Metal Storm logo
Roadburn 2023


Written by: RaduP, X-Ray Rod, NastyHero
Published: May 21, 2023
 
Event: Roadburn Festival 2023 (Website)
Location: 013, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Galleries:

Roadburn 2023 by X-Ray Rod (105)


INTROS AND SUCH

Lil Radu: Now that the first Roadburn after the pandemic was already behind us, this edition had less of that kind of pressure, instead the only things reminding us of those times were thoughts of two Roadburns ago being in 2019, and seeing performances of the 2021 Redux edition popping up. Other than that, it finally felt like things were back on track. From that point of view. The live scene is still forever changed, and that I mostly felt by being baffled at people calling the lineup to this edition weak and skipping it. And indeed, looking at the running order once it was released, it didn’t feel as huge of a stress-inducing one stacked with unmissable sets. And yet, that really worked. More on that later.

I ventured with Big Radu one weekend early, spending some days in Germany and meeting some other Metal Stormers there (something I’d go into more details if this was a travel blog), translating vulgarities, visiting castles, and trying to figure out how to pay for parking. Even going to a Godspeed You! Black Emperor show in Cologne on Tuesday as the best possible Roadburn appetizer. Once Wednesday rolled around, it was time to cross borders (well, more technically than practically) into the Netherlands and catch up with Rod and the gang in Tilburg.

Rod: Another year. Another Roadburn. Last Roadburn reloaded my batteries in such a way that I wasn’t even pondering about the bands that were going to play this year. This was the second Roadburn post-pandemic and I was all too ecstatic about returning once again. 11th year in a row, baby! The current economic and political turmoil that currently plagues the world has found its way into Roadburn’s veins. No big headliners this year. No larger-than-life legends. Roadburn is going into a different direction. A direction we all saw coming though. Deeper into the underground. Deeper into the deconstruction of what heavy music truly entails. And I’m all for it. So follow us through this two-part article. Hopefully it will kickstart a desire deep within you to buy the ticket and take the ride.

Mateusz: I'll just mention here that I skipped writing about the bands that Radu and Rod had seen and will focus instead on the ones they have not seen. Maybe with a few exceptions but the article is long enough as is. Even with that, not all of the festival is covered, far from it.






The Spark (19.04)

Lil Radu: After setting up at our hotel and figuring out the best venue-hotel route, me and Big Radu set to meet up with Rod and his gang before the actual event. Grabbing an unsuspecting Rod’s shoulders before he noticed me and asking him why he hadn't written the review he was supposed to (and believe it or not, he still didn’t), was a nice start to it all.

Rod: I had to wake up at 5:00 to make it to the airport for an all-to-early flight. On the plus side it gave me and my company (my dear sister and a fellow friend) plenty of time to settle things at the campsite and unpack. To breathe the Roadburn air and pour down some drinks as we watched other roadburners fix up their tents and waited for our fourth member, Mateusz, to show up.. I’m not a tent person so the little hut/big tent with a set of two bunk beds inside was a good enough option for us. The hot sun was welcoming but as you will later find out: It was merely a passing bird.

The process of entering Roadburn is a special one for a veteran like me. Conversations with newcomers and with long-time friends intertwine and develop naturally. The sense of community is strong because the journey is long and the goal is the same: To witness performances that celebrate the underground and the new. The pre-party, cleverly titled “The Spark” serves its purpose as an appetizer of things to come.




MAI MAI MAI

Lil Radu: A lot of electronic music is the kind where you can’t clearly tell how much of it is just a backing track and there’s the meme of DJs playing Solitaire while their playlist plays. Mai Mai Mai was the kind that clearly performed the thing live, because you can tell by the mistakes in the sound. At the expense of the live feeling, some of the layering and transitions were a bit clonky, so I couldn’t really immerse myself in it as much as I would’ve wished. It was also very very loud and I had just lost my earbuds (I realized later you could ask for earbuds at the bar). The most interesting part of it were the sung vocal samples, and I had the general feeling that this would’ve sounded much better in studio.

