Roadburn 2014 Day Four: The Afterburner

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.13.14 — 22:38 — Sunday night — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I own one really nice pair of socks. They’re black, a name brand, and I don’t know when I picked them up, but they breathe, they’re comfortable, and most of all, they fit my silly clown feet. As someone who doesn’t usually wear shoes that require socks let alone the socks themselves if he can help it, these socks are where it’s at. I took them out of my luggage on Friday and went to put them on and I was like, “What the hell am I doing? I’ve still got three more days here! I can’t waste the good socks!”

Well, today I wore the good socks. The occasion was as fitting as any: the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner, a stripped down, laid back incarnation of Roadburn proper that closes out each year. Three stages. For me the big difference was in how I decided to approach the schedule. Apart from needing to be at the Main Stage in time to take pictures, I didn’t worry about getting up front, or getting somewhere 25 minutes beforehand. I let myself be a little freer to roam around. I don’t have up-close shots of everything I saw, but it was good to experience the fest like I think a lot of people do, just wandering back and forth between the rooms, enjoying the music in one, going back to the last, going back to the next and so on. In any case, I’ve no regrets.

After finishing the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, the day began with a moving tribute to former The Devil’s Blood guitarist, the late Selim Lemouchi from players who knew him, including his sister and ex-The Devil’s Blood frontwoman Farida Lemouchi, billed as Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies and playing the 2014 Earth Air Spirit Water Fire album from Lemouchi‘s post-The Devil’s Blood project, Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies. There were 10 people on stage — two drummers, four guitars, bass, two keyboards, and Farida Lemouchi on vocals, honoring her brother by playing his songs. It was a powerful experience to be sure, in part because of the otherworldly feel of the music, but even more just on the emotional level of those involved, still clearly grieving the loss.

It felt somewhat voyeuristic to be taking photos in front of the stage. I’d never flatter myself into thinking that being in the photo pit, particularly on a stage so high, effects the performance one way or another, I just mean that these were people in mourning. His sister especially. I cannot and would not imagine that loss, and to have it so soon after, when all people still just have nothing more than dogma and hollow epithets to offer for the sense of injustice you feel. In a way it was the heaviest set of the weekend, but it was also beautiful, the band playing to images of Selim projected behind the songs with which he was moving on from The Devil’s Blood and into unknown sonic territory. I’ve heard from several natives how much he’s missed, And you could tell watching the players on stage that Lemouchi was well loved, even by his Enemies.

There was what felt like a moment of exhale when they were done, a picture of Lemouchi left on the projector screen on the empty stage, and in the Green Room, extreme Swiss duo Bölzer went on seemingly with the intent to blast their way through the reverent spirit with a filth-caked maelstrom. To be fair, they would’ve blasted through any kind of atmosphere; hardly seemed like a personal thing. It was kind of a jump from one end of the spectrum to the other, and they were a standout on and otherwise psych-heavy Green Room lineup of Aqua Nebula Oscillator, who opened, The Papermoon Sessions, New Keepers of the Water Towers, Harsh Toke and Lumerians. Coming out of the Main Stage room still wowed by the raw human spirit of what I’d just seen, my head wasn’t in it for Bölzer, but I was in a clear minority. Not only was the Green Room full, but the hallway outside was full too. Couldn’t get near them.

That would be a kind of running theme soon enough, but Avatarium were next on the Main Stage. The Stockholm natives released their self-titled debut last fall on Nuclear Blast, and are notable also for boasting Candlemass bassist and principle songwriter Leif Edling in their lineup, but Edling was absent owing to illness so Avatarium played with a fill-in and treated the crowd to their progressive melodic metal, vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith borrowing cadences from Ronnie James Dio (a better source than most) and leading the five-piece into a set that sounded ready for any number of summer festivals over here. A little clean for my personal tastes, but well performed by the band, who were not long in distinguishing themselves from Candlemass. Pretty much immediate, actually.

Papermoon, the collaboration between Electric Moon and Papir, was happening in the Green Room, and I caught some of that while simultaneously wishing I had been in two places at once to see more of the Sula Bassana set the other night as well as Papir on their own, but every Roadburn requires hard choices. The Papermoon Sessions (review here) debut full-length from the combined unit was a jammer’s joy, and if what I caught of them tonight was anything to go by, it’s worth hoping they do another. YOB were getting ready to go on the Main Stage playing three out of the four cuts on their new album, Clearing the Path to Ascend as well as others from the back catalog, and particularly after watching them nail The Great Cessation yesterday, it wasn’t something I could stand the thought of missing.

I debated even typing this, because it sounds like hyperbole, but it’s honest in terms of how I feel about them so I’m going with it. YOB are a once-in-a-generation band. Every generation you get a few landmark acts who not only distinguish themselves from their peers and become influential, but who take the creative lessons of their forebears to a genuinely new place. Sleep did it. Neurosis did it. YOB are doing it. I can’t think of another act from the US who’ve left such a mark in the last decade of heavy. Tonight, guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, bassist Aaron Rieseberg and drummer Travis Foster greeted a crowd as much theirs as any they’re likely to encounter and treated them to essentially the next step in their ongoing progression, taking the lessons of 2011′s Atma (review here) and breaking their own rules with a languid, psychedelic opener and a classic rock finish the sprawl of which is worthy of the entire vinyl side it will no doubt receive upon its release.

Every Roadburn I allow myself to watch one band from the side of the stage. This year it was YOB, and not for the first time. Each of the new songs stood out for a different reason, whether it was the hook of the one that opened their set (track three on the album if I’ve got the order right), the maddening churn of Foster‘s drums leading the way through what I was later told is called “Nothing to Win,” or the patient unfolding of the album opener, played third, which brims with tension and meets a payoff no less rich. They backed the new material with “Adrift in the Ocean” and the title-track from Atma before closing out with “Quantum Mystic” from 2005′s classic-to-be, The Unreal Never Lived, which they also performed in full at Roadburn 2012 — that set, like the Candlemass Epicus Doomicus Metallicus set, is out on vinyl now — and giving everyone a moment to let their brains reconstitute. Two nights of YOB in a row. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wish there was a third to be had.

Now. Triptykon would be starting their headlining set soon on the Main Stage, but Carlton Melton and Øresund Space Collective keyboardist/all-around aces human being Scott “Dr. Space” Heller were doing a collaborative jam at Cul de Sac that had been on for a couple minutes. I shot over to catch some of that hoping maybe for a place where I could see the band. No dice on that, but I stood in the back for a couple minutes and closed my eyes and grooved out to the ultracosmic vibes. I don’t know if it was all recorded, but Roadburn could do a series of releases just of the jams this year, between this one, Lenny Kaye and Harsh Toke, Niklas Barker and Reine Fiske, Oeds BeydalsPapermoon and so on. Maybe not the best marketing move. I’ve never had much of a nose for business.

Back in the reaches of the 013, the Tom G. Warrior-fronted Triptykon made ready to once again darken the skies of Planet Roadburn, now celebrating their new release, Melana Chasmata, as they celebrated their debut, Eparistera Daimones, by playing their first live performance at the Warrior-curated Roadburn 2010 event, “Only Death is Real.” Three cuts from Warrior‘s prior band, Celtic Frost, were aired — “Messiah” and “Circle of the Tyrants” — but with a brand new record and as the new band moves further away from the old, it only makes sense the focus would be on Triptykon. Joined on stage by guitarist/vocalist V. Santura, bassist Vanja Šlajh and drummer Norman Lonhard, Warrior (né Fischer) was statesmanlike and seething in kind, and while I’m sure they’d already gotten rid of plenty of copies of Melana Chasmata, set-opener “Black Snow,” “Tree of Suffocating Souls,” and “Altar of Deceit” made a compelling argument toward purchase. As release parties go, it was formidable.

About halfway into their set, San Diego’s Harsh Toke – whose jam with Lenny Kaye on Friday has already become a Roadburn 2014 landmark in my mind — hit it in the Green Room, and I decided a little more of the ol’ back and forth was warranted to see them play their own material. I think they made a lot of friends this weekend, and not just by passing out beer cans from the stage (though that never hurts). Their heavy push was right on with or without the psych legend accompanying, and when it came time for me to do so, I decided they were how I wanted to end the night. I stood for a few minutes inside, then a few minutes in the doorway, then I went back to the Main Stage, then back to the Green Room, then upstairs, then back down, then around the foyer of the 013, then back to the doorway of the Green Room, and that was when I got that sinking, nagging feeling that I couldn’t avoid it anymore and my Roadburn was over. Time to leave.

I have many, many people to thank and it’s hit the point where I’m starting to nod off, so I’ll save that for the travel tomorrow, but as an initial blanket statement that I hope provides some warmth: Thank you. So much.

