By the time breakfast is done and the coffee is consumed, I realise it’s already day 3 of Roadburn. My feet hurt and my back is painful, but my mind just wants to go on and on and feels as enthusiastic about extreme music as ever. Today we’re looking forward to more GNOD, Mysticum, Slomatics and Disfear, but there’s much more of course, so let’s get to it.
It’s such a special Roadburn thing, I feel like when the 15 year old me got a pile of old metal magazines: I need to hear, see and read about all these exciting new bands! That grand unknown world of music that really electrifies the hair on the back of my neck. That’s how I experienced days one and two of Roadburn, reliving my ever growing love for this music. It’s how I experience every Roadburn this far. It’s amazing how energetic it makes you. Roadburn is a place of discovery in that sense, an unknown band on the bill means something you probably should see. Why? Because they must be on that bill for a reason, right? If Walter thinks I should see this, I should. This must be why change comes so easily for Roadburn, why peculiar acts find acceptance. It’s keen interest in music, the love and passion for creativity that unites the fans and the festival. That’s a beautiful thing.
So without much thought I head out quite early to catch the very first show of the day in the Cul de Sac, presented by Dutch heavy platform Never Mind The Hype. Last year the platform presented us with the phenomenal Dool, but this year they really have a treat on offer with the Dutch band Laster from Utrecht on stage.
The trio appears with white masks, frightening like the old plague doctors of those dark days blended with Venetian carnival. No, this is not a Ghost rip-off, the band doesn’t focus that much on the theatrical, though that is present in their music. Laster plays black metal with all its fury, but with a deadly serious playfulness to it as well. It’s like a strange dance is woven into the blast beats and guitar walls, both sinister and joking. The format in which the band plays doesn’t lend itself for the subtleties you hear on record, but there’s definitely something special in there that defies description. Johan van Hattum (Terzij De Horde) joins the band briefly on vocals and offers a sensual dance to the audience. It fits in with the seduction that the band offers.
While we’re here, we might as well wait for the surprise of this afternoon. No other than Icelandic black metal titans Misþyrming joins the fray in the big program gap this afternoon in the Cul de Sac. Since the band was present anyways due to Naðra playing earlier, why not? It’s a show to remember, with nothing but fire and ash remaining, the band’s sound barraging into the filled up venue full of energy and hatred. The burning eyes of singer Dagur Gonzales pierce right into your soul and tell you how damn serious the band is. Last year they smashed Het Patronaat, now the tiny venue falls victim to primitive, eruptive black metal. Sweat pours down the faces of the hard working band members and in one hours’ time they completely destroy this stage. Glory to Icelandic black metal!
In the meantime a band of music veterans have climbed the stage in Het Patronaat. Scott Kelly (Neurosis), John Baizley, Peter Adams (Baroness) and Marek Sarba (Insuiciety). Marc Emmerik from Dutch punk legends Vitamine X also joins on guitar and later does some vocals too. The group, going under the moniker Razors In The Night, are really just having the best of times playing classics from Iggy Pop, Minor Threat, the Ramones and the Misfits. Even Scott Kelly has a smile on his face and John Baizley has not looked as chilled out the whole weekend. This may be one of the most fun shows of the whole festival, thanks to its complete lack of pretentiousness. Just some guys jamming their favourite tunes for a crowd that loves to sing along.
That vibe is completely different on the Main Stage where the mighty Oranssi Pazuzu are delivering their take on sonic madness. The Finns are doing a comeback show, because last year they mesmerized everyone Het Patronaat. This time it is not much different as the band completely warps whatever you think black metal is, into something that is definitely spiced up with krautrock, prog and more strange spices. Jazzing it up and down to calm passages, where the music just flutters all over, the band completely captures the crowd again with another tumultuous outbreak. Psyching out, spinning long atmospheric parts and then just grabbing you by the throat once more. You can just not grasp Oranssi Pazuzu, simple.
GNOD is working with Kuro today, a drone duo. The first part of the set may have scared some people away since it was a long, winding drone of violin and double bass from the Kuro duo building up to the psyched out freakfest that follows as each member of GNOD enters the stage to add to the sonics. GNOD really manages to show themselves as one of the most diverse and vibrant live acts out there, and the best is yet to come on Sunday. Together with Kuro they manage to really get the tension as tight as possible before launching into another crazy party.
Much more grim and serious is the show of Youth Code in Het Patronaat. Youth Code is an EBM duo with Ryan George creating the harsh, aggressive beats while Sara Taylor shouts furiously over them. Violent and inciting, this is a good hour or rallying the troops for Youth Code who are not a revival act, but an act of rebellion. Maybe the best comparison is Atari Teenage Riot, maybe not musically relevant, but culturally so urgent to have this voice of dissent. A great show that really gets your blood boiling.
