Posted in audiObelisk on August 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Sad as I was to miss Galley Beggar at Roadburn this year, I was just as thrilled to watch Black Moon Circle play later in the evening on Day Two (review here). The Norwegian outfit had made it to Tilburg supporting their third album, Sea of Clouds, and when the weekend was over, they’d be a highlight of the newest stage at the fest, making its first appearance as a part of Roadburn 2016, the Extase.
Actually, the Extase is a venue down the way from the 013 proper, which is still kind of home-base for Roadburn as the events tendrils spread outward into Tilburg. But it’s a small club. Reminds me of places in Manhattan and Brooklyn — it’s smaller than the Saint Vitus Bar, for example, especially in back where the bands are — and was suitably dark, but of course the shows there were top notch anyway. Black Moon Circle were joined onstage by Scott “Dr. Space” Heller, soon to be formerly of Øresund Space Collective, and his journeyman synth was a welcome addition to their already fervent swirl.
Their set is streaming in full below, as well as Galley Beggar‘s and full sets from Usnea, La Muerte, Dead to a Dying World, Inverloch and Kontinuum. Whether you were in the room when any of this was happening or not, please feel free to dig in and enjoy:
Black Moon Circle – Live at Roadburn 2016
Dead to a Dying World – Live at Roadburn 2016
Galley Beggar – Live at Roadburn 2016
Inverloch – Live at Roadburn 2016
Kontinuum – Live at Roadburn 2016
La Muerte – Live at Roadburn 2016
Usnea – Live at Roadburn 2016
Thanks as ever to Walter for letting me host the streams. To hear the first batch of Roadburn 2016 audio streams, click here, to hear the second one, click here, to hear the third one, click here, to hear the third one, click here, and for all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on August 8th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
I was fortunate enough to catch a few of these bands at Roadburn 2016, among them Hills, Blind Idiot God and Peter Pan Speedrock (seen above). As an American traveling abroad — though I’ll say that eight Roadburns deep, there’s a big part of me that feels like going to Tilburg in April is a homecoming as much as foreign travel — it was particularly thrilling to watch Dutch natives Peter Pan Speedrock round out my second night of the fest (review here), their boot-to-the-ass thrust seeming to be in direct contradiction to their stated intent to retire. From Sweden, Hills‘ jammy psychedelics were also thoroughly welcome and somewhat less performative than Goat, which is made up in some measure or other of the same players.
And what to say about Blind Idiot God? Performance art. I might liken it to the first time I saw Cynic after they got back together in that the New York trio were so utterly assured of what they were doing that they managed to carry the audience in the revamped Green Room along their bizarre, oddly-timed path. It was jazz with metallic arrangement, essentially, but the people in front of the stage to see it were rapt the entire time and the level of appreciation was palpable and well justified. They were nothing short of incredible.
Of course, the same could be said for Roadburn 2016 as a whole. “Incredible” is just kind of how it goes. This latest round of streams also featured Behold! the Monolith, Blood Ceremony, a solo set from CHVE of Amenra and Of the Wand and the Moon.
Behold! the Monolith – Live at Roadburn 2016
Blind Idiot God – Live at Roadburn 2016
Blood Ceremony – Live at Roadburn 2016
CHVE – VERMAPYRE – Live at Roadburn 2016
Hills – Live at Roadburn 2016
Of The Wand and The Moon – Live at Roadburn 2016
Peter Pan Speedrock – Live at Roadburn 2016
Thanks as ever to Walter for letting me host the streams. To hear the first batch of Roadburn 2016 audio streams, click here, to hear the second one, click here, to hear the third one, click here, and for all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 30th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
This invariably happens every year. I’ll grant that the audio streams from Roadburn 2016 seem especially quick in arriving — the last batch was only 10 days ago — but at some point every year there’s a round during which the majority of the bands are ones that I didn’t see. The catchphrase here is “Roadburn means hard choices.” You can’t be everywhere at once, and usually my agenda involves trying to focus on things I’ve never seen before and might not again. Fortunately there’s always plenty of that to go around.
Out of the seven bands included in this third batch of Roadburn 2016 streaming full sets, I only caught one band, and that was CHRCH. Frankly, if it was only going to be one, I’m glad it was them. The West Coast extreme doom powerhouse made their debut through Battleground Records in 2015 with Unanswered Hymns (review here) and received due praise for their efforts, and they were among my most gotta-see bands for this year’s fest, playing in the smallest venue, Extase, around the corner from the 013 proper. They packed that room out through the hallway and just about out the door and closed out my first night of Roadburn 2016 with resonant, swirling darkness that I’m glad to have the chance to revisit.
