As April draws inexorably nearer, the full enormity of what has become an essential part of the discerning heavy music fan’s calendar blooms into full-blown giddy excitement. Roadburn Festival 2014 is the 19th installment of what started as a mere stoner rock festival but has since blossomed into a musical Mecca of epic proportions. The sheer breadth of music on show in Tilburg next April is enough to make anyone gawp – where other festivals (metal or otherwise) across Europe and America are content to construct bills out of bands that have been brought back from the dead for lackluster re-unions, Walter & Co insist on creating a patchwork of musical gems that span the ages as much as they transcend genres.
It’s as important to have fresh ideas as old masters on the bill, and next year’s installment is no different; from the bowels of the Sunshine State, those of us who couldn’t make Heavy Days in Doomtown last year will finally get to see the mighty Noothgrush lay waste to the 013. I for one hope they play some of the atypical Hawkwind-esque downer psychedelia that surfaced recently in the form of a “lost” album… In preparation for Tryptikon’s closing set on Sunday (bah, just stick to Hellhammer/early Frost material, eh Tom?), I heartily recommend those in the know and the uninitiated alike to check out the mighty Horse Latitudes; the morbid intensity of Hellhammer and the Pagan purity of Amebix fused into one furious bundle of riffs (not to mention insanely good drumming). The Finnish invasion shall continue with fresh-faced mystical cult-ists Mansion and the sublime sub-Joy Division/early Bauhaus ululations of Beastmilk (prepare to be AMAZED).
For those among us who crave a bit of solid fist-up-the-arse metal, we have been well cared for this year, with Procession and Age Of Taurus finally getting on the bill (axe and loincloth not included). This last band is a welcome and necessary breath of fresh air, as you’d be forgiven for thinking (until recently) that the UK had somewhat lost its edge to the mainland where straight-up ‘eavy metal is concerned, but I’m happy to say that Wright’s band of merrie men are spearheading a distinct revival in Britain’s fortune so far as heavy metal talent goes. As if to hammer home the point, 11Paranoias promise to devastate all before them with their sublime brand of horrific doom, before Mike Vest straps on the girdle of psych to back the otherwordly chanting of David Terry in the mighty Bong, a band that have yet to disappoint as a live act. If the lysergic soundscapes of Terry et al are too “out-there” for you, then Patrick Walker’s 40 Watt Sun are about as worldly (or world-weary) as you can get; I actually prefer them to Warning, I mean they never came up with a song as heartbreaking as “Carry Me Home” (although I understand there’s many who dispute this!).
Tackling darkness in an equally head-on fashion, I’m personally delighted to be able to witness again another fine export from Albion, the one and only Comus; it’s rare to be able to say that a band has an aura, especially after a thirty year gap, but somehow they have retained their power and are as breathtaking and spellbinding a live act as you could hope for. While we’re on the subject of bands asked to perform by Åkerfeldt, how can anyone fail to be excited at the prospect of seeing Magma, not to mention Opeth themselves (lots of “Ghost Reveries”, “Still Life”and “Blackwater Park” material, please!).
Perhaps most surprising (and heartening) of all is seeing two major nods to the kind of latter-day British psychedelia which has gone unappreciated (or maybe just forgotten?) for so long – Loop and The Heads, although actually from slightly different periods of the UK’s musical history where both bands trippin’ out long before it became fashionable all over again, and will doubtless be getting some long overdue adulation (especially where Loop are concerned). Whereas the latter wound up with a sexy “Stooges covering Zeppelin via Grand Funk” sound, the former always seemed more concerned with psychedelic music as a means to an end, taking in far more abstract influences, which Hampson elaborated further in the context of his excellent experimental solo work. Talking of experimental, I’m very curious as to what the unclassifiable Locrian will subject us to, but I’m sure whatever they assault us with, it will leave us disorientated and drained – surely I can’t have been the only one that felt that way after listening to “Drenched Lands”?!?
Last but not least, my favourite death metal discovery of 2013, Swiss destroyers Bölzer have a sound that defies belief – quite how they get the sounds they do as a two piece is a mystery to me, but I greatly look forward to experiencing it live – the word on the street is that they don’t disappoint live!
We at The Sleeping Shaman look to experiencing all this and more when our favourite time of year comes around – for the old friends we shall bind with again, and the new friends we shall make… they’re all one and the same at the dawn of Megiddo! And who says metal is dead? OUGH!
Roadburn Festival 2014 will run for four days from Thursday, April 10th to Sunday, April 13th 2014 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
Roadburn Festival 2014 ticket pre-sales are in full swing! GET IN ON THE ACTION HERE!
Scribed By: Saúl Do Caixão