Amenra Release Haunting Video For Children Of The Eye

Cult favorite Amenra have released their brand new music video for the track ‘Children Of The Eye’. The song comes off of their forthcoming new album Mass VI via Neurot Recordings next month. Watch the clip below. Continue reading

Roadburn Festival 2016 Part II: Various Venues, Tilburg NL

neurosis 30th anniversary at roadburn

Part II

Noticing Amenra would be doing an acoustic set on Saturday, it brought nothing but confusion since they are well-known for their vigorous, powerful live performances. Acoustic? Singer Colin van Eeckhout even admitted feeling very nervous at the beginning of the set. The band was sat in a circle in the semi-darkness of the stage, only slightly illuminated by beams of light. 013’s brand new main stage felt almost obscenely big for such an intimate setting. However, once they got started, this added a vibe of disconnection from the band that almost gave you a feeling you were watching something you weren’t supposed to see. They managed to find a way to play their 2009’s acoustic EP Afterlife so timid and delicate, that the crowd seemed to be in trance and didn’t wake up until their cover of Tool’s ‘Parabol’, which earned them a deafening applause. For their second set at the Afterburner, they were back to their post-metal selves, screeching, pounding and shredding in exactly the way we know and love them. Leaving us to timidly watch the ripples forming in our beers as if a T-rex came stomping by, while the magic from the night before faded to a distant memory.

Amenra, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Amenra, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

An unexpected highlight on the Saturday was Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. Both captivating and furiously loud, their psychedelic visuals and droning music created the perfect setting for a lot of people to hang out on the floor of the main stage and take in the wall of sound the Americans produced. For those of us feeling more awake, progressive space-rockers Astrosoniq, led by a very Rock’n’roll looking singer, gave a more fast-paced performance in the Green Room. Walter, in official terms the artistic director of Roadburn, but in reality the true heart and soul of the festival, brought out his visuals to accompany Astrosoniq’s very psychedelic guitar riffs.

 

Ghostcult Astrosoniq 47

Astroniq, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Roadburn 2014 favorites The Vintage Caravan showed up for a surprise gig at café Cul de Sac on Sunday. Well, I say surprise, but 30 minutes before showtime the venue was absolutely packed with people. There is only one way to actually see a band in Cul de Sac: be hella early. So we found ourselves snuggly between 150 hot and sweaty, hungover fans with no chance of reaching the bar or the toilets in the next hour-and-a-half. But boy, was it WORTH it. The Islandic rockers tried to drill out our hangovers with their heavy bass and guitarist Oskar‘s relentless headbanging let us forget that this was our fourth day at the festival already and we were supposed to be very tired.

The greatest thing about Roadburn must be the diversity of the people you meet. Surrounded by more foreigners than native Dutch, you usually leave the festival a couple of Finnish words wiser than you were before (none of which probably as innocent as they led you to believe). However, I’m not going to lie: people watching is right up there on my list of favorite pastimes, and there really isn’t a better place for it than Roadburn. Mainly because metal shows in themselves are beacons of creative and eccentric people. And Roadburn, well, that is the holy grail of metal shows. Amidst a goldmine of glorious manes and enviously long beards, there seem to be more crust punks than usual (thank you G.I.S.M and Converge) and of course every back patch under the sun.

 

 

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

 

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

 

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

Neurosis, by Susanne A. Maathuis Photography

One of the most spotted patches this year was obviously Neurosis. You’d think that playing two ’30th Anniversary’ sets would bring about its problems. After all, having a thirty-year spanning discography to choose from can’t be easy. Remarkably enough Neurosis managed to represent each and every one of their records during their shows, right back to their 1985 hardcore punk debut Pain of Mind. It is astounding to see how much they have grown and changed over the years, before they settled into their skin of a contemporary hurricane of genres, set to a baseline of doom. When the final tones of 1999’s ‘The Doorway’ sounded at the Afterburner, it left us with nothing but goosebumps, hands sore from clapping and a profound sense that 366 days are way too many to wait until the next Roadburn.

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WORDS BY CÉLINE HUIZER

PHOTOS BY SUSANNE A. MAATHUIS

Damnation Festival Part 2: Live at Leeds University

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After bumping into three-quarters of Undersmile who by their own admission were now “on a band outing”, it was time for tea, and also to enjoy half an hour with our “Pressed out” esteemed UK Editor. As Diego Costa massacred a defender’s facial features (odd that…) on the big screen, the magnificent Old Bar provided wondrous sustenance in the form of a chilli dog, death burger and storming IPAs for just around £15.00.