And of course, getting to hear some of what I missed elsewhere is always part of the fun of hosting these streams, so if you need me, I’ll be digging in. I hope you’ll enjoy doing the same.
Much audio follows:
Bliksem – Live at Roadburn 2016
Chaos Echoes – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Transient in its entirety)
CHRCH – Live at Roadburn 2016
Hell – Live at Roadburn 2016
Naðra – Live at Roadburn 2016
Daniel Payne – Live at Roadburn 2016
Yodok III – Live at Roadburn 2016
Gratitude as always to Walter for letting me host the streams. To hear the first batch of Roadburn 2016 audio streams, click here, to hear the second one, click here, and for all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 20th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
As always with these Roadburn streams, some of this stuff I got to see and some of it I didn’t. I’ve said many times and I stand by it: Roadburn means hard choices. Do I watch an American act make a triumphant European debut or go see a local Dutch band I’ll probably never have the chance to watch again. Once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime black metal or another psychedelic jam session? These are hard choices I’m fortunate to be making, and you certainly won’t find me complain about making them, but they’re hard choices all the same.
Roadburn 2016 had a few can’t-miss acts for me though, and two of them are represented here in this latest batch of audio streams in Buried at Sea and Hexvessel. The reasoning behind the former should be obvious to anyone who’s experienced their tonal (and total) doom onslaught either live or on record, and as for Hexvessel, I was curious to find out how they’d bring their new album to life while also doing justice to their last two, executed in a different style. As you can hear in the below, it wasn’t an issue.
I didn’t get to watch them, but I also heard that Beastmaker, Full of Hell and Iceland’s Misþyrming killed, and this round also features Epitaph, Hair of the Dog and Hangman’s Chair, all recorded and mixed by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team from Torture Garden Studio.
Beastmaker – Live at Roadburn 2016
Buried at Sea – Live at Roadburn 2016
Epitaph – Live at Roadburn 2016
Full of Hell – Live at Roadburn 2016
Hair of The Dog – Live at Roadburn 2016
Hangman’s Chair – Live at Roadburn 2016
Hexvessel – Live at Roadburn 2016
Misþyrming – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Söngvar elds og óreiðu in its entirety)
Special thanks as always to Walter for letting me host the streams. To hear the first batch of Roadburn 2016 audio streams, click here, and for all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 11th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Some good shit here. I was bummed to miss Atomikylä and Oranssi Pazuzu both at Roadburn 2016, but having caught the likes of Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, The Skull, Bang, Tau Cross and Repulsion, it’s not like you’re going to find me complaining. Even less so now, since though we’re not yet a month out from when the festival actually took place in its home of Tilburg, the Netherlands, the first round of the traditional audio streams have arrived. All of the above mentioned are included, as well as Sinistro, Dark Buddha Rising and Abyssion, making it a pretty succinct summary of the breadth of the fest as a whole, from warm-toned classic rock to raging grind and black metal to the dreariest depths of doom. Yup, that about covers it.
As always, these streams were captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort — who also played this year with Astrosoniq; can’t wait till their set gets posted — and I’m thrilled to host them both for the memories they bring back and for the chance to hear stuff I didn’t get to see. I don’t mind telling you and I don’t think I’m giving away any state secrets when I say it was a hard transition back to real life this year, so to have a bit of escapism in the form of these sets is most welcome.
I hope you also enjoy digging in:
Abyssion – Live at Roadburn 2016
Atomikyla – Live at Roadburn 2016
Bang – Live at Roadburn 2016
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Live at Roadburn 2016
Dark Buddha Rising – Live at Roadburn 2016
Oranssi Pazuzu – Live at Roadburn 2016
Repulsion – Live at Roadburn 2016
Tau Cross – Live at Roadburn 2016
Sinistro – Live at Roadburn 2016
The Skull – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Thursday, April 14)
The Skull – Live at Roadburn 2016 (Friday, April 15 – playing Trouble’s Psalm 9 in its entirety)
Special thanks as always to Walter for letting me host the streams. For all of this site’s coverage of Roadburn 2016, click here.
Posted in Whathaveyou on April 19th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
Among the many things I love about the Roadburn festival is that it is always moving forward. Case in point, I’m barely in the door back from Roadburn 2016, still very much basking in the glow of this year’s excellence, and here comes the official announcement of the dates for Roadburn 2017. I don’t know what the next year will bring — I didn’t know what the last one was going to bring either — but I have indeed got April 20-23 marked on my calendar and I’m very, very hopeful that I get back again next year. It is someplace I’ve come to feel at home and a community that, at this point, I’d miss dearly if I didn’t get to be a part of it again. Fingers crossed.
