Rejoicing still in the simple fact we can have a physical Roadburn again, the final two days definitely wore on our pandemic shocked psyche and physique. Stumbling more and wearing down in a way I’m not used to, I mentioned to some friends during the weekend the Pandemic has made us all old, and 5 days on our feet now feel a lot longer. Saturday started with the feeling it felt like a Sunday, traditionally called the afterburner, because by that time you are fairly burnt out.
After three years of waiting and longing, finally there will be an in person Roadburn Festival again. While the 2021 online edition Roadburn Redux, was in itself, innovative and the best digital festival I’ve seen set up during the dark days of the pandemic, nothing beats being physically shaken by bass heavy music and hugging friends from all over the world you only see once a year.
As we continue to live in one of the most challenging times in history, one this for certain: music lovers are relieved to have somewhat of a return to normalcy. The return of live music, especially heavy music, provides the cathartic relief we have all been looking for. After over a year of postponements, cancellations, and livestreams, it’s a relief to get to experience live music, and return to experiencing art in the best way possible – together!
Emma Ruth Rundle – Orpheus Looking Back (Sargent House)
On the back of 2021’s exceptional Engine of Hell release, melancholic song-writer extraordinaire Emma Ruth Rundle cannot resist but cast one last longing look over her shoulder at the material prepared, written, and relating to that period, which included the break-up of a significant relationship – the subject of her previous, delicate, powerful full-length.
Consisting of three songs, each different in sound and style that didn’t completely fit with the dynamic of Engine…, Orpheus Looking Back nonetheless brings beauty in its wistful minimalism. ‘Gilded Cage’ is a strummed acoustic piece, ‘Pump Organ Song’ a spontaneous creation during the recording sessions on, well, a pump organ, while ‘St. Non’ is a breathy, guitar / vocal reflection.
While the format is less immersive than the previous full-length, Orpheus… is further example of Rundle’s class as a song-writer and ability to transfer emotion to bare music.
7 / 10
Emily Jane White – Alluvion (Talitres)
Taking a fuller approach to production, singer-songwriter Emily Jane White is reflecting on loss, grief and the impact of recent events on Alluvion, her downbeat and reflective sixth album.
Coaxing a gothic beauty to the underlying synths and minimal instrumentation, there is something of a gentle electro-pop feel to tracks like ‘Show Me The War’ and ‘The Hands Above Me’, a song that introduces subtle guitar peals and swells, and a hint of folk and shoegaze – as does the cello-backed ‘I Spent The Years Frozen’. ‘Mute Swan’ mixes in a repetitive eighties synth refrain with a comforting and underplayed vocal, and the standout track ‘Heresy’ is an ominous and effective duet with Darkher, with sparse chants recalling elements of Chelsea Wolfe.
There is plenty of scope in this reflective offering, as White’s intimate and open tones sit softly over the lush arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Anton Patzner and offer not just escape but hope amongst the darkness of our current situations.
7 / 10
Eight Bells – Legacy of Ruin (Prophecy Productions)
Patience is indeed a virtue, and good things doth verily come to those who are prepared to take their time dwelling in anticipation. It may be six years (and an overhaul of the supporting cast) since the last Eight Bells release, but the progressive, introspective vehicle of Melynda Jackson (guitars, vocals) is all the better for it. The addition of Cormorant’s Matt Solis works as a perfect counterfoil, either with harsh blackened backing vocals, or when chanting in unison with Jackson’s haunting, melancholic intonations. Solis also pops up in the spaces with as some interesting meandering bass runs, working intuitively with the atmospheres that Jackson creates.
This request for patience bears out in the individual tracks, too. Opener ‘Destroyer’ walks us through hints of progressive metal, psych, sludgy tones and touches of blackened cascades, before using a sparse guitar refrain to take us home and into the doomier, eleven-minute sprawl of ‘The Well’. Dynamically as a whole, this is further played out with the mid-album conjoined dreamy pair of ‘Torpid Dreamer’ and ‘Nadir’ combining and paying off; the former dark and doomed, with the latter bringing us through a moment of reflection to peace with its integrated dual vocals, at times reminiscent of a heavier Fleet Foxes – a feeling which is continued into ‘The Crone’, before the blackened elements of the Portland natives arsenal are unleashed.
And all of this is with the hulking presence of standout track, and album closer, ‘Premonition’ still to come; a summation of all the previous parts. Tremolo refrains scythe under a merging of howls and chants, before things settle, breathe and expand into a stately, melancholic close to moody, yet welcoming album.
8 / 10
Hangman’s Chair – A Loner (Nuclear Blast)
Tags and sub-genres, when misapplied, can be quite detrimental at times to bands. Not only are they misleading and mis-set expectations but can lead to people who would embrace and celebrate an act missing out on something that would be a perfect addition to their collection. France’s Hangman’s Chair have been labelled as Stoner and / or Doom (which in itself has a couple of different applications), yet there is nothing Desert or Weed-based here, as their sixth album A Loner continues the evolution and progression of their sound, and is a gorgeously reflective album of downbeat, shimmering Downer alternative rock, laced with moments of shoegaze.
