Posted in audiObelisk on August 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
The Heads were so goddamn good at Roadburn. As any edition will, Roadburn 2015 had some truly spectacular performances, both that I saw and that I heard about later and regretted not seeing, but one I consider myself very, very fortunate to have caught was that of The Heads on the Main Stage at the 013. Pure, raw and complete psychedelic mastery, it was probably in the top three heavy psych sets I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few in my time. Bands sound molten on studio recordings all the time, but for them to bring that vibe to the stage was, well, it was The Heads, and they absolutely killed it.
But as I say, Roadburn 2015 had more than several spectacular gigs. Anytime Eyehategod go anywhere, they leave an impact, and I also managed to see that Kandodo set, which had Robert Hampson of Loop sitting in on guitar — speaking of molten psychedelics — as well as White Hills and Bardspec, the latter which was just Ivar Bjørnson and Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal of Enslaved experimenting with different chords and manipulations on a laptop. Very cool vibe there too.
The latest batch of Roadburn 2015 audio streams has all those, plus Botanist, Brimstone, Darkher and Zoltan, which makes it quite a batch indeed. Enjoy:
(Ivar Bjørnson’s) Bardspec – Live at Roadburn 2015
Botanist – Live at Roadburn 2015
Brimstone- Live at Roadburn 2015
Darkher – Live at Roadburn 2015
Eyehategod – Live at Roadburn 2015
The Heads – Live at Roadburn 2015 (Main Stage)
Kandodo ft. Robert Hampson – Live at Roadburn 2015
Posted in Whathaveyou on August 6th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and by that I mean it’s time for the first Roadburn announcements. The Tilburg, Netherlands-based fest is no stranger to throwing down a gauntlet in its forward thinking approach, and Roadburn 2016 looks to continue the thread. Here are the bullet points:
Neurosis headline with a rare career-spanning set in celebration of their 30th anniversary.
Lee Dorrian curates.
Paradise Lost will play their classic Gothic album in full.
I can tell you honestly, the last time I saw Neurosis at Roadburn was 2009 and it was one of the purest earplugs-out communions with volume I’ve ever experienced. If I’m fortunate enough to get back there next April, I’ll consider myself even luckier, as they’ll be including songs from throughout their entire 30-year career. The thought of that meaning something off Souls at Zero is enough to send a shiver up my spine.
Lee Dorrian curating should hopefully mean a good amount of Rise Above acts on the bill. Could it be a return appearance from Uncle Acid, who played in 2013 as one of their very first shows? I don’t know. I won’t hold my breath for a Cathedral set, but it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think Dorrian‘s new project With the Dead with Tim Bagshaw and Mark Greening (both ex-Electric Wizard) might make an appearance, and that’s fun speculation as it is, let alone whatever additions the next few months actually bring.
And Paradise Lost playing Gothic are a fitting answer to Fields of the Nephilim, who played twice at the fest this year. I’m a fan of that record though, and even their more recent stuff, so their arrival sits pretty well too.
Roadburn 2016 is starting off big, but if I’ve learned anything about the fest in the seven times I’ve been lucky enough to attend, it’s that this really is just the beginning. Initial announcements follow. More to come:
ROADBURN FESTIVAL confirms NEUROSIS and PARADISE LOST as headliners, plus LEE DORRIAN as festival curator
ROADBURN FESTIVAL is proud to announce that NEUROSIS will celebrate their thirtieth anniversary as headliners at the 2016 edition of the festival.
Pioneering Yorkshire doom legends, PARADISE LOST, will headline Roadburn Festival on Thursday 14 April 2016, playing their highly influential second album, Gothic, in its entirety.
ROADBURN FESTIVAL is incredibly proud to announce that our 2016 curator will be musician, label owner and sonic pioneer, LEE DORRIAN.
“To be invited to celebrate our 30th anniversary in Europe at Roadburn is an absolute honor. Roadburn is a treasured and unique event that embodies the spirit of open minded community and original, emotional heavy music. We are humbled to be a part of it again” – NEUROSIS, August 2015.”
