Roadburn 2022, Day 1 & 2
|Event:||Roadburn Festival 2022|
|Written by:||X-Ray Rod, musclassia, RaduP|
Roadburn 2022, Day 3 & 4 by X-Ray Rod (67)
Roadburn 2022, Day 1 & 2 by X-Ray Rod (33)
Intros and such (20.04)
Rod: Even as I got off the plane and took a train to Tilburg. Even as I got my wristband. Even as I saw a sea of black tshirts and smiling folks from all over the world. I still couldn’t believe it. Roadburn 2022. I made it. Not only was this a victory against a horrible way of life we grew tired of due to the pandemic. This was also my tenth Roadburn since I started my pilgrimage in 2011. I say it many times: I don’t even look at the line-up anymore. I just show up no matter what. Because every year is special. Every year is a meeting with old friends. Every year is a celebration for all things heavy and underground. Every year I feel like I’m finally home.
Lil Radu: Holy shit! It's actually happening! After attending in 2019, we already got tickets for the 2020 edition, and that got as close to as the running order actually being announced before the rug got pulled from under everyone's feet. Uncertainty reigned even as the 2021 Redux edition happened online, and for a while it seemed like that would be how concerts would happen from then on. But as actual live concerts were reappearing, hope sprung up again. Then actual festivals. Then it was announced that Roadburn would be happening for really real this year.
Since both me and Big Radu had our tickets secured since the 2020 edition, it was just the transportation and accommodation. Since it was happening on Easter (the actual Easter, you bloody heretics), I needed even fewer vacation days. Since it was gonna take a big enough chunk of the week, me and Big Radu decided we could just take the entire week off and arrive early and visit Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. Though the best findings were still how insanely efficient the Dutch train system is, how you have to also watch out for bicycles running into you in addition to cars, and how for some reason you can't pay with anything but a Maestro card in most shops.
We were still the ones to arrive first at the accommodation, coincidentally and conveniently the same one as last time. Waiting and spotting as the rest of the folks arrived, already greeting them with the bread, beer and leverwurst we bought from the supermarket to act as a cheaper breakfast. Since the pre-burner was a lot shorter than the rest of the days, we had time to get settled, go for lunch, and we would have had time to have a movie party with The Room afterwards if Rod didn't decide to go drink with friends instead. Prick.
Matt: My only previous Roadburn experience was in 2016, but with a seemingly solid line-up and encouragement from Radu, I was convinced to make 2020 the year of my return. As it turned out, 2020 didn’t happen, and neither did 2021. By the time 2022 rolled around and the line-up started to reassemble, I was initially uncertain about whether to maintain my attendance at this year’s edition; some of my key reasons for buying a ticket in 2020 (Oranssi Pazuzu, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber, White Ward) were not present for this year’s edition. However, as slowly more bands up my street got booked, I felt I would prefer to just go and enjoy some live music in the presence of online friends than skip a potentially great experience. And so it was that I found myself anxiously checking travel information in the week leading up to the event, making sure I had everything prepared for entering the Netherlands; as it turned out, they didn’t need anything more than a passport and a verbal promise that I wouldn’t try to stay there permanently. As I picked up my wristband, dropped my luggage at the accommodation and walked to the venue, all that uncertainty faded as I prepared for 4 and a half days of live music that was guaranteed to be varied, forward-thinking and, hopefully, enjoyable.
The Spark (20.04)
RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON
Lil Radu: Two drummers! The first band I see at Roadburn and they already have one with two drummers! Judging from their name I expected something more psychedelic, but this was psychedelic in a malevolent way. More no wave at the intersection with noise rock and sludge metal. I later found out that a lot of their stuff actually was more psych, it was just their latest that was more of a change in sound. Which made the Swans T-shirt that one of the guitarists was wearing make so much sense. The two drummers didn't play anything distinct most of the time, but reinforced a very unique echo and power. I wish I could have caught their collab set with Twin Sister on the final day purely because then they might’ve had three drummers. Rod asked me where they're from, I said "From the moon, obviously", as if he didn't know the golden "when in doubt, assume they're Dutch" rule.