Where there is anything sludgy, it is in some of the Stephen Carpenter / Deftones style looping, rolling low-slung supporting guitar moments, such as on ‘Cold and Distant’, a track that demonstrates Hangman’s Chair have a neat line in understated chorus, too, as does ‘Second Wind’. Moreover songs such as with the aptly titled ‘Supreme’, underline a Type O Negative influence that runs throughout, building in Life of Agony melodies and moments. Cédric Toufouti deals in layered vocals and lines of harmonies to support a voice that sits perfectly floating on top of the cinematic music, at times (‘Who Wants To Die Old’) reminiscent of Kristoffer Rygg.
Atmospheric and considered, the pairing of ‘Pariah & The Plague’ – a beautiful, layered non-vocal piece of music with tinkling guitar effects and brooding electronics – and the melancholy title track sum up the strengths of this unsung album.
8 / 10
Roadburn 2022 has today announced another 17 artists for the 2022 edition of the festival, which will take place between April 21-24 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Among the bands booked now includes Slift +Etienne Jaumet, Die Wilde Jagd, Five The Hierophant, Hangman’s Chair, Årabrot, Huntsman, Lustmord and many more. Weekend tickets, and Friday and Saturday day tickets are sold out. Thursday and Sunday day tickets remain in limited numbers. Tickets and accommodation options are available at the link below.
Roadburn 2022 has announced a massive wave of essential artists added to the line-up! Lingua Ignota, Emma Ruth Rundle, 40 Watt Sun, Mizmor and many more now join the festival! These bands join the previously announced acts Ulver, Sólstafir, Alcest, Backxwash, Russian Circles, artist in residence – Full of Hell and many others. Roadburn Festival will take place between April 21-24 in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tickets for Roadburn 2022 are on sale now. Friday and Saturday day tickets are sold out. Thursday and Sunday day tickets, 3-day and 4-day tickets remain in limited numbers.
James Kent, based in Paris, has released several records since 2012 under the name Perturbator. His music under this moniker can be loosely defined as synthwave but, in reality, Perturbator’s evades such straightforward categorisation. Incorporating elements of early synth-based music, as well techno, gothic rock, ambient music, and metal, Perturbator has been compared to Kraftwerk, John Carpenter, and Nine Inch Nails, amongst many others.
Roadburn 2020 is shaping up to be a music fest of the ages, which is saying a lot, considering the deep history of greatness here. Oranssi Pazuzu, currently wowing American audiences on tour will premiere their entire new album as part of James Kent’s curation. Further bands added to James Kent and Emma Ruth Rundle’s curated events include Blanck Mass, Hangman’s Chair, Mizmor, Cloud Rat, Fvnerals, Srsq, as well as other new artists on the bill such as Big Brave & Jessica Moss, Jessica Moss solo, Crypt Sermon, Lana Del Rabies, Red Kite, and more. Previously announced were James Kent & Johannes Persson, Jo Quail, and Vile Creature & Bismuth, the return of Julie Christmas, Red Sparowes, Russian Circles, Torche, Brutus, Bada, Dool, Health, Hide, and She Past Away, Full of Hell and Lingua Ignota. Weekend tickets for Roadburn are on sale now (3-day tickets are sold out, 4-day tickets remain on sale). Tickets on sale below. Continue reading
As far as large multi-day fests go, Psycho Las Vegas is still pretty wet behind the ears having only just had their fourth annual incarnation this August but already it has begun growing into what will likely continue to be the summer juggernaut of partying and music. New this year, to the dismay of many, was the location change from the off the strip and perfectly themed haunt, The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, to the megaplex that is Mandalay Bay. Gone is the feeling of a true fest take over and in its place, a sprawling amalgamation of “psychos” and people from any town USA or abroad there simply to gamble, throw pre-wedding bashes, get drunk or maybe attend a conference (*ahem* “conference”). Once everyone got their bearings and navigated through this corporate mega casino/hotel/shopping mall, pushed back a few drinks or whatever preferred substances they were into, and found the locations of the four stages, the complaining ebbed and instead, people experienced the fest for what it is. A gigantic party with a great combination of bands playing for four days.Continue reading
Ghost Cult is once again honored to be part of Psycho Las Vegas, a goddam heavy metal casino/beach party extravaganza if there ever was one. The filth of Rock, Sludge, Doom, Trad, Hardcore, Prog, and Stoner Metal genres and the glitz of Vegas- baby, all rolled into one. Headlined by Original Misfits, Opeth, Electric Wizard, Corrosion of Conformity, Bad Religion, YOB, Lucifer, High on Fire, GsY!BE, Clutch, Carcass, Triumph of Death, Graveyard, ASG, Primitive Man, Deafheaven, Kadavar, Vio-Lence, Soft Kill, Andrew W.K., Tomb Mold, Power Trip, Full of Hell, and a ton more bands, it promises to be a rager. Sadly, Oranssi Pazuzu and Rotting Christ have dropped out. Every band is carefully curated and picked, so try to see them all if you can. If you can’t get set with the full lineup, and our “must not miss list” picks for each day!Continue reading