More pics after the jump.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 10: Altar Made of Red Earth

Posted in Features on April 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.13.14 — 13:25 — Sunday afternoon — The 013, Tilburg

Got to watch a minute or two of Triptykon’s soundcheck. No surprise they were a churning barrage of devastating buzz, but strange to see them on stage with lights on. Can’t imagine it’ll be that way later on when they headline the Roadburn 2014 Afterburner.

Today’s a more laid back atmosphere. Fewer stages going, but it’s still a sold-out crowd and plenty to see. Shaman Lee and I came in this morning to finish out the last issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. The PDF is here if you’d like to give it a look. I wrote an essay to finish it basically nerding out on how killer the vibe of the fest has been all weekend, and Adrien Begrand did the review of yesterday with Paul Verhagen’s photos. Simple fact is I’m sorry to see it end.

How do you make a ‘zine at the Roadburn festival? With a garbage-can full of coffee cups.

The work is done now, issues are folded, and all that really remains is to wait for the Afterburner to start. Walter and Jurgen were in the office before with Lee and I, the four of us sitting and talking about music and the festival, just kind of laid back before the craziness of the day takes hold. It’s things like that that I most enjoy remembering. Bands are great, and I’ve seen a few here I’d consider friends, but it’s the moments that stay with you more than this or that set. This weekend has had a few for the ages.

I’m proud of the work done on the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch, and I’ve taken a few copies to go home with and I’ll look forward to having them on my shelf somewhere I can walk by and see them and be reminded of this place, the space we got to work in, the coffee, voices up from the loading dock below, the hum of soundchecks, the heat from the sunlight coming through the windows — Jurgen: “It’s always warm in here, isn’t it?,” Lee: “That’s why it’s the CEO’s office” — the ridiculous printer and all of it. I’ll have the ‘zines to keep me connected. A souvenir of the silly thing we were able and fortunate enough to do this weekend.

Things are pretty quiet in the office. I should probably get out of here.

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Roadburn 2014 Day Three: “I Know Where to Go…”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 13th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.13.14 — 07:28 — Sunday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Morning in Tilburg. Got back to the hotel last night and tried to get writing immediately but kept falling asleep at the keyboard. I’d wake up a couple seconds later and find a string of semi-colons a line long. It’s been a while since that happened. It finally came to the point where I semi-consciously reasoned that I’d be better off sleeping than having it take seven times as long to write because I couldn’t stay awake. I guess we’ll see how the reasoning works out.

Roadburn 2014 Day Three started for me more or less immediately after I closed the lid of my laptop in the afternoon. It was a day of kickass bands, noble intentions, and in my case, dragging ass. Some tough decisions. Will it be Indian or Old Man Gloom, Loop or -(16)-? Mansion or Horisont? A lot depended on my energy level at any given second, and a telling moment was when during YOB I was upstairs on the balcony of the Main Stage room and I opened the package of a protein bar only to have it be broken and two-thirds of it fall out of the wrapper onto the floor. Oh, I was a sad little monkey. I went and got myself dinner and said it was going to be okay. And it was, but for a second there the god damn world was about to end.

Better news is that all the bands I saw yesterday completely destroyed. In very different ways, to be sure. I watched more full sets than in the prior two days, bands like Noothgrush, Gozu, YOB, and Old Man Gloom offering thrills to the dedicated many who stuck around for the duration. When Noothgrush came out to open the Main Stage, vocalist Dino Sommese — in addition to referring to his band as “DIY punk; kinda angry, kinda slow” and backing up his punker perspective by talking some shit on corporate sponsorship — set about unleashing some of the nastiest screams I’ve heard the whole festival. Real, crusty, sludge. It wasn’t “post-” anything. It was visceral.

They’re a West Coast band, were gone for a while and came back a couple years ago. 11Paranoias were on at Het Patronaat, but Noothgrush set the tone for the day in both their unbridled riff-led filth and the fact that it compelled me to stay where I was for just about the whole time. Admittedly, I did poke my head into the Green Room to check out the beginning of Monster Truck – stoner rock; good for the soul — but from there I basically sat tight until Gozu were going on in the Green Room. For them, Roadburn 2014 is the start of a European tour that’ll go until they hit Desertfest in a couple weeks, and for me, it was a pleasure to watch them kill it so hard in that space.

Because that’s the thing about Roadburn. Well, one of the things. You can see a band 100 times, then see them at Roadburn and know it’s different. I’ve had that happen in years past and it was the same with Gozu. Every band is on top of their game and from the lights to the sound to the projections behind, the 013 crew is so professional that it all looks and sounds great. I could not tell you how many times I’ve seen those dudes — Marc Gaffney, Douglas Allen Sherman, Joe Grotto and Mike Hubbard – play a song like “Meat Charger” from 2010′s Locust Season (review here). I suppose it’s less with this lineup, but still, no matter how many more times I catch Gozu at places in Boston, I will have seen them at Roadburn and know that means something.

I had a moment with Gozu similar to watching Hull the other day, and I realized that it was being happy for hometown guys making good at Roadburn, and that’s the first time I’ve really thought of Boston as being my hometown as well as New York (or New Jersey, but in the Netherlands, you just say New York). One more reason the 2014 fest is special to me. Getting to see YOB twice — and getting to hear their forthcoming album, Clearing the Path to Ascend, didn’t hurt either. It’s their third time here, and each time, the Eugene, Oregon, trio have played two sets, which is efficient if nothing else. Yesterday was The Great Cessation in full. Seems redundant to say it was fantastic, or at least needless, but YOB on the Main Stage at Roadburn. If there’s ever a band who ever fit in a place, it’s them and there. What a pleasure to watch.

The Great Cessation I would count as the angriest of YOB‘s record, and especially in the context of hearing the new record a couple hours before, it’s material and a method of writing they’ve progressed beyond. Anger is still a factor, but The Great Cessation is so rife with disappointment, with frustration and rage. Of course that only made the songs more vicious. I was genuinely surprised when I walked out from the balcony to go back downstairs and closer to the front that it was still day outside. If anything was ever going to darken the sky, it would have to be “Silence of Heaven.” I look forward to seeing them again today and to becoming acquainted with their new songs. The second track on Clearing the Path to Ascend has some of the most furious drums I’ve ever heard from Travis Foster. We’re talking Through Silver in Blood-level. Can’t wait to see that live.

There was a bit of a break before Old Man Gloom went on. I thought I’d check out Carlton Melton instead, but they’re doing a jam with Dr. Space today and I started remembering the good times I had with Seminar II: The Holy Rites of Primitivism Regressionism and stuck it out in the Main Stage room. I haven’t listened to much Old Man Gloom since, and probably should’ve picked up their 2012 return outing, No, but for funds. They were fairly incredible and, as I thought just about no one would be able to do, managed to follow YOB. That shouldn’t be such a surprise with the all-star lineup of guitarist/vocalist Aaron Turner (Isis), guitarist/vocalist Nate Newton (Converge), bassist/vocalist Caleb Schofield (Cave In) and Santos Montano (Zozobra), but at one point I had to stop and say to myself, “So this is probably what it was like to see Neurosis 15 years ago.” Not a bad response for a band to evoke. “To Carry the Flame” from No was a particular highlight, and had me wondering if Roadburn might see an Isis reunion maybe in 2015 or sometime in the future beyond.

Part of the appeal of seeing Old Man Gloom was that I’ve never seen them before and may or may not ever get to see them again. That’s what kept me there the whole time. With Finland’s Mansion, the situation was similar. Their 2013 We Shall Live EP (review here) intrigued with its cultish leanings and semi-psychedelic churn and the new single Congregation Hymns Vol. 1 has only furthered interest. Dressed all in black, in turtlenecks save for their bassist, who had a button-down (heathen!), Mansion projected religious righteousness well, and that’s cool since it’s part of their aesthetic, but it was really the songs I was there for. Vocalist Alma Mansion had a calm intensity that came to bursts of energy in the title-track from the EP, the band behind her following suit in both atmosphere and presence. I think a lot of people were getting ready for Loop to hit the Main Stage, but the Green Room was still pretty full as Mansion got going, and they delivered something I’ve seen no one else here have on offer. Chalk their new single on my list of records I wish I’d bought.