The first of many Roadburn 2017 announcements to come, from the PR wire:
Roadburn Festival: The Aftermath. 2017 festival dates announced
Another edition of Roadburn Festival is in the books – and what an incredible one it was!
Roadburn would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to all the artists, crew, production team, volunteers, staff, and of course every single attendee who spent the weekend with us. We never take the support and appreciation for granted and are sincerely grateful to every individual that helps to make Roadburn what it is.
The festival played host to incredible sets including: Neurosis – celebrating their thirtieth anniversary by playing two special, career spanning sets Converge – playing two sets; one with their expanded Blood Moon line up including Chelsea Wolfe, Stephen Brodsky, Ben Chisholm, and Steve Von Till; and one never-to-be-repeated Jane Doe in full. Paradise Lost – performing Gothic in its entirety Diamanda Galás – a rare and unique performance, plus a screening of Schrei 27 and live interview session With The Dead – as well as being our 2016 curator, Lee Dorrian also performed with his own band for the first time outside the UK G.I.S.M – this legendary band played for the first time in 14 years, and for the first time ever outside of Japan Cult of Luna – opening the festival, playing Somewhere Along The Highway in full, to a packed out main stage Misþyrming – Roadburn’s Artist in Residence, these young Icelandic black metal torchbearers played three times over the weekend.
Among these bigger names were many more special moments and incredible collaborations. This year, musicians from Finland made their presence felt with incredible sets from Hexvessel, Dark Buddha Rising, Oranssi Pazuzu, Arktau Eos, Abyssion and Atomikylä. Roadburn continues to push the bar ever higher, always aiming to create something unique, artistic and always very special.
The full list of artists that performed at Roadburn 2016 is as follows:
Abysmal Grief, Abyssion, Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, Alkerdeel ft. Gnaw Their Tongues, Amenra, Arktau Eos, Astrosoniq, Atomikylä, Bang, Beastmaker, Behold! The Monolith, Black Moon Circle (ft. Dr. Space), Black Mountain, Bliksem, Blind Idiot God, Blood Ceremony, Der Blutharsch and the Infinite Church of the Leading Hand, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, Buried at Sea, Carousel, Chaos Echoes, CHRCH, CHVE, Cocaine Piss, Concatenatus, Converge, Crumbling Ghost, Cult of Luna (Somewhere Along The Highway in its entirety), Cult of Occult, Daniel Payne, Dark Buddha Rising, Dead Neanderthals, Dead To A Dying World, Death Alley (& Friends), Diamanda Galás, DOOL, Ecstatic Vision, Epitaph (Ita), Full of Hell, Galley Beggar, Gentlemans Pistols, G.I.S.M., Gomer Pyle, Grafir, Green Carnation, Grimmsons, Hair of the Dog, Hangman’s Chair, Hell (USA), Hemelbestormer, Herder, Hexvessel, Hills, Inverloch, Jakob, John Haughm, Jucifer, Kenn Nardi (of Anacrusis), Klone, Kontinuum, La Muerte, Lugubrum Trio, Lychgate, Mantra Machine, Mirrors For Psychic Warfare (Scott Kelly & Sanford Parker), Misþyrming (Artist in Residence), Moloken, Mondo Drag, MPH (Formerly known as Mr. Peter Hayden), Naðra, Neurosis, New Keepers of the Water Towers, Nibiru, NYIÞ, Night Viper, Noctum, Obese, Of The Wand And The Moon, Oranssi Pazuzu, Paradise Lost (Gothic in its entirety), Partisan, Pentagram, Peter Pan Speedrock, The Progerians, Repulsion, Russell Haswell, Scott Kelly, Sinistro, Skepticism (Fan-picked set list), Steve Von Till, Syndrome, Tau Cross, Terzij de Horde, The Poisoned Glass (ft. G. Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy 59 of Burning Witch), The Body, The Skull, Usnea, The Vintage Caravan, We’rewolves, Witch Trail, With The Dead, VVOVNDS, Yodok III.
Alongside the acts that performed, we also had a side programme featuring listening sessions of new albums from Nothing, Alkerdeel, and Virus, live interviews with Neurosis, Converge, Paradise Lost and Cult of Luna, panel discussions, talks and much more. Roadburn’s 2016 poster artist, Becky Cloonan curated an exhibition of artwork throughout the 013 venue.
We welcomed more visitors than ever to Roadburn this year; approximately 4,300 attendees each day descended on the 013 venue and it’s surroundings to celebrate all things psychedelic, heavy, and obscure! The Roadburn family continues to spread all over the world with people joining us from as far afield as Australia Brazil, Mexico, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, and India – as well as our friends from all over Europe.
Roadburn 2017 will take place at the 013 venue, between April 20-23, 2017. Announcements for the 2017 edition will start in the coming months.