This was all damaged in time to witness one of the final showings of the majestic Altar of Plagues, a band still vital, still relevant, always adored and fully compelling. The Blackened Industrial outfit caused the first real queue into Eyesore, testament to the appeal of the Irishmen who showed with mind-blowing creativity and a little more action (plus a real drummer) what C.R.O.W.N. could have achieved. It was almost impossible to see through the – yes, you guessed it – ridiculous light display, but the drama that the Boys infused into all by the inflections of their riffs was impossible to ignore. Leaning on the cabs of the mixing desk it’s staggering to see the calm yet assured way mixers Johnny and Harry help to make this all sound so dynamic: indeed, as the impossibly youthful James Kelly issues a subtle “cheers Leeds”, you’re nevertheless almost unsure who to watch next. Especially as there were no flashing lights emanating from the lesser-known duo…the swell of the closing coda was a fitting climax to a blinding set in more ways than one.

The second journalist to take the stage today, Nick Ruskell’s Witchsorrow plied forth their Electric Wizard-esque Doom which, though musically strong and ripping through the packed room, is not augmented by Ruskell’s limited vocal and rather unimaginative stage banter [PQ].

Solstafir at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Solstafir at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Last year, Icelandic post-rockers Solstafir walked away with all the (non-Bolt Thrower) plaudits, with the second stage unable to contain their emotive, powerful epics, punters locked out and the room filled to bursting. Invited back to sprinkle their magic dust over the main stage, once again Aðalbjörn Tryggvason holds Leeds University effortlessly in the palm of his hands, their beautiful, lapping, and pervasive striking hymns swirling and rapturously received [ST]

Amenra at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Amenra at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

 

Listening to Colin van Eeckhout, however, is like listening to a tormented angel. First harmonising in Benedictine style, then screaming in twisted agony. Barefoot and in shorts, he sprang as the incredible Amenra reduced the hall violently to tears in an instant; Eeckhout facing backwards, bounding and screaming maniacally whilst vast swathes of post-Black Metal crashed about him. There were few flashing lights here: just a black-and-white backdrop flickering between speeding clouds, rippling water and Flanders fields-style explosions. The drama, the mysticism, was as potent as the sparing chords shimmering from the guitars of the frankly alarming Levy Seynaeve: van Eeckhout’s head bowed, the aching wounds apparent in the ensuing screams. Halfway through ‘Nowena 9|10’, he spun and faced us ever so briefly, and the image was complete. Subsequently removing his t-shirt as he knelt toward the drums for the unnerving ‘Boden’, the tension and empathy could be touched. Shattered, spent bodies were somehow stood absorbing every last increase of sound. All bar the knelt, bowed body of the greatest living ball of intensity I’ve ever encountered.

Amenra were beyond moving and I’m unashamed to say that I was violently sobbing as I rocked back and forth with the troubling yet transcendent experience.

Robbie is in his fifties, and took his security role seriously yet with a degree of deadpan which endears him to the punter. “There’s never any bother here. Well, apart from it killing mi legs” he reflected with a cheeky yet droll sarcasm. Directing entry to both the Terrorizer and ‘Mine areas, it was an intense yet obviously enjoyable role for him.

Meanwhile, at ‘Mine, it was hard misfortune that saw arguably the UK’s best Occult Doom band slotted in between two of the best live draws in World metal, and clashing with High On Fire. As a result, the dungeon was half-full for a crushing set from The Wounded Kings. An atmospheric experimentalism married with a pulverising groove, Steve Mills’ solos were a real breath of air whilst George Birch’s oscillating vocal is almost unique, Pete Steele-like; his guitar squealing, his shapes mesmeric, the man has grown into a consummate frontman. It was great to see the two old friends duelling together in what is now a real unit, with closing track ‘The Message’ a whirling mass of pulsating noise.