To be fair, Loop are touring the US this coming week — especially after seeing them play here, I can’t help but think that’s the wrong choice, and not because of the band– but to see them headline at Roadburn, particularly after their reunion came about following Loop guitarist/vocalist Robert Hampson sitting in with Godflesh last year, seemed fitting. I won’t profess to be an expert on Loop‘s records, Heaven’s End and A Gilded Eternity are certainly top quality psych-gaze and were decades ahead of their time, but they’re not something I put on every day or every week, so for me it was more about just watching the band and seeing Loop for what they brought to the show. They seemed aware of the gravity of the situation, but handled themselves expertly and where Old Man Gloom had been about bombast and urgency, Loop were a more patient, gradual vibe. It worked well, but I was about ready to close out the night and so headed over to Het Patronaat for the first time of the day to catch Los Angeles noise rockers -(16)-.

I caught wind of Zoloft Smile around the time it was released, and the sludgy outfit’s return over the last several years has only furthered appreciation. They were West Coast hardcore intense, but with thicker tones right on the edge where noise rolls into sludge. Fast. Mean. Loud. Perfect for Het Patronaat‘s relatively compact stage, incredible volume and otherworldly vibe, the stained glass church windows, woodwork, all of it covered in -(16)-‘s spilled guts. They were a steamroller from word one, vocalist Cris Jerue bounding from one side of the stage to the next while founding guitarist Bobby Ferry and the relatively recently-added rhythm section of bassist Barney Firks and drummer Dion Thurman did likewise. Their energy was infectious, and brought fitting symmetry to the crust with which Noothgrush had started my day.

That bookend in mind, I decided it was time to call it a night and headed back to the hotel, exhausted by grinning. Today is the Afterburner, which cuts the number of stage from five to three, and while it’s supposed to be the laid back finish to Roadburn similar to how the Hard Rock Hideout on Wednesday eased attendees into the festival mindset, I’ve got no real letup in terms of bands I want to see, from Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies honoring the fallen The Devil’s Blood guitarist to YOB again and Triptykon. Plus a fanzine to put together. Much to do this last day here. I better get to it.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 8: “Clearing the Path…”

Posted in Features on April 12th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.12.14 — 14:02 — Saturday afternoon — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

Seems like a groggy start this afternoon in Weirdo Canyon, things mostly quiet. I expect a lot of people hit it pretty hard yesterday, and as the final day of Roadburn 2014 that has all five stages going, looking at the schedule of what’s coming up, I can’t even argue with wanting to sleep late. Me, I’ve been up since 07:30. Rolled over and the tiny engine that runs my likewise tiny brain started put-putting and before I knew it, I was conscious. That’s about three hours of sleep. Whoops.

I won’t lie and say it was a pretty process, but we got the third issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch done well in time. Shaman Lee hadn’t slept much more than I had, but Paul Robertson’s review and Paul Verhagen’s once again stunning photos came in early and that helped. The PDF is here, which obviously I recommend checking out whether you’re in Tilburg or not. It’s been absurdly satisfying putting this together as both a passion project and a print publication. Since it’s not something I’ll be able to do for work anymore, as I did until a couple weeks ago, and as I’ve been kind of leaning on the preparations for this ‘zine in the wake of that, I will miss it when it wraps up tomorrow even more than I thought I would. These have been good mornings and have made the festival all the more special for me. Again, I’m lucky.

The rush was on double this morning as well because there was a listening session for YOB’s new album, which according to Neurot postcard flyers strewn about the festival is called Clearing the Path to Ascend. It was played through a P.A. — not quite the same as popping in the headphones and closing your eyes — so I won’t say much about it other than I damn near wept. Even hearing the last song playing back in my head now has me choked up. Fucking beautiful.

YOB plays later before Old Man Gloom and Loop on the Main Stage, doing The Great Cessation in full. That’s something I doubt very much I’ll regret watching.

I’m sore, I’m tired, and I miss my wife, but being here I wouldn’t trade for the world. I had resigned myself to missing Roadburn this year and was even sadder than I want to say at the thought. It’s been a rough couple months and I feel like this is the only way to get my head back to where it needs to be, back to what it is that matters to me and to what makes me feel human and alive. I don’t know if that makes any sense and I’m not sure I care if it does or not. Just so, so glad to be where I am right now.

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Roadburn 2014 Day Two: “Death Means Just Life”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.12.14 — 01:04 — Friday night/Saturday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

I must be doing a piss-poor job of not looking beat to hell, because several people asked me throughout the course of the afternoon and night how much I’d slept. Just enough, in combination with coffee, to stay standing. I wasn’t so clever with my answer at the time.

Today’s pacing was completely different from yesterday. When you’re here, you tend to be your own curator — I’m going to see this at the expense of that, I want to catch this band, so I will be here at this time. People pull their schedules out constantly, myself included. It’s important to stay on top of this stuff. Minutes matter at Roadburn.

For me, it was slower. At one point in the evening, I had to sort of stop and remind myself that I didn’t have to rush off somewhere, I could stay put and watch a little longer. That was the case right from the start with French classic prog tale-tellers Magma, who opened Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth‘s curated day on the Main Stage. The early portion of the Main Stage bill — three out of the total five bands, all playing at least 70 minutes, and in the case of MagmaClaudio Simonetti’s Goblin and Opeth themselves, a full 90 — was heavy on prog. That had me at something of a disadvantage when it came to giving acts like Magma, Comus and Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin their due reverence, but I made the most of exposing my brain to things it hasn’t encountered 30 times already and saw some acts on other stages as well. There’s always someplace to be if you want to be there. Or you can go to the bar.

Magma‘s tales of future space in made up language set the bar pretty high for texture. Later on, Goblin would inject a little funk and some heavier rock into what they were doing, but with Magma, it was more about expansive and psychedelic jazz, though thinking of their set in the context of Mikael Åkerfeldt picking the lineup, it was easy to see why they were there — Opeth had clearly taken some of their influence. Likewise that for Comus and Goblin. In the Green Room, where I hadn’t been yet, Lenny Kaye and Harsh Toke were getting ready to jam, and I don’t know what it was, but something told me I wanted to be there.

A fellow Jersey boy, Rutgers grad and former publisher of a ‘zine called Obelisk — if only I could play guitar — Lenny Kaye is probably best known for playing in the Patti Smith Group, but he’s here as well celebrating the Nuggets compilation he put together in 1972 that featured the likes of Nazz, 13th Floor Elevators, The Electric Prunes, etc. Paired with San Diego’s Harsh Toke, who are newcomers to the Tee Pee Records roster, Kaye fronted one of the best live heavy psych jams I’ve ever seen. No bullshit. With a steady refrain of “Harsh Toke makes good smoke” from Kaye on mic and improvised-seeming lyrics amid a terrifyingly immersive swirl from his guitar and the two in Harsh Toke – all the while, bass and drums holding down a battery of killer grooves — it had every dynamic you could possibly ask of a close-your-eyes-and-nod jam. I spent the rest of the day telling people how incredible it was and getting blank stares, no doubt because Lenny Kaye & Harsh Toke were on in the Green Room at the same time The Body were on at Het Patronaat, but wow. I had planned to be there for a few minutes and didn’t leave until they were done, an extended cover of Them‘s 1964 hit, “Gloria,” which Kaye referred to as the “national anthem of garage rock.” They jammed on that too.

I had to laugh when, as he introduced the band, Kaye stopped to ask the bassist and drummer of Harsh Toke their names, but however familiar they may or may not have been, I felt like I was seeing something special. They ended a little early, so I got back to the Main Stage in time for the start of Comus, who also played Roadburn back in 2010 at the since-closed Midi Theatre around the block from the 013. They were today largely as I remembered them from then: Mostly seated and playing their cult forest prog, cuts like “Song to Comus” from 1971′s First Utterance once again showcasing an inspiration point for Åkerfeldt. I bought that Comus record four years ago and have listened to it since, but still would hardly call myself an expert, and they had a good crowd going until it was time to head over to Het Patronaat for a second set from Corrections House after yesterday’s. I’d hear about it later, but they brought out YOB guitarist/vocalist Mike Scheidt, who’s been spotted here and there around the fest ahead of YOB‘s two sets tomorrow and Sunday. If you want to make a supergroup more super, that’s a good way to do it.

The day I almost consider split in half, and the 90-minute set from Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin was the dividing point. People were so tight in the Main Stage room you couldn’t get in the door. Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin isn’t to be mistaken for the Goblin that toured in the US — the keyboardist has taken on members of his more metallized outfit Daemonia and made his own version of Goblin from them, while the classic Italian cine-proggers continue on in his absence. It’s confusing until you think of how often it happens. Then it’s just silly. Either way, Simonetti led his band through renditions of the themes to Zombi and Dawn of the Dead in addition to their eponymous song, all the while the audience nodded along. It was maybe a bit much at an hour and a half, but I may have been the only one who thought so. The dancing dude next to me was definitely on board, as most in attendance seemed to be, the Daemonia players injecting a bit of funk and hard rock into Goblin‘s classic scores.