Rod: So as I mentioned earlier. My eagerness to go to Roadburn was so large that I didn’t even take the time to research the bands I was going to see. So Mai Mai Mai came as a surprising first act. As the sonic catalyst for Rome-based artist Toni Cutrone, Mai Mai Mai kickstarted the pre-party with an intriguing electronic set. But limiting his work to electronica is a gross oversight. Ritualistic tunes that reference the folklore of the Mediterranean and Southern Italy seep through the thundering bass and beats that are more akin to what you’d find in industrial/ambient or synthwave (or a slow-motion MRI exam). There are also gothic influences that could be compared to the works by Dead Can Dance but more in favor of the electronic and bassy distortion. And HOLY SHIT!, let me quickly talk about DAT BASS. I couldn’t have been the only one who got a free prostate exam out of this super loud set. I could feel my nostril vibrating! As much as I enjoyed the set. I felt that I was more enamored with the sound itself and what it did to my senses than the actual compositions. I echo Lil Radu’s sentiments that the sampled singing was the most intriguing aspect of Mai Mai Mai’s music. It was an unconventional way to start the pre-party though, I’ll give you that.





THE SHITS

Lil Radu: A couple of days before I went to a pub in Germany where the appeal was the waiters being rude to you. Some of that appeal was present in The Shits too, whose lead singer, upon seeing the crowd, immediately called us "a bunch of fucking wankers". Ideal, mate! False advertising since they played a really detached and tongue-in-cheek groovy hardcore instead of shit music like the name would imply. Name obviously made me think of something punk, but more punk than the dense no-wave-ish heaviness that followed. Complete with a saxophone like all good punk.

Mateusz: The singer also spat a couple of times on the audience, threw plastic cups with beer on them and to their applause said “Thank you, Belgium”.

Rod: With a name like that I was expecting some pissed off punkers from England and that’s exactly what I got. All right, the sound was actually much denser, slower and with an obvious no-wave/post-punk sound going on. At times it came off as a slower Entombed (from their death’n’roll period) or a faster and punkier Godflesh. But the pissed off punkish spirit was pretty much alive throughout their whole show with an angry sax to boot! Then there was the singer who yelled at the crowd, threw empty plastic cups (lost count after the fifth one) and was just being an overall goofball but a very charismatic one at that! The Shits is ugly music for ugly times.

Mateusz: The cups weren’t empty, mate.





POISON RUÏN

Lil Radu: I didn't expect my punk rock itch to be scratched by this band instead of the band before it, considering the band name invoked something closer to black metal. But that umlaut should've given it away. There was some heavy metal, especially of the NWOBHM kind into it, but much much punkier than expected, and with some deathrock injected into it. And it worked really well.

Rod: I got a little hint of what Poison Ruïn were about many months before the fest. A friend of mine was jealous of me because he had to skip Roadburn this year and he was most looking forward to seeing this Pennsylvanian act. When I asked about their style he told me “Old-school heavy metal with dungeon synth”. That sounded odd-as-heck to me but also massively intriguing! But damn I was not prepared for the punk rock fire on their music! There is no need to know any of their songs beforehand in order to appreciate the infectious hooks of their anthems. This was an excellent act to finish off the pre-party for everyone’s mood was right in sync with their music. Beer-filled cups in the air, air-guitar playing and I’m pretty sure I danced along with my friends during their catchy folky moments. A true live-band for sure and I hope to see them again! Hopefully next year for a proper debut performance.







1st Day (20.04)

Lil Radu: The first day proper, which also means the first one where the merch area was open. My wallet suffered, but considering how much I spent on drinks in general, not that big of a difference.




YRRE

Rod: Being the first act to kickstart the festival must be an intimidating task but also a huge honor. The fact that no bands were clashing with Yrre meant that the stage was properly packed with people that wanted to check them out. Their only album, Luhlae X The Witch, was released merely a year ago. The album is an adaptation of their concert that was commissioned by the festival 2300 Plan 9 les Etranges Nuits du Cinéma. It is meant as an alternative soundtrack to the movie The Witch from 2015. A movie I’m yet to see myself (although I spoiled myself a few years ago through a wikipedia read haha). I would like to see the movie now to compare it with Yrre’s work. The post-metal sound of these guys was absolutely massive and intense. Waves of crushing riffs and powerful drumming. In all honesty, it did take me a while to properly get in the mood but 15-20 mins in and I was hooked by the cinematic approach to the genre with repetitive, hypnotic passages. Their work was for the most part instrumental but once the chants, screams and growls appeared it felt like the stage was going to erupt into a deadly explosion and take the audience with it.

Lil Radu: Post-metal / atmo sludge that's very cinematic. Sounded huge and crisp. Effects on the vocals felt like a destructive force of nature. I don't really remember what the soundtrack to The Witch was like, and without knowing of the connection between the two, Yrre wouldn't immediately make me think of that movie, but it does make sense that the two would go together.