Primordial at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

And so to the Greatest Band in the World™. Certainly, surely, the greatest frontman. It’s staggering that there’s room at all to get in to see Primordial, but thank the Heavy Metal Gods that there were a few slivers for a chubby dude to slip in to. “We meet again!” hollers Nemtheanga after a rapturously received ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’, and once more a rapt throng is in the palm of his hand – if there was ever any doubt. ‘Babel’s Tower’ saw a worshipping collective almost motionless as they dropped on every word, every dramatic itonation, every plaintive act of defiance, every indelible scream. “Everywhere I look I see old friends” uttered a typically effusive Alan Averill, subsequently leading the audience participation of ‘As Rome Burns’, a powerhouse which grabbed all in roared intonations. The euphoric yet moving ‘Wield Lightning to Split the Sun’ had Averill beckoning and clawing his belly with wrought passion, asking the usual question: “Are You With Us?!”

Primordial at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Primordial at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

As ever, as One, we were.

As is always the case, the closing band on the ‘Mine stage was half-attended. As always it was a big miss for the ovine hordes. Tonight 40 Watt Sun were minimalist, light yet crushing, and utterly heartbreaking. This band transcends Doom heaviness, Post musicality, Shoegaze emotion, and Folk personification, to create a chilled yet pained entity which simultaneously relaxed and tweaked every synapse and demanded to be heard and enjoyed. Patrick Walker delicately strummed his guitar, whilst his edgy Folk voice shattered the soul with its poignancy. And still, people didn’t shut the fuck up. The delight is that new songs were being played, the second of which – if Walker’s hushed whisper is to be correctly interpreted – was called ‘Beyond You’. It’s arguable whether such pared-back, Funereal balladry belongs at such an event, but not for the lachrymose souls like myself and what seems like most of the Belgian contingent, one of whom tells me to ‘Ssh’ quite vehemently as I’m instructing a fellow watcher to do the same; go figure… ‘Carry Me Home’ was received like a long lost friend and intoned lovingly and emotionally; there was a growing fear that the early finish was permanent before the trio returned to deliver a hackle-raising ‘Restless’ which, in true ’Queen in Rio’ fashion, was sung emotionally and lustily to Walker for the most poignant, tear-inducing end to a night I’ve ever been a part of [PQ].

The reason for the thinner crowd than deserved for 40 Watt Sun? A triumphant conquering from Swedish legends, and festival headliners, At The Gates; a barnstorming non-stop roil of jagged riffs and powerhouse anthems spilling forth in a slew of genuine metal classics. Liberally sprinkling the set with visits to last years At War With Reality (Century Media) showed the newest addition to their canon more than holds its own in the presence of greatness.

And if you wanted extreme metal greatness, you got it. ‘Death And The Labyrinth’ begat ‘Slaughter Of The Soul’ running headlong into ‘Cold’ in a set opening par excellence and par violence, matched only when ‘Under A Serpent Sun’ vomited into ‘Windows’ into a vitriolic ‘Suicide Nation’. Elsewhere ‘Nausea’ brought the sickness, and ‘The Book Of Sand’, amongst others, crushed as ATG delivered their strongest live performance on these sceptre isles since reforming.

As the beers (by now the in-venue piss of Red Stripe) flowed as quickly as the riffs, an encore of ‘Blinded By Fear’ and an unbelievably scything ‘Kingdom “Fucking” Gone’ devastated, before the fuck you of ‘The Night Eternal’ sent the throng home sated in HEAVY metal brilliance. [ST]

 

At The Gates at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

At The Gates at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Damnation is always one big rush: for fan, organiser, band member, reviewer, and every one of those wonderful unsung heroes that help to run the day. That situation is made worthy by the realisation of the anticipation: all of the friendships forged throughout the day; the fan rubbing shoulders and glasses with the performer; the scribe meeting old friends in the form of fellow scribes, interviewees and Legends. For all of the magical days on a Metal fan’s calendar, there aren’t many to compare with the sheer enjoyment and camaraderie of this first Saturday in November. Amenra didn’t so much steal this one as clutch it to their fractured breasts for all eternity, but there were many more acts making this one so special. This has to be the greatest value-for-money exercise around right now, and the small but heroically dedicated band of organisers has left itself one massive, collective headache to work out how to match this for next year [PQ].