Rod: I had no idea what to expect from the first opening act. The name gave me a psychedelic rock vibe, the runes-looking logo gave me neo-folk suspicions. As soon as the drummers began pounding their equipment and heavy, noisy, off-kilter riffs roared it was clear that we were going to be treated with an intense slab of noise rock. Elements of sludge metal, industrial and post-punk made themselves known and the intense delivery of the frontman channeled the spirit of the great Michael Gira but also Justin Broadrick. An excellent way to start the festival!
Lil Radu: Basically a two-thirds of the way gender-swapped Motörhead. At least as far as the bass tone was concerned, when that was audible. Loud punky hard rock that instantly evokes images of leather jackets and sunglasses. Definitely louder than the previous band. So loud and fast it sometimes felt like they were stumbling over each other. That, combined with how surprisingly dissonant the whole thing sounded, took some getting used to. And maybe the one thing that really helped me get used to it was their stage presence.
Rod: Maggot Heart were my main reason to show up on Wednesday for the pre-party. Their split with Okkultokrati really grew on me and their show in Sweden just a week ago left me absolutely ecstatic to see them again. This is such a vicious act that packs a lot of anger and charisma. A very moody and dissonant mix of Motörhead, Virus and Voivod, if I were to compare it to something. It was punk/hard rock of the finest quality. It was clear that many in the audience weren’t expecting such a violent act. The loudness and recklessness the band presented was almost overwhelming but a vital part of their identity. From the thundering bass tone that would make Lemmy proud, the extremely tight drumming, to the electrifying solos. They have nailed their sound perfectly. I immediately lost my cool when they finished with “No Song”. It’s as close to a modern anthem as you can get with the infectious and well-written lyrics demanding you to sing along.
Lil Radu: A last minute replacement following Bad Breeding's cancellation, Temple Fang were a name I'd heard before thanks to musclassia's pick in our feature. Seeing them live gave me a newfound appreciation for the band's brand of psychedelic rock, one that's very focused on flow. The kind of flow that really commits to both its buildups and explosions, the kind that oozes confidence without being braggadocious. Performances were great all around, the bass being audible was more than welcome, the vocals felt warm, and it was all overall such a great vibe.
Matt: The first two bands playing the pre-show were both decent openers for Roadburn festival, although I wasn’t completely into either group’s spin on noise rock. Temple Fang then came along and put on a proper show to get me fully enthused for the coming four days of music. I’d heard the group’s Fang Temple album from last year, which had impressed me by being an 80-minute improvisation-based rock album that nevertheless retained a lot of warmth and heart, particularly on the part of the vocals, and this translated nicely to the live setting. Across 1 hour, the group’s meandering songs remained grounded, with some lovely mellow vocal sections, and the extended instrumental jams prioritized flow and dynamic build over convoluted wankery. Comfortably my pick of the bunch on the Wednesday.
1st Day (21.04)
Lil Radu: First time seeing the Koepenhal after it was redesigned, we could already tell The Terminal had a more visible stage now. Not like that helps much against an army of tall Dutchmen. But the sound alone was enough to knock us out. I knew I would be engulfed in all that amplifier feedback, and that the pounding bass would punch my entire body, but the actual feeling as it was happening was incomparable. You could tell by the sound of her weakened voice in between songs just how demanding and straining the vocal performance must be.
Matt: I hadn’t especially cared for Big Brave with their studio material, but some styles just sound better live, and my first visit to The Terminal (a new venue for me, as during my previous visit to Roadburn in 2016, the alternate stages had been much closer to the central 013 hub) gave an opportunity to see whether it applied to Big Brave’s drone doom. The first thing to note about this set was just how LOUD it was; even with earplugs in, the bass was penetrating and shaking my ears. There was more to this set than just volume, however; the immense weight and ponderous groove of these songs was insidiously captivating, and the extent to which Robin Wattie was clearly shredding her voice during this performance (based on how broken it sounded in her between-song stage chat) was admirable, if potentially concerning long-term.
