Roadburn 2024: Notes From Day One

Posted in Features, Reviews on April 19th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Roadburn welcomes you.

Before 2PM writing start. Check-in at the 013, easy, the ideal. Head up to the office, coffee, a bit of sitting around, loosely productive chatting. Some quick writing that hopefully turned out to be complete sentences. Nice to feel helpful.

Merch opened at noon. I arrived at Koepelhal about 20 minutes after and it was crammed as expected. Inching forward and imagining the shirts selling out, more urgent in my head than in real life, to be sure. I don’t even know how many lines — more of a congregation. Label stalls over there, band merch, etc. Soundcheck wubbing through from wherever. Come on, man. Live a little.

Back to the hotel after to drop off purchases — tote and hoodie for The Patient Mrs. acquired as requested, along with a tshirt for myself —Roadburn merch and charge the phone for a few minutes, then up to Koepelhal again in time for The Terminal stage to open. The sign above, “Roadburn welcomes you,” outside as you walk up to the building. Trying to breathe that in slowly.

I haven’t decided yet how I’m going to format the next few days of writing. Might just make words? Crazy thought, I know. The festival starts in about 15 minutes and I can feel it in my nervous blood. Slow down the brain, remember where you are. This used to be easier. Was never as easy as the check-in this morning. I’ll get the camera out in a bit. Fidget fidget. Are the batteries in of course the batteries are in. That kind of thing.

Lights come down, room fills up. The space is set up differently than last time I was here. I like that as a running theme. For what it’s worth — and in my estimation, that’s just about everything — I do feel welcome, and have since the moment I ran into Walter yesterday n the hotel lobby and ended up sitting down to the end of breakfast. I like that as a running theme as well.

Okay, Roadburn. Let’s see how this goes.

Hexvessel are a quintessential Roadburn band in my mind, and yes that’s a compliment. They were doing last year’s black-metal-adjacent Polar Veil (review here) in full, and thinking about past times I’ve seen them here, it brings to mind how broad their scope has been but how each whim they follow is wrapped around an organic core of craft whether it’s woods-worship folk mourning, dark post-punk, psych-pop experimentalism or the blend of melody and char of this latest work. The fact that you don’t know what’s coming next until it’s happened, and Hexvessel 1 (Photo by JJ Koczan)the way they bring everything they do into their sphere rather than playing to style — whatever style — makes them a fitting lead-in for who knows what the next few days will bring. I watched the whole set.

Sunrise Patriot Motion were going on 10 minutes later in the Engine Room, which is right next door to the Terminal, so I sauntered over, casual-like, to check out an act I knew nothing about but had heard were cool. Not quite as sad as Crippled Black Phoenix, but a not-dissimilar feel in their post-everything-but-not-too-cool-for-their-owm-songs approach, the keyboard probably more prominent for where I was standing and the vocals blown out to add some rawness to the gothy vibe. I don’t know where they’re from but their music is English as fuck. Beacon, New York. The lineup is half of Yellow Eyes, I’m told. Fair enough. Knowing the actual geography, I couldn’t help but hear some Type O in their slower parts, but I admit that’s more in my head than in their sound.

Some quickly fixed technical hiccup and they were back at it with little actual momentum disruption. Apparently it was their first show ever. Hope the second one lives up. They finished 37 minutes into a 40-minute slot and with a half-hour before Body Void back over in The Terminal — which is the bigger of the two connected Koepelhal spaces — I sat in back and purposefully let myself be in no rush to anywhere. Someone offered me beer as they were walking by — I guess I happened to be in the path of their generosity — but I don’t drink, so politely declined. When I was just about the last one in the Engine Room who wasn’t breaking down the stage, I decided to go find some water. I don’t know if it’ll last, but I like my low key approach so far. In my head, I’m calling it Freeburn as of like 30 seconds ago.Sunrise Patriot Motion (Photo by JJ Koczan)

Emphasis on ‘burn’ there as regards Body Void, who in performing their Atrocity Machine LP in full set alight grind and caustic sludge for a feedback and noise-drenched onslaught of extreme, churning disaffection. Harsh harsh harsh, but, you know, they’re probably super-nice people. I didn’t get mean vibes certainly as their bassist took a couple selfies during one of the breaks in the songs. Laced with synth for further noise drench, thudding with a pulse you could feel in the side of your head, and with screams cutting through to offer no comfort whatsoever, they were brutally life-affirming, a wave of self-declarative volume, music wielded as expression of self coincidental to self-expression. To call it inviting would be to undercut just how far they were pushing limits, so I’ll say that there was room for everybody in that slaughterhouse of sound.

A quick stop to see Andreas Kohl at his Exile on Mainstream both, big hugs, then walked back behind the warded off doings of the Koepelhal, took a cup from an errant pot of coffee, heard something like somebody sawing through metal — no competition for Body Void — and ended up by the art show space and re-met Maarten Donders, bought a couple prints from Vince “Cavum” Trommel, who had an 1860s printing press ready for a workshop tomorrow. Outside briefly and over to Hall of Fame for the start of Seán Mulrooney, 5:10PM in a deceptively quick passage of time for the day. People, places, music. Vibe is on. It’s one to the next, but the resonance of Mulrooney intoning “Slow down, do what you want” from Tau and the Drones of Praise’s “The Sixth Sun” might just be the key to my time here. I know enough now to know this might not come again. I never took Roadburn for granted, but I’ve missed it more than I understood, and maybe more than I wanted to understand.

