Roadburn Festival has exhausted all thoughts of holding a festival in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. They have announced that Roadburn 2021 will take place on 15-18 April 2021. Tickets purchased for the 2020 edition will remain valid and fans can just show up next year and enjoy the festival. Announcements about the lineup are forthcoming, and in terms of bands returning for 2021, it looks promising. Roadburn is far and away the best and most vital underground metal festival in the world, Roadburn has announced that the festival is postponed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The fest was scheduled for April 16th and 19th in Tilburg, NL. Curators for 2020 were scheduled to be Emma Ruth Rundle and James Kent (Perturbator) with commissioned pieces including James Kent & Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna), Jo Quail Presents “The Cartographer”, Vile Creature & Bismuth: “A Hymn Of Loss And Hope, and a career-spanning set from Julie Christmas, which included new music-making a debut, and many more. More news about the 2020 fate of Roadburn and plans for 2021 will be announced soon. Read our review of Roadburn 2019 here.Continue reading →
The best and most important underground metal festival in the world, Roadburn has announced that the festival is postponed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The fest was scheduled for April 16th and 19th in Tilburg, NL. Roadburn 2020 curators were scheduled to be Emma Ruth Rundle and James Kent (Perturbator) with commissioned pieces including James Kent & Johannes Persson (Cult of Luna), Jo Quail Presents “The Cartographer”, Vile Creature & Bismuth: “A Hymn Of Loss And Hope, and a career-spanning set from Julie Christmas, which included new music-making a debut, and many more. More news about the 2020 fate of Roadburn and plans for 2021 will be announced soon.Here is our review of Roadburn 2019.
Roadburn 2020 has added a plethora of new bands today! Roadburn 2020 Books Wovenhand, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Giles Corey, Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Primitive Man, Hangman’s Chair X Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, Plebeian Grandstand, Mamaleek, Lankum, Hilary Woods, Föllakzoid And Atom Tm, Midwife, Torpor, Sum Of R, Ph, Many Blessings (Ethan Of Primitive Man), Eye Flys and many more still to come before next April. Continue reading →
As we dash towards the holidays and the end of the year Ghost Cult is feeling good about this season of giving. So we are giving our fans a chance to get to know our partners, peers, and friends from bands in the world of music. They will chime in with some guest blogs, end of year lists, and whatever else is on their minds as we pull the plug on 2015. First up is our pal Seth Werkheiser from Skull Toaster Metal Trivia (@skulltoaster)
Hi – metal friends and people who enjoy reading things on the internet. My year-end list is a mix of metal and rock – but for a dude who grew up on Guns N Roses and Helmet – well – this is the sort of year-end list you get from me in 2015. I left some obvious picks (ahem – FNM) off my list – as they’ll get enough attention everywhere else – and tried to focus on picks that found their way into my life by random BandCamp exploring and listening to a handful of fine folk on Twitter (hey – I’m @sethw). Please enjoy.
The lush, cosmic parps opening Torpor (Svart), the second album from Brighton / Nottingham (UK) quartet Baron, suggest some kind of Jean-Michel Jarre Prog-fest. The ensuing sublime beauty blows that suspicion clean away, the band coming out like some Doors-infused Crosby, Stills and Nash excursion. The “Post” lead guitar and organ of opener ‘Dragonfly’ is pure Krieger and Manzarek;Alex Crispin and Blue Firth’s haunting harmonies stir the soul while the muffled pounding of Luke Foster’s Densmore-like drumming gently hypnotises the mind.
‘Mark Maker’ traverses a similar path, the almost dreamy pace and intonations gradually infused with a fuzzing chord yet descending to a sombre ‘church organ’ style section which, whilst striking in its solitude, leaves you wondering exactly what you’re listening to. The arrangement here, as throughout the album, is the key factor: soft, evocative leads strum over the coda with perfect timing, adding a piquant thrill to an already intriguing sound. The increasingly heady atmosphere of ‘Wild Cry’ leads further down the Jefferson Aiplane style ‘Hippie Rock’ path; while the ensuing ‘Dark Down’ sees Scandinavian Pop rhythms continue to sport those Americana influences like a hessian poncho.
None of this prepares the soul for the emotional wrecking-ball that is ‘Stry’, the first showing of real fire whilst still displaying Baron’s core subtleties in abundance. Initially a lonely stroll across an evening sun-kissed beach, wonderfully-stirring vocals suddenly morph into languid chants before the unexpected explosion into a potent, Drone-like state. The Fleet Foxes-esque melodic tones of ‘Sleepless’, meanwhile, are delicately fired by flickering keys and lead guitar, a sudden switch to Groove perfectly timed to click the fingers and wake the lazily-nodding victims from their peaceful trance.