OvO

Lil Radu: I admit that I chose this band out of the clashing ones specifically because the band name is structurally similar to "UwU". It was later that I realized that they're a band that has collaborated with Nadja. While I'm not well versed in their studio discog, their performance veered into ritualistic droning sludge of the repetitive and slow building kind, and one with a lot of focus on the ritualistic vocals, and whose shift to faster paces and noisier sounds was a welcome surprise. As just a duo, they managed to create a pretty interesting soundscape with just a little.

Mateusz: OvO what’s this




NORNA

Mateusz: Literally the second band I’ve seen at the festival, not counting the before party, and already a queue. Oh, joy. Norna plays sludgy post-metal and they have a former The Ocean vocalist so you know what to expect. Good, nothing outstanding.




JOHN CXNNOR

Rod: Instrumental-wise this was probably one of the best shows of the whole festival. The dark electronica vibe was menacing and absolutely infectious. The whole audience got sucked immediately in the industrial sci-fi vibe of the set. People were aggressively headbanging as well as dancing sensually (did a bit of both haha). I do agree with Radu in that the vocals were a mixed bag but the highs were truly highs! All 4 vocalists had a very distinct sound which you either enjoyed or not. One thing is for sure: They all had a bigger-than-life personality and did their absolute best in seducing the audience. First vocalist (Victor Kaas) had indeed a barking/shouting style that felt too over-the-top at times. By comparison the second one (Andreas Bjulver) was just as aggressive but more conventional which ended in a much more balanced mix with the industrial backdrop. Third guy (Kim Song Sternkopf) was by far my favorite vocalist. He was the most versatile with low growls and high-pitched screams as well as a really imposing stage presence that was filled to the top of sweaty adrenaline. Last but not least was the only woman of the group (Mai Soon Young Øvlisen). I wasn’t too convinced of her screams but oh boy are her clean vocals beautiful. All in all a great show although I did ponder how it would have been with a more stable style of singing.

Lil Radu: The electronic instrumentals were amazing, the industrial tinged dark electro with obvious nodes to sci-fi OSTs, but the decision to meld those with a mixture of Danish hardcore vocalists was a bit of a mixed bag. The first vocalist especially had a barking style approach and a stage presence that was a bit too ridiculous to take seriously, and while the over the top approach continued with the others, it lead to some moments that actually did work well, though I don't think there were many songs where it felt like the vocals really added positively to the song beyond the novelty of the genre blend.





OSI & THE JUPITER

Lil Radu: A very sparse folk duo of vocals / acoustic guitar and a cello. The kind of folk that’s beautiful and heartfelt, warm vocals and warm soundscapes. Even though said soundscape was pretty sparse, it never felt like the instrumental side was neglected, with plenty of moments for the cello to shine.




BURST

Rod: FUCKING Burst YO! Ok. They probably weren’t my most beloved band of all time but they sure as hell have a particular spot in the soundtrack of my teenage years. Their flavor of progressive metalcore always intrigued me. Many people compare them to Mastodon (and it is a valid comparison) but for some reason I always enjoyed Burst more. Their last two albums, Origo and Lazarus Bird, are excellent works that go highly recommended to any metalhead in general. By the time I started to enjoy their music they had already split up so you can only imagine my excitement when they regrouped out of nowhere and decided to play a couple of shows.

You could feel that the singer hadn’t performed in a while as some of his screams felt a bit forced but the instrumental section was impeccable. The riffs cut DEEP while the lead guitars provided some peculiar melodies that ranged from Pink Floyd territory to full on middle-eastern-inspired. The main highlight was the drumming though with its muscular, tribal tone that was all kinds of mesmerizing. The band suffered a pretty bad technical malfunction during my favorite song, “I Hold Vertigo”. Fortunately it happened just at the right moment (the quiet section where it’s just the cymbals. This meant that the drummer had to hold on to the tempo for dear life for a couple of minutes in order to keep the song afloat. He absolutely nailed it as some friends of mine weren’t even aware of the malfunction until the singer said “Ok so are you NOW ready for this?”. The whole band looked extremely pleased to be able to perform at the festival. And their energy and excitement was most contagious!

Lil Radu: Seeing Rod be so enthusiastic about them was contagious. Vocals were the weakest part, drums the highest. It was a bit weird to see metalcore at Roadburn, but they earned their place with how unorthodox their approach is. I wouldn’t mind for this reunion to find them in the studio as well.