More than any other Roadburn in recent memory, this one has gone quickly. It never quite drags, but Roadburn 2016 has been a sleepless blur of tonal impact, furious creativity and walks down 013 corridors that on Thursday were strange and new and by today were as though nothing about the venue had changed at all. Like the marathon and the sprint decided to join forces. Today was the last day, the Afterburner, which drops from five stages to three — the Main Stage and the Green Room at the 013 and the space over at Cul de Sac — and generally features a more chilled-out vibe, though particularly over the last couple years, its stylistic reach has become no less broad than Roadburn proper.
To wit, today’s lineup. In keeping with this year’s Icelandic theme — most of that is black metal, but still — The Vintage Caravan played a special 2PM set at Cul de Sac, last minute. They were here hanging out and so got a slot on the bill. I didn’t get to see it because we were finishing up the final issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch (you can read it here), but to see that kind of spontaneity in action — hey, you’re here, so play — exemplifies part of what makes Roadburn so genuinely exceptional. My understanding is the band’s new drummer wasn’t with them yet when they played here last year, so wanted to be able to say he’d played Roadburn as well. Sure, why not?
My day began a short time later with Mirrors for Psychic Warfare starting in the Green Room. The two-piece is comprised of Scott Kelly of Neurosis and Sanford Parker, who also played today with Buried at Sea, and I guess it’s fair to call it a Corrections House spinoff, since they both operate in the same roles as in that band, with Parker on electronics and synth and Kelly providing guitar and vocals, but without Eyehategod‘s Mike Williams as frontman or Bruce Lamont‘s sax, the effect is vastly different. Progressions were slow and lurching as they emanated from Kelly‘s guitar, and waves of loud-as-hell drones oozed forth massive from the stage. At one point, Parker played a line of bass through his laptop or sampler, whichever it was, and the low end was such a physical presence I could feel it vibrating my nose hair. It’s not like I have a lot of it, either. It was a sensation I’d never felt before. Earplugs vibrating, sure. Nose hairs? Kind of tickled, actually.
Vocals were sporadic but well suited to the grueling mood, and the set as a whole seemed to be working on a gradual build in intensity until, as they were finishing, Kelly was throwing his shoulders as he might headbanging during one of Neurosis more riotous parts. Needless to say, they closed loud. Green Carnation were on the Main Stage playing Light of Day, Day of Darkness, which is a cool record to be sure, but I didn’t want to miss the start of Blind Idiot God, the New York trio playing the fourth show of their maiden voyage to Europe. Their latest album, Before Ever After (review here), has just had its worldwide release, and in addition to the notable reggae nod in “Night Driver,” the instrumental three piece played “Antiquity” and a host of others from what was their first LP in 23 years, their focus on blurring lines between NY aggro noise crunch, proggy brilliance and heavy atmospheres.
Add to that drummer Tim Wyskida‘s winning for most elaborate drum kit of the weekend — at least of the ones I saw — and Blind Idiot God offered intrigue and dissonance in kind. Their stage presence was progressive, led in that regard by guitarist Andy Hawkins, but still had a bit of pre-Giuliani Manhattan noise rock grit about them beneath that came out here and there in their sound, which was wide open stylistically, but delivered by Hawkins, Wyskida and bassist Will Dahl with precision and due emphasis on the complexity in the material. There were people in the crowd who’d waited 25 years to see the band. You could say the response was solid. Respected scribe and all-around hyper-passionate supporter of music Stefan Raduta gave me the hard sell on catching Jakob, though really all he had to say was “they’re from New Zealand.” Anyone who’s traveled that far to play Roadburn must have a good reason.
Complemented with visuals by Jérôme Siegelaer, the three-piece’s set found its reason in a lush post-rock, full in tone and l-o-u-d loud, but still evocative enough to keep the crowd in its grasp to the point where, after applauding, the room quickly fell into silence as those in attendance waited to hear the first notes of whatever it was Jakob were going to play next. Their fourth album, Sines, came out in 2014, but this was my first exposure to them, and it was a recommendation I was glad I took when they were finished, the vibe setting itself up for a departure into the darker post-metallurgy of Belgium’s Amenra. But first, Ecstatic Vision in the Green Room. I’ve seen them before and they’re from Philadelphia, which is much, much closer to where I live than New Zealand, so I stayed through the end of Jakob, but managed to poke my head in the door of the packed out smaller stage and find the trio’s blend of heavy psych and space rock intact from when I last left it. Their debut, Sonic Praise (review here), was right on for Roadburn from the outset, so there was little surprise when they were added, but they’ve put in some considerable road time already, so good to see them doing well, even if I’m seeing it through the doorway instead of in the room itself.