Here’s where I had my moment when I decided to both have and eat my cake. Germany’s Sula Bassana were slated to go on at 21:40 at Het Patronaat. Simple enough. Candlemass were going on at 21:45. It was a very small window between the start of the two sets but I managed to squeeze my ass through it and caught the start of both. Obviously I saw more of Candlemass than Sula Bassana — which actually seemed to be Electric Moon plus another guitarist alongside Dave “Sula Bassana” Schmidt, bassist Komet Lulu and drummer Marcus Schnitzler, but I considered it an achievement all the same. Schmidt got on mic to say it was their first time playing as a full band and then was off to his synths and guitar to lead his outfit through expansive psych jams. I wasn’t there long, but I was glad to have been there at all.

And while I don’t know if anything will ever top seeing Candlemass perform 1986′s Epicus Doomicus Metallicus at Roadburn 2011 with original vocalist Johan Längqvist singing — a set that’s since been released on oh-if-I-had-the-money vinyl — the band sounded awfully vibrant for a group who’s been threatening retirement for the last half-decade. In addition to having Per Wiberg on keys – Wiberg also played the Afterburner last year with Spiritual Beggars and is a former member of Opeth – as they ran through the whole of 1988′s Ancient Dreams, the Swedish doom legends also brought out Primordial/Dread Sovereign frontman Alan “Nemtheanga” Averill to add his flair and stage presence to “Incarnation of Evil.” It seemed an odd fit for his triumph-prone vocal style, but completely worked, and for the rest of their set, Candlemass had Mats Levén of Therion on vocals, who’s also worked with Candlemass founder/bassist Leif Edling in Krux and Abstrakt Algebra. Levén also did well with the parts that once belonged to Messiah Marcolin, though it was Edling himself, wine glass in hand, who took center stage to deliver the album-closing “Epistle No. 81,” a spoken poem in Swedish that came through the 013 Main Stage P.A. to the rhythm of claps from the audience. Very cool moment.

For an encore, they broke out “Bewitched” — some clever band is going to come along and cover both the track and its accompanying video, which if you’ve never seen it is one of the finest ever produced by humanity — and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus opener “Solitude,” which was enough to send a chill up my spine. I fucking love that song, and Levén nailed it, though he like every vocalist I’ve seen with Candlemass, including Längqvist who originally recorded it, stepped back from the high notes in the chorus on the album version. When they were done, it was just a matter of waiting the 45-minute break for Opeth, which I tried to do by watching some of Papir in Stage01 through the doorway. My thinking was the room would be full so at least I’d be able to hear it and see some of the stage, but the fact was that when I got there, the doorway was full too. No place to stand even outside the room. Some you win, some you lose.

It would’ve been nice to stay and see Opeth round out their set with “Deliverance” and “Blackwater Park,” but even before they went on, I was getting that get-back-to-the-hotel-and-get-typing itch, so I stuck around for “The Devil’s Orchard” from 2011′s Heritage, “Ghost of Perdition” from 2005′s Ghost Reveries – which Åkerfeldt, with his expected stage-banter charm, referred to as “an old nugget”; something Lenny Kaye had said about “Gloria” earlier in the day — and the start of “White Cluster,” the closer of 1999′s Still Life, before making my way out. It’s been more than a few years since the last time I saw Opeth, but it was already after midnight and I knew what I had ahead of me.

Tomorrow closes out the fest proper with the first of YOB‘s two sets and Loop‘s headlining slot on the Main Stage, so with morning work on the next issue of the fanzine ahead, I’ll just say thanks for reading and there are more pics after the jump if you’re interested.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 6: “Spirit of the Staircase”

Posted in Features on April 11th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.11.14 — 12:13 — Friday afternoon — 013 venue, Tilburg

A bit of a later start this morning for fanzine work. I didn’t mind sleeping the extra hour after all of yesterday’s running around and I’m sure I’ll mind it even less tomorrow. I had zero eyes for copy editing but did the best I could with it. “It’s a fanzine” has become a sort of go-to line for not being too nitpicky. If something’s screwed up, well, that’s only more authentic.

The issues are coming out of the printer now, and downstairs in the venue, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin have been soundchecking, the place sort of generally buzzing with activity, voices from the street below of bands loading in merch and gear, a hum of cyclical bass coming up through the concrete floor.

If you want to check out the PDF of the second issue, it’s available here. I’m honored to be outclassed by Kim Kelly’s review and Paul Verhagen’s photography.

Speaking of Paul, whose face was well familiar from the last couple years when I was introduced yesterday, he’s got photos displayed outside as well as in the venue itself. There are shots billboard-size on the outer wall of the parking deck next door to the 013, and that and the Roadburn banners around town only underscore the support this fest gets from the city of Tilburg. Particularly coming from the States, where something like this would struggle every step of the way and have to fight to even get a permit to exist, it’s amazing to see that. Was talking to a fellow East Coaster yesterday (look at me, not dropping names) who concurred: the culture just doesn’t exist for it there. You might be able to get away with it in San Francisco or something like that, but then everyone’s car will get busted into — say hello to my new stereotype about San Francisco; everybody gets robbed — and that’s no good either.

There’s a networking meeting over at the Cul de Sac going on now that I should probably be at, should’ve probably been at last year, but things ran behind compared to yesterday, so we’ll see if I get there before it’s done. Yesterday before the show proper started I ran back to the hotel. Didn’t quite get to sleep but at least laid down for a while and I think that made a difference. Not sure how the timing will work today, but you have to take your rest when you can when you’re here because there’s so much to see. No shortage today, certainly. A lot I’ve never encountered before, so all the better.

Exhausted but feeling good. It’s warm in Tilburg and the trees are green. You always forget the difference something like that can make.

 

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Roadburn 2014 Day One: “So Much Still Lingers…”

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.11.14 — 00:08 — Thursday night/Friday morning — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

This afternoon and this morning both seem like a really, really long time ago. I got asked a few times today when I got into town and I couldn’t seem to remember. 2009 maybe? Breakfast was two double-double espressos. Dinner was a protein bar and two bottles of water, some ibuprofen. No time for anything else. It’s Roadburn. There are places to be.

After much vigorous folding of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch issues — I was handed one when I walked into the venue this afternoon, which was a cool feeling — I went downstairs from the 013 office to check out Sourvein‘s soundcheck and found their “Dirty South” had gotten a little northern flair thanks to the addition of Halfway to Gone‘s Lou Gorra on bass. When they were done, I went up to Stage01 to watch Hull get their sounds and was treated to a preview of “Fire Vein,” about which I had no complaints. They’d be my first two bands of the day, in that order, so it was like I was getting ahead of myself. Which is fitting for how completely out of time the entire day seemed.

If I’m not mistaken, and I’m pretty sure I’m not, Sourvein is a completely different lineup, Gorra included, than played here in 2011. The one constant, of course, is vocalist T-Roy Medlin. To his credit, no matter who he seems to bring aboard in the band — people come, people go — it always sounds like Sourvein. You’d think after a while a polka player would slip in unnoticed or something, but their Southern sludge has seen no diminishing of its aggressive potency over the years. One imagines if that happened, whoever was responsible wouldn’t be in the band long. They grooved angry and gave the fest a wake up call from which it didn’t look back.

Knowing that Hull were playing Stage01, I made sure to get there early, as in by like half an hour. Say what you want for the practicality, the same thing did me no good later on trying to get up front for Conan at Het Patronaat. Sometimes you need to show up and wait if you want a place up front. Pretty much every time, actually. I was hoping for some new stuff from Hull – who are on tour in Europe with Boston’s Elder, also Roadburn veterans — but cuts from 2011′s Beyond the Lightless Sky (review here) like “False Priest” and “Earth from Water” were hardly time wasted, and both the old-made-new-again “Legend of the Swamp Goat” and “Architect” from 2009′s Sole Lord were right on, as was the extended closer, “Viking Funeral,” which shook the floor with volume that seemed ready for it to be later in the day than it was.

I didn’t hear the Beastmilk album, but I certainly heard a lot about the Beastmilk album, so I thought I’d check out their set, what with Hexvessel‘s Mat McNerney fronting the band. McNerney brought a good deal of Joy Division-style drama to songs like “Void Mother” and “You are Now Under Your Control,” and the music behind him was probably what someone will step up and call neo-goth in a few years if they haven’t yet, mining the moodiness of late ’80s dark rock and presenting it in a we-could-be-playing-black-metal-if-we-wanted-to context. Fair enough, but with Samothrace going on at Het Patronaat across the street, I wasn’t sticking around all that long.