The iconic, California-based band have planned just two events to mark this career milestone – one of which will be in San Francisco (March 4 & 5 at the Regency Ballroom), the other at Roadburn. NEUROSIS will in fact perform twice at Roadburn 2016 – as headliners on both Saturday 16 April, and on Sunday 17 April. The two sets will span the band’s entire career, showcasing NEUROSIS’ comprehensive evolution from their primitive beginnings to the seminal, epic outfit they are today. Each set will be completely different, and each album will be explored, allowing the band and the audience alike to revisit various parts of the band’s history.
NEUROSIS are very much a part of the tapestry that makes up Roadburn’s legacy; the announcement of their first headline slot at Roadburn 2007, marked a stylistic shift for the festival. Over the years, we have also played host to many NEUROSIS-linked side and solo projects, as well as bands that nestle under the Neurot Recordings label umbrella, and had the band truly kick off a new Roadburn tradition when they curated the festival in 2009.
Pioneering Yorkshire doom legends PARADISE LOST will headline Roadburn Festival 2016 on Thursday 14 April 2016 playing their highly influential second album, Gothic, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. The band will play their masterpiece from start to finish, alongside tracks from their latest album, The Plague Within.
Leaders of the doom metal scene for over twenty five years, PARADISE LOST have kept their dank and dark take on the genre incredibly fresh with their latest album. Released on Century Media, The Plague Within marks a majestic return to PARADISE LOST’s innovative origins, recalling the melancholic heaviness of the band’s seminal second album, Gothic.
Renowned Romanian artist, Costin Chioreanu will be providing bespoke animated visuals to accompany PARADISE LOST’s Roadburn set.
PARADISE LOST’s Nick Holmes commented:
“As a young band we spent a good deal of time in the early 90’s driving around The Netherlands in a small transit van, living off chips with mayonnaise, drinking Chocomel and playing stuff from this album. ‘Gothic’ totally reminds me of those days, so if we were ever going to play the album in its entirety in 2016, it has to be in The Netherlands, and where better than the Roadburn Festival!!”
PARADISE LOST will be playing The Netherlands this year as part of their European tour in support of The Plague Within. They will play Tivoli, Utrecht on October 7.
Having headlined the first Roadburn Festival in 1999 with Cathedral, and celebrated Rise Above Records’ 20th anniversary at Roadburn in 2008, not to mention the bands that he has guided our way over the years, Lee’s history is very much entwined with that of Roadburn Festival.
“I feel very honoured to be handed this prestigious task to curate Roadburn 2016. Having been involved with Walter on a personal level for many years now, I always felt like part of the family, as opposed to being someone on the outside. So, with that in mind, I was both shocked and excited when he asked me to take on this fantastic opportunity.
I promise to make this an event that no-one will forget, and I’m already frothing at the potential of possibilities available!! It’s a dream and one that I never expected. This is what I love, so I will not disappoint. Come and join us in this ritualistic nirvana of praise and offerings to the unholy Blind Dead. Templars Arise!”
For the first time, Roadburn’s curator will take charge over two days – meaning the curator can develop a very specific and definitive vibe each day. Lee will curate the Main Stage on Friday 15 April 2016, before moving across to the iconic Het Patronaat venue on Saturday 16 April.
Posted in audiObelisk on June 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was especially eager to see Bongripper at the Afterburner at this year’s Roadburn. They had played a couple nights before as well (that set is streaming here), performing their 2014 album, Miserable (review here), in its entirety, but I’d had to miss that set and knew going into the fest that I wanted to see them one way or another follow-up on the performance they gave in 2012, which had been chest-shakingly heavy.
No regrets, of course. They proved to be devastating and I’m anxious to revisit the set today via the newly released live stream. Also included in this latest of the four-so-far batches is a bunch of stuff I missed, including two of the most-talked-about bands of the entirety of Roadburn 2015: SubRosa and Thou. The former outfit played the first day and I continued to hear about them through to Sunday, while Thou‘s atmosludge devastated the crowd at Het Patronaat and were bandied about as one of the highlights of the whole fest.