I damn near wept as Mulrooney — who’s the type Body Void (Photo by JJ Koczan)of hippie folk troubadour that just might make a chorus out of the single word “osmosis” — brought out “Seanóirí Naofa” and “Ceol ón Chré,” fronting a four-piece solo-band built up around the initial duo of himself switching between guitar and piano with a stompbox for percussion along with standup bass. He’d get get to electric guitar in his time, but it was a quiet start that grew more outwardly vibrant, as he said it would. But while he wasn’t onstage alone by any means, it was his first solo show performed under his own name, and I sincerely doubt it will be the last. The crowd knew the Tau stuff, as they would given that the band played here, did the Roadburn Redux thing that non-year, etc., but if it seems like a stark contrast going from Body Void to Seán Mulrooney, he was no less a realization than they were, just working from a different point of view. Maybe I don’t have to tell you that.

Was hit by the old you-need-to-go-write itch as I stood there on front of the Hall of Fame stage, and I almost heeded it, but stopped myself before actually leaving my spot. That’s not how we’re doing Freeburn. Me and that bird that pecks at my compulsive brain with its gotta-remove-myself-from-a-thing-before-I-actually-start-enjoying-it beak go back a long way, but I’m glad it’s a habit I’m trying to break. If I only succeed in doing so one time this weekend, I’m glad it was for Mulrooney’s set, but his was the third full set of the day I saw, and that’s more than I’ve done in entire years at Roadburn.

A few more hellos en route to the fourth, which was Inter Arma back at The Terminator — that’s an autocorrect typo, but I’m leaving it because Inter Arma are nothing if not cybernetic organisms from the future sent to undo history by killing us all — as they presented their yet-unreleased New Heaven LP, which is out next week on Relapse. I’ve heard the record, in all its sweltering progressive death metal dissonance and encompassing crush, but they are aSean Mulrooney (Photo by JJ Koczan) particular beast live and I’ve put off really digging in until I saw it in-person. They should be playing art galleries, and not just for the theremin, but close enough at Koepelhal.

Every now and then they still lock in a doom groove, but they’ve been in obvious pursuit of their own thing as they’ve grown darker, more vicious and experimental in terms of their willingness to fuck around stylistically. Their last record was 2019’s Sulphur English (review here), and between you and me, I thought that was as far as they could go, but I’d sat down along the wall to write and stood back up when the harmonized leads and cleaner vocals — later on, they’d get Nick Cavey with voice and piano — started. So is New Heaven it? Maybe. Hell if I know, but I can’t think of anyone else who does what they do better, in, out or around progressive death metal, though I acknowledge I’m no expert. At the very least, it’s a new mark on their forward path, another reach into the threatening, staring-back void, and definitely enough to flatten an audience in the Netherlands most of whom haven’t heard it yet, so take it as you will.

I ate before the day started, finishing off the last of a half-pint of home-ground almond and pecan butter I brought with me, but hydrating had been trickier. I ran into Dennis and Jevin from Temple Fang, as well as Rolf from Stickman Records, saw Désirée from Lay Bare and chatted briefly, said hi to Jurgen from Burning World, hugged Amy Johnson, all of whom are very kind, nice people I’m glad to know. It had been posted on social media as well, but the Temple Fang guys let me know that Heath were doing a secret show at the skate park at 9:40, and my night got immediately more complex. They were on their way here or there, to piss first, I believe, so I hung back and by 8PM I could feel myself needing water if not more calorically complex sustenance. The line at the bar in the Engine Room meant it would have to wait until after I got whatever photos of White Ward I could and their set was properly underway. The Ukrainian black metallers have been four years in the making for Roadburn between the plague and the Russian invasion, and I didn’t want to miss it. I took my pictures, got two waters from the bar — however much they cost it was worth it — and was in much better spirits after for the scathing black metal catharsis that ensued, like tearing off your flesh to let your soul go. All that tension and release. Next time they’re here, and I have to imagine there will be one, they’ll probably play the main stage.

They took the stage as a four-piece and mentioned it was because one of their members had joined the military. I don’t know if that was voluntary or conscription, but it brought the ongoing conflict in and for White Ward’s home country into the room — it was there anyway — and showed it’s real for them in a way war never has been for me as an American.Inter Arma (Photo by JJ Koczan) War is a thing that happens elsewhere, exclusively, though there’s never a lack of random violence, whether repressive in nature or the woefully normalized mass shootings. In any case, despite being down a member, White Ward shredded the Engine Room into little tiny pieces with glorious intensity that extended even to the sampled sax over some of the songs, the piano, spoken sampling and such and sundry added to their core fury. Once again, I watched the full fucking set. I hope I do this all weekend.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but my heart said that going to see Heath at the skate park was a probably-once-in-a-lifetime chance and that even though I’d miss Chelsea Wolfe to do it — Roadburn means hard choices — I’d already had my one-per with Chelsea Wolfe, albeit brief, watching her and the band rehearse the night before in a group of five people in a room that holds well over a thousand, all that empty space filled with sound. So when White Ward finished, I made a right turn out of Koepelhal to get to the Hall of Fame, and from there, asked a helpful security guy where to go. Sure enough, the skatepark was closed but the doors had ‘there’s something secret happening here’ printed on them. A small group of people had gathered, and a couple minutes later we were let inside.

White Ward (Photo by JJ Koczan)Secret shows have become a Roadburn tradition, like commissioned pieces, the side programme, full-album sets. It’s part of the thing. There were three tonight, between Backxwash on the main stage at the 013 — a big deal — and Heath and Ontaard at the skate park. Like everything, there are arguments for and against the notion, but they add a chance for intimacy at an event where every room you stand in is most likely to be slammed with people, so I’ll take it when I can get it. And bonus, Heath were a hoot.