Merch is outside this year, which is different from at least the previous five Roadburns. I stopped myself at a copy of the second Rotor CD and Monster Magnet‘s Love Monster. I didn’t buy the gatefold version of Colour Haze‘s All, or any of this year’s Roadburn exclusives. It was the first money I’ve spent since I got to Europe, and it was 22 of the 70 euro I had in my wallet left over from the 2013 fest. My unemployed ass was as sparing as it could be en route to Het Patronaat.

For Samothrace, I wound up standing in front of one of the house P.A. stacks near the side of the stage, and needless to say, I didn’t stay there long, as the throb of Joe Axler‘s kick drum felt like the pedal was hooked up to my rib cage. I had been looking forward to seeing them, since 2012′s Reverence to Stone was so killer and I missed them on their East Coast tour supporting it, and they justified my anticipation, both in tonal weight and atmosphere, the latter which it’s easy to overlook in their sound because the rest of the time they’re so damn heavy, but which ultimately made both the record and their set stand out from the rest of the day, guitarists Renata Castagna and Brian Spinks taking time to space out in a way that presaged some of what I’d catch later with Mühr at the Cul de Sac, Spinks furthering the dynamic with assorted screams and growls. Was glad to finally see them play and witness their shifts between tumbling lurch and excruciating crawls for myself. It seemed overdue. And oh yeah, then Napalm Death played.

More than several years have passed since the last time I caught a Napalm Death show, and while Roadburn 2014 seems an odd fit for the British grindcore progenitors — vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway, guitarist Mitch Harris, bassist Shane Embury and drummer Danny Herrera – they tailored their set to the occasion, culling some of their more experimental, less blastbeaten, Swans-y material into something unique for the Main Stage crowd. It must be nice to be in a band for more than 30 years and still have the drive to change things up, and seeing them do so only furthered my opinion that they should tour in art galleries exclusively. Five or six bands formed and started writing songs while Napalm Death were still on stage — that’s how influential they are. They’ll never have the same kind of reputation for experimental rock as for grind, but their lead-in for Corrections House wound up as one of the smoothest transitions of the day, both bands having industrial elements at work.

In the case of Corrections House, those come courtesy of beats delivered via laptop from Sanford Parker, who took the stage first as he did when I saw them in Brooklyn early in 2013 (review here). Whether it’s Parker, who was in Buried at Sea, Yakuza‘s Bruce Lamont, Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Eyehategod vocalist Mike IX Williams, it’s hard separating the members of Corrections House from what they’ve brought to and done in their other bands, though Lamont‘s sax, played to lower end to cover where a bass might otherwise be, definitely had an appeal distinct from that in his main outfit. Their debut album, Last City Zero, came out last year and I didn’t give it enough time. Watching them play was my punishment for not knowing the songs better than I did, and I’d have stayed longer, but Philly’s Nothing were just finished at Het Patronaat and I wasn’t about to miss the start of Conan.

Seemed to me that 25 minutes before their set started would be plenty of time to get front and center. It was not. Not only were there people already up front when I got there, but they were already shouting requests at the UK trio, whose 2014 outing, Blood Eagle (review here), I consider one of the year’s best records, and who had a new bassist in the form of Chris Fielding, known perhaps best as the recording engineer who’s done their studio stuff and worked with Electric Wizard, Undersmile, and many others in the UK’s fertile scene. That was something of a surprise, as I hadn’t known he joined the band with Jon Paul Davis (guitar/vocals) and Paul O’Neil (drums), but he fit in well with the destructive path beaten out by “Crown of Talons,” which made for an ultra-doomed opening statement.

Conan were one of my gotta-see bands for the day, and their set at Het Patronaat with the line of people waiting to get in running most of the way back to the door from the 013 only emphasized how far they’ve come in the two years since they played Stage01 at Roadburn 2012. One expects utter dominance from them and they did not disappoint. Still, they were one of my gotta-see bands, and the other happened to be Amsterdam space-doomers Mühr, whose slot overlapped at Cul de Sac. They were not the highest-profile act on the bill, but I only watched one complete set today, and it was Mühr doing “Messiah” from their 2013 single-song full-length of the same name (review here). With ambience heavier than many bands at their most crushing, seeing Mühr, which seemed unlikely from the start, was a highlight of what was by then a long stretch.

You could almost call what they do post-metal, but for the fact that where a lot post-metal comes across as claustrophobic, Mühr make efforts to sound as expansive as possible. Their psychedelic, cosmic droning was rich in tone and righteously loud, vocals sparse, but a presence, the whole five-piece lit mostly by candles set up in front and to the sides of the stage. It was something I’d probably only ever see at Roadburn, and when they were done and left the stage one at a time after an extended wash of feedback and effects noise, they came back out to take a well-earned bow before still-cheering crowd. I was so into it it was silly, and I know already that the ability to say I saw Mühr live is among the things I’ll be most grateful to carry with me in a few days when I leave Tilburg.

There were so many bands I missed today. There always are. You can’t see everything. I got back to the Main Stage in time to catch Crowbar doing “All I Had I Gave,” “Planets Collide” and “The Cemetery Angels” and had every intent of sticking around to see Freedom Hawk close out in the Green Room, but the weight of needing to write and the thought of getting up for more Weirdo Canyon Dispatch work in the morning got the better of me. Not the first time that’s ever happened, at least as regards the former.

Tomorrow is Mikael Åkerfeldt‘s curated day. Only Day Two which feels odd for how immediately immersed in the vibe of Roadburn I and seemingly everybody else was by when afternoon became evening. If you told me we’d been here two or three days already, I’d believe it, but maybe lack of sleep is a factor there as well. All the more reason to nod.

More pics after the jump. Thanks for reading.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 4: The Weirdo Canyon Dispatch

Posted in Features on April 10th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.10.14 — 12:33 — Thursday afternoon — 013 venue, Tilburg

Downstairs someone is soundchecking. Can hear the noise coming up through the floor of the office here, where since this morning Lee Edwards of The Sleeping Shaman and I have been working to finalize the first issue of Roadburn 2014′s daily fanzine, which we’re calling the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch. It’s the first time the fest has done something like this, and for me, it’s a completely different side of the Roadburn experience, seeing the team at work behind the scenes and, in a small way, becoming a part of it.

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been working with a team of writers, including Lee and others for whose work I carry a tremendous respect, on putting together issues for each day of the festival. There’s a print run of 1,000 for each day, and up until about five minutes ago, Lee and I sat across from each other at a table here in this swanky office and folded them. We’re not the only ones working on doing so either, but it looks like they’re finished well in time to be distributed when doors open. I’m incredibly lucky to be here and to be involved. It’s been a hard secret to keep in the run-up to Roadburn.

If you’d like to check out the first issue, the PDF is here.

I’m hugely appreciative of the opportunity this has been, of getting to collaborate directly with Lee and Walter and everyone else involved, and of getting to come here and do this thing. I’ll be posting the issues over the next couple days as well, so please if you’re interested, keep an eye out for them. We’ve all tried to put together something unique and in the spirit of Roadburn. Print media will always have a special place in my heart, and this is a special project. Well worth getting up early to finish.

Roadburn kicks off in about three hours’ time, and there’s still plenty to do between now and then. There’s an anxiousness in the air and I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait for the festivities to start. More to come.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 3: Hard Rock Hideout at Cul de Sac

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.09.14 — 23:25 — Wednesday night — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg

The Cul de Sac filled up nicely for the annual Roadburn pre-party, the Hard Rock Hideout — a sort of easing of the consciousness into the ooze it will become over the next few days. It was held at the same spot in Weirdo Canyon last year, the alley of bars and restaurants adjacent to the 013 has long held “Roadburn specials” and 2014 is no exception, though if I’m not mistaken, the Cul de Sac is the first joint there actually to host bands as part of the fest. Doubt it will be the last. In any case, it was two acts tonight: Amsterdam proto-metallers Death Alley and Belgian ’80s thrashers Evil Invaders. They made for a quick evening both in overall time spent at the venue and in their own pacing.

It was my first Hard Rock Hideout. In years past I’ve either gotten to Tilburg too late, stayed in Eindhoven or collapsed in a heap at the hotel on the pre-Roadburn Wednesday. Did that today too. I set the alarm so I could sleep for about two hours and then got up, showered the layer of travel stink off — this room, somewhat tragically, already smells like “dude” — and headed back out. I was early for the start of the show, but it could’ve been worse. I really didn’t want to miss Death Alley, and once they got going, they made it worth my while.