Lil Radu: I've known of Forndom mostly as another act in the vein of Wardruna and Heilung, which did make me question how it would fit on a stage as small as The Next Stage. Turns out, that is achieved by using backing tracks, not necessarily the most exciting to witness. Even if the music was amazing as can be, and with the full knowledge that Ludvig Swärd recorded all that music himself, it was hard to shake the feeling that it was basically a hooded dude sitting down singing over a pre-recorded track and sometimes picking up an instrument. Still, despite the limitation in scope, Forndom still managed to have an evocative stage presence as the hooded figure, and you bought into the atmosphere anyway.
Matt: Atmospheric neofolk shows can be quite stunning live, as Wardruna, Skuggsjá and Heilung pay testament to, which is why I wanted to see Forndom, particularly considering how much I had liked their Faþir album. What’s less stunning, however, is seeing one guy singing over a backing track; now, there were admittedly sets later on in this festival which had a similar set-up that I felt more favorably to, but in those instances, the vocals felt more pivotal to the sound. Here, there was a whole ensemble of drums, instruments and voices being played off a computer, and one guy singing on top of it doesn’t really make for much of a live experience; I can only imagine Einar Selvik singing to a Wardruna backing track would be similarly underwhelming.
VILE CREATURE & BISMUTH
Lil Radu: A collaboration between two duos, and three people enter the stage: something doesn't add up. Bismuth are both there, but Vile Creature's drummer is not. I don't know why they thought having two drummers wouldn't be feasible, since RMFTM just showed us it's not only feasible, but recommended. Regardless, working as a power trio ended up creating a sound that was much fuller than any of the two bands could achieve by themselves. The fourth member did eventually join, though just to provide vocals, increasing the band's screaming range even further. That moment is quickly followed by Bismuth's vocalist making use of the piano that was just sitting there beforehand, ominously informing us that it will eventually be played. And when the moment comes, it is as ominous as expected, even as a contrast to the overbearing heaviness it was bookended by. I did eventually end up reviewing the album that resulted from this collaboration.
Rod: Having greatly enjoyed Big Brave’s inauguration of the festival’s first day, I felt the urge to continue with another extremely heavy act. I must admit I have not done my homework regarding either of these two bands prior to this set. But after witnessing their combined effort I must do something about it! One of the most special things about Roadburn is how they always get bands willing to go the extra mile and create commissioned pieces you’d be hard-pressed to find somewhere else. Bismuth and Vile Creature worked together to create A Hymn Of Loss And Hope which they played in full. A riveting mix of funeral doom and sludge metal. The short bursts of speed and the dark notes of the piano were a welcomed variation for this otherwise very heavy performance. The changes in vocalists also added another layer to the overall performance, making the result bigger than the sum of its parts.
YEAR OF NO LIGHT
Matt: I gave the first 15-20 minutes of Vile Creature/Bismuth a listen, so I missed the piano, but while the ponderous, droning doom nicely filled the large 013 stage, it wasn’t the most exciting set, so I made sure to check out Year Of No Light. This was a group that could have benefitted from being on the main stage, just in order to fit all the various members on stage together; at their peak (individuals came off and on stage during the set), there were six or seven people occupying the front of the stage (a mixture of guitars, bass and keyboards), not to mention two drum kits behind them. It’s a lot of people, but they do make an incredibly textured mixture of sound that is only elevated by an incredibly hazy set and atmospheric light show. Kicking off with “Hiérophante” from Ausserwelt, the group then moved into a trio of tracks from last year’s Consolamentum before finishing off with a deep cut; “Traversée” from their debut record Nord was given a full rendition as I believe their original vocalist Julien Perez joined them as a guest. The first real standout set of Roadburn 2022 for me, Year Of No Light was as overwhelming as a post-metal band with that many people on stage should be.
Lil Radu: Second time seeing them at this festival, but they played exclusively new material by performing their new album in full. Loved the album, so I loved hearing it live too. Already knew they'd be great and I got exactly what I wanted.
Rod: Having missed Messa’s show back in Roadburn 2019, I knew I had to make amends and find a good spot for this show. The timing was perfect as I just turned into a huge fan after their latest release, Close, which was going to be played in full this time. Their esoteric brand of doom metal felt like a breeze of fresh, warm air as it was mixed with elements of jazz, occult rock. Folk and classical instruments were also a big part of their unique performance. Let’s not forget the stunning, entrancing performance of Sara Bianchin. Her vocals simply floored me with their seductive, intoxicating tone.
