Posted in Whathaveyou on November 18th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
And so it seems Psycho Las Vegas has found its home. What’s very quickly become a major presence in the US festival scene — certainly the biggest heavy underground fest happening in the country — will take place for the second year in 2017 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Since the inception of Psycho Fest as Psycho de Mayo (think “Cinco de Mayo”) in Southern California and certainly through the last two years of Psycho California and this summer’s first Psycho Las Vegas, probably the most glaring name missing from the lineup has been Neurosis. Where’s Neurosis? Every band on the planet but Neurosis. And so on.
Couldn’t be more fitting then that as Psycho Las Vegas 2017 makes its first lineup announcements, not only Neurosis should be found in the batch, but their progenitors and forebears in Swans as well, who should by then be wrapping their tenure or working with a different lineup. Also note the continued commitment to bringing in international acts with Slomatics, Domkraft and Abbath, and the continuing affinity for primo doom that shows itself with Windhand and Blood Ceremony.
Next lineup announcement is in December. I think by the time they’re done, Psycho Las Vegas will have outdone itself again with 2017.
From the ticket page:
Psycho Las Vegas 2017
August 18, 2017 – August 20, 2017 Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas
** Full lineup + headliners, VIP passes and additional venue information announced in December. **
If you purchased a ticket today you will have access to the pre-party on Thursday at the Paradise Pool. Due to the capacity limit at the Paradise Pool, the pre-party on Thursday is limited to the first 2500 Psychos who purchase a 3 day pass. In order to relieve confusion, we have created a third tier for tickets. If you purchase a Psycho Special, Tier 1 or Tier 2 ticket, you will have guaranteed access to the pre-party on Thursday.
If you purchase a Tier 3 ticket (these are the same price as Tier 2 and will become available after the Tier 2 tickets are sold out) you will unfortunately not have access to the pre-party on Thursday. Bring your floaties.
Posted in Whathaveyou on November 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
London, Melbourne, Vancouver, San Francisco — I don’t give a shit if Neurosis are playing on the moon. If they’re anywhere, it’s a special night. True, the last few years have seen them ease their way back into life as a tour-prone band on some level, but if you’ll recall the days circa The Eye of Every Storm or even Given to the Rising, when it was maybe five shows a year — not to mention the power of those performances — it’s easier to appreciate the notion of what they bring to a stage just about any time they choose to bring it. They’ve got gigs in London next week, West Coast at the end of the month, and newly announced dates in Australia and New Zealand in February, all supporting their 2016 release, Fires Within Fires (review here). Not as nice as it would be if they were playing, say, my back yard, but hard not to dig a geographic spread like that from such a special band now with more than 30 years under their belt.
From the PR wire:
NEUROSIS Announces Fires Within Fires New Zealand/Australia February Tour Dates; Band To Play Two Special Shows In London Next Week
In the wake of releasing their eleventh studio album, Fires Within Fires, in recent weeks, NEUROSIS continues to book new live performances in support of the record into 2017, with a newly-booked tour of New Zealand and Australia just announced for February.
NEUROSIS’ impending live schedule leads with two special shows for Fires Within Fires in London next week, which will see the band performing with Earth on November 7th, and Discharge and Subhumans November 8th. Two shows in Portland with labelmates Yob and Kowloon Walled City follow on November 25th and 26th. December sees NEUROSIS playing San Francisco on the 17th, with support from Yob and Kowloon Walled City, and the next night, December 18th, will see NEUROSIS headlining the second night of The Power Of The Riff 2016, with six additional bands to be announced for the evening. Shows in Seattle and Vancouver follow, on December 19th and 20th, respectively, with support from Yob and Sumac.
The newly-confirmed first 2017 tour dates for NEUROSIS sees them traversing the Pacific for a run through New Zealand and Australia. Running from February 14th through 18th, 2017 the band will play in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.
Additional international tour dates from NEUROSIS are to be expected.
NEUROSIS Tour Dates: 11/07/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Earth 11/08/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Discharge, Subhumans 11/25/2016 Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City [all ages] 11/26/2016 Hawthorne Theatre – Portland, OR w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City [21+] 12/17/2016 Regency Grand Ballroom – San Francisco, CA w/ Yob, Kowloon Walled City 12/18/2016 Regent Theater – Los Angeles, CA @ The Power Of The Riff 12/19/2016 Neumos – Seattle, WA w/ Yob, Sumac [21+] 12/20/2016 Venue – Vancouver, BC w/ Yob, Sumac [19+] 2/14/2017 San Fran – Wellington, NZ 2/15/2017 Kings Arms – Auckland, NZ 2/16/2017 The Triffid – Brisbane, AU w/ Dispossessed 2/17/2017 Manning Bar – Sydney, AU w/ Dispossessed 2/18/2017 The Croxton – Melbourne, AU w/ Dispossessed
NEUROSIS’ acclaimed Fires Within Fires is available now on CD, LP, cassette, and all digital platforms through the band’s own Neurot Recordings; see all bundles and optionsRIGHT HERE.
Posted in Reviews on September 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
A new release of any sort from Neurosis should be seen as reason to celebrate, and their 11th studio album, Fires Within Fires, has hit with no shortage of fanfare, critical fawning, wax poetry, etc. I won’t necessarily disagree with most of it, but it’s hard to separate the record, which of course is released on the band’s own Neurot Recordings, from the context in which it arrives.
Part of that is narrative. The post-metal progenitors began marking their 30th anniversary in the past year, and with Fires Within Fires, they take on the task of summarizing their unmatched sonic progression in a variety of interesting ways, not all of them sonic. At the same time, one of the most pivotal aspects to what Neurosis do — and I’m writing as a fan — has been the forward-thinking crux, the willingness to push into uncharted places, relentless in passion and creative spirit.