Here’s how it went:

Death Alley

Able to leap from thrash to boogie in a single bound, I know Death Alley are a relatively new outfit — their debut Over Under b/w Dead Man’s Bones 7″ (review here) is a recent advent — but they were among the bands I was most looking forward to at Roadburn. Even putting aside the stylistic potential they showed in that single, both songs from which were aired, “Dead Man’s Bones” providing an anchor later into the set following the long build of “Supernatural Predator” and unmitigated shuffle of “Hypermotion,” I thought they’d be fun to watch on stage. They were, and the varied of their sound, including the elements of psychedelia that only just began to show up in the single, came through live, making for a subtly diverse but fluid, energetic run marked by exemplary guitar leads, inventive basslines, snotty punker vocals that had more to offer than just that and chaotic drumming that held it all together. I’m not sure what Death Alley are doing to follow-up the 7″, but whatever it is, I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Evil Invaders

Oh, rethrash. Your silly hair, your hightops (also chained boots), your bulletbelts, headbanging Hammett/Hetfield hair speeding along at who knows how many kilometers an hour. Were they evil? Yes they were. How rotten were they? They were rotten to the core. I’d ask what bonded them — hint: it was blood, in which they also reigned — but I think you get the idea. The Belgian four-piece Evil Invaders were built for speed and their execution left nothing wanting. I’ll make no bones about the fact that it wasn’t really my thing, but they had the right balance of technical prowess and raw drive that makes the best thrash so vital. To call it unoriginal would be missing the point. Evil Invaders came out in full attack mode, ripping through cuts like “Alcoholic Maniac” and the instrumental “Speed Invasion” from last year’s self-titled debut EP, and the crowd — packed in by then — got way into it. Nobody threw beer by the time I left the front of the stage, which was fortunate, but it was easy to imagine that maybe in a different context Evil Invaders would have the circle pit going.

A riotous start for Roadburn 2014. Tomorrow picks up bright and early and it’s only going to get crazier from there. More to come, of course, and more pics after the jump.

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Roadburn 2014, Pt. 2: “Descend to the Place…”

Posted in Features on April 9th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

04.08.14 — 16:11 — Wednesday — Hotel Mercure, Tilburg, the Netherlands

If and when human beings ever decide it’s time to colonize the moon, we should probably send the Icelanders first, since judging by what I saw of the landscape flying into Reykjavik this morning, they can hang with the inhospitable. All of Icelandair’s planes are named after volcanoes. I wasn’t on Eyjafjallajökull — that villainous volcano that erupted in 2010 causing such chaos at Roadburn and elsewhere — but I saw it at the terminal when I switched flights. I was on Eldborg, which I immediately decided was the name of my new black metal band that doesn’t actually exist. Switched flights but not planes between Boston-to-Reykjavik and Reykjavik-to-Amsterdam. When I got back to seat 17C, it still had my rather considerable ass impression on it.

The flight delays were because of a workers’ strike. Whatever they want, I’m for it. Give it to them. Quickly. Please by Monday.

It felt so, so, so good to get off the plane in Amsterdam. The flight from Iceland was only about two and a half hours, but it was a painful lot of half-dozing, being bumped into by flight attendants — hazards of the aisle — and dealing with the dude next to me who went fascist on the armrests. The first flight, once I got on the plane, was much easier. Still, no real sleep on either and thus no real sleep at all. At the airport, I followed the handy map I was given to get to where a car was coming to pick me up — I carpooled with Arik Roper, whom it was cool to finally meet after admiring his work for so long — we were both very tired — and when we got dropped off, it was at the 013 backstage entrance. A couple quick hellos, my face soon to be edited out of a documentary being filmed about Walter, and then I got to the point where I felt like I was going to fall asleep standing up, so I said I was going to check in at the hotel.

That whole no sleep thing puts me in a bit of a pickle heading into the official pre-Roadburn show tonight, the Hard Rock Hideout at the Cul de Sac. I’ll try to crash out now — shouldn’t be a problem — and set my alarm in time to get up and shower and head over to the venue, which is right in Weirdo Canyon. Don’t want to miss Death Alley after digging their single. No real time to eat, but screw it. Roadburn comes but once a year. I’m so glad to be back.

 

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Walter Hoeijmakers of Roadburn Festival

Posted in Questionnaire on February 25th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

While of course there’s an entire staff at work on just the festival — let alone that of the 013 venue where it’s held each April in Tilburg, the Netherlands — as the founder and driving creative force behind it, Walter Hoeijmakers is synonymous with Roadburn to the point of it having supplanted his surname. More often you’ll hear about or from Walter Roadburn, and for the last 15 years, he’s provided good reason. It’s hard to quantify the influence Roadburn has had within Europe’s heavy underground and beyond it, but with a slew of fests cropped up in its wake and with the brevity of ticket availability each year, Roadburn holds a special place for many who’ve been fortunate enough to be there to witness it, myself included. The last few years have seen Walter push the festival beyond its stoner and heavy rock roots, incorporating dark cultish rock, black metal, psychedelia, doom and a wide pastiche of yet to be defined creative works, and with Loop headlining and Opeth‘s Mikael Åkerfeldt curating, Roadburn 2014 is the most out-there yet.

On a personal note, I’ll add that aside from being someone whose work and passion I deeply admire, Walter Hoeijmakers is also one of the warmest, most sincere people I’ve had the pleasure to meet in music. He, and his festival, are one of a kind. Roadburn 2014 is set for April 10-13 at the 013 in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Walter Hoeijmakers

How did you come to do what you do?

I’m heavily into music, mainly hard rock and metal, but also psychedelica, blues rock, and late ‘60s and early ‘70s rock and heavy psych for over 33 years now.

It all started when I was around 15 years old. Back then, I frequently started to visit the local youth centre in my home town, and one day I was asked to catalogue the entire music collection. We’re talking about approximately 2,000 albums here from the mid ‘60s ’til the early ‘80s. There and then, I got exposed to a whole new world that would change me forever. Music became my main passion, and inspiration for life.

This youth centre also organized shows, and a couple of years later, they let me start booking hard rock and metal shows, and I managed to get the likes of Destruction, Sodom, Angel Witch, Onslaught, Sepultura, Tokyo Blade, Laaz Rockit,  Nocturnus and Bolt Thrower, among others.

When I moved to another city, the first thing I did was joining another metal-inspired youth centre and kept organizing metal shows, and mainly coaching the volunteers. See, I became a seasoned social worker along, and was aiming to carve a career in helping out kids getting back on track or coaching volunteers. Later on, I specialized in helping out elderly Alzheimer patients and their families.

Meanwhile, I was an avid music aficionado, and collector as well, and due to a twist of fate (and a serious nervous breakdown in the end), I became a professional music journalist, and started to write about stoner rock and psychedelica around the time that Kyuss’ Blues for the Red Sun and Monster Magnet’s Spine of God came out. I was heavily drawn to this scene, and started to write about all these exciting, young stoner and heavy psych bands, and compiled one of the very first stoner rock compilations, called Stoned Revolution: The Ultimate Trip.

The magazine I was working for sadly called it a day in 1998 and then one of my best friends, Peter, came to the rescue. He developed the Roadburn website, so I could continue to publish my writings and report about the stoner scene. Roadburn’s Jurgen joined me in this quest as he was writing for the same magazine.

Around then I also started to work at a corporate record store, and what should have been a lot of fun turned out to be the biggest nightmare in my life. I suffered a severe burn out. Luckily, Roadburn kept me going, and has been a lifeline ever since. Roadburn’s the embodiment of who I am as a person. It’s my heart and soul.

Describe your first musical memory.

My parents and my kid sister loved classical music a lot, and this was the only music around the house. It drove me literally crazy – to this day, I still don’t listen to classical music at all. It simply doesn’t appeal to me. However, I admire these musicians, as I know how difficult it is to master their instruments.

When I was around eight years old, I got a small radio from my grandma, and I remember listening to foreign radio stations. I was heavily drawn to ‘60s music, and rock — think Golden Earring and the likes.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have seen so many bands and legendary shows in the past 33 years, it’s insane. I met a couple of lifelong friends at shows, and those are my best memories, of course, as friendship is one of the best things in life.

I was bullied a bit at high school, but that all changed when I saw a Thin Lizzy cover band at the aforementioned youth centre. I was just walking past, and heard these amazing guitars, so I decided to get in and see what was going on. The guy that bullied me a bit at school was at this as well. He was so surprised to see me there, we became lifelong friends.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

Working at a corporate record store almost brought me to my knees, as it wasn’t about music, only about shifting units and maximizing profit. For me, music is all about heart and soul. I burned out and quit this job in the end to keep my sanity, however it took me a couple of years to recover. There are certain moments we need to make difficult decisions for Roadburn, as the festival needs to stay healthy business-wise. I find that very difficult, but in the end, I make sure that I’m still thriving on the social aspects of the festival. That’s my main goal.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

Artistic progression leads to creativity, to beautiful books, movies, music, paintings, poems — food for thought! It will also lead you to fulfill your dreams. Dare to be different, dare to follow your own artistic path, push yourself artistically, as it will bring you so much more than financial gain.