Every ingredient within this entrancing piece of work plays a major role: Peter Evans’ pulsing, rolling bass the principal factor of ‘Deeper Align’s building swell before the track’s descent into Raga-tinged, heavy guitar-led atmospheres. Indeed there are so many influences in Baron’s armoury that the skill used in melding them together so effortlessly and organically leads to an even greater admiration of the band. The haunting atmospherics of closer ‘Albedo Dei’ carry the listener from an album that will leave an indelible mark on the psyche: the kind that will release something new with each listen, caressing the mind and soul whilst reminding the recipient of the loneliness of despair.
Memorable, magnetic, and nostalgic without being derivative, Torpor is a gloriously reflective experience.
These days the London borough Camden is mostly just a tourist trap; full of tourists, and overpriced beer. It is, however, still home to some quality venues, and is the perfect place to let Desertfest UK take over for a weekend of stoner rock in all its forms. Special thanks go out to Jessica Lotti Photography for sharing her images of the weekend with our readers.
Opening the proceedings over at the Electric Ballroom is Icelandic trioThe Vintage Caravan.Boasting some decent rock star shapes on stage, front man/guitarist Óskar Logi Ágústsson clearly has an affinity for the late 60s/early 70s, delivering a boogie-filled set full of riffs and jams Jimi Hendrix and Cream would be proud of. A nearly full Ballroom is bouncing long before their set is over.
Over at the Jazz Café’s Prog stage, London five-piece Sumer aren’t afraid to show off their love of Tool. Clearly a talented bunch with a talent for combining thick riffs, vocal melodies and subtle dynamics all into one crunching ball. Unfortunately, while they fill the stage with numbers there’s not a lot of stage presence. But their debut album, The Animal You Are, is well worth checking out if you like your post/progressive metal.
The Black Heart boasts not only the best range of beers and ales Desertfest has to offer, but also the sweatiest venue. A tightly packed and perspiration–drenched throng squeeze in for the excellently-named Jeremy Irons & The Ratgang Malibus. The Swedish quartet deal in retro-psychedelic stoner and deliver an enjoyable set of classic rock, but their secret weapon is the wailing vocals of Karl Apelmo. Not a million miles away from the Scorpion Child’s Aryn Jonathan Black, he lifts decent music to something a lot more impressive.
Next up are Ten Foot Wizard, who deliverone the best sets of the weekend. Sporting some glorious Hawaiian shirts, the Mancunians take an already hot and sweaty venue into even wetter territorywith their blend of dirty, fuzzy riffs and good time rock’n’roll. The band clearly know how to have fun on stage and that translates into one of the liveliest crowds of the entire festival. Mixing riffs of Clutch and early Queens of the Stone Age with a dirty groove of Alabama ThunderPussy, chuck in some megaphones, Theremin solos and songs about tits, and you’ve got a winning combo. TFW are a hoot and far better than their (fairly decent) debut record Return to the Infinite suggests.
Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band, by Jessica Lotti Photography
After such a party, returning to the cool and spacious Ballroom for Brant Bjork is something of a comedown. The set is full of quality tunes drawn mainly from his latest album, Black Power Flower, but the chilled out desert rock vibe, combined with a fairly static performance from Bjork – with his Low Desert Punk Band in tow – is kind of underwhelming. Bjork’s solo material is severely under-rated, but the former Kyuss drummer’s laid back style fails to really the get juices flowing.
Brant Bjork And The Low Desert Punk Band, by Jessica Lotti Photography
Opening Sunday is Belgian psychedelic rockers Moaning Cities at The Purple Turtle. Sporting funky dance moves and the only sitar of the weekend, this Belgian outfit combine hypnotic atmospheres with 60s psychedelic pop and still manage to make a lot of noise. Trippy, intense, loud, and not a bad way to start the Sabbath.
Over at Koko, we’re treated with back-to-back instrumental bands with Karma in their name, but very different approaches. German four piece My Sleeping Karma do their best to create an atmosphere; employing eerie visuals [which unfortunately didn’t seem to be working right for much of the set] with soundscapes that create a nice audio-visual experience that’s easy to get lost in. It’s almost the opposite of Karma to Burn’s approach. The US power trio only deal in thunderous noise, punching their way through sonically crushing set that pounds your eardrums repeatedly for 60 minutes. There’s no subtly, but it is invigorating and gets and keeps the crowd’s attention throughout. This is how instrumentals bands should be done; Guitarist William Mecum is a one man riff machine that’s few on words but has stage swagger that makes up for the lack of verbatim, while drummer Evan Devine is an absolute powerhouse.