ESBEN AND THE WITCH

Mateusz: I’ve been a fan of the band for quite some time now and this was my first time seeing them live. This was however a special show on which they played their newest, as of now unreleased, album “Hold Sacred” in its entirety. I must admit I felt a bit disappointed. It’s their most peaceful album by far and it seemed like each of the songs was building up to this great bursting moment, which never happened. While all of the songs were good on their own, having these 9 very calm compositions next to each other bored me a bit. It wasn’t a bad show, just not what I expected. I will still give the album a shot, perhaps it’ll grow on me – but experiencing the songs for the first time as a live performance didn’t sell me on them.




BODY VOID

Lil Radu: Having already seen Primitive Man on that very stage last year, I was ready to have more earth shattering sludge delivered to me, and Body Void definitely delivered. But just like with Primitive Man, you can kinda predict how the rest of the set will sound like, so even if I left early due to the clash with Julie Christmas, I’m pretty sure what I missed was just more of the admittedly great earth shattering sludge.




Julie ChristmasJULIE CHRISTMAS[/url]

Rod: Only time I’ve seen Julie Christmas perform was back in Roadburn 2018 when Cult Of Luna and Julie performed Mariner in full. It was a striking show, for sure. So I knew I had to see her live again considering her reputation with legendary acts such as Battle Of Mice and Made Out Of Babies.When she came up on stage it was like witnessing a metal Björk. With a dress filled with glowing lights, it was a glorious sight. Her vocals were obviously the most important element of the show. They were whispery, cerebral, mysterious, seductive and absolutely maniacal. But I won’t discredit the band! The instrumentals were some of the most hard-hitting post-metal I’ve witnessed in a long time. Loud as if hell would break loose, they complimented her vocals nicely. Unsurprisingly, Cult Of Luna’s Johannes Persson also performed as a guitarist and contributed with some powerful vocals that added extra oomph. The set was mostly composed of new material with 3 songs from her album The Bad Wife and 3 other songs hailing all the way back to her Battle Of Mice days. As a singer, Julie Christmas was one of the two best singers of the first day. The second one would follow right after.

Lil Radu: It was a bit of a shock realizing how much time had passed since Mariner, the last time she was on a full record, since she really is the kind of artist we need to hear more from. Her vocals are definitely an acquired taste, but with the music veering in between the more atmospheric and the more harsh, the latter works that well specifically because of how unique Julie’s vocals are. Seeing Johannes Persson on stage made me wonder if anything from Mariner would be performed. It wasn’t. Instead we got material old and upcoming, including a song titled “Drinking”, aptly titled since Julie was handing whiskey shots in the front row.





WHITE BOY SCREAM

Lil Radu: That’s not a white boy. False advertising. Instead it is some noisy darkwave that’s pretty reminiscent of something like Lingua Ignota, but with a vocal range that feels closer to Mariah Carey’s. I liked the harshest bits more than the mellowest, but that’s an artist I have to get more of.




DEAFHEAVEN

Rod: Say what you want about the “purity of black metal” or whatever. Sunbather remains an important album. Even I had my complaints with the band back then. But most of those negative thoughts disappeared the moment Deafheaven started playing. Tight performance (impressive drumming!) but George Clarke stole the show! It has been a long time since I’ve seen a singer move around the stage so much. Were some of his moves a big cringe? Yes. Were they too over-the-top? Yes. Did he steal from Ian Curtis? Yes. Did it matter? HELL NO. Because it was entertaining as fuck! Sunbather is a beautiful and inspiring album and witnessing the whole album live was everything I expected it to be and more.

Lil Radu: Sunbather may be one of the most appraised metal albums of the past decade, but hearing it performed live was only half as entertaining as watching the vocalist's slick moves on stage. Reminded me a bit of Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3.





YATRAS

Lil Radu: Went just because it was the most convenient of the offroad bands, this one taking place at the LoC brewery nearby. Not exactly the biggest of stages. The doom metal of Yatras took a while to get started from the soundscape phase, but the harsh vocals really took me by surprise. Can’t say I was eager to leave, but when Rod showed me the queue to the Hall of Fame, I booked it out of there.




CROUCH

Mateusz: Sludge/post-metal done with ⅔ of the band consisting of Wiegedood members. It was pretty good (sorry, but I literally have nothing more to say about them).