Fires Within Fires representing that as well as pulling in aspects from the band’s past without being overly cerebral or coming across like a commentary from the band, by the band, about the band, might be its greatest triumph. Rather, in marking their history, Neurosis — the five-piece of guitarist/vocalists Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till, bassist/backing vocalist Dave Edwardson, drummer Jason Roeder and keyboardist/noise specialist Noah Landis — conjure here some of the rawest sounds they’ve elicited in more than a decade.
That idea applies even to the five-track/40-minute runtime. Fires Within Fires is the shortest Neurosis full-length since 1990’s The Word as Law, and the visceral nature of opener “Bending Light” mirrors that paring-down process in its sound. At the same time, Fires Within Fires caps with “Reach,” which presents the most ambitious melodic vocal approach of the band’s career, so even as they reflect, that becomes part of an overarching ongoing pursuit.
This gives the album, produced by Steve Albini, who’s helmed everything they’ve done since 1999’s Times of Grace and 2001’s pivotal A Sun that Never Sets — the latter of which seems to find some reference here in the penultimate “Broken Ground” (probably not on purpose) — a certain front-to-back linearity. Especially with its somewhat truncated span compared to more recent Neurosis outings, be it 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here), which was an hour even, or 2007’s Given to the Rising, which was 10 minutes longer than that, the shorter stretch makes Fires Within Fires easier to take as a whole work as well as in terms of its individual pieces and what they accomplish.
Their recordings with Albini have always been very tied to their live presentation, so Fires Within Fires isn’t necessarily any more “stripped down” in its presentation than any of their other collaborations, but it does carry that rawer feel in the material itself, in the full-boar lurch of centerpiece “Fire is the End Lesson” as well as in the still-tense atmospherics of second cut “A Shadow Memory.”
Landis, whose contributions in eerie sampling and manipulation of sound, as well as keys, etc., continue to bolster the material well, immediately complement the initial rollout of “Bending Light.” Crashing in, the opener weaves its way forward on an intricately-toned guitar lead, quiets down to lull the listener into a false sense of security and then at 3:40 slams into its verse, Kelly‘s guttural sneer unmistakable as it spits the lines, “Watching through the eyes of a crow/I let it guide me/I let it guide me/I let it in/The end is endless/And washing [or watching] over me.”
The rhythmic repetition there is important, and comes up again shortly with the same line, “I let it guide me,” before Kelly and Von Till come together to deliver and repeat the lyric, “Peeling the skin away reveals the heart,” which could easily be read as a declaration of intent for the album itself (though again, probably not), their insistence as they belt it out four times in a row punkish in its intensity. Following a slowdown, Von Till takes the fore vocally and the track lumbers and undulates to its finish and into the airier start of “A Shadow Memory,” the shortest cut on Fires Within Fires at 6:50.
Within the first minute, its forward motion is underway, the guitars and keys accenting each other as Roeder, as ever, gives fluidity to what for most drummers would be impossible to interpret (without his blueprint). Von Till and Kelly work through a call and response on vocals and drop out for a moment of ambience before a section of drawn guitar line reminiscent of “Water is Not Enough” from Given to the Rising hits and carries through the halfway point, after which they stop and then shift again into a more direct thrust. That will serve as the capstone movement, and the guitar line returns to tie it together, behind another effective dual vocal that only adds to the manic feel before swirling noise ends cold and cuts into the immediate impact of “Fire is the End Lesson.”
Also on the shorter end (6:54), it reverses the structure thus far of subdued intros into bursts forward, though it does build with much credit to Edwardson at the low end until they move through the two-minute mark, cutting out some of the wall-of-noise push to air out keys and what sounds like strings but could just as easily be a sample or other manipulation from Landis — it can be tricky sometimes to tell — but the thrust revives with a rising, consuming wash of noise and guitar, all seeming to come to a head and then only growing more abrasive, finally cutting out just past five minutes in to the same progression that answered the first payoff, which by this time has an almost soothing presence.
They finish with repeated lines before dropping to feedback to set up the gorgeous wash of keys that begin “Broken Ground.” One might be reminded of “A Sun that Never Sets” from the album of the same name by Roeder‘s drumming and the vocal that emerges, and as “Broken Ground” moves into its apex, it might seem to be speaking to the genre-foundational “Stones from the Sky” off that same record, but Neurosis today is a different beast than they were 15 years ago, and they shove what might be Fires Within Fires‘ standout riff into a chorus that holds its volume and opens into lines of what sounds like (but likely isn’t actually) flute behind the vocals, dipping back right away into the verse before a return to the quiet guitar, keys and drums of the intro just past the halfway point brings Von Till back for a more subdued delivery.
At 5:39, they kick back into that riff and take it through another chorus, and though it seems fair to expect them to ride that through the remaining three minutes, they instead cut back again and end quiet, watery effects on a few final lines on a long drift with just a current of noise remaining. The closer and longest track, “Reach” (10:37) begins almost like its predecessor, but the mood is immediately different, the drums accenting a march that Von Till meets with melodic singing in a voice usually reserved for his solo work.
Not only that, but soon enough Kelly joins in and the two duet in a way that I’m not sure has ever happened on a Neurosis record. A build has begun, however, and carries through the next verse and joint-vocal chorus, and at 4:30, they shift into what will be the ground level for Fires Within Fires‘ last push, a long section of melancholy guitar lead over patient and quiet, but tense, guitar, bass and drums.
You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when, but at 7:59, “Reach” lunges forth its crescendo, a vicious and somewhat angular rhythm very much the band’s own that moves back and forth between the guitars at the fore, brings in Edwardson on backing vocals — he’s a weapon not often but effectively used — and teases its finish with words that rhyme with the title before the guitar, bass, drums, keys and everything else drops away and the final call — “reach” — is delivered, the band basically living up to that promise in manifesting the undulled searching that has been their core for the last three decades. In the end, it only takes them one word to say it all.
