On the 30th of September the Extase in Tilburg was host to the pre-release party of Knight Area’s new album Hyperdrive, with opening act The Silent Wedding.
The Silent Wedding is a band from Athens, Greece, who play symphonic powermetal. Their lyrics are inspired by films, games and literature: ‘I Am You,’ for example, tells the story of the Phantom of the Opera from the phantom’s perspective, and ‘The Return (to Ithaca)’ is about The Odyssey. The band members are each very skilled, and drummer Renos, who occasionally resembles the Muppet Animal in his enthusiastic playing style sets a solid base for the rest of the band to build on. Vocalist Marios has a powerful clear voice whith a lot of vibrato, which lends his singing a classical air. Despite the rather small crowd, The Silent Wedding performed a very solid set.
Knight Area play a mixture of neo- and retro-prog that could also be characterised as sing-along-prog, due to its very catchy melodies and vocals. The bass features very prominently in the music, and Peter Vink plays every lick as if it were a bass solo. His style is very funky, and the bass often plays licks while the guitar and synths play chords, which gives and air of vivacity to the music. The guitar and synths take turns playing solos, and the quadruple stacked synths often tastefully cover the changes in meter.
Mark Smit provides good, clear vocals that are sweet and soft with the occasional hard rock edge that reminds me of Doogie White of Cornerstone. He has a lot of stage presence, as well as an awesome bodysuit that matches the album’s artwork, and plays additional keyboards in the ballad ‘Songs from the Past.’ The drumming is excellent and very varied.
One of the songs on the new album, ‘Bubble,’ was previously released on the Between Two Steps EP (2013). Some other songs that made a very good impression were ‘Avenue of Broken Dreams’ which is about 60s ideals; ‘Stepping Out’ which was written by their youngest band member, Mark Boogert, and features some excellent guitar work. They kept a good pace in the show, with generally not much wait in between the songs. They build their own party on stage and infect the audience with their enthusiasm. This was the first time that Knight Area played their new album live in its entirety. Hyperdrive was released on the 14th of October, and the band has another show planned for the 7th of November in Helmond.
The Sunday started a little bit late due some technical problems with my mode of transportation. But luckily enough Grave was there to cheer me up. Grave gives you a full force band with the strength of a bulldozer. The filled up room might have given them that little bit of extra energy, to give us a hell of a show. Although Grave can sometimes disappoint you because of the typical show they put on, they pumped you up with their well known classics, they didn’t live up to their reputation at all. It was the best show in ages, according to the voices all around me.
Misery Index is a known force at the Neurotic Deathfest and didn’t surprise me at any point. But they did interest me and this is a very good live act! For those who don’t know this band, they are pretty versatile with their sound and play with different styles in the death metal genre. The biggest mistake for me was to stand in front of the pit, that hurt.
Just like Misery Index, Severe Torture is a name that you can find often on the bills from previous years. I am proud we have these kind of bands from the Dutch grounds and we see that we do take part in the death metal scene. I am not proud that the following band named Pestilence comes from the same land. I heard of their bad live reputation but I wouldn’t believe it. I have to admit they were right. I am sorry for being so negative, but I cant find a single positive thing about this band. They sucked, and this needs to be said. If you read this and you are in a band, don’t follow Pestilence’s example. This band was known for their awesome shows and good songwriting, but with this new lineup, they are on the edge of extinction. They only float along on their former pride.
Once again the national memorial of casualties of the second world war fell on the same date as the Neurotic Deathfest. Strange enough this was one of the most epic moments of the whole festival, all death metal fans were quiet for a moment of silence (exceptions for some nitwits that just can’t keep their mouth shut). It gave me shivers. This is the example that it doesn’t matter how brutal you can look, you can still have some decency. The bands also took part of it and that is why Pentagram Chile started a little bit later than they should have. They gave us a whirlwind of a show with a guitar sound that was beyond recognition. Their debut album came out last year which is pretty late for a band started from the 80s. They played a nice mix of thrash/death with a sound that clearly evolved since the early days of this band.
Pentagram were a pretty good lead in to the final band of the Neurotic Deathfest, which is not a death metal band at all, Dark Angel. They gave us some much needed thrash metal. The band around Gene Hoglan seemed to be a welcome guest at this death metal festival, unfortunately the drums were pretty loud in contrast with the guitars which was a bit of a downer for this show. Luckily after a few songs the sound guy woke up and set things straight. After that we were happily surprised by some nice high quality thrash metal. All hell broke loose when the front man Ron Rinehart turned the venue into a party zone where beer was flowing richly. After this we left the festival with a smile on our faces.