THE DEVIL'S TRADE
Lil Radu: Seeing as to how I'd have a much easier time moving between the main stage and the next stage than between any others, I was pretty excited to see The Devil's Trade, one of the artists I discovered thanks to last year's Roadburn Redux. Though I underestimated how full The Next Stage would be, and the effort it would take me to make visible contact with the performer. But even until then, Dávid Makó filled the room with his voice and the echoes of his guitar, a single person making a sound so full. Though I loved The Devil's Trade as the moustached Hungarian version of Antimatter, the music just oozes with that emotion. Even though the most impactful part was the story of a Hungarian village from Romania whose intentional flooding was something I was not aware of.
40 WATT SUN
Rod: 40 Watt Sun has become one of my favorite bands of recent years. I was lucky enough to see them play at Roadburn 2012 and even luckier to see the brief Warning reunion at Roadburn 2017. Their third opus only cemented that as Perfect Light is already such a personal album for me. I was unsure how 40 Watt Sun were going to approach the new material. I actually expected the set to lean more on the acoustic side of things but it actually packed quite an extra punch with the distorted guitars and a fuller, Main-Stage-appropiate heaviness. Unsurprisingly, Patrick still sings like an angel, every line was like a punch to my gut and the tears ran predictably. The excellent guitar solos added just the perfect amount of prog-rock vibe that I needed in a live setting to become fully immersed... But little did I know this was only the beginning.
Lil Radu: Knowing full well I'd have to use the space between two main stage sets I knew I was gonna see, I decided to check out what was playing on the next stage. Trialogos were really not a name I had heard before, despite their presence in Roadburn Redux, nor did I really know what to expect. I arrived while they were playing “Rip Current” and that was enough for me to name it the loudest and noisiest Roadburn set. I was on the verge of calling this noise, but it's probably the closest I've heard psychedelic drone getting to noise music without actually being noise music, working around with a shitload of instruments, sounds, and samples. Their subsequent songs did make use of mellower sounds, but it was still the kind of set that makes you regret forgetting your earbuds at home, and all of it felt like music from a dream that hates you. And every time I'd make an assessment like that, they'd come with mellower music to disagree.
Matt: After Messa, I had a lull without anyone I wanted to see, something of a regular occurrence for me across the four days, all of which generally aligned with a convenient dinner time, so thanks for being so considerate Roadburn, I guess? After eating, I caught the end of Slift’s Ummon set (basically 5-10 minutes of ‘big band ending’ psychedelic rock chaos) and the beginning of Lili Refrain, whose one-person show with looped tribal drumming, drones and vocals made for a rather impressive neofolk-based sound, certainly more engaging than Forndom’s ‘man and a tape player’ show. Still, I ultimately left her set early to catch Helms Alee, who are a band that, despite having reviewed an album of, I don’t have much of a firm opinion on. I have a bit of a clearer impression of them now after seeing them live; basically, everything comes down to the drums. Helms Alee are a power trio in which every member contributes vocally, and at Roadburn, all 3 members were at the front of the stage, with the drums in the middle, which only served to further highlight how integral Hozoji Matheson-Marguiles’ energetic drumwork is to their sludgy noise rock sound. I did generally enjoy this set, although a lot of it did come down to whether what she was playing was interesting; the guitar and bass generally weren’t ever doing anything so intriguing that they became the focus of my attention. Of note, in the time between the end of Roadburn and publishing this article, we have published both an interview with the band that Radu recorded shortly following this set and a review of their new record, Keep This Be The Way.
FULL OF HELL
Matt: One of the bands (but not the only one, as will become apparent) that performed a set on every day of Roadburn 2022, Full Of Hell opted for full-album sets on three of the days; the Thursday saw a rendition of Trumpeting Ecstasy, while Friday and Sunday brought Weeping Choir and Garden Of Burning Apparitions to the live setting. For each of these sets, Full Of Hell were granted 40-minute slots, which was pretty unnecessary, as all of these albums are under 25 minutes in length, and assuming the subsequent performances followed the example set on Thursday, Full Of Hell didn’t mess around with any prolonged stage banter between songs. To be honest, I didn’t mind the brevity of this performance; I’m already not a fan of grindcore on album, and that stayed true here, as the relentless blasting and manic aggression weren’t really suitable for anything more than just staring in bewilderment.