The visual side of Neurosis‘ output — from the artwork to their years spent accompanied by Josh Graham‘s video presentations during live sets — has always been a major element in conveying theme. With Honor Found in Decay, there was a strong sense of ritual, and the open gray space of 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm was no less appropriate than the charred and fossilized flesh of 1993’s Enemy of the Sun.
With the Fires Within Fires cover by Thomas Hooper, we see several elements that factor into the story surrounding the album, from the burning world representing passion to the key that might very well be just that — the key — in saying passion is central to the band and what has sustained them. Also important and thematic through the package are circles, in both the world on the cover surrounded by ethereal lines that could well be taken as spirit, as well as on back and inside, and this too plays into the notion of Neurosis taking a rare moment to examine themselves and what their time together has wrought for them as artists and people.
I’ve made a lot of comparisons to their past work, and I think those hold up to scrutiny (or I wouldn’t have made them), but at no point do I believe Neurosis sat down and said, “Okay, now we’re gonna reference ‘Through Silver in Blood.'” Instead, it’s more likely these connections emerged naturally as the songs came together, and while at some point they had to consciously acknowledge they were doing something different than before — if only in realizing Fires Within Fires is 20 minutes shorter than its predecessor — I’m not convinced that’s anything so far removed from their usual method of making a record.
Still, the circles. One thinks of ouroboros, of ends as beginnings. It may well be that Neurosis have come full circle and they’ll draw that circle to a close, a completion, but just as likely, the turn in approach they present here may signify a new beginning for the band as much as punctuation for their first 30 years. What can be said for certain is Neurosis will keep moving forward, as it’s all they’ve ever done, and even as they may or may not be looking back, they refuse to stop changing on Fires Within Fires as well. Recommended.
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 10th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Having been fortunate enough to witness two of Neurosis‘ 30th anniversary sets in-person at Roadburn 2016 earlier this year, I’ll say from personal experience that attendance should be considered mandatory for even the mildest fan of the band. They not only tackle the scope of their entire career — a seemingly impossible feat to blend the raw punk of their earliest work with the groundbreaking experimentalism that followed — they do so with all the on-stage force one could ask of Neurosis, who are among the most dynamic live bands in the world, regardless of genre. Somehow I doubt adding material from their forthcoming 11th studio LP, Fires Within Fires, is going to hurt.
Unless you don’t bring earplugs, that is.
The PR wire brings details of the two 30th anniversary shows that Neurosis will play in the UK this November. They’re also in Europe starting tomorrow. Words:
NEUROSIS Reveals Two Special UK Shows To Mark Their Thirty-Year Anniversary And Celebrate The Release Of Fires Within Fires
With NEUROSIS having marked their thirty-year milestone with three shows in San Francisco, two shows at the respected Roadburn Festival, and a Summer of touring across Europe on the horizon, the anticipation for something special in the UK is palpable. It therefore comes with great pleasure to announce two London shows in November this year with thrilling, and unexpected, special guests.
On Monday, November 7th, NEUROSIS shall be joined by Earth, and on Tuesday, November 8th, they will be joined by Discharge and Subhumans. These bands represent perfectly the cross-section of music which NEUROSIS as a collective deeply admire and relate to, which makes these two shows all the more important in this milestone year. Tickets go on sale today.
Prior to the UK shows, on September 23rd, NEUROSIS takes a dominant leap with their eleventh full-length, Fires Within Fires. Three decades in the making, and following 2012’s Honor Found In Decay, the album is a testament both to the history and future of Neurosis. In true Ouroborean style, Fires Within Fires gives due to its predecessors while progressing forward into the unfamiliar and formidable. Striking the band’s signature balance between light and dark, beauty and repulsion, dense sonic heaviness and reflective space. Fires Within Fires is succinct, raw and deeply soulful, an all-encompassing reminder that transfiguration in sound remains their most commanding and inimitable strength. Our first and only glimpse of the music on this record, prior to release date, is sampled in a new video which showcases the exquisite album artwork from the renowned Thomas Hooper.
The journey of their music has found the band relishing the unpredictable, embracing the unknown and exploring the possibility of where the music was capable of taking them. Going beyond the remarkable, NEUROSIS has become unforgettable. Fires Within Fires is the next powerful step towards a destination that has long been and continues to be the very heart of “becoming” for NEUROSIS.
Neurot Recordings will release Fires Within Fires on September 23rd worldwide. Preorders are now being taken via the Neurot webstore RIGHT HERE.
NEUROSIS Tour Dates: 8/10/2016 Brutal Assault Festival – Jaromer, CZ 8/11/2016 Festa Radio Onda D’Urto – Brescia, IT 8/12/2016 Rock Altitude Festival – Le Locle, CH w/ Tesa 8/13/2016 Oya Festival – Oslo, NO 8/14/2016 Arena – Vienna, AT w/ Ufomammut, Tesa 8/15/2016 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE w/ Tesa 8/16/2016 Gruenspan – Hamburg, DE w/ Tesa 8/17/2016 Patronaat – Haarlem, NL w/ Tesa 8/18/2016 Pukkelpop Festival – Hasselt, BE 8/19/2016 Substage – Karlsruhe, DE w/ Tesa 8/20/2016 Motocultor Festival – St. Nolff, FR 8/21/2016 Amplifest – Porto, PT w/ Tesa 11/07/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Earth 11/08/2016 Koko – London, UK w/ Discharge, Subhumans
STEVE VON TILL Tour Dates: 8/10/2016 007 – Prague, CZ 8/22/2016 Passos Manuel – Porto, PT @ Amplifest
Posted in Whathaveyou on July 5th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Neurosis release their 11th album, Fires Within Fires, on Sept. 23 via Neurot Recordings. Today, the cover art and tracklisting for the album has been revealed, showing the titles for six included tracks that one can only imagine must at least in part be pretty long, but the cover brings to mind older Neurosis records as well — thinking of The Word as Law and maybe Times of Grace — and they’ve been paying homage to their 30th anniversary all year, so it’s entirely possible that will have played into the songwriting as well, though if one can ever expect anything from Neurosis, it’s forward movement.