Neurotic Deathfest is held in the south of the Netherlands in the city of Tilburg, for the people who don’t know; it brings you the loudest, goriest and most brutal shit in a whole weekend drowned in beer, piss and puke. A few days before on Wednesday you already saw some long haired blokes with the most gory t-shirts walking around in the city, scattered around the many bars, benches, hotels and coffee shops found here. The amount of metalheads in Tilburg rose significantly every day towards the Festival. Everyone knows they will be shitfaced and totally smashed during this festival, people were preparing by eating the local (Kebaps) food and a wide variety of special beers found in different kinds of bars. It does set the atmosphere for the rest of the weekend, where this festival is known for. Everyone is relaxed and willing to socialize with people all around the world. We were looking very much forward to this festival, and finally it was there! Travel with us to Tilburg, close your eyes, imagine a light stench of old beer and man sweat as we go trough some of the highlights of this festival.
After a delightful dinner to set the mood the first band we saw was Deceased, normally an opener should be giving you a shot of major energy, but this band failed to deliver a good start. We were stoked for the festival to start, the first beers were already drank and was a bit of a downer to see this happen. It was a little bit too straight ahead and moreover, they didn’t really have the balls to get you in the flow. It was one of the bands I would really wanted to see, and musically this is a no nonsense band that usually would deliver you some harsh neck cramps after. Some props for the lyrics I found majorly interesting (I did my research before), reliving tales of Edgar Allan Poe. Maybe the fact that the audience wasn’t that overly energetic while this band was playing might have affected the overall mood of this band what directly affected me and a bunch of other people. Maybe this band should have opened the smaller stage, it might have worked there.
More than an hour later Aborted, one of the bands I really had to see, started on the main stage having seen them live before and owning some of their albums. I was totally stoked to see this band play again. It was the second band starting on the main stage and the third band playing on this festival. The venue was packed with people, what surprised me because it was still pretty early, but then I got it, this band played way too early! The whole venue was in for a neck-breaking party with Aborted and was pumped for the first pit to start. The energy was radiating all over the place. Even some barmaids (that definitely weren’t into metal) seemed to like this vibe and were nodding their head on a uncomfortable but soothing way. Aborted definitely was one of the best live bands on this festival, and though I had seen them better than this (they were a bit flaky and not as tight as I was used to seeing them), it slapped in my face with killing death metal madness. Awesome riffery and blasting drums were flying all over the place. I felt like I was standing on a ship that was attacked by cannonballs, that was slightly off beat. But hey Aborted was in their natural habitat, and they were ready for blood.
I only have to laugh when I look back at the performance of Spasm. Yep, the band with that singer with the man-kini and a dildo on his head. I think I have said enough.
I was asking myself why this next band was called Shirenc Plays Pungent Stench, it confused me. But then it became totally clear: band-drama. Yeah, lets call it that. Martin Shirenc, the singer/guitarist of this band did choose a pretty good rhythm section around him, and I didn’t notice that there were some different members than before. It sounded exactly the same and the classics of this band were pushed through like they would normally had. They are with only three band members, but still, they bring forth a wall of sound that blasts you out of your socks. The interesting part of this band, leaning on the edge of thrash and death metal and bringing it in such a specific way that it isn’t like the other modern death metal. The nice groove and a bit of a garish sound they got me by my throat, and lets make clear that is in a good way.
I almost started to feel pretty young with the old-timers that stood on the stage, and Terrorizer didn’t make this any better. This band is coarse and pretty tight and made me enjoy them. I almost forgot about this band until I saw them on the bill a few weeks before Neurotic Deathfest. And I got what I expected, a full show that sounds exactly like a wood-chopping device. Which is kind of fun for half an hour, not really for a full hour if you ask me. These guys really have a heroic status amongst the death metal fans and that my friends, is a thing I totally understand. It feels real and steady, the grooving riffing fits completely with the overall rhythm (that is exactly the same, all the time). If I would have lived my teen years in the 80s I think I would have endured the whole show and probably would have stand in front of the stage.
