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Roadburn 2018, Day 3 & 4

Event: Roadburn Festival 2018
Written by: X-Ray Rod, InnerSelf
Published: 21.06.2018


Roadburn 2018, Day 3 & 4 by X-Ray Rod (48)
Roadburn 2018, Day 2 by X-Ray Rod (25)
Roadburn 2018, Day 1 by X-Ray Rod (30)

We were over the hump now. Only two days to go, and who would have thought that the third day would be heavy in all the unpredictable ways?

Bell Witch

Besher: The music of Bell Witch has already been discussed and dissected; the weight of Mirror Reaper was so immense that it actually gained attention from the more mainstream metal outlets and ended up on so many "end-of-year" lists so I will be completely focusing on describing how it felt to watch the album being performed live rather than the music itself - which, don't get me wrong, deserves all the praise it got and a little bit more.

The backdrop before the gig started was Mirror Reaper's cover artwork, so I stood and admired it for a good 15 minutes before the band came out. The set started and I'm instantly sucked in and starting to get this feeling when you know you're about to get sad. I didn't fight it and let it wash over me. 20 minutes in and the tears started pouring; it was cathartic and liberating, but also really heavy on my heart. The audience was standing solemnly, heads bowed, eyes closed; it was as if we all gathered that day for one big Mass (rest in peace, Adrian Guerra). It was an experience I'll remember as long as I live.

TMI incoming: I lost my grandmother about 2 months ago. Because of the war in Syria, I wasn't able to see her for almost six years and she passed away from me and it still hurts to this day; those emotions manifested themselves suddenly and fueled the deep sadness I experienced throughout the performance. Rest in peace, Grandma.

Rodrigo: Last year's opus, Mirror Reaper, was a game-changer and raised many doomsters' eyebrows by discovering what you can actually accomplish with funeral doom metal. While I previously saw them back in the 2015 edition, this year was different for two reasons: first, the entire Mirror Reaper was going to be performed. Yes, an over-80-minute funeral doom track was going to be played in its entirety at Roadburn. Damn this festival and their unique and unmissable sets! I got a preview of this two weeks before, as Bell Witch made a stop in Malmö during their European tour with Monarch and they performed the first half of the album. Of course, the second reason this set was special was due to Adrian Guerra's unfortunate death. I'm sure that most people who saw the man perform live felt a lump slowly form in their throat as the set started. The death of a musician is always a tragedy even if they are not someone you know personally. Their music has been the soundtrack to our lives and therefore we see them as part of it as well.

If you've seen the band perform then you know what to expect in terms of sound. The bass was incredibly clean and well-mixed. Unless you see Dylan Desmond play with your very eyes, it's hard to imagine that all those sounds come from a single bass. His beautiful, solemn clean vocals were the perfect contrast to the oppressive nature of the band's sound. Jesse Shreibman's growls and drum abilities served as a perfect replacement and kept Bell Witch style more or less intact. The visuals were also a major highlight with their melancholic and dark images of human tragedy and search for purpose. The only downside was that the Koepenhal was far too bright with its big windows for everyone to see clearly the black and white visuals. I honestly think these guys are big enough to get a spot at the Main Stage, which would have helped a lot for the visuals. With their latest album and this set in particular, Bell Witch have molded a style for themselves. A funeral doom monolith that knows when to lower the volume and evoke a thoughtful introspection in the listener's mind. A hard look at one's limited time in this world and with our loved ones?

It's understandable how this set ended up in the top 5 sets of this year's edition for many Roadburners, and I would never try to change anyone's mind about it! For me, seeing them a few weeks ago made me get out of the Koepenhal stage after 50 minutes. Bell Witch's set was without a doubt a unique set, but to me there was another funeral doom act I had to witness?