Rod: After 40 Watt Sun emotive set, I was in dire need of something to snap me out of my state of melancholy. Full Of Hell to the rescue! They were the artists-in-residence that year (the official ones... More on that later). This meant that they were going to play one set every day. First one covered their 2017 opus Trumpeting Ecstasy. I’ve been a huge fan of them ever since they performed in Roadburn 2016 and it is incredible to see how their fanbase has grown and how they can gather such a huge crowd nowadays. I absolutely love the take on noisy, sample heavy, grindcore. I must admit I was a bit disappointed they didn't use their 40-min slot to just slap 2 albums per set each time as most of their releases are barely 20-25 min long. I was left yelling at the stage for more as the last song ended and they left without saying much. Damn teasers!
Lil Radu: I admit I’m not that enamored with Sólstafir’s latest material, and as a band that I’ve seen live twice already, I wouldn’t normally be looking forward to seeing them again that much, especially not at the detriment of missing other sets I’d want to see. But Sólstafir were among my top 5 favorite bands at one point, and them playing the entirety of Svartir Sandar live meant that I’d get to hear some of my favorites like “Ljós í stormi” and “Djákninn” live, not to mention the deeper cuts from the album that have barely ever been performed. I was still mostly excited about the songs I knew most, but this was a perfect reminder of why Svartir Sandar got so many replays from teenage Radu. I just wish Addi’s screams in “Djákninn” would have lived up to the studio version.
Matt: I had already seen Russian Circles on a couple of occasions, so I could have given them a miss and tried out The Bug, who were by all accounts (well, 2 accounts, as shown below) pretty jawdropping. However, Russian Circles are a band that are meant to be experienced live, and at this point I had developed an uncomfortable stomach ache that mercifully did not re-emerge during the remainder of the festival, so I appreciated the opportunity to sit on the big steps of the 013 and bear witness to 3 people exploring sound and space in style. More than anything, the light show was my abiding memory of this set, as the trio made excellent use of both light and darkness on a very large stage; the way in which the drummer was backlit, his glowing silhouette drawing eyes while he drove these songs forwards, was a sight to behold. The music was also pretty great; the combination of “Afrika” leading into “Harper Lewis” was probably the highlight, although ending on “Youngblood” made for a great conclusion to the first ‘proper’ day of the festival.
Lil Radu: I was excited for a lot of acts at Roadburn, since a lot of my favorite bands of all time were performing, but other than the only one of those I hadn’t seen before, the one act I was most looking forward to seeing was The Bug, especially since he would be bringing both Flowdan and Logan with him. After featuring Fire in our non-metal feature and for some reason not staff picking it, the prospect of seeing this at Roadburn still felt at odds. And it’s exactly that unexpected and uncanny feeling that made the set so much better. The room filled with smoke and red light before dark dub beats started descending upon the room. It took a while for the MCs to arrive, but each of them were merely silhouettes in smoke with an imposing and commanding presence, and at that point the entire thing was absolutely wild. Out of all the Roadburn artists, it was hip-hop that actually started a wall of death.
Rod: Ok, who really saw this coming? This was without a doubt the biggest surprise of the festival for me as I did not expect to get sucked into the vibe. I was on the fence between seeing The Bug or Russian Circles. I’m glad Radu ended up convincing me. I got flashbacks that reminded me just how great Dälek was at Roadburn 2017. Roadburners have an appetite for dope, corrosive beats. The mix of noise, industrial, dub and grime proved to be a perfect closer for the day as the crowd went wild and followed the commands of the two fantastic MCs (MAKE SOME NOISEEEEEE!!!!). Did not expect such aggression and I’m sure no one in their wildest fantasies could have seen a vile wall of death coming. The Bug was a perfect reminder of what the festival is doing: Redefining heaviness.