Along with performances by Acid Witch, Death Hawks, Mugstar (another one whose name I kept hearing), Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Der Weg Einer Freiheit, and KEN mode, this makes for a pretty diverse round of streams. If you get to dig into any or all of them, I hope you enjoy:
Acid Witch – Live at Roadburn 2015
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Live at Roadburn 2015
Bongripper – Live at Roadburn 2015 (Afterburner)
Death Hawks – Live at Roadburn 2015
Der Weg Einer Freiheit – Live at Roadburn 2015
Kenmode – Live at Roadburn 2015
Mugstar- Live at Roadburn 2015
Subrosa – Live at Roadburn 2015
Thou – Live at Roadburn 2015
Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first, second and third batches of streams, click here and then click here and then click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on June 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some good stuff here, but that’s pretty much like walking outside and noting all the oxygen in the air. Roadburn 2015’s newest batch of audio streams continues the thread from last time around in including one of the most talked-about performances at the festival in Tilburg, the Netherlands, this past April — namely Bell Witch. Many American bands head over there and make a special impression on the largely European crowd, but Bell Witch, the Seattle duo who were traveling abroad to herald the arrival of their 2015 sophomore outing, Four Phantoms (review here), on Profound Lore, seemed to earn extra acclaim from those who caught their performance. I wasn’t lucky enough to be one of them, but the response was universally positive.
Likewise the impact made by Monolord, who also feature here, but for my money, one of the highlights of the entire weekend was watching Uzala slay the Green Room. The ethereal doom trio who trace their roots to Boise, Idaho, were a surprise even though I’d seen them before, to the point that I did something I don’t often do at Roadburn, and that’s stay put for the entire set. Massive sound. Killer. Argus (pictured above) were a fist-pumping launch for the Afterburner on Sunday after the fest proper came to a close, and their classic metallurgy is no less welcome now as I pay it a revisit with the live stream.
Hope you enjoy the whole bunch:
Anthroprophh – Live at Roadburn 2015
Argus – Live at Roadburn 2015
Bell Witch – Live at Roadburn 2015
Monolord – Live at Roadburn 2015
Oozing Wound – Live at Roadburn 2015
Svartidauði – Live at Roadburn 2015
The Osiris Club – Live at Roadburn 2015
Uzala – Live at Roadburn 2015
Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first and second batches of streams, click here and then click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been more than a month now since Roadburn 2015 ended, and that means it’s time to really start digging into the audio aftermath. As always, this batch of streams was captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team, and there are more than a few gems here, from Bongripper playing all of their 2014 album Miserable (review here) to The Golden Grass closing out the fest in the Green Room during the Afterburner.
I was particularly stoked this year for the Afterburner, and not the least because it meant Lo-Pan were rolling into town. The Ohio fuzz four-piece were on their first European tour at the time, capping the first leg of it with Abrahma, who played at Cul de Sac, and soon to pick up again with Black Pyramid and continue their roll, but being a fan of the band and having seen them the many times that I have, it was special to watch them take the stage at Roadburn and level the place as vigorously as they did. That set is included here, along with the devastatingly heavy likes of Primitive Man and Goatwhore, the weird stoned occultism of Salem’s Pot, and Scott H. Biram‘s one-man outlaw idolatry.
They’re all good batches, but I know I’ll look forward to reliving the Lo-Pan set and whether you hit that up or something else, I hope you enjoy:
Bast – Live at Roadburn 2015
Black Anvil – Live at Roadburn 2015
Bongripper – Live at Roadburn 2015
Goatwhore – Live at Roadburn 2015
Lo-Pan – Live at Roadburn 2015
Primitive Man – Live at Roadburn 2015
Salem’s Pot – Live at Roadburn 2015
Sammal – Live at Roadburn 2015
Scott H. Biram – Live at Roadburn 2015
The Golden Grass – Live at Roadburn 2015
Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first batch of streams, click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on April 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
You know, I went back and looked. Last year, it wasn’t until May 21 that the first batch of audio streams from Roadburn 2014 surfaced. Here we are, it’s April 30. We’re not even a full month removed from Roadburn 2015, and already eight sets are out from the festival. Kudos to Marcel van de Vondervoort, who no doubt will spend the next few months going deeper into the heart of Roadburn — at least from a musical standpoint — than anyone else as he continues to mix the live recordings and make them ready for streaming. The expediency of the arrival of the first audio is just one more example of how special this fest is. Hell, reviews are still being posted.