Rodrigo: I walked as fast as I could to Het Patronaat only to find it completely empty! Oh well, at least I got a sweet spot for Worship. Damn, seriously, guys, I expected way more people even when it was only 10 minutes left for the band! Now THIS was the funeral doom I truly needed this day. I went from one album-set to another as Worship were going to perform their highly influential Last Tape Before Doomsday in its entirety (more like "Last Set Before Doomsday, amirite?... Ok, sorry). Sometimes you just have to love the bleaker, meaty, and downright ugly type of funeral doom that is more typical of the genre. No deep introspection here, just a giant wave of "fuck this life" that kept pouring from the massive riffs and harrowing leads like blood from the walls a la The Shining. It's hard to explain, but an overwhelming despair and tension just ran through my body and I could only watch with dead eyes at the band and slowly bang my head after each solitary drum hit. It was highly hypnotic and extremely dark. Daniel Varoß' growls and agonizing shrieks perfectly matched the ones of his late companion Fucked-Up Mad Max and the clean vocals certainly provided a gloomy and delicate layer to match the rest of the music. All in all, an amazing set that was in my opinion a must-see for extreme doom metal fans. Jeez, two sets that made me think of dead people. I'm off to a good start!


Besher: I left the Koepelhal still trying to recover from Bell Witch and walked alone to the Main Stage to catch the tail end of Hugsja's set, a collaboration from Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik ( Enslaved, Skuggsjá, Wardruna), etc), which turned out to be really beautiful. The folk elements from Wardruna meshed perfectly with Ivar's unique guitar style and the result was a surprisingly fresh piece of music. One of the albums I've been spinning regularly after returning from Roadburn.

Forgotten Tomb

Rodrigo: My desire for bleak music knew no bounds by this point, so I decided to stay at Het Patronaat to see Forgotten Tomb. I must admit that I never gave their discography a proper listening, which is odd considering that black and doom metal were in my usual diet for a good chunk of years. The heat of the venue plus a couple of extra beers sent me to a slight state of dizziness. I don't want to promote any kind of substance in order to properly enjoy a concert but, damn, did I love the shit out of their set and I partly blame the beer for that. Their sense of groove was infectious and beyond catchy and the melodic riffs and leads had most attendees headbanging their heads off. It was a great combination of rocking attitude and bleak themes. As I said, I'm not an expert when it comes to their discography so I couldn't really tell you about the track list, except that their backdrop had the cover of their latest album, We Owe You Nothing, and I did recognize the title track (which I happened to enjoy live much more than the studio version), but also slower and harsher songs that most likely belong to the band's older catalogue. The criticism I've heard/read about the quality of their albums going down and their sound changing into a more mainstream "black 'n' roll" sound doesn't really resonate well with me now that I've seen them live and kicking major ass.Herr Morbid and the rest of the band seemed in a good mood as well and with such a strong performance and presence it's clear that Forgotten Tomb is a band that is best captured live.


Besher:This was one of this year's edition's exclusive shows. The band reunited to play at Roadburn for their only European gig in 2018 and performed their sophomore album Yodh in its entirety. I got to watch a couple of songs and the performance was crushing. I already love Yodh, but seeing it come to form live was something else; hopefully we'll hear from this band again. Unfortunately, I had to skip the second half of the show in order to watch the NYIÞ & Wormlust collaboration at Het Patronaat.

NYIÞ & Wormlust

Besher: Rodrigo called us crazy for missing Boris and SOMA performing Absolutego in order to attend this collaboration, but I had already made peace with my choice and headed to Het Patronaat to catch what turned out to be more of a theatrical performance rather a musical one.

Dressed in black robes and masks, the musicians came on stage one by one; the stage was set like an altar and H.V. Lyngdal started reciting from a notebook, then did some craft with wood branches and mud, then actually came off stage and wandered around the venue, came back on stage as the music was climaxing, and ended the performance with some heart-piercing screeches. All the while scenes from Dante's Inferno (1911) were being played as the backdrop of the show. Describing this set in writing makes it sound boring and cheesy* but it wasn't at all like that, it was actually intense and almost scary at times (too bad the sun was still rising, would have been better if this set was played at night).

* = To the group of 5 assholes who were in the second row and seemed bored by the performance and then started talking to each other, making jokes and laughing: Sincerely, Fuck you.