Some shuffle here, some grassy, pastoral psychedelia there, and a lot of classic prog rhythms topped off with in-on-the-jams harmonica from their frontman, who can both sing and keep up with the twisting riffs throughout their songs. Their debut album, Isaak’s Marble, is out next month. I’ll be interested to see how it’s received, but the songs, energy and spirit are there, and they looked like they were having fun playing the material live, whether it was breaking out the mallets for the drums, putting effects on the harmonica for the psych parts, trading solos between the two guitars or the builds and runs on bass. Fiery at their most upbeat, trance-inducing in their atmospheric stretches; I found myself recognizing parts from the record, which was even more encouraging, and digging the fact that they had more going for them as regards character than being young. Potential for growth and more than a little boogie to boot. There weren’t 100 people in the room, and I was very, very glad to be one of them.

They’re a band to tell your friends about,Heath (Photo by JJ Koczan) so here’s me telling you about them. None of the singles on their Bandcamp are on the album, which is on Suburban Records, but the title-track is on YouTube here. Happy travels.

I could’ve kept going after they finished — say it with me now: “I watched the whole set” — but it would’ve been an uphill push and that’s not the Freeburn way. I got back to the hotel a bit before 11, a little over 12 hours from when I left in the morning. Roadburn day one was a reminder of how special this time is to me, and I’m thankful to be here to be reminded. Thank you for reading. Sorry for the writing-on-my-phone typos.

More photos after the jump.

Read more »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Roadburn 2024: Travel & Ignition

Posted in Features on April 18th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Sonja at Ignition Roadburn 2024

04.17.24 – 4:49PM – Wed. – Hotel Mercure

I was the only one in the Sprinter van from the airport. Just me, the driver, and a sunny morning on the highway in Nederlands’ big-sky country headed out of Amsterdam to Tilburg. It was nice to recognize spots on the way into town, though there are some newer, taller buildings as well that I didn’t remember from five years ago when I was last here. Change is inevitable.

So far today, the weather here has been like the weather at home — insane. It has hailed twice and been coated in sunshine. My flight got in early, and passport control took about two minutes because I wasn’t entering the US and it was six-thirty in the morning. I grabbed a coffee and headed to where the car was going to pick me up by memory. That felt good, and not just the coffee.

The flight was a flight. I apparently got charged twice for what I thought was a free seat upgrade, but beyond that, the seat in front of me being so leaned back I had to watch bumping my head into it and having to restart A Link to the Past on my phone because I went to the Dark World too early — cheat code glitches on the emulator; nostalgia abounds — it was smooth enough. Empty seat next to me in the row of three, so I rate it as a positive experience. I’ve never enjoyed commercial air travel. It’s an unwelcome reminder that the world is not built for people of my general proportion. And I don’t think it’s something humans should have to pay for, but I also kind of feel that way about everything. No gods, no masters, no borders, no baggage fees.

Plane listening: Brume (yes, again), Lord Buffalo, The Keening, Iota, Sunnata, Greenleaf, then the headphones died. I should also count Type O Negative’s “Die With Me,” which I’ve been hearing in my head since boarding at the gate for KLM. I slept for about half an hour on the plane.

Later, After Ignition

Between Riot City’s more traditionalist approach delivered with duly non-sexagenarian vigor, Sonja’s more rock-infused NWOBHM riffing and Final Gasp’s hardcore-rooted moody-but-active take, it was a pretty metal evening out at Ignition, the free-entry pre-show for Roadburn Festival. Last time I was here, it was Hard Rock Hideout at Cul de Sac. Ignition had room for more people, and the people showed up to fill the space. Faces familiar and not in what I suspect will be a theme for the weekend, a couple “oh hi!”-type interactions between the bands, a bit of back and forth. I’d slept earlier in the afternoon, but I’m still in just-got-here mode, so no, I wasn’t hitting the mosh. I’ve always been pretty easily out-metaled anyhow.

But walking into the 013 again after five years was a trip. Next Stage, the old Green Room, is where the three bands were playing. The main stage area was closed off for the night, and downstairs was merch and the bar and DJ and so on. I went upstairs when Sonja were on, basically to take the above photo on my phone — I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to do a more relaxed Roadburn — and it was also packed.

Riot City had acquitted themselves well in starting the show, well aligned with the metal of eld, their singer making Rob Halford screeches sound easy while strewing them liberally throughout the songs, thrash-informed but not necessarily as retro in sound as in their logo. Following up, Sonja were rawer on-stage than I’d expected them to be given the sound of their 2022 debut, Loud Arriver (review here), but physical force works with their style. I hung out with Lee from The Sleeping Shaman, with whom I’m also sharing my hotel room, for a bit, talking about old times and catching up since we last saw each other pre-pandemic, and honestly that experience was probably more what it was about for me tonight. Being here, getting to hang out at the 013, not trying to chase anything, the next thing, whatever it is. I don’t want to leave here next Monday feeling like I was so busy running around trying to take it all in that I missed it.

I’ve done that. And I’m not knocking it — Roadburns have been some of my best times, period — but I’m not lying when I say I didn’t ever think I’d be back here. This community and this time are special to me, and when it comes down to it, I have no trouble admitting Roadburn has been a part of shaping my perspective on music and art more generally, and the fest hasn’t even actually started and it already feels like a celebration. I’m lucky to be anywhere, but I’m especially lucky to be here right now.

Chelsea Wolfe was rehearsing on the main stage. I was able to watch for a few minutes with Lee, with Walter and Becky and Jaimy and a few others from the behind-the-scenes machine that makes the next few days happen. A small moment in the scope of those days to come, but one that I’ll remember, sitting on the steps up in the back of the room, just watching the lights and visuals, all also being tested out along with the sound, and a couple songs of what felt like a private show. I didn’t have to sneak in. It wasn’t clandestine. I was with friends. Sometimes I forget I have friends. Too often.