It’s strange how Warning becomes one of the most loved acts this Roadburn day with a set that feels in a way so mundane and middle of the road. I might provoke you with those words, but looking at the stage objectively it’s like four dads have come to pick up their kids. Performance wise, not much is happening over there, but once you really listen to the music Warning is playing, then you ‘get it’. If you picked up Watching From A Distance in 2006 or already were enchanted by 40 Watt Sun, this is not a process you had to go through. The voice of Patrick Walker cuts straight to your heart. Sorrowful and melancholic, he sings in sonorous honesty the words from this classic album to calm and slow guitar tones. There’s a sense of calm drama unfolding, where ones heart strings really are struck by those vocals. There’s so much contained heart in the words, that Walker always seem to be on the verge of bursting out in tears. That is what cuts straight to the heart during this performance, what a show!
In the Green Room the legends from Belfast Slomatics are playing to a packed venue. Seriously, if you can get an arm and a leg in there, you’re fortunate. Thick, massive riffs bounce of the walls and the band delivers a truly heavy show that brings back to mind the original Roadburn sound. Mighty guitars, sand between your teeth and a sweltering heat like the wind blowing from the desert. The band has a new album out and is keen to show us in Tilburg what they’ve got. Everything this band plays is big and massive, so obviously the crowd is rocking along. A big part surely because they love it, another part possibly because the place is so crammed, either way, everyone goes with the flow here. Jon Davis from Conan joins the band on stage to do guest vocals on the final track Ghost. Cherry on the cake, anyone?
A very, very special show is getting underway in Het Patronaat though. Jacob Bannon, who played two amazing shows last year with Converge, is back. Not just for the art expo, but also to present us with Wear Your Wounds, his solo project that gives a more naked, more direct musical expression to Bannon. Sincerity and unapologetic straight talking as ever, this is something that really hits you in the gut. Heavy, slow passages, melancholic key work and a passionate delivery are there from the very start of the set. With musicians around him from Sleigh Bells, Trap Them, The Red Chord, Cave In, Hatebreed and more, this is not just a rag tag group on stage. Not a super group though and granted, the set is not entirely tight, since the stage experience as a whole is still limited. Also the material is sort of limited, so the last ten minutes of the set is really just the band jamming out the same riff forever onward. It’s all good though, because somehow the way it unfolds shows Jake Bannon in a more fragile, vulnerable way as a frontman. The music is beautiful and pleasant, another high point for this day for sure.
Turn Loose The Swans is an album that will stand the test of time. The gothic, Victorian age charm of My Dying Bride knows no equal in the genre. Though My Dying Bride tours the Netherlands fairly often, getting the rarely played songs from this album and some other rarities is an absolute treat. After the intro, the band launches into the harrowingly beautiful Your River. The delivery is amazing, the slow, soaring sound laced with strings always works for the romantic ear. The added bonus is that on the backdrop work from Costin Chioreanu can be seen. His artwork brings something extra to the set, gives it a visible shape in a way that just feels right. Weary sounding, full of melancholy, the band marches through the set and gives the audience all it could wish. When the sorrowful title track ends, you might feel as if you’ve had enough but Aaron Stainthorpe and his glum band launch into some songs from The Angel & The Dark River. The grand The Cry Of Mankind being the final track of the show. Wishes come true at Roadburn.
OK, time to shake all that gloom off as its time to shake up a riot! That must have been on the mind of Tomas Lindberg and his gang in Het Patronaat. Yes, Disfear have arrived at Roadburn. The d-beat band just kicks off with a set that will probably had the staff in the venue worried if there’d be anything standing after the Swedes were done. It takes no time at all for the furious sound to start an enormous mosh right in front of the stage. The band has not been that active recently, the last record being from back in 2008, but the twinkle in Lindberg’s eyes when he grasps the reception the band is getting reinvigorates these old timers to play one of the most destructive, energetic sets this Roadburn is about to see. This is the party you need after a lot of more complex music, just let yourself go to Disfear!
But there’s always a band that needs to outdo everyone else. People have been drinking their special beers the whole day already, but no one is ready for what Mysticum has in store today. When the curtain on the main stage finally opens, three towers emerge on stage with one band member a top of each. No chatty times, just fucking furious, insane industrial black metal from the start. Flashing lights and projections illuminate the towers and band members. Words like Satan and 666 flash in rapid succession over the towers, while the band is ripping the 013 a new one with intense guitar play and barked vocals. Mysticum only has two settings it turns out, one is stop…the other one is HELL YEAH! That’s what we get for a full hour, one of the most intense live experiences ever and definitely not something for people with epilepsy.
Completely drained and crushed, we make it out alive. Tomorrow we enjoy one more wonderful day of music. Can’t wait!
The Bug vs Dylan Carlson
Razors In The Night
GNOD vs Kuru
My Dying Bride
Scribed by: Guido Segers
Photos by: Lee Edwards
Video by: super208productions