The sense of presentation back in the Main Stage began even before Amenra actually started playing. A large white curtain was brought out and raised in front of the stage so that the band’s video background could cover even more territory, and after everything was ready to go, vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout — who also has a solo record out called Rasa (review here) — came out first, knelt down in front of the drum riser, facing away from the crowd as he did for yesterday’s acoustic Amenra set and as is apparently his wont, and started beating two sticks together, slowly and ritualistically. He was joined soon by drummer Bjorn Lebon, who had his own sticks, and followed soon by the rest of the band, guitarists Mathieu van de Kerckhove (also Syndrome, which played Cul de Sac earlier in the day) and Lennart Bossu and bassist Levy Seynaeve, and there began a set of some of the most intense post-metal I’ve ever seen outside of Neurosis themselves.
On par with Isis at their angriest, but crisper in their songwriting and use of ambience, Amenra were further distinguished by their direct affinity for “Times of Grace” but more so by the flashing strobes, high-energy delivery and their obvious mastery of the form. What I learned at the Roadburn 2016 Afterburner was that people go apeshit for that stuff. I can’t argue it wasn’t cohesive, but the power of Amenra‘s aesthetic and the force with which they drove it at the assembled masses earned them the night’s second biggest response, and the Main Stage was crowded enough that I had to go all the way up top just to find a place to stand, and even that didn’t come easy. It was an impressive showing, and while I’m not sure I’d count myself in the getting-it camp — or in a parish of the Church of Ra, as it were — much of their set was undeniable. One would not win a debate arguing against it.
There was a considerable break before Neurosis came out for the second set of their two-night 30th anniversary celebratory stint headlining on the Main Stage. My first Roadburn was 2009, the year they curated, and I can still remember standing in the balcony of what’s now the old-013 big room and being awed. It wasn’t my first time seeing them, but it was something special, and the same goes for last night and tonight together as well. Yes, partially because they broke out older, not-really-played-anymore songs like “Blisters,” “Grey” and “Double-Edged Sword” from The Word as Law, “The Web” and “To Crawl Under One’s Skin” from Souls at Zero and Pain of Mind‘s “Life on Your Knees” and “Pollution” from 1989’s Aberration EP. They went as far forward as 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) and touched on all the ground in between, guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly having some technical issues — the first time I’ve ever seen Neurosis have tech problems — with his guitar after opening with “To Crawl Under One’s Skin,” but sorting it out with guitarist/vocalist Steve Von Till and the crew as Noah Landis covered for them with a huge, kind of abrasive drone, and drummer Jason Roeder and god-damn-it’s-a-joy-to-watch bassist/backing vocalist Dave Edwardson sat tight.
When they got going again, it was “Locust Star,” and, you know, the universe collapsed on itself and folded into the deeper reaches of subspace, so whether or not the guitar was working didn’t really matter anymore because all existence was wiped out. At least that’s how I remember it. Pretty standard for Neurosis. In all seriousness, I don’t know if there’s a heavy band of their generation that’s inspired so much wax poetry — I’m guilty in this regard as well, in case you didn’t click that review link above — but it seems to me that speaks to the level on which Neurosis resonate with their audience. It’s often credited as this cerebral, arthouse phenomenon, but it’s not that. It’s rawer, from the gut, and it captures an experience that isn’t necessarily universal, but which this crowd — the Roadburn crowd, here and worldwide — relates to like it doesn’t relate to anything else. As they wrapped with “The Tide” and drew the tension out to cruel extremes before Kelly started the opening riff of set-finale “The Doorway,” it occurred to me again how special this band is, how much it derives from the players that comprise it, and that however much others try to capture the same sonic spirit, they only wind up with a fraction of it at best. It was a two-hour set. If they’d decided to do a third, I’d have stuck around for it.
A lot of people stuck around anyway, as it happens, to see PH — formerly MPH, formerly Mr. Peter Hayden — in the Green Room. The Finnish band is a cosmic wrecking ball and I managed to catch some of their set last time they played Roadburn, but Buried at Sea were also coming on the Main Stage, and if you know Migration, you know why it was the back and forth between the two that it was. The Chicago four-piece released that LP, their only one, in 2003 and though guitarist/vocalist Sanford Parker (also Corrections House and Mirrors for Psychic Warfare, as well as War Crime Recordings) has gone on to become a household name in the underground for his production work for the likes of Blood Ceremony, YOB, Pelican, etc., it was the band as a whole that really made an impact. They were among the first to consciously proffer tone worship in US doom, and that’s not something that’s easily forgotten for those who were there to hear it the first time around or who’ve caught on since.