Roadburn starts tomorrow. No zine, but there’s a meeting tomorrow morning at the 013, some words to write/edit for secret show announcements and that sort of thing; stuff that, if I can help out with it, I’m happy to. Merch opens at noon. The Patient Mrs. wants a hoodie and a tote bag — she’s big on totes — so I’d best get on that. Then music. Hexvessel open at 2PM at the Terminal, which is the bigger Koepelhal stage, up the way from the 013. I will hope to see you there.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Flying Out to Roadburn 2024

Posted in Features on April 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

View from gate

04.16.24 – 2:18PM EST – Tue. – JFK International Airport

Two hours to get to JFK, another three-plus before the flight takes off if it does so on time. Two snacky packs of almonds to my name and a bottle of water I filled from the fountain that just kind of dumps it on your hand. New Ufomammut on. I’m flying to Roadburn this evening. I’ll fucking live.

This is my first time making this trip in five years. Granted, plague, but still. I barely remember 2019 — to wit, I couldn’t tell you if I flew out of Newark or Boston to get to the Netherlands that long-ass half-decade ago, from which you’d be correct in extrapolating that I can’t remember when we moved back to New Jersey full-time. I could probably go back and look. Hang on. Boston. I flew back there as well, apparently. Wonder when I moved?

Doesn’t matter.

I have a pretty broad swath of memories of Roadburn from 2009 to 2019, almost all of them positive, so if you were to ask me what I’m nervous about, putting aside the general anxiety that goes with flying and/or leaving the house on any given early afternoon, I’m not sure I’d have a response for you. I had a telehealth — god I hate that word, but on the other hand, who wants to go to a doctor’s office ever — appointment with my neurologist yesterday. She told me to meditate, to work through things from my past that I feel like have held me back in the present, to rewrite my own narratives of my life. I’ve never been able to keep my mind still long enough to actually meditate, and I may or may not give it an earnest try — sitting still and concentrating on your breath is pretty low risk if you’re worried about broken bones; the only real risk is feeling silly to myself, which is a sad-boy narrative in itself worth revision — but it’s a wicked idea. She also once recommended I try faking it till I make it as regards mental wellbeing, so there you go.

But Roadburn became a home to me for those years. By 2017, 2018, I would get off the plane at Schiphol, walk right down to where the car pickup was, get my ride and roll out to the fest, like clockwork. In 2018, I ended up on a bus with at least 80 percent of the San Diego heavy psych scene that was playing. Earthless weren’t there, but many acolytes and others for sure were. Stoner brodown, that was. But that I remember. And getting out of the van at the 013, walking over to the hotel, feeling the fresh air on my face and knowing that I was where I belonged — I guess maybe what I’m nervous about is not feeling that. What if I go to Roadburn and it doesn’t feel like home?

And while I deep dive into feeling silly for tearing up as I sit at the gate for my flight — that’s B24, a 5:35PM departure; heads up, there might not be wifi on the flight because of a technical difficulty, which is always what you want to be reading about concerning the plane you’re boarding — thinking about feeling rudderless over the next five days, I’ll offer myself the small consolation of the different Roadburn experience I’ve planned out for myself.

To explain: You may or may not know this, but I’ve done a decent amount of writing and editing for the festival. Not band blurbs or such; I’m nowhere near knowledgeable or cool enough for that. But social media posts, copy editing, that kind of thing. I have a casual voice in writing — just might say fuck in a given sentence, though I try to temper it in RB stuff because they’re classy like that — so it makes sense and I’m happy to contribute anywhere and anytime I am asked.

In one of the texts I was editing for Roadburn 2024 — I don’t know which one it was — it was talking about “don’t have a plan.” Go to Roadburn and just roll through. Honey, you should’ve seen me clutching my pearls. No plan? Are you mad??? I’m supposed to go to Roadburn and, what, improv it through the day? Sounds like a good way to miss some once-in-a-lifetime shit, no? Well, Roadburn-proper is four days after the pre-show tomorrow night — it’s called ‘Ignition’ now — and for at least the last 15 years, it’s been a choose-your-adventure kind of fest. Between a packed schedule, limited human energy resources, and the basic needs to tend to same as regards sleep, sustenance, etc., you have to pinpoint where you want to be and when you want to be there.

Want to get up front in the Green Room? Last I checked that meant you wanted to get there before the act on stage before the band you want to see finishes, then move up when whatever portion of their crowd clears out. Taking photos meant camping out a lot for me in years past.

This year, my mission is less. Not less fest, but less internalized worry. I’ll get where I’m getting, I’ll get the shots I’m gonna get, but if that’s behind some seven-foot Dutch dude and his seven-foot special lady, fuck it. For years I’d break my ass trying to put myself in a spot to take a picture without someone’s head at the bottom of it. Maybe this year I’ll back up and get the crowd in the shot too. You see what I mean? I’m trying to make my life easier.

And as regards no plan? Well that’s really, really scary, isn’t it? I don’t think I can do it, but that very feeling of not being able to let go of some sense of control over the situation — because make no mistake, that’s what it’s about — has inspired me just the same to ease up a bit. Maybe I’ll watch more bands than I used to, maybe fewer. But maybe I’ll let myself enjoy it more. Just stand for a few minutes in the volume of a thing. I want to try that. Feels bigger in my head than it looks in writing, but that’s what I’ve got.

Here are the day schedules for Roadburn 2024:

Thursday, April 18

Roadburn 2024 Thursday schedule

Friday, April 19

Roadburn 2024 Friday schedule

Saturday, April 20

Roadburn 2024 Saturday schedule

Sunday, April 21

Roadburn 2024 Sunday schedule

Couple early starts, between Hexvessel doing Polar Veil on Thursday and Darsombra on Friday, but screw it. I have a few landmarks I know I want to see — clipping. and Khante, Dool, The Keening, Tusmørke, at least part of Heath and both The Bevis Frond and The Jesus and Mary Chain among them — but that’s still nowhere near the down-to-every-fifth-minute planning I’ve done for Roadburns past, so I do feel like there’s some letting go happening. I don’t know that I could ever do an easy-breezy no-plan RB, but I don’t think that’s an invalid approach just because I’m too uptight to live by it for a weekend.