ENPHIN

Mateusz: You know what, let me just paste the genres from RateYourMusic:
"Primary genres: Experimental Rock, Industrial Rock, Darksynth
Secondary genres: Post-Rock, Electro-Industrial, Ambient, Electronic, Synthwave
"
Right. This is actually another incarnation of Mr. Peter Hayden (enPHin), although they played songs only from the latest album. I quite like its space atmosphere, although much stuff, including the vocals, were played from the tapes.




THE HANGED MAN

Mateusz: Despite the name, the vocals were actually done by a woman. Psychedelic rock, pretty pleasant to the ears. I enjoyed it.




ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE

Rod: After seeing Deafheaven I knew only one thing. I must go the opposite way. I must finish my day on a filthy, brutal note. I need absolutely ugly black metal. So I camped outside the stage where Antichrist Siege Machine were going to play. I waited with Radu and we were so close to giving up but then the queue started moving slowly but steadily. My patience was rewarded as Antichrist Siege Machine began what is probably the most savage concert I’ve seen at this year’s Roadburn. The immediate IQ-dropping riffs are absolutely phenomenal and this was doubled upon with the drumming that had a very distinct, sloppy, sound. You could even call it “objectively shitty sound” but oh boy was it PERFECT for these ears. No beautiful, awe-inspiring, life-affirming shit. No, fuck that! This was all about screaming, playing, jumping, and abusing your instruments in the most over-the-top way possible. The crowd was absolutely nuts. Moshing was involved and even a weird form of dancing as the odd, groovy, mid-paced riff appeared. You could tell everyone had a lot of fun as people went dumber by the minute and at the end we were just screaming like angry apes. I really hope Roadburn gets more raw black metal acts like Antichrist Siege Machine next year! Such a fun concert. Ideal stuff to kill a few brain cells.

Lil Radu: Drums sounded exactly like my mother when she is chopping onions on the wooden cutting board. Loved it!





FRANCE

Mateusz: I managed to see the end of France (don’t get your hopes up, I mean the band). Droney-krautrock with almost the exact same melody for the whole time. It was actually quite good but even these 15 minutes were a bit pushing it.






2nd Day (21.04)

Lil Radu: The only day of the bunch where I had some actual pre-made plans, as Mat told me that we should check out this maze thing that was very close to the Koepelhal, and because of how crowded it could get we got tickets early. It was something that was a bit hard to explain, sort of like an escape room that takes part in a very physically demanding art installation, where you might be more inclined to explore rather than head for the exit. Really useful to detach yourself from the notion of time and just wander, so it helps to get there early and not worry about missing any set. Once out, I knew I had to get Rod into it too.

Rod: Last night was wild! But cold and rainy as fuck while walking back to the camp. So the next day it took me a long time before I decided to get out and kickstart the day. But after a decent shower and some pretty neat breakfast courtesy of the buffet served at the camping site, I headed early for the first band.




Ad NauseamAD NAUSEAM[/url]

Rod: It was a bit of a shitty move to kick off the second day with Ad Nauseam. Half of the reasons are personal though. To start the day at 13:00 felt way too early for my tired ass (then again, it’s not like I was forced into drinking and after-partying until 3:00). Listening to highly technical and dissonant death metal is not something I usually do when I’m tired and hungover. Also, the Italian quartet opened the second day of the festival at The Engine Room which is one of the smaller stages and honestly it might be the one with the least good sound. Or to put it in another way: The one less suited for a band like Ad Nauseam. Many intricacies hidden within the band’s ambitious songwriting got somewhat muffled or nearly inaudible. While their brand of technical death metal is not particularly new, it was extremely well executed and achieved a dreadful, ritualistic atmosphere that was very charming and demanded attention. You could tell the band members were professionals. It was mighty impressive seeing them play, especially the drummer.





THE QUEER SIDE OF HEAVINESS

Lil Radu: Nice participating in something closer to an interview than a musical performance. Tom Dare from the Hell Bent For Metal podcast had members of Body Void, Pupil Slicer, OvO, and Backxwash invited. Not sure how to "review" an interview, but it was really entertaining and it did remind me of why I prefer to do live interviews as opposed to just emailing questions. The discussions flowed really well, which explains why the interviewer only managed to get through half his questions in the allotted time. There’s not that much specifically that I would wanna recount, but I’ll forever remember the story that Ashanti told about the time a man followed her for a couple of blocks after a show just to tell her “great set” and ask her for a cig. Or Tom asking if they’re tired of being asked questions about their identity in interviews and Pupil Slicer’s Kate telling him they were literally invited on that panel because of it.