How do you define success?

For me, success is staying true to yourself. Plain and simple.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I have seen way too many people doing the wrong kinds of drugs, and people wasting their artistic progression or opportunities, because all they wanted to do was get high and blame others for their misery. It’s such a shame. I also have seen much sadness and pain while helping out Alzheimer patients and their families. On the other hand, it shaped me as the person I am today, and shaped my own beliefs.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

I could do a standup comedy routine about all that I have seen in the music business, or even write a book about all the shenanigans I have witnessed. Maybe it’s time to get started. As I said, push yourself artistically, and make friends, and enemies along the way.

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

I hope my mother-in-law will recover from her major surgery. Luckily the cancer has gone. She still has a long way to go, though.

7Zuma7, “Blue T.S.” from Stoned Revolution: The Ultimate Trip (1998)

Walter Roadburn on Thee Facebooks

Roadburn Festival

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Goatess Join Roadburn 2014 Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The 2013 self-titled debut (review here) from Swedish stoner doomers Goatess — who are fronted by the considerable riff-riding pipes of Chritus Linderson (Lord Vicar, ex-Saint Vitus, ex-Count Raven) — left little room for argument, and while it’s a bummer that Berlin outfit The Oath won’t be able to make it out to Roadburn 2014, Goatess make a more than substantial replacement in the lineup. No clue on when on the opening day of the festival they’ll be playing or which stage in 013 they’ll grace, but cool that they’re involved either way. The countdown to April continues.

Announcement comes courtesy of the Roadburn website:

Goatess To Replace The Oath at Roadburn Festival 2014

We at Roadburn are very sorry to announce that The Oath have sadly had to cancel their appearance at Roadburn Festial 2014 due to personal circumstances. Hopefully, we’ll be able to welcome the band at Roadburn 2015.

Luckily, we’re able to report that Sweden’s Goatess will replace The Oath on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Featuring the vocal talents of one Christian ‘Chritus’ Linderson, formerly of Count Raven, Saint Vitus, Terra Firma, and currently of Lord Vicar, Goatess have taken a different tack and managed to take the previously almost-completely stripmined sound of Kyuss, circa Blues For The Red Sun, and make it sound fresh again!

Sure, there’s more than a tinge of Sabbath on Goatess‘ S/T album (released on the ever prolific Svart Records), but the band hews closer to the fuzzed-up tone of California’s favourite desert-fried sons than to the average bunch of Iommi-worshippers.

Goatess axeman Niklas knocks out a woozy-edged guitar that moves from psych-edged subtlety to great big fuck-off ballsy rifforama, with a sprinkling of eastern-sounding melody woven through, more-than-ably backed up by a bravura drum performance from skinsman Kenta and Findus‘ deeply impressive, fluid, nuanced bass, leaving Chritus to work his magic safe in the knowledge that the heavy lifting is well and truly taken care of.

Make sure to indulge yourself in Goatess‘ primordial, hypno fuzz at Roadburn Festival 2014.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the action HERE!

https://www.facebook.com/baldersounds
http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2014/tickets/

Goatess, “Alpha Omega” from Goatess (2013)

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Roadburn 2014: Harsh Toke, Horisont, Jackson Firebird, Evil Invaders, Yama and Atlantis Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 29th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

You know what they say: “Blink and you’ll miss a shit-ton of adds to the Roadburn lineup.” Okay, they don’t say that, but I do. I had already planned on putting up the sundry bands that joined Roadburn 2014′s impossibly-large roster yesterday, and then today they also put on Harsh Toke‘s first European appearance, and well, hard to say no to that. There’s a lot to dig through here, so I won’t delay.

Updates courtesy of the Roadburn website:

Harsh Toke To Light Up Roadburn Festival 2014

Skateboards, palm trees, psychedelic bands: these are enduring iconic symbols of California. Whether it’s pavement or guitars, the state has a rich and colorful history when it comes to shredding. Ready for the next chapter? Meet San Diego’s Harsh Toke!

Emerging from the same scene as Earthless, these four dudes share the mighty trio’s predilection for non-stop guitar-heavy psych rock awesomeness. They even have a professional skater in their ranks, too. Justin “Figgy” Figueroa’s searing guitar is alive with reverb and delay, climbing the wall of sound like some fast-growing new hallucinogenic strain of bougainvillea.

Meanwhile, Richie Belton’s grooving bass line dives into the rip current of Austin “Buya” Ayub’s smashing drums as Gabe Messer (“I’m on the space key,” he said by way of introduction in a video interview with Front magazine) sends one wave after another into the mix.

Tee Pee Records took notice and released the band’s invigorating debut full-length, Light Up and Live, which not only put Harsh Toke in excellent company label-wise but also earned them a spot on many Best Of 2013 lists. Recorded by Astra’s Brian Ellis and mastered by Carl Saff (Earthless, OFF!, Unsane), you might also recall that Light Up and Live was Roadburn’s Album of the Day on Friday, November 1st.

So far, US audiences have had a chance to trip out on some captivating Harsh Toke gigs. This year will be Europe’s turn. One of the enduring hallmarks of the Roadburn Festival is the incredible instrumental magic that happens on stage — Earthless in 2008 and Heavy Jam in 2012 are just two stellar examples. With that in mind, we are ultra stoked to offer Harsh Toke a residency to play their first-ever European shows exclusively at Roadburn Festival 2014 on Saturday, April 12th and Sunday, April 13th (the traditional Afterburner event) at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Traditionally, Roadburn audiences have shown a voracious appetite for high grade spaced out jams. Harsh Toke promises to deliver a cosmic buffet that will satisfy. Get ready to feast on some very tasty sounds!

Horisont To Return To Roadburn Festival 2014

Sweden’s Horisont will return to Roadburn after their highly acclaimed 2012 performance. This time, the band will be playing Cul de Sac, the friendly music cafe located across from the 013 venue, in Tilburg, The Netherlands on Saturday, April 12th. Since they were on tour with Scorpion Child, we eagerly tabbed them play the 2014 festival.

If you are an avid heavy 70s aficionado, or a lover of supreme hardrock, you will definitely dig Horisont. The band excels at crafting old school, bluesy hardrock, and on their latest album, Time Warrior, released on Rise Above Records, Horisont even incorporates heavy metal, while remorselessly going for the throat. The fact that the lyrics are sung in Swedish and English adds to band’s appeal.

Continue to stake their claim that Horisont may be the best new talent to emerge from the ever-fertile Swedish rock scene, the anticipation for their Roadburn appearance will be massive. Make sure to be there early, as Cul de Sac can only host 175 people.

Jackson Firebird To Deliver Rugged, Explosive, Full-Filt Aussie Rock ‘n Roll at Roadburn 2014

Aussie full-tilt garage rockers, Jackson Firebird, will bring their mightly wallop to Roadburn Festival 2014 on Saturday, April 12th at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Delivering their volatile live power to much acclaim Down Under, the duo of Dale Hudak and Brendan Harvey, will also leave Roadburn wild-eyed and breathless the moment their growling guitars, dirty riffs, and super tight beats kick you in the teeth.

The duo’s high octane debut album, Cock Rockin’, is one helluva wild ride — you want rock with no shame, stripped back, simple, dirty and in-your-face? Jackson Firebird has it in spades. Be forwarned, as Hudak and Harvey go straight at it!

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Evil Invaders To Kick Ass at Roadburn Festival’s Hardrock Hideout on Wednesday, April 9th

In addition to Death Alley‘s gnarly shake appeal we’ll crossover into the retro-thrash movement as well at Roadburn Festival‘s traditional Hardrock Hideout on Wednesday, April 9th at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Belgium’s Evil Invaders offer a speedy but melodic old school rip fest, forging 80-ish inspired (thrash)metal along the lines of Exciter, Exodus, Agent Steel, Mercyful Fate and WASP among others. It’s really impressive to see these kids galloping away, pedal to the metal, rockin’ their denim-clad asses and sounding like the real deal from the early eighties!

The relentless neck wreckers of Evil Invaders simply kick ass and should have you headbanging and air guitaring to bring you back to those fast rude speed ‘n’ roll heavy metal days!

Just do yourself a favor and thrash until you crash at Roadburn’s Hardrock Hideout. Doors open at 8pm and admission is FREE!