If you keep up over the next couple days, thank you. If you read any of this, either right now or ever, thanks for that too. Once I actually get on the plane — it’s here now, wasn’t when I started this — and do that eight hours of time, get to Tilburg and maybe dare to sleep for a couple hours, I’m going to try to have a good time, to not leave the festival even more exhausted than I was when I got there. This is my break, after all. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of The Obelisk as work and remember that the reason I spend so much of my time doing this in the first place is that I fucking love it. God damn I hope I can make that true by the time Monday comes around and I fly back home.

That’s where I’m at. Thanks again for reading.

Tags: , ,

Horseburner to Release Voice of Storms June 21; “The Gift” Video Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan


Yeah, I’m late on this news from last week. I talked about it on Friday; only so many hours in the day and a lot a lot a lot of music coming down the line in the next few months. Horseburner‘s Voice of Storms will be their fourth full-length upon its arrival as June makes ready to give over to July’s swelter, and I’d say their urgency, melody, and progressive angularity will make a fitting accompaniment to that time of year’s sweating-while-doing-nothing sunscorch, even if it’s not themed around the climate crisis.

Actually, as regards theme, I’m curious how much the narrative described below — girl slays oppressors, in shorty-short — frames the songs, and how the album came together around the central story. With a ‘concept record’ of any sort, I always tend to want to know whether the idea was first or the music, but I guess there’s time for digging in between now and June. The single/video, “The Gift,” can be found at the bottom of this post, and for anyone who dug on 2019’s Ripple-issued The Thief (review here), it well lives up to its title. If you watch the clip, it looks like they had a good time in the studio.

The Brian Mercer cover art — dude nails it, as he will — album details and live dates follow, courtesy of the PR wire:

horseburner voice of storms

US progressive sludge unit HORSEBURNER to release new album “Voice of Storms” on Blues Funeral Recordings; stream new single “The Gift”!

West Virginia progressive sludge stalwarts HORSEBURNER have signed to Blues Funeral Recordings for the release of their new album “Voice of Storms” this June 21st, with the roaring first single “The Gift” streaming on all platforms now. The band also announced a string of US live shows in support of the release.

Blasting out loud and surgical riffs, driving grooves and fire-driven vocal harmonies, HORSEBURNER’s new single “The Gift” is a massive-sounding heavy rock rager that perfectly encapsulates the West Virginia foursome’s knack for uncompromisingly technical yet strikingly melodic anthems.

Watch Horseburner’s brand new video “The Gift” + listen to the official single at this location:

HORSEBURNER blasted onto the scene in 2009 amid comparisons to Mastodon and Baroness, with an iteration of high-energy sludge metal informed by their Appalachian industrial background and elevated conceptual themes. And, from the impact of galloping full-length “Dead Seeds, Barren Soil” to their growth into a tremendous live force to the watershed leap of 2019’s acclaimed “The Thief”, Horseburner have not only endured, they have progressed.

HORSEBURNER distinguish themselves from their stoner-psych contemporaries with staggering musicianship. Gear-shifting from hard-charging to restrained to urgent and angular, these musical flexes find Horseburner invoking a broader range of tools to craft their driving, soaring, obliterating mini-epics than a lot of bands have in their bags. Never concerned with proving what they can do, they sweep us up in the ease of their brilliance and go places a lot of heavy rock doesn’t.

Their new album “Voice of Storms” is an allegorical commentary on the mistreatment of women across history. It’s the story of a girl being sold into child marriage who is imbued with the spirit of ancient Greek hunt goddess Diana, unleashed and wreaking havoc on a society that regards females as objects or currency. Sonically, the record is a sludge-prog triumph, ready to grab listeners by the throat and immerse them in a fluid amalgam of blistering tempos, fearless hooks and burly crush, like a more brutal Torche or a more adept High on Fire. This is HORSEBURNER blazing into sonic territory that few bands ever reach, pushing forward, challenging their abilities and always progressing as far as their ambition can take them.

The album was recorded and engineered by Neil Tuuri at Amish Electric Chair Studio, and mastered by Billy Joe Bowers. Artwork by Brian Mercer with a layout by Jacob Dunn.

New album “Voice of Storms”
Out June 21 on Blues Funeral Recordings (LP/CD/digital)

Preorder via Bandcamp:

Preorder via Blues Funeral store:

1. Summer’s Bride
2. The Gift
3. Heaven’s Eye
4. The Fawn
5. Hidden Bridges
6. Palisades
7. Diana
8. Silver
9. Widow

4-19 – Philadelphia, PA – Century
4-20 – NYC – Saint Vitus presents at Main Drag Music
5-17 – Cleveland, OH – 5 O’ Clock Lounge
6-20 – Columbus, OH – Spacebar *
6-21 – Parkersburg, WV – Tracey’s Pub *
6-22 – Johnson City, TN – Capone’s *
6-23 – Raleigh, NC – The Pour House *
6-28 – Buffalo, NY – Area 54/Amy’s Place
6/29 – Youngstown, OH – Westside Bowl
*release weekend with Howling Giant

Jack Thomas – guitar, vocals, keys
Adam Nohe – drums, vocals, percussion
Matt Strobel – guitar
Ryan Aliff – bass, upright bass

Horseburner, Voice of Storms (2024)

Horseburner, “The Gift” official video

Tags: , , , ,

Mos Generator Release Forging Behind 2002-2012 Compilation LP

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

Mos Generator

Today — I think maybe right now — Mos Generator release Forging Behind 2002-2012, a compilation LP of material taken from the decade listed. That covers the era from their 2002 self-titled debut (reissue review here) through 2005’s Nasoni-issued The Late Great Planet Earth, 2007’s Songs for Future Gods (which was on Roadburn Records and Small Stone), and their 2012 Ripple Music post-hiatus resurgence, Nomads (review here). Also included is the harmony-laced “Dyin’ Blues” from the 2007 10″ EP Tales From the Vault, which saw new life in 2021 as The Lantern (review here) on Argonauta Records. Long and winding road, as the fella said.