BELL WITCH

Rod: I was really looking forward to seeing Ashenspire as their sophomore record, Hostile Architecture, was one of my favorite records from 2022. But just a couple of days before the festival, it was announced that Bell Witch would perform their latest album, Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate, in full. That came out of nowhere and it changed my schedule completely. I knew I had to witness this live. I’ve had the pleasure to see Mirror Reaper being performed in full. I know what these guys can do. It felt like an absolute privilege to witness this new album in full the very same day it was released on digital platforms worldwide. The question is: Can they repeat the magic? Well, if you ask me: YES. It does intrigue me a lot that this album is “part one”. I did not feel for one second that the performance was incomplete. This is a full flesh-out piece of work that stands among the others in the band’s respectable discography. The use of organ/synths was more prominent that I imagined. The music shined In juxtaposition with the pensive, moody film they created for the performance. A candle was lit on the screen behind them and the mourning ritual began. Ghostly scenes of the forest and a woman (witch if you will) dressed in white accompanied us for most of the set. The menacing growls and angelic chants were as soul-shattering as the riffs and drums which were incredibly loud but beautifully crafted in their distorted layering. I felt like my soul was being mended.






SANGRE DE MUÉRDAGO WITH JUDASZ & NAHIMANA

Lil Radu: For the one Sangre de Muérdago set I could catch, you'd expect that the one with the most names on it would also be the most dense, but it was very subdued, focusing more on droning soundscapes. They were a band I caught at the first day of one of the first festivals of this kind I went to, so seeing them again felt very nostalgic.




AshenspireASHENSPIRE[/url]

Lil Radu: I miscalculated just how packed this would get early, especially knowing it wouldn’t be in the bigger of the two Koepelhal halls. Also the fast that it was in the Engine Room should’ve prepared me for how it will sound. To put it bluntly, it was way too loud, I couldn't really make out the instruments or the vocals, even with earplugs in. Big bummer, especially considering this clashing with Bell Witch was the clash of the festival for me. However, watching the vocalist's expressive stage performance including dropping the entire mic stand within the first seconds of starting the set, and a lot of that kinda made up for the sound, which admittedly got a little bit better after the first couple of songs, but it was still far from ideal for such an intricate band. I did meet Alasdair Dunn after the show. And then on the alley a couple of times. Each time acting more incredulous that we’re coincidentally bumping into each other. Jolly.




STOREFRONT CHURCH

Mateusz: Quite calm art/indie rock. Pretty normal for Roadburn standards. Only caught 15 minutes of it and it was fine but didn’t feel like staying longer.




OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE

Lil Radu: Clearly Godspeed You! Black Emperor inspired, which was a bit weird after having seen Godspeed You! Black Emperor just a few days ago, but they could certainly hold their own. Crescendos were really nice and loud which made the long trip of the buildup worth it. Really the kind of thing where I wish I could’ve stayed for the whole set, and as much as I don’t like jumping from set to set, I’m glad I got to see at least a chunk of this.




Wolves In The Throne RoomWOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM[/url]

Rod: It has been quite a few years since I’ve seen the Wolves. I wanted to get a preview of what they had up their sleeves a few months ago. But sadly their concert close to my home had been canceled at the last minute (rumors say that the venue was behind the cancellation due to poor ticket sales. Weak if true). In any case, no matter how that show would have turned out. It couldn’t be compared to their Roadburn set. The band named their set “Shadow Moon Kingdom” and mixed their music with synth-based tribal interludes in between songs with a gorgeous film showcasing the beauty of the natural environment that has been a constant source of inspiration for the band. The start was somewhat sketchy in terms of sound quality but that was quickly resolved. The majority of the set consisted of tracks from their latest work, Primordial Arcana, but a few tracks from Two Hunters, Celestial Lineage and Thrice Woven also made their appearance. My favorite moment was definitely the ending as they made the wise decision to close with the epic “I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Rocks and Roots”. An absolute masterpiece that shook the foundations of the venue with its grand riffs.

Lil Radu: Some weird technical difficulties at first, but ended up sounding amazing. Cinematics that accompanied the film were really fitting for the evocative music. Loved the slower section that soothed the pain of missing Bell Witch.





NORDMANN

Lil Radu: Cinematic jazzy post-rock. Always nice to get to fit in at least one Paradox act and so far that never disappointed me. Too bad I had to be on my phone half the set to schedule something for next morning.




