed they’d bring Matt Pike — Sleep play tomorrow night and Sunday both — onto the stage to sit in for a cover of Trouble‘s “The Tempter.” Or that they’d start off with a take on King Crimson‘s “Red.” Or that Anna Von Hausswolff would come back out as well to cover Philip Glass. Or I guess generally that the whole thing wouldMatt Pike with At the Gates (Photo by JJ Koczan) be so fucking shit god damn shit fucking god damn it fuck god shit glorious front-to-back.

Yeah, I’m more than willing to admit that part of the appeal for me of seeing At the Gates was the nostalgia of “Cold,” or “Suicide Nation” or “Slaughter of the Soul.” I know At the Gates have been doing shows again for eight years, and I know there have been lineup changes, and they’re not the people they were 20 years ago and I’m not the person I was 20 years ago. I know all of that, but there was so much else going on, and it all worked. And all that, on top of the fact that those songs were one of my earliest exposures to extreme metal of any stripe, and frankly, it’s not an enjoyment I feel like I need to justify. They fucking ruled, and even the band was smiling by the time they were finishing up. At the end, the whole crew came out when they were done to take a well-deserved bow. It had been something truly special.

Messa were playing Het Patronaat, and they were a band I really wanted to see, but even when I went out during At the Gates to head over there, about half an hour before Messa were LOOP (Photo by JJ Koczan)supposed to go on, the line was out the door and down the block. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for another set added at the skate park near Hall of Fame or something, but yeah. I drowned my sorrows in churning, resin-coated psychedelia with LOOP, who also headlined Roadburn 2014 (review here). Seeing Robert Hampson on guitar with Hugo Morgan on bass and Wayne Maskell on drums — both also of The Heads — and guitarist Dan Boyd was the kind of thing I took last time around as a probably-once-in-a-lifetime chance, so now that I’ve seen them twice, I’ll consider this round like a life-bonus. Like someone took my life and they were like, “You know, let’s give this dope another LOOP set” because they were being nice to me personally or whatever. I guess that’d be Walter and Tomas Lindberg curating. So hey, big thanks, guys.

The strobe warning they put out before going on would be well enough earned, but LOOP were a fantastic ending to the day. Do I dare hope to see them again at some point? Roadburn 2024, maybe? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I still have pictures to sort through and a ‘zine to edit tomorrow, so I’m going to leave it there. Temple Fang are playing a special early set, and yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing that again if I can get up to Hall of Fame. We’ll see. Either way, halfway through Roadburn 2019 and starting to get that refreshed-soul feeling that only Roadburn can provide. Thanks as always for reading.

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