Into the final leg of Roadburn 2014 now and it’s clear that many of us are feeling the ‘burn. Tired-looking faces abound and I found actually hauling my sorry carcass out of my bunk a real chore, when I eventually surfaced and was able to face the day.
Still, there was much to look forward to today, or so I thought…..as it transpired, once again, I didn’t get to see much of what I wanted to thanks to my chronic inability to not stop and chat to anyone and everyone that I know, and some that I don’t, so I apologise for the lack of band coverage. Thankfully, there were a few of us there from The Sleeping Shaman this year so I’m sure that one of m’colleagues will take up the slack……hopefully.
After being repeatedly sidetracked – sorry Noothgrush – I didn’t get to see anyone until later in the day, starting with Yob who were performing The Great Cessation in its entirety, backed by the visuals of renowned Dutch visual-artist Jérôme Sieglaer Those visuals turned out to be a stunning meditation utilising the imagery of flowing, cascading water, which, when projected onto the enormous backdrop behind the band, perfectly complimented the visceral, organic torrent of music and pure unadulterated soul that poured off the stage, courtesy of Mike Scheidt, Aaron Rieseberg – one of the nicest, friendliest people that it has been my good fortune to meet in many a year – and Travis Foster.
Mike is someone who just exudes music and creativity, it seems to come to him as naturally as breathing, and it just gushes out of him in waves, making the visuals doubly apt. As much a force of nature as the overwhelming sound of the band – I spoke to a few people who told me later that Yob’s performance had brought a lump to their throat and tears to their eyes, and that level of emotional connection speaks volumes about how Yob – and Mike – project, and how they matter so much to the Roadburn community. They really are the perfect band for this festival and serve to encapsulate so much about what Roadburn is all about.
Wandering in a daze after Yob’s outpouring, I was once again strongarmed to a bar, whereupon I completely lost track of the time and missed Tribulation, Old Man Gloom and Indian, which I was a bit annoyed with myself about, but, fuck it, it’s good to reconnect and soak up the atmos as well as see the bands, right?
Much as I would have liked to have seen Mansion – whose EP I had been very impressed with – and -(16)- – if only for old times sake – they were unfortunately clashing with what was, for me, today’s main event, Loop so, alas, sacrifices had to be made.
I had last seen Loop as a mere pup back in 1990, touring for their swansong meisterwerk A Gilded Eternity – with Godflesh and World Domination Enterprises in support, no less – so you can imagine the level of anticipation.
Most thought this would never happen again since mainman Robert Hampson had quite vehemently spurned the idea repeatedly over the years, but I guess he had to bow to the demands of those who never had a chance to see them way back when or who just missed them terribly. Anything for a quiet life eh?
Joined by last guitarist Scott Dowson, longtime bassist Neil MacKay and Heads drummer Wayne Maskell, taking over from recently departed drummer John Wills and actually playing only his second show with the band (!), Hampson took the stage as their Apocalypse Now intro – featuring the voice of Marlon Brando intoning “…like I was shot with a diamond, a diamond bullet…”, as featured on the A-Side of the bonus 7” that was given away with initial copies of the original vinyl pressing of A Gilded Eternity, fact fans – played out and lead the band into classic Loop track Sound Head, with Maskell hammering away as though his life depended on it.
A selection of classics followed, Arc-Lite, Straight To Your Heart, The Nail Will Burn, to name a few, but ultimately they played my favourite track, Afterglow, so that’s the important thing. The sound was superb, the band were on fire and if I hadn’t been told that it was only Maskell’s second show with the band I would never have known. Hampson’s vocals were a lot more prominent in the mix than I’m usually used to from listening to their recordings, but he sounded great so it wasn’t a bad thing at all.
After what felt like an all-too-brief set they ended on their much-loved cover of Can’s Mother Sky and departed the stage. I’d say that was most definitely a triumphant set and the crowd was packed with people clearly glad to see Loop back again, for however long this reunion lasts.
After the high note of Loop’s set, I checked in at the Green Room next door to catch some low, low notes from Finland’s twin-bass masters of primitive metal misery Horse Latitudes. With brutalist drums and cosmic keys augmenting the low-end they made a powerful, powerful sound, but, alas, I couldn’t get into the room and was too beat to fight my way in. Thankfully, not unlike Samothrace, the sound was just as loud standing in the doorway. I could feel myself beginning to sag, so I stuck my head back into the main stage and caught a brief snatch of Harsh Toke, who surprised me with their riffiness, before admitting defeat and retiring for the evening.
Only one day left, will I make it? Tune in below to find out!!