2nd Day (22.04)
Matt: Despite my multiple reminders to the rest of the group, I was the only one who actually made it to see this band on time: their loss. LLNN, who I had seen 3 times in 2019 alone and been blown away by every time, were doing a full-album performance of last year’s Best Sludge Metal Album™, Unmaker, and one of the most black hole-creatingly heavy albums I’ve ever heard was equally crushing live. Running for pretty much 40 minutes exactly, Unmaker was the perfect length for a live performance of this type of music, and featured appropriate development as subtle melody bled into the final songs of the set to deliver a majestic conclusion to a pounding sonic assault.
Lil Radu: Almost missed because of lunch and huge queues. Caught the last 10 mins. Crushing. Great synths and warming up to the harsh vocals.
Matt: If you don’t like your music as heavy as possible, it was advised to turn up to Roadburn a bit later than the start time on Friday, as LLNN was immediately followed by Primitive Man. I admittedly have not particularly cared for Primitive Man on record; there’s a limit to how vile something can be before it stops being enjoyable for me. Here, however, I didn’t have that problem; maybe the slight muddiness than comes from playing live meant that some of the most extreme nastiness got lost in the ether, but while there were blasts of speedy aggression and segments of extended noise, the bulk of this set was suffocatingly slow sludgy doom, which made for perfectly satisfying slow-headbang material. I had expected to dip out of this one early, but unlike someone, I actually managed to make it all the way to the end of this hour-long exercise of vulgarity.
Rod: Unfortunately I was running late with my lunch and had to miss LLNN but oh boy was I ready to be fully compensated with one of the heavy hitters of modern sludge: Primitive Man. The only time I previously saw the doomsters from Denver was back in Roadburn 2015. Just like with Full Of Hell, it is fantastic to see a band that I previously saw at the much smaller Green Room stage (now simply called “Next Stage”) gathering a huge audience at one of the biggest stages the festival has to offer. Primitive Man made great use of the extra space with a devastating set filled with noise, colossal riffs, monstrous vocals and a shitload of smoke. The imposing wall of sound changed seamlessly from ultra-slow sludge/doom to bursts of black metal fury. Certainly a divine treat for any fan of extreme music. The visuals coming from the projector complemented the music with visions of filth, decay and post-apocalyptic landscapes. All in all, a perfect way to start my second day!
JOHANNES PERSSON / JAMES KENT
Matt: The mastermind of Cult Of Luna joins forces with Perturbator: obviously I was going to watch this one. However, I wasn’t approaching it with the excitement that I thought I would, probably due to this performance (dubbed “Final Light”) being something of an unknown quantity. I needn’t have worried; this was a mesmerizing show. Backed up by two drummers, Persson and Kent had composed something that sounds pretty much exactly like you would imagine ‘Cult Of Luna meets Perturbator’ would sound. Basically, imagine if Cult Of Luna had doubled down on some of the dystopian electronics that appeared on Vertikal, and had made them more synthwave; this set was almost all mid-paced, so there wasn’t any of Perturbator’s more rambunctious music, but instead his signature soundscapes filled out Persson’s trudging riffing and vocals, with the drummer duo behind adding additional epicness. Combined with a fitting light show, this collaboration was one of my highlights of Roadburn 2022, and I’m now eagerly anticipating the release of the Final Light record.
Lil Radu: Triumphant. Really lives up to how emotional I expected it to be. Bursting with post-rock tremolos. The kind of set that it's very easy and rewarding to emotionally connect to.
Rod: Roadburn is for me a perfect place to discover new acts I wouldn’t have found on my own. Svalbard was Friday's first discovery. I was vaguely familiar with their latest album, When I Die, Will I Get Better?, thanks to Radu’ review. But I surely did not expect to be blown away by such raw energy. The band was absolutely ecstatic to be able to play for us and their optimism and love was infectious. It’s difficult to explain how music like this can be so wholesome. It combines elements of post-hardcore, post-rock and a tiny bit of black metal for good measure. Part of the brightness of the set has to do with singer/guitarist Serena Cherry who engaged the audience numerous times and couldn’t stop smiling at us every chance she got. Such kindness was nicely juxtaposed with the harshness of their music and aggressive vocals. Energizing music for sure and I ran directly to their merchstand to get all their albums without thinking much about it.
