As always the last day of a festival feels somewhat bittersweet. It has this greatness of having seen (and waiting to see) some amazing performances, and the blues coming with the realization that everything will come to an end in a mere few hours. Everyone will have to get back to their daily lives and the next gathering of this kind will never come quickly enough. At least not to fully satisfy our thirst for live music, hanging with friends – old and new, and the sense of belonging that works as a common thread linking this bunch of music fanatics with their unwavering passion.
Fortunately the day started with a bang as the all-Dutch collaboration between Terzij de Horde and Ggu:II proved very effective. The concept revolved upon alternating the two bands on each other’s drum tracks, in an effort that would then combine in the two bands joining together on stage in the end. Because of this there was an alternating effect between the prevalence of black metal on one hand, and doom on the other, swaying this or that way throughout the gig. The energy of both bands positively affected the early Sunday audience, that quickly showed appreciation towards this collaborative effort.
No time to rest since the second Liturgy show was next on the Main Stage. This time presenting “Origin of The Alimonies”, together with chamber orchestra Kamerata Zuid. This piece showed a different aspect of the musical creature born out of Hunter’s mind – a visual story merging the music with the film projected in the background created by the musician as part of the same artistic effort – images and sounds complementing each other. An interesting concept which is meant to complement the previous show, perhaps as the proverbial other side of the coin. The result is again something rather unique, although personally I found the previous show to be somehow stronger and more cohesive, as putting orchestral elements into the mix worked with alternating effects.
Next, Huntsmen played their debut “American Scrap” on the Next Stage. The band’s music exudes of those typical American rock elements in their guitars and vocals. Bringing to mind road countryside pubs and dim lit venues – the kind you see in the movies. But when the post-metal component comes out it reaches a whole different dimension. This is yet another band I knew I would have wanted to see, and I am happy I did not miss.
Another hard to miss show was definitely Lingua Ignota. “Sinner Get Ready” was another milestone in the evolution of Kristin’s career, her solemn yet unsettling vocals and the eeriness of the as much unsettling as distortedly beautiful sound that can be found in much of her music – this time accompanied with colorful visuals. The artist herself wandering on the main stage in a green see-through dress, a platform with four light stands and a piano as the only elements on stage. It’s her and her passionate performance at the center, the focus of the show. The big space of the 013 venue gives a different dimension to it and makes her look somewhat smaller in the vastness of this bare space. A big contrast to the intimate, frantic, intense performances she showed years ago – walking surrounded by the crowd, smashing lights, immersing herself in her music while giving the audience the chance to be part of that same experience – with her screaming right at the crowd. This was different in many ways but of course her shows would not have been as physically intense after her surgery and that was to be expected. But it’s inevitable that, as whole, the show suffers from missing that component we got to experience back then, particularly becoming more detached in the isolation of the main stage. Perhaps it could have worked better in this new scenario with actual musicians accompanying her performance rather than going solo, perhaps not. It was still undeniably good to hear the new songs in live form, as Kristin is amazing as singer as much as she can be as a performer.
After the collaboration with Thou, Mizmor had the chance to play his latest full-length “Cairn” here at Roadburn. Although with a delay of two years – due to reasons we don’t really need to talk about. Mizmor shined in this occasion at its “doomiest”, providing a solid performance that reinforced – in the section of the show I managed to catch – the conviction that the darker the tones, the better it gets.
Back to the main stage – a lot of back and forth between 013 and Koepelhal today – Hangman’s Chair and Regarde Les Hommes Tomber joined forces in this French collaboration mixing post-black metal and gothic-doom vocals, and even while not being a big fan of either bands, I need to admit it had its good moments here and there.
Among the more extreme bands of the weekend, one that immediately positively impressed me was Lamp of Murmuur – being their first European appearance (not very long after their first ever live show). Finally a black metal band in black cloaks and corpse paint, this was powerful and raw as much as refreshing. Thanks to the the goth and post-rock additions to their sound this was not “I have heard this a hundred times over”. The mysterious band performed entirely their latest full-length “Submission and Slavery”, and it was a joy for the hears.