Roadburn Festival 2014 – Cul de Sac: Atlantis and Yama To Play On Saturday, April 12th

Next to the announcement of Ggu:ll, Mühr, Seirom and Ortega, we’re continuing to showcase Dutch bands that have their own vibe while at the same time possessing a certain Roadburn flair, by giving Utrecht‘s Atlantis and Tilburg‘s very own Yama, the opportunity to connect with the international Roadburn community on Saturday, April 12th at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

With three critically acclaimed albums, Carpe Omnium, Mistress Of Ghosts, and Omens, plus their intense live shows, Atlantis has become a respected name in the post-metal / rock scene.

Their latest release, Omens, is an intense, engaging, bleak, and heavy affair, which compelled us to let Atlantis return to Roadburn Festival, after performing at the 2012 Afterburner.

While all music is written by Gilson Heitinga, Atlantis live is a full blown band. By creating a deafening wall of sound with their mixture of noise, doom, ambient, industrial, electronica, and metal, Atlantis tears down the walls between these genres, leaving their audiences in a state of awe.

Named after the Tibetan God of Death, Yama built a reputation as a solid live band over the last couple of years, and played festivals like Yellowstock and Freak Valley. Currently working on their debut full-length, Yama deliver heavy, fuzzed out stoner rock, underpinned with massive grooves — think Goatsnake meets Graveyard with occasional High on Fire type riffs thrown in for good measure!

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue, Het Patronaat and Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the action HERE!

Harsh Toke, Live at Unit B Skate Park, Santa Ana, CA, Dec. 2012

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Roadburn 2014: Terra Tenebrosa, Grime and Mantar Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 24th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

The Roadburn 2014 lineup got dealt a considerable blow yesterday when it was announced that The Heads wouldn’t be taking part as planned. KENmode also bowed out, but particularly as The Heads were to be the artists-in-residence, playing multiple sets including a collaboration with Carlton Melton at the Afterburner the Sunday after the fest proper, they leave a sizable hole in their wake. It’s a bummer, since along with fest-headliners Loop, The Heads were typifying so much of Roadburn 2014′s psychedelic vibe, but already the search for a replacement has begun, and in the meantime, Mantar, Terra Tenebrosa and Grime have joined the bill.

Announcements follow, courtesy of the fest website:

The Mysterious Terra Tenebrosa To Devastate Roadburn 2014

Hot on the heels of our announcement that The Heads have had to step down from performing as Artists in Residence at Roadburn 2014, comes the announcement that mysterious avant-metallers Terra Tenebrosa will be stepping in to replace The Heads spin-off Kandodo.

Rising from the ashes of much-beloved post-hardcore outfit Breach, Stockholm’s Terra Tenebrosa have brought forth two albums of dark, brooding avant-garde hardcore-influenced metal, 2011?s debut The Tunnels and 2013?s The Purging, and we couldn’t be happier to have them onboard.

Terra Tenebrosa will be bringing the fear on Friday April 11th at Het Patronaat in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Mantar To Bring The Fire To Roadburn 2014!

You can’t keep a good festival down, and so no sooner have we announced the unfortunate cancellation of KEN Mode than we are overjoyed to be able to announce that the mighty Mantar will replace them!

The heavier-than-a-concrete-elephant gruesome twosome from Hamburg dropped their killer ‘White Nights’ seven-inch not so long ago and are about to let loose with their devastating debut full-length album Death By Burning through Svart Records in a few short weeks. We at Roadburn are super excited to be able to add them to the already stellar line-up for Roadburn 2014.

Mantar will play Roadburn 2014 on Thursday, April 10th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Grime To Crush Your Moral Compas at Roadburn Festival 2014

Roadburn is pleased to announce the addition of Italian sludge-meisters, Grime. The band channelled their utter despair, emptiness and aggression into one of the filthiest records of 2013, Deteriorate, a vile and repulsive outlook on humanity.

Roadburn will be playing host to Grime‘s negativity and hatred on Saturday 12th of April, at the Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands, when they bring their filth-laden journey into the ugliest recesses of your depraved mind to life.

Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Tickets for the traditional Afterburner event on Sunday, April 13th at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands are still available. Get in on the action HERE!

http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2014/

Terra Tenebrosa, The Purging (2013)

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Roadburn 2014: Mühr, Ortega, Death Alley and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 15th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster

What I like about these latest adds to the Roadburn 2014 lineup is that since the fest is long since sold out (though if I’m not mistaken there are still tickets for the Afterburner available), it’s not like they were booked because they’ll be a big draw. Basically the only reason you’re going to see acts like Ggu:ll, Mühr, Ortega, Death Alley and Seirom on the bill is because the festival digs them and thinks you should too. To me, that’s the whole spirit of what Roadburn is about, and that’s ultimately what makes it so special.

So as more acts pour on, where to stick them all? Oh, no worries, we’ll just add another venue. Now also featuring the Cul de Sac, in the heart of Weirdo Canyon in Tilburg, Roadburn has even more room to stretch out and show off some of the best the Dutch heavy underground has to offer.

Thanks to the fest as well for using one of my quotes about Mühr. If you haven’t heard their Messiah album (review here), you should. Here’s the news:

Cul de Sac: Ggu:ll, Mühr, Ortega & Seirom To Play On Thursday, April 10th!

During last year’s Roadburn Festival, we experimented with using Cul de Sac, a music café located across from the 013 venue, as a fifth stage to host everything from electrifying solo performances to bands in sheer rock overdrive. The experiment was a success! In fact, Cul de Sac proved to be such a great addition to Roadburn that we have designated the friendly café as an official location for the entire 2014 festival alongside the 013 venue, Het Patronaat and V39.

We will kick off Roadburn Festival 2014 with our traditional Hardrock Hideout at Cul de Sac on Wednesday, April 9th (more about that later). On Thursday, April 10th, the café will showcase the ever-fertile metal / sludge / psychedelic breeding grounds of The Netherlands, giving Ggu:ll, Mühr, Seirom and Ortega the opportunity to connect with the international Roadburn community.

Seirom (aka Mories from Aderlating and Gnaw Their Tongues) will start things off. Prepare to be drawn into an alternate dimension as dazzlingly light and wildly uplifting as Gnaw Their Tongues is dark and chilling.

Seirom’s latest, 1973, is a blissful and revitalizing trip. Released by Aurora Borealis, it would be at home on 4AD, too.

Tilburg‘s very own Ggu:ll are in the process of building a reputation as a solid live act, delivering aggressive yet melodic hypnotic doom, underpinned by crushing riffs and the anguished screams of William van der Voort.

Amsterdam-based tonal weightlifters Mühr subscribe to a cosmic doom esthetic that is both hypnotic and pummeling. On their latest album, Messiah, Mühr proves that there is more to a post-metallic scope than tonal largesse and longwinded execution, and the band “succeed in reshaping genre expectation in their own image,” according to JJ Koczan from The Obelisk.

Hailing from Groningen, Ortega is a sludge / doom band that is making quite a name for itself in the wake of three strong releases (1634, A Flame Never Rises on Its Own and The Serpent Stirs) and plenty of gigs, including no less than two UK tours in 2013 alone.

The combination of dark metal with progressive, psychedelic guitar leads, heavy riffs, and front man Richard Postma’s tortured howls makes the band an obvious choice for this year’s Roadburn Festival. If you love YOB, be sure to check out Ortega!

Hardrock Hideout with Death Alley! Wednesday, April 9th at Cul de Sac, Tilburg (NL)

In keeping with tradition to grab a brew and honor the gods of high energy, hard rockin’ action we will kick off Roadburn 2014 at Cul de Sac in Tilburg, The Netherlands, the festival’s official fourth location, with our traditional Hardrock Hideout on Wednesday, April 9th. Doors open at 8pm and admission is FREE!

Fresh from the filthy sewers and dark basements of Amsterdam, Death Alley deliver heavy punked-out proto-metal in spades. The band, revolving around former The Devil’s Blood guitarist Oeds Beydals and ex-members of Gewapend Beton and Mühr, mainline such influences as The MC5, Blue Cheer, Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead and Black Sabbath, defining good ‘ol, rock ‘n roll played with metal finesse and a pitch black psychedelic soul cherry on top.

Indeed, Death Alley‘s gnarly shake appeal combines ingenious but blistering guitar parts with the intensity of drumming that justifies the present-day existence of John Bonham’s Vista-Lite drum kit.

Death Alley‘s debut 7?, ‘Over Under / Dead Man’s Bones’, recorded on 8 track by Orange Sunshine‘s legendary Guy Tavares and released through Van Records, could easily be mistaken for a long lost gem from the late 60s / early 70s, hailed by collectors as the holy grail of underground rock from back in the day.

http://www.roadburn.com/roadburn-2014/
https://www.facebook.com/muhrband
https://www.facebook.com/ortegadoom
https://www.facebook.com/Seirom
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ggull/343468262357429
https://www.facebook.com/deathalleyband

Death Alley, “Over Under”

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