Its tracks assembled and newly mastered by founding guitarist/vocalist, producer and bandleader Tony Reed, the stated intention of Forging Behind 2002-2012 is to simplify Mos Generator‘s back catalog a bit for people just getting to know their work. In 2020, the Strange Powers comp LP did likewise for 2014’s Electric Mountain Majesty (review here), 2016’s Abyssinia (review here) and 2018’s Shadowlands (review here) — all three of which first came out on Listenable Records — which took them into the Mk. II lineup of Reed, bassist Sean Booth and drummer Jono Garrett. On Forging Behind, it’s all the original trio: Reed, bassist Scooter Haslip and drummer Shawn Johnson.

OKAY… That’s a lot of info. A lot of text in bold. A lot of ‘review here’ links. I get it. Densely packed. But something else you need to know going into Forging Behind is that the original trio lineup — the band that first made these songs; Mk. I — is still active. In the promo info below, Reed says all these songs are in rotation for the current live set. The Mk. II lineup? Also still active. That’s right, kids. Mos Generator have split the timeline. My understanding is both incarnations of Mos Generator are writing for new studio albums, which is a dizzying thought even in the context of Reed‘s generally furious work ethic. Their most recent studio LP, Time//Wounds (review here), came out in Dec. 2022.

So what Forging Behind 2002-2012 is also doing is giving background to whatever it might ultimately be that surfaces from the ReedHaslipJohnson three-piece, and providing a gateway for those who discovered the band after they came back in the 2010s to dig into the output from their original run. How it differs from 2008’s 2LP/CD comp Destroy! The Mos Generator 2001-2008 is of course the years it covers — Nomads didn’t exist yet and it’s become a landmark for them — the new master, and the idea of being curated around the songs they play now as a single-LP/DL release. 300 vinyls.

And if you do get the download version, one last thing to note is that it’s Reed‘s own vinyl rip, not a straight digital transfer. Probably took a little longer to get together, but a cool idea that not everybody would think of doing.

They remain a treasure of the American heavy rock underground:

mos generator forging behind

Mos Generator Forging Behind 2002 – 2012

Forging Behind is a compilation of songs released between 2002 and 2012 and is kind of a “young person’s guide” to the early years of the band. Forging Behind can also be considered a companion album to Strange Powers released in 2020. Strange Powers was a compilation of songs from the three albums released on Listenable Records between 2014 and 2018 and together, these two albums make a comprehensive overview of highlights from the band’s career. All of the songs on Forging Behind are still in rotation in the current live set so this makes it easy for fans to choose an album to buy if they liked the set but aren’t familiar with the band.

Label: Music Abuse Records
Units pressed: 300
Vinyl colors: Black (no variants)

All sonic manipulations by Reed at ‘Vault’, Temple Sound, & HeavyHead Recording Co. between 2001 and 2012. Mastered by Reed at HeavyHead January 2024. Front cover art by Lex Waterreus. Artwork layout by #3. All songs written by Reed. Arranged by Mos Generator.

Side A
(from the album Songs for Future Gods released September 2007)
2. DYIN’ BLUES (4:53)
(from the album Tales from the Vault released May 2007)
3. LONELY ONE KENOBI (single version) (4:28)
(from the album Nomads released October 2012)
4. ON THE EVE (promo edit) (5:44)
(from the album The Late Great Planet Earth released October 2005)

Side B
1. LUMBO ROCK (3:57)
(from the album Mos Generator released April 2002)
2. STEP UP (4:51)
(from the album Nomads released October 2012)
3. NANDV (3:37)
(from the album Songs for Future Gods released September 2007)
(from the album Nomads released October 2012)

Mos Generator on Forging Behind:
TONY REED – guitar / vocals / keys

Mos Generator, Forging Behind 2002-2012 promo video

Mos Generator, Forging Behind 2002-2012 (2024)

Tags: , , , ,

Gurt Premiere “Knife Fever” Lyric Video; New Album Satan Etc. Out June 7

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 16th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

gurt (Photo by Mithun)

Gurt‘s fourth full-length, Satan Etc., will be released June 7, and to go with announcing that happy and foreboding prospect, the London-based party sludgers are premiering a lyric video for the new song “Knife Fever” that you can see below. With chasm screams and no shortage of aural crush, you’ll be glad to know that the five years since their last outing, 2019’s Bongs of Praise (review here), does not seem to have dulled their impact. But to coincide with its raw push, “Knife Fever” reminds that Gurt have always also been able to make caustic sounds memorable for more than just, well, being caustic, and as frontman Gareth Kelly repeats the lines, “I’ve never done this before/Can you tell?,” don’t be surprised if you end up with those screams stuck in your head after the fact.

Satan Etc. — not their first brilliant title, hopefully not their last — is a welcome reminder of the band’s dual penchants for hooks and aural slaughter, and some of the efficiency-uptick in their delivery as referenced by the PR wire below can indeed be heard in the structural clarity throughout the sub-four-minute runtime of “Knife Fever.” How that might play out across the album as a whole is something that probably requires hearing said thing in its entirety, and as I’ve not yet done that, can’t necessarily speak to it — but if they’re pushing a more pointed attack, “Knife Fever” embodies one in more than just the conveniency of a pun that I assure you was all the way intended.

And as Gurt approach their 15th year in 2025, perhaps you’re thinking this all a sign of maturity, grown-up-Gurt, and so on. Could be, but I mean, they did call the record Satan Etc., so I feel decent in the assumption that there’s further chicanery to follow. Here’s looking forward.