At The Gates at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

At The Gates at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

 

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WORDS BY PAUL QUINN

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICH PRICE

Damnation Festival Part I: Live at Leeds University

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Half an hour after doors opened to the latest instalment of what is surely one of Europe’s premier indoor Metal festivals, my gig buddies and I witnessed a spotty oik giving lip to a (albeit somewhat intolerant) doorman; meanwhile, one or two of said security bod’s less experienced colleagues were being unnecessarily stringent in barring perfectly acceptable entries to the Leeds university Old Bar. Youth, it would seem, is not always the desirable status us old’uns seem hell-bent on recreating…

The King is Blind (28)

The King Is Blind at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

As if to prove a point, the experienced boys of Colchester’s The King Is Blind ripped the Terrorizer stage a new one with their Blackened Death Doom hybrid and, in doing so, gave Damnation 2015 a fiery opening. The initial crowd had bred tenfold by the end of opener ‘Devoured’, and it was obvious from frontman Stephen John Tovey’s grinning visage that this was as enjoyable for the protagonists. Tovey threw horns with gay abandon and the band produced drops with the weight of a crash of rhino. New track ‘Genesis Refracted’ was lapped up by a crowd which needed a little time to get going, but eventually whipped up a small but vicious ‘pit’.

Undersmile (3)

Undersmile at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

Undersmile had the crowd to themselves in the day’s only ‘non-clash’ slot on the Electric Amphetamine (referred to as the ‘Mine), third, stage, and every note of their shuddering Grunge  Drone splintered bone. The screamed “Swim on” refrain of set opener ‘Atacama Sunburn’ disembowelled, the bewitching defiled dolls Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown holding court whilst rhythm partners Olly Corona-Brown and Tom McKibbin waited to deliver the crush. A snaking, pulverising ‘Sky Burial’ concluded a hypnotising yet visceral set and surely gained this prepossessing quartet more fans in the process.

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Wiegedood at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

The first offering of three from the Belgian ‘Church of Ra’, Wiegedood’s blackened assault packed out the second stage, no doubt partly due to the Amenra connection, but that doesn’t take away from the deeply meaningful assault; whereas our first visit to the Eyesore saw the fiddle-graced Post-Rock of Talons compel a sizeable throng, and my first encounter with the dreadfully affecting, strobing lights.

Beer was flowing freely in the University’s Terrace bar so it was somewhat surprising to see ‘Jack and Alice’s storming burger joint doing less well. Guys, the cheese and bacon special was to die for…!

Positively shocking was the crush to get to see relatively unknown Kent outfit Ohhms at ‘Mine: two minutes into their set showed the reason. Their bluesy, low-end Reef-esque workout was injected with added spice by vocalist Paul Waller whose mad barefoot ‘surfing’ was the Heavy world’s Bez / Ian Brown hybrid. Captivating, dangerous, infectiously active, the whole band created one of the festival’s most talked-about sets.

Voices (7)

Voices at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

French duo C.R.O.W.N. sought to wrest that mantle but their nevertheless atmospheric, Industrial post-Sludge was lacking in movement. Their hypnotic beats graced by static imagery it was a creative and sonically violent set, lazy yet striking, and musically brilliant which almost switched attention from the lack of stage presence – and those fucking lights that also plagued a dramatic set from Voices, for whom the Akercocke spin-off tag was  firmly banished by the incredible London (Candlelight); their technical darkness holding the room in its thrall despite missing a certain mobility. Over at Jӓgermeister the Church of Ra’s second offering was laying waste: Oathbreaker’s Blackened Hardcore onslaught drew a huge crowd; vocalist Caro Tanghe leading a frantic, animated delivery.

Sea Bastard (6)

Sea Bastard at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

It would have been interesting to see if Sea Bastard would have filled the main room, as ‘Mine was utterly rammed for the eleventh-hour replacement for Black Tusk. This is a band of implosive power, Oli Irongiant’s lofty stature possibly the only thing to dwarf the power of The Riff, and let rip with the set of the day to this point. Oppressive, the shudders displaced vertebrae along with Monty’s coruscating rasp, while Steve Patton and George Leaver based rhythms that would have crushed Everest. Never has the world seen a guitarist who feels every chord like Oli: grimacing, building the riff with sways of his giant body, his roars needed no microphone. Monty’s dreadlocks hung from his face like the monstrous sea creature they portray during forthcoming track ‘The Hermit’, the rare faster sections still trampling most other acts to dust.