Saturday started with the band formed by Incantation’s frontman John McEntee named Funerus. That I knew, but the fact that the grunts and bass guitar came from his wife came as a total surprise for me. I was enjoying this concert behind some 2 meter tall blokes and didn’t see the stage at all, some good old death metal riffery flew forwards. The next song got announced, and I heard a woman’s voice. I couldn’t believe it that these guterral sounds came from this woman and raced towards the stage to see this with my own eyes. I am so happy that Jill is one of those female singers that isn’t a gimmick, the sound was mature and straight to the point and swept you away while the well placed doom parts fell in. After the show, I was totally in for some more Funerus, they left me wanting more.
The intro of the following band already was pretty omnious, and when the band started I knew that Cytotoxin is one of the most promising young death metal bands out there. Their singer Grimo was ready to kill, and with his monstrous expressions he knows how to get the whole audience to their knees (most of them because of falling in the moshpit). What an excellent stage performance, and guterral sounds perfectly exchanged with pigsqueals at the right moments. The only thing that bothered me is that the band around him wasn’t that overly tight and had troubles to keep up with the energy that radiated from Grimo.
Then it was time for some other veterans named Brutal Truth. Unfortunately this is their very last show in the Netherlands and I was happy that I could experience this band before it was too late. But I have to say this too is one of the bands that would be better painted in a smaller venue, they even looked a bit uncomfortable on the main stage. This entwined in the following reactions of the audience, one part was overly fond to see this band and were already drenched in sweat after the first song, and the other part were looking like how the fuck they ended up here. But still everyone seemed to sort of like it. The band their obvious death sound mixed with some punk vibes create a chaotic sphere of noise and unwieldy violence.
Hour of Penace is one of the bands I have always liked but haven’t had the chance to see them live, this was my que to finally see them. As a big fan of Fleshgod Apocalypse I found this band a version of them, but without the orchestra. They pull the throttle as far as it can get without losing grip, you can find their bombastic sound in a melodramatic sound. I liked this, but halftime I got a bit bored because it didn’t gave me as much variety as I had expected to see in a live show.
Skinless started throwing onions(?) into the audience with the ultimate hillbilly intro. Which made me want to get beer immediately and as soon as I turned away from the bar they throw in some no nonsense bashing ass kicking noise that gets you, but doesn’t shock you. This band is about smashing your skull in with heavy riffery and drums that make your eardrums pop, and they mean this shit! Their singer Sherwood Webber bounces hyperactively over the stage what makes this band fun to watch and listen to. I was left with a good feeling in my stomach after this show or was it the beer?
And of course, between the New York bands represented on the stages this day only, one can be the winner and that is Suffocation. Their front man Frank Mullen was found on the stage with his one and only priority, the death metal jazz hand while the blastbeats were knocking your head off. I would love to spend hours to the one-way conversations of Mullen, but I was here for some good old Suffocation, and that is something I definitely got. Their playing live and on album are astonishingly good and always seem to get me. They really showed the other bands some real whoopass as they combine really technical riffery with being absolutely brutal, and for that we thank them.
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.
Roadburn festival is special, as many who have gone know. It’s one of those festivals where it’s impossible to see everything you wanted to and you end up missing things that were awesome, but you didn’t even know about or seeing things you’d never heard of before but are now suddenly completely addicted to. It debuted bands into the world at large like Goat and Ghost, and manages to pull reform bands that quit ages ago, or pull bands that never perform out of the woodworks. Doing a “proper” festival review of Roadburn is utterly and completely useless. Instead I’m writing an impression. An impression of a magical special place where everyone, except a few bad eggs, is so nice and friendly no-one wants to leave and you’re instantly addicted. A hidden place where the bands stick around to see others play and get just as excited about seeing things as the visitors. A place where all is awesome, so really nothing can be said.
I have the difficult task of squeezing four intense days of not only music, but people and party into a readable format that won’t be too long. I can go on about this festival forever, but I’ll restrict myself.