Info from the aforementioned PR wire follows here. Please enjoy:

Gurt, “Knife Fever” lyric video premiere


It’s been five long years since “party doom” riff merchants GURT released their last crushing opus “Bongs of Praise”, now on June 7th 2024 they are set to return with their latest, crushing-ist opus yet, “Satan Etc”.

A lot has happened in the band members lives since 2019, some suffered tragic losses, some welcomed new life into the world, some grew awesome skullets. Not to mention that global event in 2020 that kept us all inside.

Left to ferment in frustrating circumstances has led to the new material being more aggressive and abrasive than previous offerings, whilst still retaining that signature GURT silliness and swagger.

In January 2024 GURT took these new songs into the mighty Monolith Studios in London and under the watchful eye of Steve Sears, they birthed the magnificent, monstrous “Satan Etc”. This album marks GURT’s 5th collaboration with Sears, who always coaxes the best out of the band with a healthy mixture of positive support and scathing insults.

When asked about the influences and inspiration behind this album vocalist Gareth Kelly states “it’s about survival in the very fucked up world we live in, but of course delivered in the bands tongue in cheek style”. Drummer Bill Jacobs says ” we wanted shorter punchier songs to go with the new aggro vibe, nothing to do with us being older and fatter” whilst bassist David “Spicy” Blakemore enigmatically adds “I’ve been listening to lots of Slavic hardcore!”.

Delving into varied topics, from bodged vasectomies to the beauty of brown cars, from self pleasure on Arrakis to the wholesome matter of how damn much Gareth loves his kids, “Satan Etc” is the sound of the band ready to get back to doing what they love most: having a great big sludgy party with their rabid fans. PARTY DOOM HAS EVOLVED.

“Satan ETC” is released on 7th June via When Planets Collide and is available to pre-order from:

GURT are:
Gareth Kelly – Vocals
Rich Williams – Guitar
David Blakemore – Bass Guitar
Bill Jacobs – Drums

Band photo by Mithun.

Gurt on Facebook

Gurt on Instagram

Gurt on YouTube

Gurt on Bandcamp

Gurt BigCartel store

Tags: , , , , ,

Darsombra Premiere “Shelter in Place” Video; European Tour Starts This Week

Posted in Bootleg Theater on April 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

darsombra shelter in place video

Darsombra released their plague-chronicle 2LP Dumesday Book (review here) last August — Crucial Blast has a double-tape out as of March — and, well, maybe it’s time to start thinking of the go-forth-from-Maryland two-piece as more of a longform art project than a band. If they were more pretentious, less inclined to roam and had more money, they’d probably be able to cast themselves as ‘arthouse,’ but the fact is their work isn’t really meant for gallery walls or any other kind. It’s too open in itself to be so contained. Free-drone.

From the sirens of “Call the Doctor (Pandemonium Mix)” and the chants of “Everything is Canceled,” from the drumless guitar prog and oddball vocals repeating the title of “Gibbet Lore” as it comes to a head to the serene reaches where the near-18 minutes of “Azimuth” end up, there’s not much that feels off limits to the duo of Ann Everton and Brian Daniloski. Synthesized, organic, programmed or pulsed, the material is defined in part by the whims it chooses to follow, and while that can at times lead to a kind of willful disjointedness — because not everything connects and not everything is supposed to; you’re not in an ’80s sitcom — Dumesday Book is an encompassing memoir of a time that at least many would rather forget than learn from. They’re not much for percussion and never have been, but neither do pieces like the empty-space strum and blown-out preach of “Plague Times” or the foreboding reprise “Still Canceled” lack movement. As they do, Darsombra are just tracing the patterns of their own math.

I won’t lie to you and say it isn’t helpful having a stated and discernible theme to latch onto in listening to Dumesday Book — the tracks themselves more ‘of the time’ than ‘about’ it — but their keys-and-guitar-based explorations have rarely been unwelcoming in the past, at least to those able to let go of expecting things like verses and choruses in their music. As regards the video premiering below for opening track “Shelter in Place,” the visual fluidity of movement of wind through the dark fabric that becomes ghostly, cosmic, colorized, and so on, is somewhat ironic given the title’s inherent stillness, but I’m not sure that isn’t the idea or that the spectral figure reminiscent of Death itself isn’t the story of the covid pandemic arriving at the shores of humanity’s collective helplessness at the outset of this downhill decade. And you know what? It’s Darsombra, so it’s also okay to not be sure. Not like they’re judging.

Everton and Daniloski begin their next European tour at Roadburn 2024 this Friday, and they’ll hook up with Stinking Lizaveta for the UK portion of the run to hit Desertfest London after playing the anniversary party for Exile on Mainstream in Germany. They’re abroad through the end of May and into June, and it likely won’t be long before they announce the next month-plus tour after this one because that’s how it goes with Darsombra‘s have-noise-will-travel nomadic tendencies. No coincidence that comes paired with such a resonant sense of sonic adventurousness.

“Shelter in Place,” at just three minutes, is the opening to the world portrayed throughout Dumesday Book. On its own, it provides a sample of Darsombra‘s aural dimensionality without necessarily encapsulating the whole. It leads you in, in other words.

Please enjoy:

Darsombra, “Shelter in Place” video premiere

Music by Darsombra
Video directed and edited by Ann Everton
Camera work by Brian Daniloski

“Shelter In Place” is the first track on Darsombra’s 2023 double album, “Dumesday Book”, available at

Shot on location at Assateague Island, USA. No ponies were harmed in the making of this film.

The latest video from Dumesday Book arrives with “Shelter In Place,” the album’s opening track. “Shelter In Place” is an ominous, majestic introduction to the album’s uncertain journey of the deep range of human emotions characteristic during plague times. The track is quaking, vast, and full of portent; the video, filmed and edited by Everton, gives the tsunami of precarious fear a doleful, baleful visage. Welcome to the trip.