Boris & SOMA

Rodrigo: A few days prior to this set, Boris released this picture:

My body is so ready

Yeah, these guys do not fuck around. When I first read the news that Boris (with Stephen O'Malley as guest) were going to perform their debut, Absolutego, I knew this was going to be one of the major highlights and a show to remember for sure. When it comes to heavy drone of this kind, it's incredibly hard to describe what exactly happened. I still vividly remember the time I saw Sunn O))) play at Roadburn back in 2011 and my spider sense told me that this was going to be a similar experience, but having vocals and drums really made it a different kind of show. It was clear the band was taking many artistic liberties when it came to interpreting their first album, released more than 2 decades ago. It first started with slow, ritualistic drumming and dissonant leads that slowly but steadily built a melody. This kept going on for a few minutes, adding layers upon layers, and I was starting to realize that an explosion of riffs and powerful beats came down upon us in slow motion. It was like seeing a tsunami from afar but knowing full well that it is far too late for you to seek higher ground. I'm not kidding when I say that the waves of riffs coming out of those amps felt like a wind. I just couldn't keep standing up and sat on the stairs of the Main Stage, watching the stage with an empty gaze and just feeling how my body was shaking due to how loud and massive it was. There were moments of brief serenity, though, especially when Atsuo Mizuno, the drummer, used some bells, hitting them and swinging them around the air to get the full effect of the echoing. Quite a sight! When all was said and done? I was so astonished and shaken by the ordeal that I could barely walk. I was walking like a zombie who had just shat his pants. I barely remember walking to the Koepenhal stage, and meeting my companion Besher at the sidewalk.

- Hey man, are you ok?
- Yeah man.. I'm fine? I?I don't know, man.
- Where are you going?
- To the Koepenhal to? I just? don't know anymore.
- Wow, it seems you had a blast. I'm going to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
- ?Yeah. Yeah, that might pick me up!

It really didn't.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Rodrigo: I had the pleasure of seeing the Canadian collective a couple of years ago when they were touring for their, at the time, latest album Asunder, Sweet And Other Distress. It was a fantastic and passionate experience. To experience their sound in a bigger scale was sure to be a treat but to me it was? Really something else. The solitary word "Hope" floated on the screen as the feedback and dissonance of the instruments started to get louder and louder? Until the pressure was impossible to handle and the crescendo exploded on our faces, as the screen showed images of a vast, radiant metropolis. A world finally changing into a much brighter future. On this set, GY!BE performed their latest album in its entirety. I've read/heard quite some criticism regarding their latest album, but the same way it works with most artists: judging the live sound of a song is a completely different matter. The delicate violin and cello, with their bittersweet melodies, were mixed with the more desperate riffs and intense drumming to the point of perfection. The visuals? Oh my, the visuals. Godspeed You! Black Emperor has worked with a couple of film directors over the years and Karl Lemieux was responsible for bringing the music of the collective to life in ways I can't praise enough. He is definitely a guy who does not get enough credit. I sat on the stairs watching the stage from afar to properly enjoy the visuals on the big screen, yet I sat close enough to see the man do his work. There were several old-school projectors aimed at the camera and on the left side a stand with a curtain of different films that Mr. Lemieux changed and mixed by hand during the whole set. Creating effects on the spot and just? I'm at a loss for words here. It was just truly inspiring, my friends. As the last cries of the sax resonated during the track "Undoing Luciferian Towers," we were left wondering what more they could do? Until the humming of "Moya" appeared, getting louder and louder. It left the most of the audience screaming with excitement. Slow Riot For New Zerø Kanada is, in my humble opinion, the best EP I've heard from the vast genre that is post-rock and it was being unfolded right in front of me. For some reason I couldn't handle it, and while I was watching the visuals of a town burning to the ground I suddenly began to cry without really knowing why. It doesn't happen often that I cry during a concert, but the combination of visuals and music just blew me away and left me with a strong sense of nostalgia. I suddenly felt alone in the midst of desperate melodies. I felt like a child getting lost in a park crying for his mother, with the beautiful ending of the crescendo being that blissful moment when the mother finally grabs the child and embraces him. I can't properly describe how brilliant the atmosphere created by this group was. Pure, unfiltered love among waves of darkness.

Earthless and Kikagaku Moyo

Besher: I decided to continue my tradition of ending every night sitting at the Main Stage. I had a lot of fun watching professional musicians building off a small riff or idea and going into full jam mode. Earthless's drummer came in and took over the show; dude went crazy and performed pretty hard and everyone else involved seemed to be having a great time.