Maybeshewill (11)

maybeshewill at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

In complete contrast to Vreid’s vicious yet occasionally inventive Black assault over at Terrorizer, Maybeshewill have decided they’ve been peddling their melodic heaviness for long enough and that’s a great shame. With more than a nod to the likes of Sigur Ros they packed out the notorious left upper room and left few dry eyes in the process: their sound icicle-cold yet sweet, nostalgic and heavy, their effusive thanks incredibly moving. Closing one’s eyes and allowing the pulses of light and utterly heart-breaking sound to wash over the head, it was easy to underestimate the fact that 40 Watt Sun was still to come.

The brittle beauty of the outgoing quintet’s melodic sweep seems apt for the story of Jim Willumsen, once of The Wounded Kings and the late, great Ishmael, now doing his fifth festival of the year as a fan. A protagonist of my favourite-ever gig, he is nevertheless happy with his lack of band involvement for now. “It gives me a chance to see loads of different stuff” said this quiet legend of the low-end. It’s also a fitting soundtrack for a meeting with Ian Davis, as former drummer of Grimpen Mire another crucial ingredient of that night and still mourning his former bandmate Paul van Linden, outside the room.

The Ocean (16)

The Ocean at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

The Ocean came complete with cellist and a whole host of atmospherics, aided by my Bee 17 hybrid lager which, at £4:00 for a coke-sized can, seemed steep but it was a very pleasant change from the swill usually found at such events. This all embellished the German ensemble’s largely Prog effect but also contrasted superbly with the harsher elements of their sound. Jӓgermeister’s main stage was suitably packed, making it hard to believe there was a capacity cut for this year, but their set in 2013 benefited more from the vantage points of this year’s Terrorizer room. Ghold’s appearance at ‘Mine didn’t attract the numbers that previous bands had brought to that area but their darkened doom, like a Death-riddled Conan, rattled already battered heads. The inclusion of a guitarist gave their live presence another, more beneficial dimension to that on record.

Ghold (7)

Ghold at Damnation Festival 2015. Photo Credit: Rich Price

 

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WORDS BY PAUL QUINN

 PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICH PRICE

VVovnds – Descending Flesh

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An utterly fearful twenty minutes lies in wait for anyone daring to trip into Descending Flesh (Hypertension), the second full-length from Belgian blusterers VVovnds. That’s right: twenty minutes. So it’s Grind, right? Nope…

It isn’t a million miles away, of course – how could it not be? – but, whilst rampant and occasionally pensive, this vicious brand of Hardcore is infected with a slurring, viperous Sludge which sees ultra-quick tracks given an ever-so-slight dab on the brakes; such as the breakneck ‘A La Lanterne’ whose slashing Punk riffs are touched by a swamp-dipped groove, so minutely slower that it takes a second to register. ‘Golgotha’s horrific, Doom-laden morass is the vantage point of some terrifying roars from vocalist Jenci Vervaeke, aided by a monstrously reverberating production and the alarming, crushing speed of a nevertheless euphoric coda.

Here, despite the oft-derided flashing pace in evidence, is the Thinking Man’s pummel. One of only two tracks to crack the three-minute mark, ‘The Light’s sinister crawl sees that mix really come into its own: drums and cymbals full and brutal yet carrying razors on the back of the fizzing riffs, while Vervaeken’s yelping screams evoke images of Colin van Eeckhout having an even more traumatic day. The unfettered ferocity of ‘Coins’ is reined toward the close by a febrile yet barely-controlled climax, frantically trying to explode yet contained and subsequently pregnant with tension, while the singular screams toward the centrepoint of ‘Equality In Death’ are both nauseous and gripping.

This is, of course, a suitable length for such largely unflinching earache; the third quarter of the album seeming to grow a little uninspired if still excitable. However a quick return to form sees ‘Maleficia’ resemble a particularly unclean Pig Destroyer, while the snaking, squealing closer ‘Peine Forte’ does briefly and periodically have its leash lengthened, being supremely dictated by a lead riff and Pieter Blancke’s resonating drums.

Ultimately, anyone who worships at the altar of hideous, rapid outpourings would get a pleasurable bite from this, a particularly apt expression of the anger, pain and feverish agitation many of us are feeling after this weekend’s events.

 

7.5/10

 

PAUL QUINN