Even following two hours of Neurosis, which has to be one of the least enviable festival slots in the history of recorded sound, Buried at Sea kept the crowd there and delivered the vicious heft with which they’ve become synonymous, largely in their absence — their last EP, Ghost, came out on Neurot in 2007 — and while I don’t know if they have any plans to do more or maybe put a sophomore album together, but with the lineup of Parker, bassist/vocalist Chris Sowell, guitarist Jason Depew and drummer Brandon Pierce, they sounded vital. Gave me hope where previously I’d sort of figured they’d do a couple shows and then go back their separate ways.
It was getting late. My feet were telling me. With pain. Always bittersweet to say goodbye to Roadburn, and 2016 having gone so quickly, all the more so. Death Alley were rounding out the fest at Cul de Sac, so after hanging for a while at PH, I made my way over there. It was too packed to get up front for pictures or anything like that, plus everyone around me was smashed and I didn’t want to feel like a dickhead American invader, so I hung in the back and listened as a bass-heavy take on “Over Under” started off their set. The place was immediate into it, even where I was, and rightly so. How far that band has come in just a couple years, they’re legitimately one of the Netherlands’ most exciting acts going, and they just have one record, 2015’s Black Magick Boogieland (review here). It’ll need a follow-up sooner or later, but still, that’s a considerable accomplishment starting out.
They played the title-track “Black Magick Boogieland,” and standing back by the door of the Cul de Sac with my earplugs in, drunken revelry on all sides of me — I got told tonight my face radiates love; mostly I think I just look tired — my camera bag on the floor to give my shoulder a rest, I thought back to the interview I did with the band for the album last year prior to the release and their talking about the concept of what the title meant and about the power of music to draw people in, to change minds, to shape lives, excite and inspire. How lucky I am to have been here this week and the seven years prior. For me, Roadburn has become that sacred space that I keep trying to live up to, to be worthy of, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to cap it than with “Black Magick Boogieland,” because that’s what it’s all about. That was how I wanted my night and my Roadburn 2016 to finish, on that feeling of warmth and belonging.
And so that’s how it ended.
I’ll have another post to wrap up the coverage series, but I need to be up in three hours to go to the airport and fly home and there are still pictures to sort, so I’ll just say thanks for reading for now.
We were done with the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch folding ritual early this afternoon. Third time’s the charm. The issue was finished and printed and put online (you can read it here) by a little bit before one o’clock, so I decided to head back to the hotel to have a drink of water, get my head around the day, dick around on my phone, etc.
En route, something caught my ear wafting out of the Cul de Sac. It was Rotterdam natives Dool soundchecking, and from outside, they sounded pretty damn good. Their name had come up in the office since they’re this year’s “Roadburn Introduces” pick, and I decided pretty quickly that I’d have to check them out even just going by what I heard on my way by, so I got back in time to get a spot up front and attended their arrival. They’ve got members of The Devil’s Blood in bassist Job van de Zande and drummer Micha Haring and Gold‘s Nick Polak on guitar along with Reinier Vermeulen, and guitarist/vocalist Ryanne van Dorst, and maybe since they’re not brand new players out of the gate it shouldn’t be a surprise they were in such command of their sound, but for a band who doesn’t have more than a single out, they were impressive in their presence on stage and in the cohesion of their aesthetic, copping elements of goth rock to darken up heavy grooves for an early crowd.
When they got to “Words on Paper,” van Dorst switched out her electric guitar for an acoustic one, and the effect of the added resonance to Polak‘s and Vermeulen‘s guitars was palpable. Every Roadburn brings a pleasant surprise. Dool were definitely mine this year. This morning, I knew nothing about them. Now I’ll be keeping an eye out for news about their debut album. They’d wrap up in time for Skepticism to start on the Main Stage. The Finnish funeral doomers hit the quarter-century mark in 2016, and they marked the occasion with a special fan-selected set that focused heavily on their 1995 debut LP, Stormcrowfleet, with “Sign of a Storm,” “By Silent Wings” and “The Everdarkgreen,” as well as their 2003 third outing, Farmakon, with “Farmakon Process,” “The Raven and the Backward Funeral” and “Shred of Light, Pinch of Endless.” They had “The March and the Stream” from 1998’s Lead and Aether in there as well, but whatever they were playing, it all crawled, gruelingly, further into a deep, black abyss of church-organ-laced doom, heavy on drama and impassable in tone.