I’ve been kind of jealous seeing those reviews, actually. Part of covering the fest in the way I do — writing the review of the show that same night and posting it before the next day starts — sort of robs me of being able to step back and really look at the bigger picture of Roadburn and particularly what it means to me and of being able to express that, whether for fatigue or just being so close to it at the time. It’s a tradeoff, and ultimately I think the point gets across anyway perhaps even with that process as a part of it. Maybe I just feel like it all needs to be said again afterwards.
Part of the Roadburn after-experience is listening to these streams and hearing what you missed. To that end, I’m very much looking forward to digging into Minsk, Eagle Twin and Sun Worship. Whatever you caught or didn’t, I hope you enjoy:
Agusa – Live at Roadburn 2015
Coltsblood – Live at Roadburn 2015
Domo – Live at Roadburn 2015
Eagle Twin – Live at Roadburn 2015
Lazer/Wulf – Live at Roadburn 2015
Minsk – Live at Roadburn 2015
Mortals – Live at Roadburn 2015
Sun Worship – Live at Roadburn 2015
Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here.
Up until Spirit Caravan got rolling again last year at Desertfest, the Roadburn festival seemed to be the home for a Wino reunion. In addition to Wino playing there with the Wino trio and Shrinebuilder in 2009 and 2011, it was where the Wino-fronted Saint Vitus first came back in 2009 and where The Obsessed launched their reunion in 2012. I was fortunate enough to be there, and while The Obsessed has always been the most straightforward, sans-frills brand of doom, the excitement in the room was palpable for the trio’s return, Scott “Wino” Weinrich on guitar/vocals, bassist Guy Pinhas and drummer Greg Rogers coming together on stage for the first time in more than a decade and a half. I don’t mind saying it was one of the best days I’ve had at Roadburn to date.
Their tour continued on and The Obsessed continued to play shows — Doom Shall Rise, tours here and there, Maryland Deathfest, etc. — with Pinhas departing to sign onto Victor Griffin‘s In~Graved for a time and then ultimately split with that group as well. Weinrich and Rogers kept The Obsessed rolling with Reid Raley of Deadbird on bass, but the current status of the band is kind of up in the air. The aforementioned Spirit Caravan reunited in 2014, Saint Vitus continued to tour, Wino joined forces with Conny Ochs for a second time this year. Rogers, meanwhile, drums on Goatsnake‘s upcoming Black Age Blues— their first album in 15 years — and Raley and Deadbird hit the studio this past year to record a new full-length, which would be their first since 2008’s Twilight Ritual, an underrated molasses crawl of doomed Southern blues.
Not to say they couldn’t pick up The Obsessed again and get out at some point, but everybody seems pretty busy for the moment. Fortunately their live shows for the reunion were well documented, right from the start. The clip below is “Endless Circles” and “Lunar Womb” a one-two punch from The Obsessed‘s 1991 sophomore outing, taped live at Roadburn in 2012, and I think it says a lot about what the band’s straight-ahead appeal is in the first place.
Hope you enjoy:
The Obsessed, “Endless Circles/Lunar Womb” live at Roadburn 2012
I did manage to get back to sleep this morning for a little bit after I finished writing the review and sorting pictures for last night, but first I went downstairs and took full advantage of the hotel breakfast. You get one free, and I wasn’t saving it or anything, I just hadn’t been up when it was served. Well, today I was. It opened at seven, I’d been up since four, so yeah. No problem. Some eggs, cheese, fruit, juice, bacon and sausage later, I was a new man. Who needed sleep. I got maybe half an hour before I needed to be up and out again to get to the 013 office and finalize the last issue of the Roadburn ‘zine, the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, with Lee from The Sleeping Shaman.
We did it, put the issue out and everything. I folded paper like a champ and have the ink stain on my edge-flattening fingernail to prove it. Not the only mark Roadburn would leave on me today, but we’ll get there in a bit. In the meantime, check out the last Weirdo Canyon Dispatch of Roadburn 2015 here. Go on and give it a read.
Today was the Afterburner, which is Roadburn‘s traditional way of saying, “Sooner or later, you have to get back to real life.” It’s a transitional day. Less stages, fewer running back and forth, fewer people around, and so on. Band-wise, it’s usually a little more of Roadburn‘s roots: Heavy rock, psych, doom, though of course like the fest proper, the Afterburner has branched out stylistically as well.
One didn’t have to look much farther than Gnaw Their Tongues, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin or headliners Anathema — who, since they were playing a special set spanning their career, both fit a doomed aesthetic and pushed beyond it — to see that. Still, it was underrated New York space/psychedelic outfit White Hills who started the afternoon off at 15.00 on the Main Stage. An East Coast equivalent in my mind for L.A.’s Farflung — who also did quite well at Roadburn once upon a 2012 — they remain a much more popular band in Europe than in their hometown. So be it. For me, a little space is almost always welcome, but I wanted even more to see Pennsylvania’s Argus open up in the Green Room.
Riding the line between doom and traditional metal, the Brian “Butch” Balich-fronted Argus launched their set with “By Endurance We Conquer,” “No Peace Beyond the Line,” and “The Hands of Time are Bleeding,” the first three songs from their third and latest full-length, 2013’s Beyond the Martyrs (review here). The crowd knew the songs and sang along to the hooks, particularly in “No Peace Beyond the Line,” the five-piece of Balich, guitarists Jason Mucio and Dave Watson, bassist Justin Campbell and drummer Kevin Latchaw making the best case I’ve yet heard for their songwriting. With the two guitars, driving, forward rhythms, roots doom and NWOBHM-precision, Balich‘s powerful voice in addition to that level of craftsmanship, it was no challenge to see the appeal of Argus, and the Green Room certainly got into it. Heavy metal might be a subculture, but it’s one that crosses an awful lot of national borders, and I doubt if there’s any fist-pumping headbanger types who couldn’t get down with Argus. They’re as classically-styled as classically-styled gets, and they delivered in force at Roadburn.
They were dug into the particularly Trouble-y “Pieces of Your Smile” when I made my way over to the main hall for Chicago instrumental four-piece Bongripper. Now, it would’ve been awfully nice to see those dudes kick the living crap out of their latest album, 2014’s Miserable (review here), way back on Thursday night, but they were going on late and, well, you know the story, with the typing and the clacky-clacky and whatnot. Fine. No way in gosh darn heck was I going to miss my second chance to see guitarists Nick Dellacroce and Dennis Pleckham, bassist Ron Petzke — with whom I shared a cab to Tilburg from Schiphol Airport on Wednesday — and drummer Daniel O’Connor bludgeon all in their path with volume and raw, plodding riffs. With a formidable stack of amps and cabinets behind them, Bongripper tore into a swath of material, a crowd having shown up early to get a good spot for the punishment they knew was in store.
Seeing Bongripper live is like being swallowed by sound. Like if sound had a mouth — maybe the mouth from the front cover of Miserable would suffice, if you need an image — and that mouth ate you. A beastly barrage of riffs and tonal thunder, all of this maddening heft pushed onto the audience in an unrelenting assault. They ended by wailing on their instruments in time to O’Connor‘s crashes, a kind of violent assault on their equipment that fed into the thick wall of noise built up, the packed Main Stage room nodding in unison. The band stopped short of taking a bow when they were done, but no one would’ve been able to say they didn’t deserve to do so. It’s a primal element of doom and sludge and stoner riffing that Bongripper feeds into, fattens, and then slaughters, but the grungus is mighty in what they do and spread out on the wide stage, it was as much an art project as a wanton beatdown. Even their feedback was a weapon.
I’d run into Ohio’s Lo-Pan earlier in the day. They’re on tour with Abrahma now, have been for a couple nights, and like a lot of US heavy bands who come to tour Europe for the first time, I think they’ve been impressed at the show culture. People show up, bands aren’t treated like crap, and it’s a generally cared-for situation, something precious done in a general public interest. The crew working at the 013 as a part of Roadburn are second to none in professionalism or hospitality, and so it seemed reasonable to me the band would be singularly impressed. All the better for the show, which is both the intent and precisely how it worked out when they went on in the Green Room at 18.30. They were clashing with Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, but I’ve been itching for Lo-Pan to make a debut at Roadburn since they put out Salvador (review here) early in 2011. Let’s be clear: I wouldn’t miss them anyway. I’ll go see Lo-Pan just about any night of the week, but I knew this one was going to be special.