Old Tower

Rodrigo: GY!BE's set left me emotionally drained. A few tears were still running down my face as I was heading towards the other part of the festival grounds where the two newest stages were located. Needless to say, I was in dire need of something to calm me down and take my mind away from such mental turmoil. Proper solace was finally found in the Hall Of Fame stage, where the preparations were made for the last set of the day: Old Tower. It all began as a curiosity of mine a few months ago when I read a fascinating Bandcamp article about the dungeon synth genre. One of the quickest ways to describe the genre to metalheads would be to compare it to Emperor's past member Mortiis and his medieval darkwave albums (especially the first ones). For gamers, it could be described as perfect music for a session of old school games like Castlevania and, of course, Dungeons & Dragons (I'm more of an Age Of Empires II junkie, but oh well?). There is much to be said about the genre, however, and Old Tower did just that. The silent stage had various props like beautiful flags with occult symbols of past times, as well as a grand sword right in the middle. Two cloaked figures arrived all of a sudden. One of them, the mysterious man known as The Specter, lifted his arms in glory and the voyage to a fantasy world commenced. It might sound cheesy to the outsider, but the melodies mixed with cosmic and natural visuals were of a contemplative and serious degree. How can such a type of ambient be interesting in a live setting, you ask? Well, it's all about great songwriting, and Old Tower exceeded with flying colors. The synth was varied and changed voices, albeit with extreme subtlety. One great aspect of the performance was the grand drum and gong that were put to use with full effect. This is clear evidence that sometimes you really need to add a "live" instrument to elevate the sound of such ambient music. The beat of the great drum resonated through my body, lifting my spirit to uncharted heights. My gratitude goes to The Specter and his companion for such an epic, yet slightly haunting, journey.

? And so ended the third day. Without a doubt one of the most emotionally charged days in my 8-year-long journey throughout The Roadburn Experience. Only one more day to go.

The Afterburn is always a nice experience on its own. The number of stages and attendees are reduced so there is a more relaxed vibe in the air, a vibe that is also mixed with nostalgia as you are already thinking about this being your last day at Roadburn - tired as ever, yet still wishing to do it all over again. After a nice breakfast with my great companions, we headed to the Main Stage for yet another one-of-a-kind show.


Rodrigo: Unless you have been living under a rock for a few years, you must be aware of how huge the Icelandic black metal scene has become recently. Vánagadr was the name given to this project, within whose ranks you'll find members of Misþyrming, Naðra, Svartidauði, and Wormlust. This set was tailored specifically for Roadburn to celebrate the achievements of this handful of mysterious bands and their take on black metal.

I'll be honest with you, I'm still not entirely sold on the Icelandic scene despite seeing some of these projects live already. But, damn, you gotta be thick in the head not to appreciate such a colossal sound on stage. The name of the set was Sól Án Varma (roughly translated to "Sun Without Radiance") and there was a point behind such an intriguing name. The backdrop of an ever-changing sun, its vastness and glorious power, served as the perfect counterpoint to the darkness behind the music. The elements of ambient and drone came forward like writhing snakes in the midst of ritualistic black metal chaos. The atmosphere was beyond hypnotic and it was fascinating to see all the musicians change instruments every now and then and adding layers upon layers to their well-crafted sound. Seeing these musicians (many of them quite young) certainly lifts your spirits as it is clear the genre is not stagnant.

Hell (USA)

Rodrigo: Feeling up for a calmer set after the black metal onslaught, I did the exact opposite and headed towards the Het Patronaat? or more like HOT Patronaat, amirite? Ok, sorry. The awful pun does feel appropriate though as the next band on my last were Hell (USA). This was one of the more exhausting sets of the festival for me. The air was humid and thick; you could almost see the people melting as everyone was slowly headbanging to a melting pot of sludge, doom, and drone. I recall the vocals being particularly disgusting and vile as the effects really made them stand out with their sharp and gurgling tones. The gargantuan riffs filled with groove and foreboding psychedelia behind some of the leads were further enhanced by hellish samples to add to a truly desperate whole. May Hell (USA) continue to haunt stages, as they were one of my discoveries this year and I would love to see them again? And next time with a proper AC system, haha.