Day One as always starts a little uneasy. Excited as I was for the past weeks to go back to Roadburn (year four and counting…) I’m mostly reconnecting with friends and bands I’ve not had around for a year. This year I didn’t have the time to properly prepare and listen to all the billing before going, but I had a fair idea of what I wanted and needed to see. I wander into the 013 venue, which has three rooms available for this festival. There’s the main stage (capacity 2100), the greenroom (around 400-500 capacity I believe) and the stage 01 (about 150-200 capacity) across the street, in an old parish building there’s Het Patronaat (capacity around 800) and on the edge of the perfect “beer street”of Tilburg, around the corner of the 013 venue, there is the Cul de Sac (capacity 100-150). All in all the Roadburn crowd take over a major part of the city with their happy blackened hippie vibe. So in we get and hang around the foyer of the completely stuffed Greenroom (the small rooms always get full up) to listen to a bit of Brutus’s set. It’s incredible they’re even here, as just before their tour their studio burned down and they lost all their equipment. The band is hard to YouTube, because of their (rather generic) name, but definitely worth the effort. What I pick up from their set sounds incredible, nice retro stoner blues rock. Their vocalist really reminds of Ozzy in his better days and a few more of the older vocalists. After about 15 minutes I go to catch some of Sourvein in the Mainstage. The sludgey doom these Americans give us just doesn’t quite catch me the way other doom and sludge greats do. Maybe it’s not slow enough for me or maybe it’s the vocals that feel a little forced. So off we merrily wander again to check out the merch street and then catch some 40 Watt Sun. Damn these guys can play. Heavy, slow and oppressive, even though it’s an acoustic set with out the normal bass volumes. Het Patronaat, which has heavy carpeting on the balcony and always gets notoriously hot, adding to the atmosphere. The sound was impeccable. Sadly it’s impossible to finish watching their set if I still wanna see Beastmilk. They’re one of my “need to see” bands this year. While I’ve heard plenty of people be incredibly impressed by them live or even like them better than on record, I was a little disappointed. The music was good and solid, but the second vocals were gone, as was the echo that you get on the record, drowning the vocals. On record they’ve got the more new-wave feel while live they’re more punky. I also expected more show of these guys. The stage looked incredibly empty and while Kvhost played the crowd like the professional he is, it lacked something. The backdrop was just a still of their album cover and the strength from the album just wasn’t there even with songs such as ‘Death Reflects Us’. Good, but not as mind-blowing as I had expected. Then again expectations were very high
Next I try to catch some of Samothrace, but walk in just when their last lengthy notes and ringing through Het Patronaat shaking the rafters. I hear it was good but I really cannot judge on half a minute and two notes. After a brief chat with some friendly people I go on to see some Napalm Death, one of the few Deathmetal bands I almost always enjoy seeing live. Their insane hysterical party energy is just wonderful, and though this time they chose to t a special, slower, doomier Roadburn set, the hysterics were still their in their vocalist who just cannot stay in one spot for more than five seconds. I did miss the exuberant party energy though, but still an incredible set. I caught a little of Goatess, from the back of the room (well outside the doors towards the stage 01 so…) and I remember thinking they rocked, but the wall of people made it hard to really enjoy, so I went to see some of Corrections House. Many people didn’t like them since they’re more in the industrial corner of things, but their dark bleak pounding sound did catch my attention for sometime, and while they were the definite odd duck of the day they were good at what they do. By now I’m in a serious dilemma. I wanted to see AnciientsandTrue Widow, and The great old ones, all playing the same time slot. I also wanted to catch a bit of Crowbar. I ended up mostly shooting and watching a bit of Crowbar, realizing they weren’t getting to me and popping off to True Widow, watching them from the side of the stage. True Widow are amazing live, and I’m kicking myself I forgot to pick some of their stuff up. The interplay between the vocals of both bassist and guitarist, the difference in their voices and the sheer thunder of their music is wonderful. They’re tight and minimal but not simple. The room was packed and everyone loved it. Sadly Anciients was packed so the wait began for Bong to start. How shall I describe the transcendent experience Bong is when you’re already tired yet excited of a day of running from band to band and making room to chat with people and make new friends? After the photo-pit time I snuck upstairs to the relatively calm balcony and just sat there eyes closed letting their atmospheric heavy jam carry me away. Afterwards I did attempt a look at the Heavy Metal Disco in the main foyer, intending not to stay to long. It was 3:30 by the time the lights came on and music turned off and I snapped out of my conversation with a new friend, and sheepishly started the trek home with my bunkee.
After a night of far too little sleep and a heady breakfast, the track back to the festival arrived. For me this isn’t too massive an affair: about 10 minutes in the buss or 20-30 walking, but there are people staying all over the south of the Netherlands and the camping itself is a good 30 minutes cycling away.