Of course, it was. “El Dorado” from Salvador opened and “Regulus” from last fall’s rager Colossus (review here) followed, the band immediately on fire. It was my first time seeing them with guitarist Adrian Zambrano, who came aboard in Nov. 2014 to fill the role formerly held down by Brian Fristoe. A new Lo-Pan, in a new place with new energy and even a new song in the set, there was nothing not to like. They were so tight it hurt With vocalist Jeff Martin set up in back behind drummer Jesse Bartz as per usual, Zambrano on stage left and bassist Scott Thompson on stage right, Lo-Pan were a heavy rock and roll force. Zambrano brought a little showmanship and style to the riffs and solos, and where Bartz and Thompson have always hit it hard on stage and the guitar was a more subdued presence (nothing against that whatsoever), having Zambrano headbanging away, tapping on the frets while throwing his pick-hand behind him, tossing a leg up on the monitor and so on both reinforced the energetic character of the band, as well as the material, and made it all the more exciting.
Speaking of headbanging, I did. It was among the best sets I’ve seen Lo-Pan play — lights, sound, performance, you name it — and yeah, I was getting into it a bit. I wound up banging my head into one of the monitors at the front of the stage early into the set. No blood, it wasn’t that bad, but I’ve got a bump sticking out of my forehead now and I expect by the time I get off the plane tomorrow in Boston it’ll be a good-size bruise. Easy enough to laugh it off and keep going, even if it’s a little sore when I raise my eyebrows, which I apparently do all the time. That’s how you find out that kind of thing.
Anyway, point is it was so, so, so, so good to see Lo-Pan. Not only because they’re one of American heavy rock’s best bands — I’ve called them the finest in US fuzz for pretty much the last four years — and not only because they killed it and put on a stellar show, but because they did it here, as a part of Roadburn 2015, looking across the stage at each other and challenging themselves to play better, harder than they have before. Their first European tour comes after countless US slogs and will hopefully lead to more, but it seems likely to me they’re going to remember this one, and I’m glad to have stayed through “Eastern Seas” and “The Duke” to watch them hammer down their victory. I’d been looking forward to it since they were announced, and it warmed my cold, dead heart to see them kick so much ass.
Their tourmates from Paris and Small Stone labelmates, Abrahma, were going on shortly down the block at Cul de Sac, which is right in the stretch of bars on Heuvelstraat adjacent to the 013 that for I don’t even remember how many years now I’ve been calling Weirdo Canyon (hence the Dispatch). The relatively small club is where the Hard Rock Hideout was held on Wednesday (review here), and I like the room a lot, so it seemed perfect to follow Lo-Pan with Abrahma and head over. Already they were on stage when I got there, dug into what turned out to be their soundcheck, but with the lights up, I snapped a few pictures just in case when they actually started they decided to play in the dark, as pretty much every band I’ve ever seen in that space has done. Abrahma, however, dared to be different.
In keeping, their upcoming second album, Reflections in the Bowels of a Bird (review/track stream here), does likewise, pushing into moodier, somewhat less psychedelic territory than their 2012 debut, Through the Dusty Paths of Our Lives (review here). Their set, which was actually just about split between the two records and leaned slightly toward the new one, was surprisingly heavy. Very riffy, very big in tone. Not quite to the level of Floor-syle bombdropping, but not far off either. As a frontman, Sebastien Bismuth was charismatic and engaging, banging his head harder than many and managing not to injure himself in the process unless you count an almost certain sore neck tomorrow, and joined by drummer Fred Quota for this tour along with bassist Guillaume Colin and guitarist Nicolas Heller, their sudden bursts of weighted groove hit with an impressive, genuine impact. As their songwriting continues to grow and become more complex, I’ll be interested to see how that impact evolves.
A prudent move would’ve been to stay longer, but even though it’s the Afterburner, Roadburn means time to move. Anathema would soon be on the Main Stage, playing a special set allotted 130 minutes that was being called “Resonance” and which started with the eponymous “Anathema” from last year’s Distant Satellites and working backwards through their discography. The Cavanagh brothers, Vincent (lead vocals, guitar), Danny (guitar, backing vocals) and Jamie (bass) were down front of the stage with drummer Daniel Cardoso and keyboardist/programmer John Douglas on risers behind, and over the course of their time, current vocalist Lee Douglas made intermittent appearances — a striking one for “A Natural Disaster” lit, at the band’s request, only by cellphone lights from the crowd, as seen on the cover of their 2013 DVD, Universal — and former bassist Duncan Patterson and former vocalist Darren White both showed up the farther along Anathema went, deeper and deeper still into their 25-year history.