BRUTUS

Lil Radu: To be honest, even if I have tickets for another festival in my country where they’d be performing, this was the band I was most looking forward to, and probably the only one except Deafheaven where I knew every song by heart. The performance was amazing and I’ll never stop being amazed at Stefanie’s ability to sing and play drums that well simultaneously, but whoever is handling the lights at the main stage deserves a raise. That said, I still had to leave midway through the last song, because surprise surprise, guess who was playing next door?




PREY

Mateusz: This year Roadburn had a couple of extra shows in various bars spread throughout the city, all free of charge. One of them was Prey, a Dutch garage punk band, which I had known nothing about. Honestly, I just went to grab some beer, as the show took place in a brewery. The show was good too, energetic as you would expect from a punk band.




HAVE A NICE LIFE

Lil Radu: The surprise set, surprising was that it wasn't packed. I arrived very late because I really wanted to get as much of Brutus (BEL) as possible, and because I already saw them twice at 2019’s Roadburn. Always nice to hear "Bloodhail" but would've liked some newer songs in the setlist, so I’m pretty sure there’s no song they played now that they didn’t play at the other two sets I saw.

Mateusz: It wasn’t packed because it was literally the only show from the main stages which was not announced at all on the Timesquare app. I also saw literally no posts on Facebook about it, just the photo of a poster for “people in the know” (the poster announced the performance of “ARROWHEADS ARROWHEADS ARROWHEADS” which is a line from their song). Most people didn’t know about the show and that’s it, there was Brutus (BEL) playing literally next door so they didn’t even bother to check the other band, assuming they even saw the poster in the first place.

And it is a ballsy move of Roadburn - having line-up with way more lesser known bands than usual and despite that not advertising one of the most popular bands in the line-up in any way – the festival has not sold out in the first time in a very long time (although I think it was very close to selling out) so yes, they did have something to gain by doing so.
They did play one “new” song, “Dracula Bells”, but yes, the majority (5 out of 7 IIRC) was from their debut.

Rod: Oh shit. Another major change of plans. I had planned to see Brutus (BEL) as their performance in Malmö, Sweden blew me away and I knew their capabilities would be amplified on a larger stage with an even bigger sound. But I had to let that set go because a secret show was announced. A poster with the cryptic words “Arrowheads, Arrowheads, Arrowheads” appeared in the middle of the festival grounds and these well-seasoned fans of the band knew exactly what it meant: A secret Have A Nice Life show.

Even though it wasn't unthinkable given that Giles Corey was going to perform the next day, it still surprised most of us as this meant the entire band arrived at Roadburn along with Dan Barrett. The fact that this show was going to take place in one of the smallest stages made it even more exclusive and intimate. This turned out to be true as the hymns of anxiety and desperation roared loud and true. I witnessed the crowd screaming and jumping along to the songs from the comfort of the balcony as I myself was jumping and singing along. The whole band, spearheaded by Dan, came off as very charismatic and approachable. They all looked absolutely ecstatic about being there and their energy was addictive as crack. Almost the entirety of the set consisted of tracks from their debut Deathconsciousness which is both excellent but also a bit of a bummer as we only got one song each from the other two albums. I was most looking forward to hearing “Dan And Tim, Reunited By Fate” which is one of my most personal tracks from the past few years. But alas, maybe some other time.





DEAFHEAVEN

Lil Radu: Another Deafheaven set of a full album? Yep! And this time they would play their most recent and least metal album, Infinite Granite. I was gonna watch Portrayal Of Guilt if they clashed with the latter half instead of the first half of this set, because the songs that I really really felt like I needed to see live, like “In Blur” and “Great Mass Of Color” were in the first half. The whole performance was a bit punchier than the more relaxed version on the record. Sometimes that worked in its favor, sometimes not, but I was all fuzzy having seen “Great Mass Of Color” live. And yes, George still had “the moves”.




BACKXWASH

Lil Radu: A Chat Pile secret show was just announced next door and I still stayed for this entire thing, that's how good it was. Pupil Slicer’s joined for a couple of songs.