Yes. Of course I did. Although, to be fair, the Afterburner bill was pretty slim pickings for me……or so I thought……
Now, I was not at all what you would call a fan of The Devil’s Blood. Nuh-uh, no sir, and thusly had not heard Selim Lemouchi’s solo album either, so watching the tribute to the late guitarist, Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies, wasn’t exactly high on my agenda. However, since I was the only member of Shaman staff around at the time, and it was clearly something that meant a lot to the Roadburn organisation I thought I ought to at least give it a cursory glance.
I picked my way up to the balcony of the 013, made myself comfortable and awaited the unknown. On the stage below were maybe nine musicians, including two drummers, three guitarists and Lemouchi’s sister Farida, formerly of The Devil’s Blood, assembled in front of an enormous screen. As the band struck up the opening notes of the first song – I’m afraid that my unfamiliarity with the music means that I can’t be sure of any titles, but I’m told that the entire set was based around the recently released Selim Lemouchi And His Enemies album Earth Air Spirit Water Fire – a series of images and films featuring the guitarist began to play in sync with the music emanating from the musicians…….and it was beautiful.
I find myself at a bit of a loss trying to describe it all adequately as I had, as I mentioned, no familiarity with any of the music at all – until after the fact, when I made it my business to pick up a copy of the album – but I would definitely apply the adjectives lunar, radiant and transcendent to the sounds that came forth from the stage. I guess there were similarities with the later music of Pink Floyd, except, well, I don’t care for the later music of Pink Floyd at all and find it terminally boring. That is most assuredly not a word that I would apply to what I heard here. I was mesmerised, by both the otherworldly music and the visuals – amidst the footage of Lemouchi in the act of recording and the repeated symbology of the album artwork – courtesy of Jérôme Siegelaer once again – there was an extended scene of the man himself half submerged in water with sheets of it raining down onto his upturned face, and something in that imagery was just so compelling that I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen.
Truly a stunning thing to see, hear and experience. The love for Lemouchi was palpable and I was finally able to recognise his talent.
I still don’t care for The Devil’s Blood though.
Stumbling out of the main room, I had to find a way to shoehorn myself into the Green Room in order to see savage Swiss duo Bölzer next, something which turned out to be quite a tricky feat. Due to the room itself being a rammed-tight sweatbox, I ended up squeezing into a tiny area at the side of the stage behind the amps, crammed under what appeared to be the main fusebox for the room and wedged into the armpit of Primordial’s Alan Averill, who dealt with it gracefully.
Like Thursday’s Mantar, Bölzer are a duo comprising a drummer and a guitarist/vocalist, unlike Mantar, however, Bölzer sound somewhat akin to the end result of dropping a death metal band and Steve Von Till into a cement mixer together. Absolutely vicious and completely unrelenting, they tore the Green Room a new arsehole and showed no mercy, drummer HzR blasting and skittering across the skins as mainman KzR simultaneously treble-picked for Satan, added bass notes and yelled himself hoarse through the immense Entranced by the Wolfshook and a selection of other goodies. Good as they were, though, my cramped corner was becoming evermore oppressive so I had to bow out before the end of the set and clear my head a little. I suspect that when their forthcoming album comes out, there’ll be a lot more people paying attention to Bölzer.
Catching a glimpse of Leif Edling’s latest project Avatarium on my way out of the building, I was struck by the music but not at all by the vocals, so decided to pass on watching more. Anyway, I needed to gird my loins for the pummelling that Yob, who were next on the agenda, were sure to give them.
Having already written about them in Saturday’s write-up, I won’t say too much more, other than that they were once again incredible and that the new material aired bodes very well indeed for their next album, Clearing The Path To Ascend, which is due shortly on Neurot….although, let’s face it, no-one is even in the slightest bit concerned that it will suck. As if it could!
I knew that my time was almost at an end and that I would have to abandon ship before the end of the night as I had to be up at six AM to catch a train to Amsterdam the next day for my flight home, so I started saying my goodbyes as Triptykon hit the stage.
Anyone who knows me knows my opinion of this band, and Tom G Warrior in general these days, so I won’t flog that dead horse here. I will, however, say that they opened strong with a track from their latest album Melana Chasmata that sounded exponentially better than just about anything I’d care to remember from Eparistera Daimones, and threw up a highly creditable take on Circle Of The Tyrants that lead to a flurry of headbanging and ‘OOUGH!!’s from the audience – myself included – but after that they tailed off into one-dimensional eminently forgettable dullness. Sorry kids. I did try!
…and that, as they say, was that. I had to say goodbye and prepare to be awoken at bastard o’clock for the trek back to Blighty. It’s a tough life innit?
Scribed By: Paul Robertson
Photos By: Lee Edwards
Video By: Mark 208