They’re doing a short “Resonance” tour, are Anathema, but Roadburn 2015 was the first night, and the first time White had been on stage with the band in 20 years. Something special, no doubt. Here’s a fun fact, though: I love that band. Along with Amorphis, who were playing through the main hall P.A. just before Anathema went on, Anathema were one of the acts that led me into exploring underground metal, and ultimately — so the story goes — selling my soul to Tony Iommi at the expense of career, well-being and, this week, sleep. No complaints. But while Anathema are a pivotal band for me personally, a landmark act without whom I genuinely don’t believe I’d be the same person, I also fall into a rarer category of Anathema fan. It’s not their early stuff that I got into back when I was in high school. Not 1995’s Pentecost III, from which “Kingdom” and “Mine is Yours to Drown In (Ours is the New Tribe)” were aired at the start of what would be a third individual component set in the longer runtime, and not even the album The Silent Enigma, which followed it that same year, powerful though “Sunset of Age” and “A Dying Wish” were.
I have those records, and I dig those records a lot, but what got me into Anathema is their often-overlooked middle period: 1998’s Alternative 4, 1999’s Judgement, 2001’s A Fine Day to Exit and 2003’s A Natural Disaster. When I’m reaching for an Anathema album — as I invariably do in a depressive fit as I wallow in my own filth and worthlessness because I’m just the right kind of emotional cripple that music offers comfort I apparently can’t allow myself to feel otherwise; whoops — those are what I go for, and when Vincent led the way into “Pressure” from A Fine Day to Exit and “One Last Goodbye” from Judgement tonight, those were the songs that had me tearing up. No bullshit, bringing Darren White out was incredible. Clearly charged up to be on stage with the band in the context of headlining at Roadburn 2015, he settled in and nailed the dramatic chorus of “Kingdom” — shades of Fields of the Nephilim influence showing themselves — and led the band through the finish of their professionally polished but still emotionally potent set, “Sleepless” from Anathema‘s 1993 debut, Serenades, closing out.
This was the Anathema show I’ve been dreaming of, covering their whole career, but their mid-period, pre-prog, post-doom, was what hit me the hardest, the first four cuts from Alternative 4 played with Patterson on bass to morose and atmospheric effect. They could’ve done a third hour, easily, and I might have stayed for it if they did.
As it was, time was ticking away. One more stop to make, and it was back in the Green Room of the 013 for Brooklyn trio The Golden Grass, whose 2014 self-titled debut (review here) has only grown in my esteem since it was released. They’re a reminder of home for me, the East Coast, New York and all that, so they were perfect to close out my own little version of Roadburn. Guitarist/vocalist Michael Rafalowich, drummer/vocalist Adam Kriney and bassist Morgan McDaniel are on tour with Hypnos, who’d wrapped a bit earlier at the Cul de Sac, and though I knew I wouldn’t be there the whole time, I wanted to catch at least a bit of their sunshine boogie to help make the thought of walking out of Roadburn 2015, taking off my wristband and coming back to the hotel to put this last review together not quite such a bum-out. By the time they were through “Stuck on a Mountain” and “Please Man” and into a newer song I didn’t know, a bum-out was out of the question. Nothing but good vibes the whole way as I said a few quick goodbyes and walked down the stretch of Weirdo Canyon, a little quieter Sunday than Saturday, but by no means abandoned. I owe The Golden Grass one for that.
Strange to think that “tomorrow” (read: in three hours) when I get up to shower early and head out, it’ll be to the airport instead of the 013 office to bang out another issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. Roadburn develops its own culture so quickly each year, and the more and more I’m fortunate enough to come see Tilburg in the springtime, the more it feels like home.
I’ll have another post up to close out this series and say thanks and whatnot, so until then, I’ll just say the same thing I always say: More pics after the jump and thanks for reading.