Karma To Burn, by Jessica Lotti Photography
It’s not all quality however. Despite hailing from Hampshire, XII Boar really, really wish they were from the deep south of the US. The trio’s bland brand of cowboy metal is a concoction of groove, whiskey-soaked “YEAAAH!”s and unsubtly-recycled Pantera riffs. The kind of racket you’d expect at a keg party in a Bam Margera video, it’s really, really, really dumb fun at best, and a poor man’s Hellyeah at worst. The Underworld, meanwhile, has been wasted as stage dedicated to originally NWOBHM bands such as Quartz and Angel Witch along with a bunch of thinly-veiled tribute acts. Londoners Amulet fall unashamedly into the latter category. Sporting tight denim, bad moustaches and the Iron Maiden riff-book, Amulet definitely aren’t cool, but they clearly don’t care. An over-abundance of enthusiasm and a decent selection of riffs & solos ripped off from the likes of Maiden, Diamond Head and Angel Witch means by the end of the set it’s hard to dislike them. Painfully original, but harmless fun.
Back at the Purple Turtle, there’s a double bill of Doom. Despite some initial sound troubles, Sweden’s The Order of Israfel combine classic Black Sabbath-esque 70s doom with an almost Thin Lizzy-like appreciation of twin leads and guitar solos to create something evilly epic on a medieval scale. The Wounded Kings, by contrast are a bit of a let-down. Despite being chronically heavy on riffs, they’re surprisingly light on songs. They might be able to rattle the foundations of the building with the same kind of Earth shattering reverb as Electric Wizard, but vocalist George Birch is lost in the mix and things never really go as far as entertaining.
Sleep, by Jessica Lotti Photography
It wouldn’t be a proper stoner festival without the riffs of the mighty Matt Pike, and with Sleep he delivers spades of them. The stoner legends were under-appreciated during their original run but a rammed Koko goes crazy for ‘Dragonaut’, while new song ‘The Clarity’ get a rapturous response. More involved in their own playing than the audience, the band stomp through barely ten songs with no encore in an hour and a half set, but there no complaints. The likes of ‘DopeSmoker’ and ‘Holy Mountain’; manage to be both crushingly heavy, yet at the same time hypnotizing. An appropriate ending for a weekend of Black Sabbath-and-bong worshipping.
With Roadburn having just ended last weekend, the season for European music festivals is here Joining the ranks of it’s better known sister festival in Germany, Desertfest UK is fast becoming one of the best events in the world. The event will take place from April 24th-26th at stellar venues in London such as: The Electric Ballroom, Koko, The Underworld, The Black Heart, The Jazz Cafe and the Purple Turtle Especially if you pray to at the altar of the riff almighty, the subsonic tones of sludge and just a rocking good time in general, this fest is for you. The weekend passes are already sold-out, further proving the attraction these line-ups will bring.
Friday kicks things off in the early afternoon with up and comers Torpor leading off. Likely the best afternoon band of any day of the fest will be Floor at the Electric Ballroom. Following them will be The Atomic Bitchwax, and headliners Electric Wizard and the mighty Red Fang. The Underworld is host to grimmer acts such as Dopethrone, Agrimonia, Black Cobra, Minsk, and Noothgrush. Also not to be missed on Friday are comeback kings End of Level Boss. They are always super fun live!
Saturday has a super doom and sludge infection in the form of Vintage Caravan, Sex Swing, Pale Horse, Black Pyramid, Lo Pan, Anthromorph, Obake, Ten Foot Wizard, Hang the Bastard plus Brant Bjork And Low Desert Punks. EyeHateGod continues their return to Europe, promising another brutal set.
Adding to the awesomeness of Saturday is the fests first prog stage, led by Amplifier, Sweet Billy Pilgrim, I am The Morning, Landskap and others. This is really momentous for the fest and hopefully it becomes a regular thing in years to come.
Sunday will bring things to a boil with more underground bands Amulet, Quartz Cancer, Sallie, Witch Hazel, SSS, The Wounded Kings, and Angel Witch amongst many others. Of course the headliner Sleep might be half the draw for the weekend, as well as Ufomammut, Karma To Burn, and Acid King. With official after show every night of the fest, this promised to be a non-stop jamming party the whole time.