Every April since nineteen ninety-nine, Tilburg in the Netherlands, has played host to the hugely popular Roadburn Festival. One of the premier festivals if you are looking for the cream of the doom, stoner, dark wave, and extreme music crop and has showcased such incredible bands and artists over the years, everyone from Converge, Weedeater, and At the Gates, to Emma Ruth Rundle, A.A.Williams, and Anna Von Hausswolff. It truly is a roll call of the very best of the underground scene, that most normal earth dwellers have no clue about.
Well, two thousand and nineteen saw Morne, from Boston, Massachusetts, return to Tilburg, and that set was captured, and that recording is now imminently due for release. For anyone unfamiliar with Morne, they play a heavily atmospheric, doom sludge style metal, full of driving riffs, with a bleak lyrical style. Formed in two thousand and five, the band have released five studio albums, and what is now a couple of live performances, on to an unsuspecting audience.
Live At Roadburn is arguably a completest’s wet dream, it’s a six track, overview of the bands unique style and content. Mostly taken from two thousand and eighteens To The Night Unknown, as well as a relatively older tune, and a new cut from the most recent studio album, it still comes in at almost an hour, so be prepared to immerse yourself. Turn off your technology, lay back, and enjoy the closest thing you will probably get to a live experience for the next few months, that’s for sure.
In a time where live gigs are on a hiatus, to be able to experience ANY live performance is almost as precious as water is to the survival of the species. If you’ve ever closed your eyes at a gig, and taken it all in without the addition of sight, you will understand just how powerful that feeling of being there is, and this album truly captures that feeling so well. Minus the sweaty audience though, but I’m pretty sure if you wanted to replicate that too, you wouldn’t need to try too hard.
So, to the music….
As the album starts, we have the initial intro, the sound of the crowd getting ready for action, and the opening bars that signal their arrival to the stage…
Track one, To The Night Unknown, tentatively starts proceedings, the echoes of reverb and feedback are soon replaced when the pounding of the drums begin. A gradual progression is quickly replaced with a vicious vocal, which is so in your face, that it leaves you in no doubt to just how intense this performance really is. As blast beats layer the background, Milosz Gassan’s vocals are as on point as ever, visceral and guttural in equal measure. This relentless onslaught is all consuming, and it doesn’t allow you time to turn away.
As blast beats layer the background, Milosz Gassan’s vocals are as on point as ever, visceral and guttural in equal measure…
As the pace drops off toward the end, it’s replaced with a more ambient moment, in preparation for track two, Not Our Flame, that is twelve minutes of intense, doom filled aggression. The guttural growls are furiously delivered, over a thunderous drum entourage. This track is like a game of two halves, midway it breaks down, and as the crowd roar, it changes pace, and proceeds to chug forward instrumentally for its remainder. The music carries the narrative, it is as intense as it is emotional.
It’s at this point I draw comparison with another Roadburn band, Cult of Luna, as they play in quite a similar way, flitting between pure aggression, and immersive ambience.
The next couple of cuts continue on this adventure in pretty much the same way. Track three, I Will See You, from two thousand and eleven’s album Asylum, is thunderous, with serious riffage throughout, and huge chugging guitar work. When the vocal does kick in, it is as aggressive as anything, face melting in fact. Track four, Night Awaits The Dawn continues down this dark nightmare inducing path, in the same way, it’s equally as menacing, and by the time the feedback at the finale of it emerges, it is like riding out a nightmare, and waking to see that it was all just a dream.
Track five, Twilight Burns, is the only offering that gets an airing from two thousand and nineteen’s album Rust, but this isn’t really a surprise, especially for a festival set, as bands tend to play to their strength’s, and deliver what they think the crowd will be wanting to hear, while adding in some new elements, just for good measure. Twilight Burns is decidedly more upbeat, but with the death metal vocal hanging over it, you still know who you’re experiencing.
Shadowed Road, again from two thousand and eighteen’s To The Night Unknown, closes the set. Through the whole near on eight minutes, it’s dark and menacing, the atmosphere doesn’t relent until the dying moments, when it breaks down, and returns to a similar pattern to the opening, and the keyboard and soundscape drones tie it off nicely.
As the silence returns, I also sit in the silence, and realise just how sombre I feel afterwards. I hadn’t noticed just how intense the whole affair had been, until it was done, and I had a moment to reflect. To say that it left me unswayed would be a lie. It’s an intense experience, and I guess the best, most emotive music, has the power to do that; make you feel something, whether good, or bad, and this certainly left an impression on me, far beyond the end of the album.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish