In an age where the line between dewy-eyed nostalgia and unashamed imitation is becoming blurred – we’re looking at you Greta Van Fleet – bands who dare to cherry pick the sum parts of their heroes and plot an original course should be praised. Glitter Wizard, whose latest full-length outing – Opera Villains (Heavy Psych Sounds) – aims to hit the high notes from its wide range of influences, are a spandex-clad bunch of psychedelia-indebted miscreants who have set out to do just that. Continue reading
Heavy Psych Sounds, one of the best labels in the world for stoner rock, doom and sludge has announced a limited engagement of festivals in the USA. Red Fang will be the special headliner on the west coast, with other bands like Nebula and Duel also headlining a few dates. Tickets for the Heavy Psych Sounds Fest shows in Los Angeles, Dallas and Austin are on sale now. Tickets for the San Francisco HPS event will go on sale February 28 at the link below. Continue reading
Day three: today we get just what I longed for after yesterday: more traditional heavy Roadburn fare. We start off with the bone crunching Noothgrush. Though not the mellow I was looking for they were very good. However, I didn’t get caught in their more abrasive deathy-sound and soon wandered off to catch some of Monster Truck. They pretty much play trucker hard rock, and if you have no idea what to imagine when I say that, think the kind of hard rock, burly, manly tough truckers would sing along to while driving down the long lonesome roads on long distance hauls. This was proper manly stuff, and very entertaining. After their set in the stuffed Greenroom I wandered outside to catch some air, meaning to go see Circle. However I got completely sidetracked and since I also wanted to see Windhand returned to the main hall to see them play an amazing set.
Windhand are rare, as they have a female vocalist, and not one who does overly female vocals. You could be forgiven for mistaking the deep throaty voice their vocalist has for a man singing and I’m not sure if they’d mind. Their stage presence is completely introverted, and they shamble and shuffle around in trance of their one performance, hardly seeking a connection with the crowd they play for but with them it doesn’t matter. It’s actually better, and makes you feel a bit like a voyeur if you actually watch them instead of dragging into the music, eyes closed slowly swaying side to side.
Today has been a day of good intentions getting sidetracked. I meant to see Scorpion Child, but ended up missing them and going to see Yob. Ah Yob,’s 5th set at Roadburn, 6th planned for tomorrow. What can we say but what Yob say themselves? Yob is love and right they are. The sound these three can produce is staggering, not just in sheer volume of the bass still audible in a restaurant across the street from the venue…), but also in the layers they produce with just three people. The drums pounding on while the bass crashes against the walls of the venue like cliffs, and the guitar heavy yet clear and melodic in her higher registers. The vocals are a refreshing snip through all the heavy being more a high end scream. The most incredibly thing about Yob though is the atmosphere and vibe they give off. You may be forgiven to think they make sad, angry and melancholy music, but really all the vibe is very mellow and even spiritual, taking you on a journey you never expected to go on. After their set we’re back to the theme of the day: meant to but somehow it slipped. I meant to see Indian, who played an incredible set, I heard, and had a que outside the door of Het Patronaat that stretched about 20-30 meters, I meant to see old man gloom, but decided I needed a bite to eat at that time. I meant to see Horisont, but instead went to catch some of the Icelandic Momentum. What to say of these guys… confused. For the first two three songs I didn’t quite know what to think of them, it was pretty straightforward doom, with some proggy bits, but nothing fantastic. And then their vocalist switched from grunts to clean, with harmonies that made no sense and just… no. I’m a stickler for clean vocals, if you do them, invest the time and training to do them properly, or else leave them to someone that can, or leave them out. They may grow and become better or may realize what style they want (it still felt very confused and in search of a solid style), but I walked out at that moment in search of something less wincing on the ears. This as it turned out was Loop. Here again I’m not sure what to think of them they were good, yes very good and technically excellent. But I’m not sure if the music is my cuppa tea. It felt a bit too 80s for me, and if I do retro I tend to lean more towards 60-70s than 80s. in any case after having tried to form an opinion on them for a while I gave up and went to see some of the Vintage Caravan again. They were again packed and again excellent, but the claustrophobic conditions in the stage 01 meant I didn’t stay long. I sincerely hope they get called back on a roomier stage another year or I can see them somewhere a little less crowded and enjoy them properly. Now here’s a pickle. Harsh Toke, Horse Latitudes, A Storm of Light and Glitter Wizard, playing the same time slot. These four bands are all over the board, but that doesn’t make choosing easier. Horse Lattitudes is properly heavy oppressive stuff, and A Storm of Light is best put in the more conventional sludge side, with some post core influenced I’d say. Harsh Toke is a proper party band, but loud and heavy enough that no-one goes “weak!” They’re psych rockers, but not in such a way as most are. While the riffs and notes are complex the dreaminess is kept in check by some good steady bass and drums, making it much less bewildering than most psych rock and definitely a very good band. After a bit of them I go see Gliytter Wizard though. The moment these Americans were put on the bill I knew I had to see them. A party band, these guys manage to 70s psych rock n roll with glitter touch (bare chests, sequined open black vests and magnificent moustaches) without becoming so terribly cheesy and well… glittery all balls are lost. The absurdity of this band however cannot hide they play incredibly good music and while it’s doused in a good dose of party even the musical connoisseurs of Roadburn seem to really enjoy these glitter wizards. And then off we go to the after party, heavy metal disco with Alan Avrill from Primordial spinning 80’s metal discs for our enjoyment, and while drunken shenanigans are a plenty, the foyer is definitely much more crowded this year than other years before. Maybe we need to move this party back to Het Patronaat?