Frontman Matti Tilaeus added to the drama, the bowtie of his formalwear undone — as apparently it will be — and the white roses he carried out with him when he came on stage laid on the tops of the monitors for extra funereal effect. They played mostly in the dark, and were a reminder of just how much what we think of today as death-doom owes its crux to what Finland conjured in the mid-’90s. It was a surprise to walk out of the Main Stage room when they were done and find the sun was still up. How could daylight still even exist after such a thing? I’d ponder the question during an initial loop through the merch area while waiting as I have been for months, years, to see Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, also playing the Main Stage. The Tad Doyle-fronted outfit released their also-awaited self-titled debut (review here) on Neurot Recordings, and though they toured to support it — with Neurosis, no less — I didn’t get to go to that show and my soul has had a dent in it ever since.
Well, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth‘s sheer tectonic heaviness took that dent, bumped it out and polished it up real nice. And by that I mean that, while the video screen behind them showed suitably-themed images like the earth as a ball of fire, volcanoes, arcane rituals and so on, they played so furiously loud and with such heft of low end that the floor of the big room actually shook. They had a second guitarist on stage right with bassist Peggy Doyle, and drummer Dave French was in the back, but as a whole unit, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth came together to hone pure aural destruction for the duration of their set, Tad‘s seething rasp and screams placing him at the center of the churn, not nearly as morose as Skepticism had been, but viscerally angry and geared for maximum impact. When the asteroid hits planet earth in whatever year that is — could be tomorrow for all I care; I’m at fucking Roadburn — it will sound like Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. I own two of their t-shirts. When they were done I felt like maybe that’s not enough.
Aside from the fact that Astrosoniq drummer/producer Marcel van de Vondervoort is deeply involved with recording and mixing the audio streams of each Roadburn that so often become groups’ live albums, and aside from the fact that after I first dug into their last studio LP, 2010’s Quadrant (review here), I decided I needed to hear every record they’d ever put out — 2006’s Speeder People (review here), 2005’s Made in Oss EP (review here), 2002’s Soundgrenade (review here) and 2000’s Son of A.P. Lady (review here) — I have been waiting years to see Astrosoniq play Roadburn, and their set was made all the more special by the fact that fest organizer Walter was doing live visuals as he did for The Heads last year. The band hasn’t had much if any live activity over the last few years. It’s now been seven since Quadrant was first issued in Europe. I knew it was going to be something special. I knew I was lucky to see them. I don’t think I knew just how much that would be the case.
On record, they hop genres with attention-deficit regularity, but in the Green Room, the band were much more fluid. They jammed out with the best of anything I’ve seen at Roadburn 2016, and I’ve seen a few jams. Guitarist Ron van Herpen had guested the other night with Death Alley, but really stood out during “As Soon as They Got Airborne,” an extended take that was only part of the larger highlight that was the set as a whole. “You Lose” from Son of A.P. Lady was another standout, that album having just received a limited vinyl reissue that’s caught my eye in the merch area downstairs at the Patronaat. May or may not get to pick its deluxeness up to take home, but Astrosoniq made an easy case with what I’ll hope is a return to activity that results — eventually; doesn’t have to be this week; next week is fine — in a new full-length. Their native Oss is about 35 minutes from Tilburg by car, just on the other side of den Bosch, and they got the hometown greeting from a strong Dutch contingent represented in the crowd. I knew they would be a hard act to follow.
I watched a bit of Tau Cross — with Away from Voivod on drums and Rob Miller from Amebix on vocals — on the Main Stage before heading over to Het Patronaat to catch the start of Beastmaker, as Lee Dorrian‘s curation was continuing over there. I miss-timed it and didn’t actually get to see them apart from their soundcheck, blowing my chance at Carousel in Extase at the same time, and routed back to the 013 proper to watch Converge do their special ‘Blood Moon’ set comprised of their slower and more experimental material. After their Jane Doe set the other night, which I caught the tail end of, the vibe was almost completely different. Yeah, Jacob Bannon still writhed and paced back and forth and whatnot, but there were more clean vocals — giving Stephen Brodsky (Cave In) another chance to shine, which he did — and they brought out Steve Von Till of Neurosis and Chelsea Wolfe to add their voices to the mix, and Ben Chisholm fleshed out textures on keys, resulting in a rich sound that pushed away from hard/metalcore in favor of something less stylistically hinged. Even for being selections from past records, ‘Blood Moon’ set its own context, and even in the parts that didn’t feature Von Till, one could hear a strong sense of influence from Neurosis in what they were doing.
At that point, I decided to do something I hadn’t done since I got to Tilburg: I stopped and had a meal. I left Massachusetts on Tuesday evening. Today was Saturday. Since then, I hadn’t had time to actually sit down to a dinner, lunch, breakfast, anything. I bumped into Weirdo Canyon Dispatch photog extraordinaire Paul Verhagen and we grabbed a bite, with Exile on Mainstream‘s Andreas Kohl joining later, before Amenra went on the Main Stage. I had mixed veggies — broccoli, brussels sprouts, string beans, some other green thing chopped up — a boneless chicken thigh, a spicy chicken wing and a considerable amount of green salad, dry. It might as well have been birthday cake.