When I get to the venue the restaurants and bars are filled with the flock off bearded black-shirted Roadburners settled on the city. Today Opeth’sMikaël Åkerfeldt got to plan in the main stage. Roadburn always has a fair amount of proggy bands on her billing, but with Åkerfeldt curating and his band playing, the spread of them is even more. Today starts with the phenomenal Magma, French prog ancients with a jazzy 60’s psychedelic style that confuses the masses. Some people flee after about half a song, the rest stays, entranced but confused, trying to figure out what is going on while really liking what they hear. While it’s sort of like listening to five songs at the same time, the music itself is impeccable and the unique operetta vocal style (no not the high waily kind but the proper male low sound) wielded by the male baritone of the group is refreshing and highly impressive.
While others run to see the heavy duo The Body, I decided to have a peek at the vintage Caravan, new kids on the block playing the stage 01, but definitely buzzing. Sadly it’s impossible to get into the room, it even took the ban 5 minutes to get to the stage through the throng. People are latterly packed against the wall opposing the stage 01 doors. And all of this is justified. These kids can play. They play a delightful retro 70s style rock, very listenable and done so well you ‘d swear they lived through the period. They play again on Saturday but after this thunderous set they’ll be more impossible to see. Up on the mainstage Comus is getting set up. This is proper 60’s feeling, acoustic, gentle more formal prog, impeccable harmonies and very quiet. The show is a little static as everyone is either sitting or has a steady place on stage surrounded by monitors but all in all the music is impeccable. The static feeling of the show doesn’t mater, it’s not a band you watch it’s a band you dream away to.
In the greenroom Änglagärd are setting up to play their set. You cannot avoid the massive, huge sound starting up in the main room as Goblin starts to play. While not where near as abrasive and “loud’ as some Roadburn bands their sound is so massive and so well layered that it envelopes you and take you with them on a journey through the musical movie themes they composed. The level of balance is incredibly, while the bass notes are heavy and deep, earth shatteringly so, you can literally hear any sounds in the lighter higher registers, and their bassist sound is at times more funky than doom. Incredible set and so engaging it will drag you back for more time and time again. For a while I try to go see the jam sessions Åkerfeldt set up in the stage 01, which were almost deserted while very good musically, the Goblin set kept dragging me back again and again.
Candlemass know how to get a party going. I think this may be the best and biggest response and interplay between band and crowd I’ve ever seen at the usually quite mellow and movement reserved Roadburn crowd. And they were good, exceptional, with vocalist Máts Leven shaking his wild curls around with fever. As Candlemas have been playing switcharoo with their vocalists so often I had a bit of a pickle finding out who the wild-haired curlyman playing the crowd so well was. His voice was impeccable too, and combined with the excellence of the music surrounding him, he took it upon himself to entertain besides singing.
Opeth, what can be said about them that hasn’t been showered on them already/ praise for their immaculate sound? Criticism for not being rough enough? Reverence for their musicality? I’d like to talk about Åkerfeldt’s sense of humor. The set begins with a heartfelt tale about how impressed he is with Roadburn and it’s welcome not only of his band, but also of the strange bands he programmed instead of the more traditional Roadburny taste. Their set was surprisingly heavy, much to the joy of the crowd, as they switched lighter, proggy songs off with heavy grunting old stuff. Eventually of course people start yelling requests, to which Åkerfeldt had a great solution, he asked if the one guy yelling ‘Freebird’ would yell so now, and after a chorus of replies, they did play ‘Freebird’, ignoring all other requests. At the end, instead of leaving and making the audience shout for them to come back and play one more song, they stayed on stage and made the crowd ask for their encore as if hey wren;t there, and then launched into the massive song everyone had been waiting for since forever: ‘Black Water Park’. I’ve never seen so many people pleased, even mentioning it was their best show in ages for playing the heavier stuff. The intense and amazing day of proggy rollercoaster tired me out to such a point I didn’t even go to the afterparty and went straight home to sleep, longing for something heavier and more traditional Roadburn fare.
Establishing her beautiful voice with The Gathering in the nineties and noughties, Anneke van Giersbergen went solo to be able to spend more time with her family. She has collaborated with Devin Townsend and Anathema, among others. Having seen the lady with the crystal clear voice before last year in a solo acoustic set, I’m looking forward to seeing her perform with her full band this time. The gig is sold out to capacity and a decent local and very loyal following arrives so early there is a significant line outside the greenroom of the 013 venue.