Matt: This was next door to the Persson/Kent collaboration, so I popped my head in to check out what the band dubbed ‘Type O Positive’ sounded like. On the one hand, I quite liked the more upbeat, gaze-y take on gothic metal/rock that they went for, and the stage presentation (with a pile of TVs behind the two musicians) was intriguing; on the flip side, I didn’t really click with the vocals, so a couple of songs was more than enough for me.
Lil Radu: Having missed the first of their set, the one which would have the album I actually knew, this second one was specifically marketed as never-played-before material. Scarcity is a hell of a motivator, so I caught quite a bit of their set before moving on. I really hope the material is just stuff that's gonna end up on an upcoming album, because that did not sound like leftovers. Not gonna go as far as to call the new direction harsher, but it feels heavier and more muscular than what I remember from Ummon.
Lil Radu: Wicked Dude have really impressed me with their latest album, so having a set specifically for performing that live was clearly gonna be up my alley. Harsh black metal with hardcore infusions is a definite hit if you know how to pace it. And it was in this live setting that the constant drum assault felt a bit more like an issue than on the album, even if they were still quite spaced out. And maybe it wouldn't be too bad of an idea to have some bass. I feel like some of the intensity dissipated due to the size of the Main Stage, but the lights show recaptured some of it.
Matt: The relentless blasting of “FN SCAR 16” on the recorded version of There’s Always Blood At The End Of The Road had always been overwhelming, but live, where you are forced to experience every moment of it, it does become draining, and the blast-heavy nature of the album as a whole was exhausting at times. That being said, this was still a pretty exhilarating set; it was cool to see three people making such a racket on such a big stage, and when the intensity dipped that tiny bit to allow the hookiness of the riffs, as well as some of the more melodic guitar leads and chanting vocals, to take more of the attention, everything started to come together rather nicely.
Rod: The curators of this year’s Roadburn elevated people’s expectations by announcing they would be playing their latest album, This Shame Should Not Be Mine, in full. Not only that, but a string quartet were going to accompany them to truly elevate the synth-heavy nature of the album. Milena’s performance was hypnotic and spellbinding. Her stage performance was intense yet subtle. Dark yet graceful. Her big, gorgeous black dress added a theatrical touch to the set. Her vocals exceeded my expectations as the high notes sounded much better than on the studio album. A touching set which presented a very emotional album.
Lil Radu: This was the second case of me picking one of my favorite bands despite already having seen them twice, merely because they were playing an old album in full. This time, Écailles De Lune, which would’ve been my pick out of all Alcest albums that I’d wanna see performed. Even if just for the first one of the two title tracks, which barely gets performed live. The band also filled the time slot with some newer material, all of them being songs I loved (but then again, is there such a thing as an Alcest song I don’t love?), but the highlights still remained finally seeing “Écailles De Lune - Part 1” and “Sur L'océan Couleur De Fer” live. The sound is still one that’s a bit hard to get right live, and this time wasn’t perfect either, but it was at least the least worst. And finally hearing the whole album live meant so much to me. Exactly the type of comfort gig I needed.
Matt: Alcest playing Écailles De Lune: of all the full-album sets at Roadburn this year, one stood above all others in terms of anticipation. Still, Écailles De Lune is only 40 minutes long, and Alcest had a 70-minute set; would this be another case like Full Of Hell where everything would finish prematurely? As it turns out, Alcest had other plans; the set with opened with the first half of 2019’s Spiritual Instinct, and closed out with the title track from Kodama, all of which were excellent choices. Still, the reason why I was so excited for this was the chance to hear what is probably the definitive blackgaze album brought to the stage, and it did not disappoint; the two-part title track was as mesmerizing a journey as expected, “Percées De Lumière” was once again a perfect live song, and “Sur L'océan Couleur De Fer” was so tender. This was probably my most anticipated show going into the festival (even if Alcest had sometimes underwhelmed when I’d previously seen them live), and it did not remotely disappoint.