Hands down my most anticipated album for the rest of this year.
From the PR wire:
NEUROSIS: MORE ALBUM DETAILS EMERGE AND ARTWORK IS REVEALED FOR THEIR ELEVENTH OPUS, FIRES WITHIN FIRES
Of all that humankind has inherited through our ancestry, no single language has transcended every age as powerfully as music. For thirty years, Neurosis have formed an unbreakable union, channelling that inheritance of sound with great command and authority. Showing their discontent with convention from the very beginning, Neurosis revealed what would become an instinct for transformation in sound and scope. Their sound has become interchangeable with vision of the conscious and unconscious, coexisting in an infinite audial spectrum. A vision that challenged not only the constraints of what listeners, and indeed the band themselves expected, but of themselves as beings. Going beyond the remarkable, Neurosis have become unforgettable.
The journey of their music has found the band relishing the unpredictable, embracing the unknown and exploring the possibility of where the music was capable of taking them. This year finds Neurosis taking a dominant leap with their eleventh full-length, Fires Within Fires. Three decades in the making, and following 2012’s Honor Found In Decay, the album is a testament both to the history and future of Neurosis. In true Ouroborean style, Fires Within Fires gives due to its predecessors while progressing forward into the unfamiliar and formidable. Striking the band’s signature balance between light and dark, beauty and repulsion, dense sonic heaviness and reflective space. Fires Within Fires is succinct, raw and deeply soulful, an all-encompassing reminder to all that transfiguration in sound remains their most commanding and inimitable strength.
Created by Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, Jason Roeder, Noah Landis, and Dave Edwardson. The album features exquisite album artwork from the renowned Thomas Hooper and the stellar recording work of the group’s longstanding engineer Steve Albini. We are proud to reveal the artwork and track listing for the album below…
TRACK LIST 1. Bending Light 2. A Shadow Memory 3. Fire is the End Lesson 4. Broken Ground 5. Reach
Fires Within Fires is the next powerful step towards a destination that has long been and continues to be the very heart of “becoming” for Neurosis.
Neurot Recordings shall release the album on 23rd September worldwide, more information on pre-orders very soon. In the meantime, here’s where you can experience Neurosis live in the near future, including some newly added Steve Von Till shows…
NEUROSIS LIVE DATES: 10.08.2016 – CZ, Jaromer, Brutal Assault Festival (with Tesa) 11.08.2016 – IT, Brescia, Festa Radio Onda D’Urto (with Tesa) 12.08.2016 – CH, Le Locle, Rock Altitude Festival (with Tesa) 13.08.2016 – NO, Oslo, Oya Festival 14.08.2016 – AT, Vienna, Arena (with Tesa & Ufomammut) 15.08.2016 – GER, Leipzig, UT Connewitz (with Tesa) 16.08.2016 – GER, Hamburg, Gruenspan (with Tesa) 17.08.2016 – NL, Haarlem, Patronaat (with Tesa) 18.08.2016 – BE, Hasselt– Pukkelpop Festival 19.08.2016 – GER, Karlsruhe, Substage (with Tesa) 20.08.2016 – FR, St. Nolff – Motocultor Festival 21.08.2016 – PT, Porto – Amplifest (with Tesa)
STEVE VON TILL SOLO DATES: 10.08.2016 – CZ, Prague – 007 22.08.2016 – PT, Porto – Amplifest, Passos Manuel
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 21st, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Neurosis have set a Sept. 23 release date for their new album, Fires Within Fires, via their own Neurot Recordings. It’s fitting that, four years after issuing their last outing, Honor Found in Decay (review here), the occasion should also come at a time when the band are continuing to mark their 30th anniversary, as they did earlier this year with special sets in San Francisco and at Roadburn 2016 (reviews here and here). Fires Within Fires was once again recorded with the band’s longtime producer, Steve Albini at Electrical Audio Studio in Chicago.
Not much more info at this point beyond the title and release date — no art, tracks, audio, or other teasers at this point — but this is my most anticipated album for the remainder of 2016. The fall season is still taking shape, but everyone who knows Neurosis knows that each record is a landmark.
So says the PR wire:
NEUROSIS Reveals Initial Information About Their Eleventh Album; Additional European Live Dates Revealed
As the key events of their thirty-year milestone unfold, NEUROSIS officially announces the name and release date of eleventh full length, Fires Within Fires.
The new album will be released worldwide on September 23rd via their own Neurot Recordings. The announcement of more specific details of Fires Within Fires is imminent, but in the meantime NEUROSIS announces a dozen new live performances across Europe in August, where they will be joined on select dates by Latvia’s fascinating experimental trio, Tesa.
NEUROSIS is in fine form following recent and rapturously received shows in San Francisco and Roadburn, celebrating their thirty-year anniversary. Stand by for further info on Fires Within Fires to be released in the weeks ahead.