Amenra are something of a fixture around Roadburn. The Belgian atmospheric sludgers played in 2007, they played when Neurosis curated in 2009, they played in 2013 and they’ll play again at the Afterburner. That’s nothing to complain about, I’m just noting it because perhaps it was part of what drove them to do something different this time around, performing mostly acoustic with seven players seated arranged in a circle on the stage to stark lighting and deeply melancholic reinterpretations of their songs. Of course, they also have a new LP out, Alive, on Consouling Sounds working in similar forms — it features a faithful cover of Tool‘s “Parabol,” which they also played — but even in this different incarnation, it was plain to hear the impact of Neurosis on their methods and of Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till‘s solo works on their dark-folk and minimalist (if you can call something with seven people on stage minimalist) brooding.
Vocalist Colin H. van Eeckhout said from the stage they were nervous and doing their best, possibly after someone shouted “Slayer!” in the crowd. If they were uncomfortable, it was hard to tell from the harmonies. When they were done, they left one at a time until only a single guitarist remained, his back to the crowd. Then he got up and walked away and the part he was playing kept going. It was a loop, obviously — that’s not exactly a magic trick at this point — but it made for a striking visual all the same and said something about the resonance of their material, being brought down on a slow fade as the crowd erupted again. There would be a 40-minute break before Neurosis came on, which, to be completely honest, felt like an eternity.
From Brothers of the Sonic Cloth onward, everything on the Main Stage at Roadburn 2016 today was building toward the Neurosis 30th anniversary set. From Tad Doyle‘s grunge roots to Tau Cross‘ own in crust and progressive thrash, to Converge and Amenra having both — in very different ways, granted — found inspiration in their work, Neurosis was at the core of what the whole day was about, and the push forward was leading inextricably to their set as the culmination. Not to say it was seven-plus hours of setup and nothing more, just that the clearly purposeful flow of the day was designed with its direction in mind. It was not an accident.
They opened with “Lost” from 1993’s Enemy of the Sun, and among the you-were-never-gonna-see-Neurosis-play-this highlights were “Pain of Mind” and “Self-Taught Infection” from 1988’s Pain of Mind debut, “To What End?” from 1990’s The Word as Law, a cover of Joy Division‘s “Day of the Lords,” and, gloriously, “Takeahnase” from 1992’s Souls at Zero, arguably the point at which they really started to branch beyond their beginnings in crust and hardcore punk and move into the various forms of aggression that they continue to develop now — the easy word for it is post-metal, but it’s post-metal because Neurosis made it that way. With more recent inclusions like “At the Well” from 2012’s Honor Found in Decay (review here) and “Water is Not Enough” from 2007’s Given to the Rising, along with “Times of Grace” from the 1999 album of the same name, “Left to Wander” from 2004’s The Eye of Every Storm, as well as the closing pair of “Through Silver in Blood,” from the 1996 LP of the same name, and “Stones from the Sky” from 2001’s A Sun that Never Sets.
Between all of that and “An Offering” from the Sovereign EP, there was not one record in their discography unrepresented. That made the event even more special — they’ll follow-up with a second installment for the Afterburner tomorrow — but the truth of the matter is that anytime Neurosis shows up, it’s special. I know they’ve done more touring in the last year than in the decade prior, but still, I don’t think there’s a band on the planet that captures the same measure of intensity, of raw passion, of volume-assault-as-spiritual-refuge that Neurosis does, and whether it’s Noah Landis using the entire universe for source material for samples and manipulated transitional drones for between songs, Steve Von Till and Scott Kelly complementing each other on guitar and vocals as one might expect for two guys who’ve been fronting a band together for 30 years, Dave Edwardson‘s continued ferocity on bass or Jason Roeder‘s cyclical drum patterning, everything they do is a lesson in the ethic of putting creativity first. They have a new record coming out at some point. I don’t know what it sounds like or what it’s called, but I feel comfortable in the knowledge that it will step forward from where they were with Honor Found in Decay, because they’re Neurosis, and that means no compromising.
I kind of lost my shit during that especially blistering rendition of “Takeahnase,” and I expect tomorrow and Monday I’ll be good and sore. Who cares? Not me. I’m back at it in the morning for the last issue of the Weirdo Canyon Dispatch and more bands for the Afterburner, which basically is just another day of Roadburn at this point. Fine by me. It’s gone quickly in 2016 — how do you pack a year’s worth of living into four days? — so I’ll take everything I can get.