Dumesday Book is available on CD, 2xLP, and digitally on DARSOMBRA’s Pnictogen Records. Physical formats include a twelve-page booklet, a sticker, and a download code with access to bonus material.

Place orders at the band’s webshop HERE:

Bandcamp orders HERE:

Additionally, Crucial Blast just released the record in a limited double-cassette box set, available HERE:

This week, DARSOMBRA will make their return to the Roadburn Festival alongside The Jesus And Mary Chain, Chelsea Wolfe, Khanate, Blood Incantation, and dozens more. Roadburn is followed by shows across Germany, Poland, Holland, and Belgium, on their way to play Exile On Mainstream 25 Festival dates in both Berlin and Leipzig – the 25th anniversary of the diverse label for which DARSOMBRA is an alumni act – with Ostinato, A Whisper In The Noise, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, Conny Ochs, and many others also on the four-day/two-city bill.

In the wake of EOM25, they’ll join up with their allies Stinking Lizaveta for shows across the UK, including Desertfest London with Godflesh, Suicidal Tendencies, Ufomammut, Bongripper, Acid King, Monolord, and many more. DARSOMBRA will then make their live debut in Ireland, playing three shows across the country. See all confirmed dates below and watch for additional tour dates for the Summer and Fall months to be announced.

4/19/2024 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, NL
4/24/2024 Kunstverein Hintere Cramergasse e.V – Nuremberg, DE
4/25/2024 Kalambur – Wroclaw, PL
4/26/2024 Lot Chmiela – Poznan, PL
4/27/2024 Awaria – Krakow, PL
4/28/2024 Mlodsza Siostra – Warsaw, PL
5/03/2024 Het Alternatief – Nijmegen, NL
5/05/2024 De Loft – Herent, BE
5/09/2024 Exile On Mainstream 25 Fest – Berlin, DE
5/10/2024 Exile On Mainstream 25 Fest – Leipzig, DE
5/14/2024 The Gryphon – Bristol, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/16/2024 Puzzle Hall Inn – Sowerby Bridge, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/17/2024 The Cellar – Cardigan, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/19/2024 Desertfest – London, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/22/2024 The Lubber Fiend – Newcastle, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/23/2024 BLOC – Glasgow, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/24/2024 St. Vincent’s Chapel – Edinburgh, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/25/2024 Tooth & Claw – Inverness, UK w/ Stinking Lizaveta
5/30/2024 Coughlan’s – Cork, IE
5/31/2024 Kasbah/Dolan’s – Limerick, IE
6/01/2024 Saturday Anseo – Dublin, IE

Darsombra, Dumesday Book (2023)

Darsombra on Facebook

Darsombra on Instagram

Darsombra on Bandcamp

Darsombra website

Pnictogen Records on Instagram

Crucial Blast on Facebook

Crucial Blast on Instagram

Crucial Blast website

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ten Ton Slug Post “Ancient Ways”; Colossal Oppressor Due May 1

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 15th, 2024 by JJ Koczan

As is the case here, I often ask bands for quotes about songs, new albums, tours, whatever the news is, really. I think Ten Ton Slug might be the first outfit who’ve ever sent back a blurb about a new single and ended it with an all-caps “OUGH,” in the fine tradition of one Tom G. Warrior. Since the song the Irish burlbringers are unveiling from their upcoming Colossal Oppressor is the aggro-shoving “Ancient Ways,” this could hardly be more appropriate.

“Ancient Ways” brings five-plus minutes of overarching groove, layered growls, shouts and screams, and a largesse-bent approach that, if it was sloppier, you could probably call sludge, but that here stands astride your soon-to-be-hammer-smashed skull with poise in its own violence. It’s a big groove, big tone, big riffs, and the vibe is punishment, but almost certainly the kind of punishment inflicted on one’s neck after a night of headbanging, however ominous the threat of the album’s title.

Ten Ton Slug journey to the US in June for Maryland Doom Fest, and they’ve got dates in Limerick and Dublin before they travel. More on that, the quote, and of course the song follow here, courtesy of the PR wire:


Ten Ton Slug on “Ancient Ways”:

The album ‘Colossal Oppressor’ concerns itself primarily on the theme of oppression in its many guises, and on the many ways it is inflicted on humanity by the world and by the Slug. ‘Ancient Ways’ is one of two tracks on the album (along with the Irish language track – ‘Mallacht an tSloda’) which deals with this theme not from the perspective of the oppressor, but instead from the perspective of those under the yoke of unbearable hardship. More specifically it reveals the mindset and determination needed to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to face the monster and beat it to the earth, to ultimately summon your power, and move forward.

The track is blues inspired with a stoner feel, featuring big dirty riffs and colossal drums.

Ten Ton Slug release the 2nd single from the upcoming album ‘Colossal Oppressor’ which releases everywhere on May 1st on Vinyl, CD and Digital

Stream it here:

The song ‘Ancient Ways’ is more stoner/blues/melody driven than the previous single yet contains all the elements one has come to expect from the Slug and more. Huge riffs, pummelling drums and grooves and melodies that stick in your head.

Subjugation approaches.

Catch the Slug live in Ireland this May:
May 3rd Dolans Limerick (ticket link)
May 5th The Grand Social Dublin (ticket link)

And in the USA this June:
June 23rd Maryland Doom Fest, Maryland, USA (ticket link)

Merch available here:

Ten Ton Slug:
Rónán Ó hArrachtáin – Vocals
Pavol Rosa – Bass
Sean Sullivan – Guitars/Vocals
Kelvin Doran – Drums*
*All drums written and arranged by Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin

Ten Ton Slug, Colossal Oppressor (2024)

Tags: , , , , ,