NEUROSIS Live Dates: 8/10/2016 Brutal Assault Festival – Jaromer, CZ 8/11/2016 Festa Radio Onda D’Urto – Brescia, IT 8/12/2016 Rock Altitude Festival – Le Locle, CH w/ Tesa 8/13/2016 Oya Festival – Oslo, NO 8/14/2016 Arena – Vienna, AT w/ Ufomammut, Tesa 8/15/2016 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, DE w/ Tesa 8/16/2016 Gruenspan – Hamburg, DE w/ Tesa 8/17/2016 Patronaat – Haarlem, NL w/ Tesa 8/18/2016 Pukkelpop Festival – Hasselt, BE 8/19/2016 Substage – Karlsruhe, DE w/ Tesa 8/20/2016 Motocultor Festival – St. Nolff, FR 8/21/2016 Amplifest – Porto, PT w/ Tesa
More than any other Roadburn in recent memory, this one has gone quickly. It never quite drags, but Roadburn 2016 has been a sleepless blur of tonal impact, furious creativity and walks down 013 corridors that on Thursday were strange and new and by today were as though nothing about the venue had changed at all. Like the marathon and the sprint decided to join forces. Today was the last day, the Afterburner, which drops from five stages to three — the Main Stage and the Green Room at the 013 and the space over at Cul de Sac — and generally features a more chilled-out vibe, though particularly over the last couple years, its stylistic reach has become no less broad than Roadburn proper.
To wit, today’s lineup. In keeping with this year’s Icelandic theme — most of that is black metal, but still — The Vintage Caravan played a special 2PM set at Cul de Sac, last minute. They were here hanging out and so got a slot on the bill. I didn’t get to see it because we were finishing up the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (you can read it here), but to see that kind of spontaneity in action — hey, you’re here, so play — exemplifies part of what makes Roadburn so genuinely exceptional. My understanding is the band’s new drummer wasn’t with them yet when they played here last year, so wanted to be able to say he’d played Roadburn as well. Sure, why not?
My day began a short time later with Mirrors for Psychic Warfare starting in the Green Room. The two-piece is comprised of Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Sanford Parker, who also played today with Buried at Sea, and I guess it’s fair to call it a Corrections House spinoff, since they both operate in the same roles as in that band, with Parker on electronics and synth and Kelly providing guitar and vocals, but without Eyehategod‘s Mike Williams as frontman or Bruce Lamont‘s sax, the effect is vastly different. Progressions were slow and lurching as they emanated from Kelly‘s guitar, and waves of loud-as-hell drones oozed forth massive from the stage. At one point, Parker played a line of bass through his laptop or sampler, whichever it was, and the low end was such a physical presence I could feel it vibrating my nose hair. It’s not like I have a lot of it, either. It was a sensation I’d never felt before. Earplugs vibrating, sure. Nose hairs? Kind of tickled, actually.
Vocals were sporadic but well suited to the grueling mood, and the set as a whole seemed to be working on a gradual build in intensity until, as they were finishing, Kelly was throwing his shoulders as he might headbanging during one of Neurosis more riotous parts. Needless to say, they closed loud. Green Carnation were on the Main Stage playing Light of Day, Day of Darkness, which is a cool record to be sure, but I didn’t want to miss the start of Blind Idiot God, the New York trio playing the fourth show of their maiden voyage to Europe. Their latest album, Before Ever After (review here), has just had its worldwide release, and in addition to the notable reggae nod in “Night Driver,” the instrumental three piece played “Antiquity” and a host of others from what was their first LP in 23 years, their focus on blurring lines between NY aggro noise crunch, proggy brilliance and heavy atmospheres.
Add to that drummer Tim Wyskida‘s winning for most elaborate drum kit of the weekend — at least of the ones I saw — and Blind Idiot God offered intrigue and dissonance in kind. Their stage presence was progressive, led in that regard by guitarist Andy Hawkins, but still had a bit of pre-Giuliani Manhattan noise rock grit about them beneath that came out here and there in their sound, which was wide open stylistically, but delivered by Hawkins, Wyskida and bassist Will Dahl with precision and due emphasis on the complexity in the material. There were people in the crowd who’d waited 25 years to see the band. You could say the response was solid. Respected scribe and all-around hyper-passionate supporter of music Stefan Raduta gave me the hard sell on catching Jakob, though really all he had to say was “they’re from New Zealand.” Anyone who’s traveled that far to play Roadburn must have a good reason.
Complemented with visuals by Jérôme Siegelaer, the three-piece’s set found its reason in a lush post-rock, full in tone and l-o-u-d loud, but still evocative enough to keep the crowd in its grasp to the point where, after applauding, the room quickly fell into silence as those in attendance waited to hear the first notes of whatever it was Jakob were going to play next. Their fourth album, Sines, came out in 2014, but this was my first exposure to them, and it was a recommendation I was glad I took when they were finished, the vibe setting itself up for a departure into the darker post-metallurgy of Belgium’s Amenra. But first, Ecstatic Vision in the Green Room. I’ve seen them before and they’re from Philadelphia, which is much, much closer to where I live than New Zealand, so I stayed through the end of Jakob, but managed to poke my head in the door of the packed out smaller stage and find the trio’s blend of heavy psych and space rock intact from when I last left it. Their debut, Sonic Praise (review here), was right on for Roadburn from the outset, so there was little surprise when they were added, but they’ve put in some considerable road time already, so good to see them doing well, even if I’m seeing it through the doorway instead of in the room itself.
The sense of presentation back in the Main Stage began even before Amenra actually started playing. A large white curtain was brought out and raised in front of the stage so that the band’s video background could cover even more territory, and after everything was ready to go, vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout — who also has a solo record out called Rasa (review here) — came out first, knelt down in front of the drum riser, facing away from the crowd as he did for yesterday’s acoustic Amenra set and as is apparently his wont, and started beating two sticks together, slowly and ritualistically. He was joined soon by drummer Bjorn Lebon, who had his own sticks, and followed soon by the rest of the band, guitarists Mathieu van de Kerckhove (also Syndrome, which played Cul de Sac earlier in the day) and Lennart Bossu and bassist Levy Seynaeve, and there began a set of some of the most intense post-metal I’ve ever seen outside of Neurosis themselves.