This is the point where I was supposed to tell you guys about the second set by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But I made the mistake of having *a bit* too much fun with a joint so, yeah? Got incredibly dizzy and I was in the middle of the stairs and managed to get out without passing out on somebody haha. Went to the bathroom, passed out there for 10 minutes, then went again to the Main Stage and could not get my shit together so I just sat on the floor next to the exit. I can't say I remember much of the set to be honest, only that they played the beautiful "Sleep" movement from the grand Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven. As I slowly came back from the dead, I realized GY!BE were still playing, but another crazy sound came from the Green Room and I knew it was exactly what I needed to get back in shape?

Hail Spirit Noir

Rodrigo: I slowly got up with my body shaking and with a bit of nausea? But the bouncy melodies called my name and like a zombie I walked from the balcony section of the Main Stage to the Green Room's balcony, where the show had just started. As I have followed this Greek band since Pneuma came out, it was amazing to see so many Roadburners enjoying the circus as well. Because that's how it felt: A malevolent, satanic, yet still fun circus of psychedelia and funky riffs masked with black metal aesthetics. The catchiness of the music and the high charisma of the band members really lifted my mood, as you could tell they couldn't be happier sharing the stage with us. I was so impressed by their performance that I just had to go to the merch stand for one last trip and get their albums. Well done, gentlemen.


Rodrigo: This is it, folks. One last explosion before it all ends, and what better way to go out in a bang than with insane catchy, psychedelic, and all-around super fun electronica? GosT was one of the more entertaining sets by far this year and really a perfect way to close the festival for me. Sure, it's not metal, but you could argue the spirit of the genre is there in the background. In between sick bass drops and danceable beats, the dark and mysterious DJ picked up a guitar and laid down some sick riffs and solos in the middle of the songs. I was just getting out of a terrible high (never again, I swear) and also carrying my merch so I could only move my body back and forth and not really dance like I actually wanted to. It was bizarre to see a combination of dance floor and mosh pits (we even got a wall of death). Only problem was this awkward asshole who thought everyone wanted to mosh and started pushing everyone in the back. Mr. Asshole, you should get up front and have fun there, but leave the ones in the back alone. Despite this shortcoming, GosT were a blast and once again this set confirmed that Roadburn is unlike most metal festivals, as it understands the importance of including acts that also embrace dark aesthetics in one way or another.

I slowly danced my way back to the campsite. I was extremely tired and still felt like my brain was melting thanks to that unnecessary high and crash haha. Despite not being my usual happy self on the last day. I made sure to properly say my goodbyes to most of my Roadburn friends. As the hours of the next morning came upon me, I packed and rushed to the train station and back to my regular life, while also leaving a part of myself on the stage. A fragment which I'll make sure to get back, just like I do every year...


Written on 21.06.2018 by A lazy reviewer but he is so cute you'd forgive him for it.


Comments: 5   [ 1 ignored ]   Visited by: 57 users
21.06.2018 - 17:06
delicious dish
Nice! This time I was actually at most of these sets so I can compare our experiences
You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill
29.06.2018 - 21:48
Velvet Thorns

Unforgetable day at Roadburn! \m/
restless oblivion forever
05.07.2018 - 01:32
Darkside Momo
Nice string of reports guys!

Sadly, as much as Roadburn is definitely a great fest, I fear the whole bill isn't enough to my tastes for me to go... But still, this is tempting
[edit: oh well, revisited some previous line-ups... temptation runs strong in this one...]
My Author's Blog (in French)

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you"

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I am awake"
05.07.2018 - 10:40
X-Ray Rod
Written by Darkside Momo on 05.07.2018 at 01:32

Nice string of reports guys!
Sadly, as much as Roadburn is definitely a great fest, I fear the whole bill isn't enough to my tastes for me to go... But still, this is tempting
[edit: oh well, revisited some previous line-ups... temptation runs strong in this one...]

After year 3, I don't even look at the line-up anymore. I just show up because I know it'll be amazing and I'll discover a whole bunch of new stuff. Plus: Meeting all my Roadburn friends!
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
05.07.2018 - 13:33
Darkside Momo
Written by X-Ray Rod on 05.07.2018 at 10:40

I don't even look at the line-up anymore.

Well it sure corresponds to your tastes in general, so...
My Author's Blog (in French)

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you"

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I am awake"

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