Selim Lemouchi’s Enemies: Even when the clouds appear over the realm of Roadburn and it’s permanent inhabitants, it cannot break the unity. Selim Lemouchi and his Enemies was scheduled to play the afterburner until tragedy struck and the ex-Devil’s Blood singer took his own life a mere 1,5 months before the festival. The loss was raw and very real, but the organizers didn’t erase him. Instead they let the band, his enemies as he called them, play a tribute of over an hour fro their fallen leader. A big empty space in the center front of the stage symbolizes the loss and emptiness left behind as the whole of the room turns silent as the grave and the musicians play which such raw emotion it’s hard to bear. Projected images of Selim himself on the background add to the feelings that whirl through the main room. A heavy start to the last day, without the music itself being as “heavy” as some of the programmed bands.
To mellow us out after such an intense moment of grief for many attending, we have Avatarium. The gentler sounds of this doom band is a proper transition from something so intense to another very heavy show to come. The crisp clean female vocals of the band are exceptional in their opening number ‘Moonhorse’. The overall sound of this band is more towards Candlemass, but also Anathema’s older work. The sadness and mournfulness with a glimmer of hope depicted in the gentler, melodic patches of the music, after which the doomy storm of heavy bass and guitars pick up again prepare us for the onslaught that is to come; a second set by Yob.
He general consensus among all Yob fans (me included) that I chatted with was that their second set was better than the first, though both were very good. The thunderous waves of bass interlaced with melodies and vocals cutting through like clear knives is amazing with this band, especially with the energy they portray on stage. And while deep dark an oppressive, the mellow, happy gleaming beauty of this band rings through, as watching an ocean storm taking form and battering against the rocks. It is however a band that you need to fully immerse yourself in and then learn to ride their waves of bass to fully enjoy. Sit down, relax, close your eyes and let them move you and take you along.
Having already seen the new keepers of the water tower play during the per-sale party, I skipped them now, but their set was as magnificent and moving as it was then. The gentle psychedelics, combined with heavy riffs, beautifully harmonized drowning vocals and almost watery lights get everyone nodding. Their musical en technical prowess is more than adequate and these guys are definitely a band to go see when you can if you like the trippier side of heavy. Up next is Triptycon. What to say: bam! It blows you away and smashes your skull inside your head. Excellent set really and expertly done but again not really the thing I go for. Definitely one to cross of the “need to see” list, just didn’t move me the way some other bands do. Just a matter of taste. Having seen Harsh Toke the day before I decide to mellow out a little outside the room. I grabbed a glimpse of Mourne who were… immense. Immense, overwhelming and excellent, but a little heavy on the last few hours of an experience so intense as Roadburn. In the end I ended up watching Lumerians, and words cannot describe their show. They make very trippy atmospheric psychedelic… stuff that’s incredibly danceable, yet mellow and a perfect closer. And what appeared on stage can be described as wraiths or spectrals… they all wore long white hooded robes, obscuring the bands features, playing bent slightly forwards and sometimes a glimpse was caught of glowing eyes: L.E.D. -lights used inside the hoods as eyes of these spectral creatures. It gave an excellent extra dimension to a band that was more than enjoyable. And with them the last bits or Roadburn wither away and disappear, not to be seen until next year. Hugs were exchanged, goodbyes were said and sleep was needed. And right away the homesickness for Roadburn starts again. Just a year to go.
Words and photos by SUSANNE A> MAATHUIS