On par with Isis at their angriest, but crisper in their songwriting and use of ambience, Amenra were further distinguished by their direct affinity for “Times of Grace” but more so by the flashing strobes, high-energy delivery and their obvious mastery of the form. What I learned at the Roadburn 2016 Afterburner was that people go apeshit for that stuff. I can’t argue it wasn’t cohesive, but the power of Amenra‘s aesthetic and the force with which they drove it at the assembled masses earned them the night’s second biggest response, and the Main Stage was crowded enough that I had to go all the way up top just to find a place to stand, and even that didn’t come easy. It was an impressive showing, and while I’m not sure I’d count myself in the getting-it camp — or in a parish of the Church of Ra, as it were — much of their set was undeniable. One would not win a debate arguing against it.
There was a considerable break before Neurosis came out for the second set of their two-night 30th anniversary celebratory stint headlining on the Main Stage. My first Roadburn was 2009, the year they curated, and I can still remember standing in the balcony of what’s now the old-013 big room and being awed. It wasn’t my first time seeing them, but it was something special, and the same goes for last night and tonight together as well. Yes, partially because they broke out older, not-really-played-anymore songs like “Blisters,” “Grey” and “Double-Edged Sword” from The Word as Law, “The Web” and “To Crawl Under One’s Skin” from Souls at Zero and Pain of Mind‘s “Life on Your Knees” and “Pollution” from 1989’s Aberration EP. They went as far forward as 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) and touched on all the ground in between, guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly having some technical issues — the first time I’ve ever seen Neurosis have tech problems — with his guitar after opening with “To Crawl Under One’s Skin,” but sorting it out with guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till and the crew as Noah Landis covered for them with a huge, kind of abrasive drone, and drummer Jason Roeder and god-damn-it’s-a-joy-to-watch bassist/backing vocalist Dave Edwardson sat tight.
When they got going again, it was “Locust Star,” and, you know, the universe collapsed on itself and folded into the deeper reaches of subspace, so whether or not the guitar was working didn’t really matter anymore because all existence was wiped out. At least that’s how I remember it. Pretty standard for Neurosis. In all seriousness, I don’t know if there’s a heavy band of their generation that’s inspired so much wax poetry — I’m guilty in this regard as well, in case you didn’t click that review link above — but it seems to me that speaks to the level on which Neurosis resonate with their audience. It’s often credited as this cerebral, arthouse phenomenon, but it’s not that. It’s rawer, from the gut, and it captures an experience that isn’t necessarily universal, but which this crowd — the Roadburn crowd, here and worldwide — relates to like it doesn’t relate to anything else. As they wrapped with “The Tide” and drew the tension out to cruel extremes before Kelly started the opening riff of set-finale “The Doorway,” it occurred to me again how special this band is, how much it derives from the players that comprise it, and that however much others try to capture the same sonic spirit, they only wind up with a fraction of it at best. It was a two-hour set. If they’d decided to do a third, I’d have stuck around for it.
A lot of people stuck around anyway, as it happens, to see PH — formerly MPH, formerly Mr. Peter Hayden — in the Green Room. The Finnish band is a cosmic wrecking ball and I managed to catch some of their set last time they played Roadburn, but Buried at Sea were also coming on the Main Stage, and if you know Migration, you know why it was the back and forth between the two that it was. The Chicago four-piece released that LP, their only one, in 2003 and though guitarist/vocalist Sanford Parker (also Corrections House and Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, as well as War Crime Recordings) has gone on to become a household name in the underground for his production work for the likes of Blood Ceremony, YOB, Pelican, etc., it was the band as a whole that really made an impact. They were among the first to consciously proffer tone worship in US doom, and that’s not something that’s easily forgotten for those who were there to hear it the first time around or who’ve caught on since.
Even following two hours of Neurosis, which has to be one of the least enviable festival slots in the history of recorded sound, Buried at Sea kept the crowd there and delivered the vicious heft with which they’ve become synonymous, largely in their absence — their last EP, Ghost, came out on Neurot in 2007 — and while I don’t know if they have any plans to do more or maybe put a sophomore album together, but with the lineup of Parker, bassist/vocalist Chris Sowell, guitarist Jason Depew and drummer Brandon Pierce, they sounded vital. Gave me hope where previously I’d sort of figured they’d do a couple shows and then go back their separate ways.
It was getting late. My feet were telling me. With pain. Always bittersweet to say goodbye to Roadburn, and 2016 having gone so quickly, all the more so. Death Alley were rounding out the fest at Cul de Sac, so after hanging for a while at PH, I made my way over there. It was too packed to get up front for pictures or anything like that, plus everyone around me was smashed and I didn’t want to feel like a dickhead American invader, so I hung in the back and listened as a bass-heavy take on “Over Under” started off their set. The place was immediate into it, even where I was, and rightly so. How far that band has come in just a couple years, they’re legitimately one of the Netherlands’ most exciting acts going, and they just have one record, 2015’s Black Magick Boogieland (review here). It’ll need a follow-up sooner or later, but still, that’s a considerable accomplishment starting out.
They played the title-track “Black Magick Boogieland,” and standing back by the door of the Cul de Sac with my earplugs in, drunken revelry on all sides of me — I got told tonight my face radiates love; mostly I think I just look tired — my camera bag on the floor to give my shoulder a rest, I thought back to the interview I did with the band for the album last year prior to the release and their talking about the concept of what the title meant and about the power of music to draw people in, to change minds, to shape lives, excite and inspire. How lucky I am to have been here this week and the seven years prior. For me, Roadburn has become that sacred space that I keep trying to live up to, to be worthy of, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to cap it than with “Black Magick Boogieland,” because that’s what it’s all about. That was how I wanted my night and my Roadburn 2016 to finish, on that feeling of warmth and belonging.
And so that’s how it ended.