THOU & MIZMOR
Lil Radu: You’re going about your Roadburn day, having things planned a certain way. Then you check the TimeSquare app or the Roadburn Facebook page. You’re greeted with the news that Thou and Mizmor are playing a collaborative set in an hour. Not only that, but they also surprise-dropped the entire record. Well, that called for some schedule rearrangement. After witnessing this live and listening and reviewing the record itself, the more I think about, the more this collaboration makes sense. Not only because of the common friend groups and fan appeal of both of them, but also because of the doomish common ground that both artists have. The record did feel a bit more fulfilling, but it’s like the record is living up to the performance instead of the other way around. I did leave a bit early, not only because at this point I figured there’s probably no more surprises in their performance, but also because goddammit I had a schedule already, and I really wanted to see Health. Thankfully, the set apparently ended sooner than initially booked, so it wasn’t like I could have seen the entire album performed live anyway, ruining my initial plan of reviewing the album as it was being performed.
Matt: I joined Radu for the first 20-30 minutes of the Thou/Mizmor collaboration, and while I enjoyed it, it was a bit of a case of ‘yeah, it’s slow and heavy, what else is new?’ Having now heard Myopia on record, there are intricacies that didn’t quite cut through live, but still I don’t regret shifting stages to see Health instead. Their brand of electronica, which ranged from nasty industrial to easily accessible synthpop, made for good time dancing material. The only issue I had with them was the vocal style of Jake Duzsik; it was an overly timid-sounding style of singing that really did not go with the music, particularly the more industrial cuts, and the vocal melodies also didn’t offer much to enjoy. Get someone like Andy LaPlegua from Combichrist to offer his spin on these tracks and I reckon you’d get something pretty ace.
Lil Radu: Still don't get what's so healthy about this band. Or why they're on a relatively small stage. I mean, the place was absolutely packed and I’m glad I did manage to get in without missing too much of the set. They do make some nasty noise, the electro-industrial kind that is often bordering on industrial metal. The vocals contrast with the music, not always in the best way, so it reminds me why I listen to Health's collaborations more often than their actual material.
Rod: I needed to save battery for Saturday which was going to be the most taxing day for my body. So after Alcest beautiful set I decided that the best way to close the night was with a celebration for the dead. Faceless Entity are a Dutch black metal band of the raw, hypnotic variety. A band shrouded in mystery. I waited patiently as the small stage slowly got more and more packed. The smoke was filling the room and 3 cloaked figures suddenly appeared. The intense vocals and raw approach to ambience was intriguing. I was surprised at how dynamic they were, ranging from the most punishing blast beat assault to phantasmagoric dirges that entranced the whole audience. This is a band to look out for as they are surely a dark star on the horizon. This seance was without a doubt a perfect ending to my second day.
SUM OF R
Matt: I hadn’t heard of Sum Of R before they played at Roadburn, but their name alone gave me positive vibes, and the music turned out to be pretty great too, with them playing their new album Lahbryce in full. What started as a pure drone/dark ambient project has evolved in its latest iteration into something that almost resembles Wolvennest-meet-Dark Buddha Rising, which may not be surprising, as the band’s current drummer, Jukka Rämänen, is a founding member of Dark Buddha Rising, while the recently joined vocalist Marko Neuman is in Waste Of Space Orchestra. On the topic of vocals, the surreal mix of harrowing harsh vocals and eerie androgynous cleans added an extra dimension to the dark psychedelic drone doom being brought to life by the other individuals on stage, two of whom were operating synths while none of them were holding a guitar. I didn’t quite make it to the end of the set due to exhaustion setting in, but at least it made me aware of Lahbryce, which I have subsequently given quite the glowing review.
Lil Radu: Four people is all it takes to take you to space. Two of them play synths. Monstrous vocals. What it would sound like if the void of space was a malevolent entity. This was the only time I considered just going to sleep instead of seeing the final bands of the day because of how tired I was, but after finding out who was in the band, I’m so glad I didn’t. Still, the tiredness was too strong to manage and I left near the middle of the set, content with how much I witnessed and with the knowledge that I have a new band to listen to.
Second half of this article is coming your way, assuming our procrastination doesn't soar in the coming weeks and none of us end up bailing. Cheers!
||Written on 11.05.2022 by An extremely lazy reviewer but he's so cute you'd forgive him for it.|
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