The last Full of Hell show of the weekend saw them collaborating with Ethan McCarthy (Spiritual Poison), while playing their new record “Garden of Burning Apparitions”. Noise plus noise equals more noise, that’s what one could expect from this collaboration on this particular record – looks like that’s pretty much what they got.
The glimpse I got of it was as intense as the premise, then I had to switch venue again as I wanted to catch at least a few minutes of Alkerdeel. Of the Belgian’s show, playing “Slonk” in full, the one thing that everyone will remember is the enthusiasm of the singer on stage. Delivering with such passion and excitement that alone made it worthwhile watching this show. This was also the last band to perform on The Terminal stage, as things had started wrapping up for the festival.
Sadly this was also the worst overlap of the day for me, as I had to run and squeeze my way through an overcrowded Next Stage hall for Green Lung. After wresting my way through, I could definitely see that on par with Messa, once again Svart Record really found something with these young English horror-enthusiastic occult stoner rockers. The band performed their latest “Black Harvest”, and they could easily be the next big thing in their genre. The vocals resemble Ghost’s Tobias Forge, but Green Lung is its own beast with its own identity, having a more clear stoner “doom-y” imprint. The live show was personally one of the best of the festival in how it would simply lure the crowd and glue everyone to the stage. All you need for that apparently is a charismatic singer, quality riffs, and an exceptionally good guitar sound, exalting the band’s offer.
I am curious to see them live again, to verify if this is how they always perform or if this was the band at their best. But damn it was clearly one of my weekend’s favorites and a recurrent listening on the days following the festival.
“Mirrors For Discharge” is the title of the collaboration between Radar Men From The Moon and Twin Sister, closing show on the Main Stage, and at least until the latest notification on TimeSquare, of this year’s Roadburn. At this point of the night and still riding on the wave of the earlier gig, I couldn’t really get into the right state of mind to enjoy this show.
After a few minutes I ran to find a spot for the “surprise” gran finale, with – you guessed it – Thou, this time playing only Black Sabbath covers. “Redefining heaviness” was the theme of this year, and so heaviness was redefined, the Thou way. If you think heavy, sludgy distortions, turn that up a notch and a bit further then you get the idea. There was a minor hiccup when Lingua Ignota, called to sing on “Black Sabbath” actually missed the cue (it’s improv, people!), but it’s all part of the show. At this point everyone was just having the utmost fun and some moshing and crowdsurfing surfaced as we went through “Sweet Leaf” and “Supernaut”. God what a satisfying conclusion for four days to remember!
While some people started heading home, other to bars in town, others were looking left and right traumatized that Thou was not popping out of the weirdest places you can think of and playing another set. The predominant feeling was the joy that came from being able to experience a live music festival such as Roadburn in all its glory once again in person. You could see it in people’s faces, in the way everyone acted during the event, in the way the bands played, and how a vast majority of them spent at least a moment dedicating the kindest of words to their fans and to Walter and Becky – this year’s curators and all the Roadburn machine – for making this happen. It takes a massive effort for a huge payoff.
And it’s a wrap on my very first Roadburn experience. I have wanted to visit this festival for many years but the circumstances have never made it possible up to this year. Now I am hoping that this will be one of many to come as it was in many ways one of the best festival experiences I have had in a long time. It might still be the live music-deprived junkie in me talking – as the last two years took a toll for someone used to constantly going from a concert to another. I truly enjoyed every bit of this experience, and the back and neck pain from the constant walking around with my camera gear after some time of inactivity was absolutely worth it.
One of the very few regrets (aside from not being able to see everything, but that you come to accept sooner than later during the festival) is definitely the fact I could not manage to visit the exhibition at NS16. I did try around noon one day but unfortunately it was open only later when the festival was already in full-swing and my desire to jump from one live show to another was far stronger than my willingness for appreciating art.
Now with a booking in Tilburg already confirmed for next year, the countdown to the first line-up announcements for Roadburn 2023 has started.
Text and Photos by Marco Manzi
Managing editor: Elsa Marques