I’ll have another post to wrap up the coverage series, but I need to be up in three hours to go to the airport and fly home and there are still pictures to sort, so I’ll just say thanks for reading for now.
We were done with the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch folding ritual early this afternoon. Third time’s the charm. The issue was finished and printed and put online (you can read it here) by a little bit before one o’clock, so I decided to head back to the hotel to have a drink of water, get my head around the day, dick around on my phone, etc.
En route, something caught my ear wafting out of the Cul de Sac. It was Rotterdam natives Dool soundchecking, and from outside, they sounded pretty damn good. Their name had come up in the office since they’re this year’s “Roadburn Introduces” pick, and I decided pretty quickly that I’d have to check them out even just going by what I heard on my way by, so I got back in time to get a spot up front and attended their arrival. They’ve got members of The Devil’s Blood in bassist Job van de Zande and drummer Micha Haring and Gold‘s Nick Polak on guitar along with Reinier Vermeulen, and guitarist/vocalist Ryanne van Dorst, and maybe since they’re not brand new players out of the gate it shouldn’t be a surprise they were in such command of their sound, but for a band who doesn’t have more than a single out, they were impressive in their presence on stage and in the cohesion of their aesthetic, copping elements of goth rock to darken up heavy grooves for an early crowd.
When they got to “Words on Paper,” van Dorst switched out her electric guitar for an acoustic one, and the effect of the added resonance to Polak‘s and Vermeulen‘s guitars was palpable. Every Roadburn brings a pleasant surprise. Dool were definitely mine this year. This morning, I knew nothing about them. Now I’ll be keeping an eye out for news about their debut album. They’d wrap up in time for Skepticism to start on the Main Stage. The Finnish funeral doomers hit the quarter-century mark in 2016, and they marked the occasion with a special fan-selected set that focused heavily on their 1995 debut LP, Stormcrowfleet, with “Sign of a Storm,” “By Silent Wings” and “The Everdarkgreen,” as well as their 2003 third outing, Farmakon, with “Farmakon Process,” “The Raven and the Backward Funeral” and “Shred of Light, Pinch of Endless.” They had “The March and the Stream” from 1998’s Lead and Aether in there as well, but whatever they were playing, it all crawled, gruelingly, further into a deep, black abyss of church-organ-laced doom, heavy on drama and impassable in tone.
Frontman Matti Tilaeus added to the drama, the bowtie of his formalwear undone — as apparently it will be — and the white roses he carried out with him when he came on stage laid on the tops of the monitors for extra funereal effect. They played mostly in the dark, and were a reminder of just how much what we think of today as death-doom owes its crux to what Finland conjured in the mid-’90s. It was a surprise to walk out of the Main Stage room when they were done and find the sun was still up. How could daylight still even exist after such a thing? I’d ponder the question during an initial loop through the merch area while waiting as I have been for months, years, to see Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, also playing the Main Stage. The Tad Doyle-fronted outfit released their also-awaited self-titled debut (review here) on Neurot Recordings, and though they toured to support it — with Neurosis, no less — I didn’t get to go to that show and my soul has had a dent in it ever since.
Well, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s sheer tectonic heaviness took that dent, bumped it out and polished it up real nice. And by that I mean that, while the video screen behind them showed suitably-themed images like the earth as a ball of fire, volcanoes, arcane rituals and so on, they played so furiously loud and with such heft of low end that the floor of the big room actually shook. They had a second guitarist on stage right with bassist Peggy Doyle, and drummer Dave French was in the back, but as a whole unit, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth came together to hone pure aural destruction for the duration of their set, Tad‘s seething rasp and screams placing him at the center of the churn, not nearly as morose as Skepticism had been, but viscerally angry and geared for maximum impact. When the asteroid hits planet earth in whatever year that is — could be tomorrow for all I care; I’m at fucking Roadburn — it will sound like Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. I own two of their t-shirts. When they were done I felt like maybe that’s not enough.
Aside from the fact that Astrosoniq drummer/producer Marcel van de Vondervoort is deeply involved with recording and mixing the audio streams of each Roadburn that so often become groups’ live albums, and aside from the fact that after I first dug into their last studio LP, 2010’s Quadrant (review here), I decided I needed to hear every record they’d ever put out — 2006’s Speeder People (review here), 2005’s Made in Oss EP (review here), 2002’s Soundgrenade (review here) and 2000’s Son of A.P. Lady (review here) — I have been waiting years to see Astrosoniq play Roadburn, and their set was made all the more special by the fact that fest organizer Walter was doing live visuals as he did for The Heads last year. The band hasn’t had much if any live activity over the last few years. It’s now been seven since Quadrant was first issued in Europe. I knew it was going to be something special. I knew I was lucky to see them. I don’t think I knew just how much that would be the case.
On record, they hop genres with attention-deficit regularity, but in the Green Room, the band were much more fluid. They jammed out with the best of anything I’ve seen at Roadburn 2016, and I’ve seen a few jams. Guitarist Ron van Herpen had guested the other night with Death Alley, but really stood out during “As Soon as They Got Airborne,” an extended take that was only part of the larger highlight that was the set as a whole. “You Lose” from Son of A.P. Lady was another standout, that album having just received a limited vinyl reissue that’s caught my eye in the merch area downstairs at the Patronaat. May or may not get to pick its deluxeness up to take home, but Astrosoniq made an easy case with what I’ll hope is a return to activity that results — eventually; doesn’t have to be this week; next week is fine — in a new full-length. Their native Oss is about 35 minutes from Tilburg by car, just on the other side of den Bosch, and they got the hometown greeting from a strong Dutch contingent represented in the crowd. I knew they would be a hard act to follow.