Before Anneke takes the stage Kinkobra are to warm up the anticipating crowd. This dutch rockband had been working on it’s career with two albums under their belt and a “working your ass off” mentality. The first things we notice is the heavy sauce of 90s rock. Flashes of Skunk Anansie, the dutch Kane and U2 all change and mix in the sound. Personally I find the vocalists vocal style somewhat grating after a while, as he skips between registers a little much, but since he drowns in the mix, especially in his higher registers, or the louder parts of the music, it doesn’t bother to much. The most enjoyable parts to me are definitely the general show, though it suffers a little as they’re all 5 cramped on the front of the stage. It’s obvious they wish to move more than they can. Also the bass and drums are nicely done, which really moves the whole show along. It’s an opener that makes me feel like a teenager again, but I’m not sure how many of the older crowd in tonight can appreciate these youngsters making the music of their youth.
And then after a brief changeover it’s time for Anneke herself to take the stage. First the band emerges and an intro is played. From the corner of the room I’m standing I can see the door to the side of the stage and see Anneke herself compose herself before she gets on stage. The butterflies and joy are visible on her face, and as she walks out on stage she is just a complete natural. The show moves fluently from big rock songs, active and happy power anthems to eventually a darker tone and even a few acoustic solo songs. The set is speckled with some older work from the Gathering, in a new coat of varnish. That Anneke’s voice is impeccable is something I don’t need to express more, and tonight is no exception. Her charming and disarming banter between songs is well timed and never too long. The chemistry of the band as a whole is itself wonderful, especially the harmonies with their key player.
The crowd this evening is mixed in ages and backgrounds, some are clearly previous Gathering fans, some are younger people taking their first steps into alternative rock and others are more of a spunky middle aged variety. The crowd clearly enjoy the show, and even the occasional wanderer who came to see the show if thoroughly convinced. The only pity is that a small clique of young people who clearly came with the first band end up in the back of the room goofing with the member of Kinkobra. But this minor nuisance cannot kill the pleasure that is hearing Anneke sing, with her deep timbre in her lower registers and the crystal clear bell sound of her high registers. The music itself is touching and very emotional, the only thing missing was some songs of Anneke’s children’s project De Beer die Geen Beer was (The Bear Who Wasn’t a Bear), but it’s a minor thing I only noticed because the songs touched me at her 2013 acoustic show.
If you can catch Anneke on her tours the rest of the year, it’s sincerely recommended.
The show we have planned for tonight was meant to have an opener. Meant to, mind you. For some mysterious reason there is none, and only the Norwegian Ulver will play after a very lengthy period between the doors opening and the show starting. The great hall of the 013 venue is separated into two parts: below seats are put in for the seated part of the show, and on the balcony are standing places. With Ulver you’re never sure what kind of a set you will get and when the vocalist and electronics man step up to a big square block with effects, to start the show we’re thrilled. The visuals start with an old man in a bed and a crow flying over him as an almost religious sort of heavenly, yet eerie mix of sounds fill the room.
After a while the percussionist joins in dropping chains on drums and even whipping them dramatically over a huge gong set beside him. Then after a few minutes the whole band joins in and the atmosphere explodes into a much more intense thing.
Throughout the show the visuals stay incredibly captivating, the low lighting on the band itself helping you focus on the different visual stories being told. These images really manage to add a new depth layer to the emotional message of the music. The set seems to be mostly newer work, with more vocals involved and hardly any traces of the bands black metal roots. The sound is balanced surprisingly heavy yet not loud, Conversation of people a few feet away can still be heard, which is surprising.
Sadly the strong voice of vocalist Kristoffer Rygg sometimes skips and wobbles a bit on the high ends and the vocal lines seem a bit disjointed from the music in general, like someone improvising over an instrumental piece, instead of vocals written for said piece of music. This doesn’t bother the crowd though, who are clearly enjoying themselves so much that by the encore a good deal of the people on the seated area get up and start dancing in front of the stage, much to the baffled appreciation of the band. It was a wonderful gig and night out to remember.
Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to announce, in partnership with Poppodium 013 Club, a contest where you can win a pair of tickets (2) to see sludge/ doom gods Black Pyramid on 6/18/13. This is the kickoff date of their European tour and is not to be missed! The self-described Psychedelic War Metal band released their new album, Adversarial this spring on Hydo-Phonic Records. Continue reading →
Ghost Cult Magazine is proud to announce, in partnership with Poppodium 013 Club, a contest where you can win a pair of tickets (2) to see sludge/ doom gods Black Pyramid on 6/18/13. This is the kickoff date of their European tour and is not to be missed! The self-described Psychedelic War Metal band released their new album, Adversarial this spring on Hydo-Phonic Records Continue reading →