I watched a bit of Tau Cross — with Away from Voivod on drums and Rob Miller from Amebix on vocals — on the Main Stage before heading over to Het Patronaat to catch the start of Beastmaker, as Lee Dorrian‘s curation was continuing over there. I miss-timed it and didn’t actually get to see them apart from their soundcheck, blowing my chance at Carousel in Extase at the same time, and routed back to the 013 proper to watch Converge do their special ‘Blood Moon’ set comprised of their slower and more experimental material. After their Jane Doe set the other night, which I caught the tail end of, the vibe was almost completely different. Yeah, Jacob Bannon still writhed and paced back and forth and whatnot, but there were more clean vocals — giving Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) another chance to shine, which he did — and they brought out Steve Von Till of Neurosis and Chelsea Wolfe to add their voices to the mix, and Ben Chisholm fleshed out textures on keys, resulting in a rich sound that pushed away from hard/metalcore in favor of something less stylistically hinged. Even for being selections from past records, ‘Blood Moon’ set its own context, and even in the parts that didn’t feature Von Till, one could hear a strong sense of influence from Neurosis in what they were doing.
At that point, I decided to do something I hadn’t done since I got to Tilburg: I stopped and had a meal. I left Massachusetts on Tuesday evening. Today was Saturday. Since then, I hadn’t had time to actually sit down to a dinner, lunch, breakfast, anything. I bumped into Weirdo Canyon Dispatch photog extraordinaire Paul Verhagen and we grabbed a bite, with Exile on Mainstream‘s Andreas Kohl joining later, before Amenra went on the Main Stage. I had mixed veggies — broccoli, brussels sprouts, string beans, some other green thing chopped up — a boneless chicken thigh, a spicy chicken wing and a considerable amount of green salad, dry. It might as well have been birthday cake.
Amenra are something of a fixture around Roadburn. The Belgian atmospheric sludgers played in 2007, they played when Neurosis curated in 2009, they played in 2013 and they’ll play again at the Afterburner. That’s nothing to complain about, I’m just noting it because perhaps it was part of what drove them to do something different this time around, performing mostly acoustic with seven players seated arranged in a circle on the stage to stark lighting and deeply melancholic reinterpretations of their songs. Of course, they also have a new LP out, Alive, on Consouling Sounds working in similar forms — it features a faithful cover of Tool‘s “Parabol,” which they also played — but even in this different incarnation, it was plain to hear the impact of Neurosis on their methods and of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till‘s solo works on their dark-folk and minimalist (if you can call something with seven people on stage minimalist) brooding.
Vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout said from the stage they were nervous and doing their best, possibly after someone shouted “Slayer!” in the crowd. If they were uncomfortable, it was hard to tell from the harmonies. When they were done, they left one at a time until only a single guitarist remained, his back to the crowd. Then he got up and walked away and the part he was playing kept going. It was a loop, obviously — that’s not exactly a magic trick at this point — but it made for a striking visual all the same and said something about the resonance of their material, being brought down on a slow fade as the crowd erupted again. There would be a 40-minute break before Neurosis came on, which, to be completely honest, felt like an eternity.
From Brothers of the Sonic Cloth onward, everything on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2016 today was building toward the Neurosis 30th anniversary set. From Tad Doyle‘s grunge roots to Tau Cross‘ own in crust and progressive thrash, to Converge and Amenra having both — in very different ways, granted — found inspiration in their work, Neurosis was at the core of what the whole day was about, and the push forward was leading inextricably to their set as the culmination. Not to say it was seven-plus hours of setup and nothing more, just that the clearly purposeful flow of the day was designed with its direction in mind. It was not an accident.
They opened with “Lost” from 1993’s Enemy of the Sun, and among the you-were-never-gonna-see-Neurosis-play-this highlights were “Pain of Mind” and “Self-Taught Infection” from 1988’s Pain of Mind debut, “To What End?” from 1990’s The Word as Law, a cover of Joy Division‘s “Day of the Lords,” and, gloriously, “Takeahnase” from 1992’s Souls at Zero, arguably the point at which they really started to branch beyond their beginnings in crust and hardcore punk and move into the various forms of aggression that they continue to develop now — the easy word for it is post-metal, but it’s post-metal because Neurosis made it that way. With more recent inclusions like “At the Well” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) and “Water is Not Enough” from 2007’s Given to the Rising, along with “Times of Grace” from the 1999 album of the same name, “Left to Wander” from 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm, as well as the closing pair of “Through Silver in Blood,” from the 1996 LP of the same name, and “Stones from the Sky” from 2001’s A Sun that Never Sets.
Between all of that and “An Offering” from the Sovereign EP, there was not one record in their discography unrepresented. That made the event even more special — they’ll follow-up with a second installment for the Afterburner tomorrow — but the truth of the matter is that anytime Neurosis shows up, it’s special. I know they’ve done more touring in the last year than in the decade prior, but still, I don’t think there’s a band on the planet that captures the same measure of intensity, of raw passion, of volume-assault-as-spiritual-refuge that Neurosis does, and whether it’s Noah Landis using the entire universe for source material for samples and manipulated transitional drones for between songs, Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly complementing each other on guitar and vocals as one might expect for two guys who’ve been fronting a band together for 30 years, Dave Edwardson‘s continued ferocity on bass or Jason Roeder‘s cyclical drum patterning, everything they do is a lesson in the ethic of putting creativity first. They have a new record coming out at some point. I don’t know what it sounds like or what it’s called, but I feel comfortable in the knowledge that it will step forward from where they were with Honor Found in Decay, because they’re Neurosis, and that means no compromising.
I kind of lost my shit during that especially blistering rendition of “Takeahnase,” and I expect tomorrow and Monday I’ll be good and sore. Who cares? Not me. I’m back at it in the morning for the last issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch and more bands for the Afterburner, which basically is just another day of Roadburn at this point. Fine by me. It’s gone quickly in 2016 — how do you pack a year’s worth of living into four days? — so I’ll take everything I can get.