Mateusz: TIL “one” is “a couple”

Rod: I had plenty of time to kill as I knew I had to miss most of Portrayal Of Guilt’s set after seeing Have A Nice Life. So after only witnessing the very last song from their set I went to the stage beside it and camped for Backxwash. And I’m glad I did because I had the pleasure to witness the most awesome soundcheck I’ve heard in a while! I know it sounds crazy but trust me on this. No one was prepared for the loud industrial beats and Ashanti Mutinta’s venomous tongue. It seemed that she was taken aback as well because she couldn’t stop smiling as the little crowd that was slowly but surely gathering. Only to see her trying out the sound of the stage! And we till had like 20 minutes before her actual performance. As for the real thing: Oh boy was it good. The last time I was blown away by similar music was when Dälek played at Roadburn back in 2017. It is a proper comparison too as Backxwash’s brand of rap is drenched in sickening industrial and noisy bits that are dark as night and have that particular “metal without being metal” quality to them. I’m generally somewhat questioning when a performance “just” consists of someone singing on top of the music being played in the background with no other musicians. But Backxwash did her very best to compensate for this by being all over the stage and coming up to the audience, controlling the masses with her rhymes that spoke of racial injustices and the unhinged rage that comes as a result.





POIL UEDA

Mateusz: I was sure I was going to miss that one. It was in Paradox, which is a pretty small venue and it clashed with Backxwash. After her show, I decided to try getting in and while there was a queue, I only waited a couple of minutes before they let me in. I’m not that surprised that people were leaving - this was weird and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.

PoiL is a French avant/brutal-prog band, while Junko Ueda is a Japanese folk (the Internet says “Heikyoku” so if that name means something to you, then know that it’s what she plays) artist, significantly older than the French, too. While the slower, calmer sections with her “stretched” singing were a bit tiresome, when the band was going all in, it was really great. I’ll never forget the PoiL guy basically rapping, while the band is going hard and this older Japanese lady is playing her weird instrument and headbanging. I’m glad I managed to get in. For me, it was one of the highlights of the festival.




ELIZABETH COLOUR WHEEL
Lil Radu: The first of Lane Shi’s sets that I got to see, this time with her band Elizabeth Colour Wheel. It was blissfully heavy, in the way that you’re kinda wondering whether you can count them as a metal band or not, because they’re dipping their noisy shoegaze toes so so close to doom and post metal. The most surprising thing was the really good sound by Engine Room standards, or maybe it was my general tiredness that made me care less. The gig went wild as the vocalist jumped in the crowd and performed from there, but she was far from the only artist on stage that was going above and beyond with the performance.




DEWOLFF

Mateusz: Because of the clash with both Backxwash and PoiL Ueda, I only managed to see the last song… which lasted for around 20 minutes. But it was pleasant enough, that if it wasn’t for PoiL Ueda’s brilliance, I would have regretted not seeing the whole show. Bluesy psychedelic rock with gospel vibes, girls on choirs, singing about the mighty power of love and all that stuff.




HOLY SCUM

Rod: In theory Holy Scum should be right up my alley. Members from the intriguing Gnod were involved as well as Mike Mare from Dälek. From my Backxwah write-up you can imagine how tickled with interest I was as industrial/noise with hip-hop sensibilities is totally my jam. And yeah, it was noisy, industrial and it had some cool beats but I have no idea if it was due to exhaustion or me just not being in the mood but I just sat down by the balcony and zoned out. Every now and then I would react to a particularly cool and catchy moment but all in all I found it a very underwhelming experience that didn’t result in a larger sum of its parts. I remain interested though so perhaps I will give their studio works a chance.





SIERRA

Rod: Oh well, Friday definitely marks the most changes I’ve had in my otherwise strict and well-planned Roadburn schedule. Boy Harsher was going to do a special DJ-set that was going to last all the way to 3:30. But due to some shitty traveling problems they wouldn’t be able to arrive at the festival in time. The French Sierra (who had a set the following day) arose to the occasion and took over as DJ. This worked for me as I knew I would miss her Saturday set. Her style of seductive synthwave, harsh industrial and catchy-as-rabies witch house was spellbinding and I greatly enjoyed dancing my ass off, not caring about how much I suck at dancing. Her light ornaments as well as her inviting persona really set the mood for the audience that had the small stage fully packed and shaking with the dance moves of many. As this was a short-notice replacement, the show “only” lasted until 2:45 at which point I was absolutely done with everything yet happy to be alive at the same time.








3rd Day (22.04)

Lil Radu: A couple of bagels with Mateusz in the morning left us with little time to do much before the first show started, but we still found the time to visit the artistic exhibition at NS16, with works by Lucile Lejoly (who was the visual artist for the Roadburn redux), and also by Nina Van De Ven and Marit Biemans. All really cool.





PUPIL SLICER

Rod: Third official day (fourth if we count the pre-party) so of course I was pretty damn exhausted at this point. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. But after a hearty breakfast I was ready for the noise and what better way to lift my spirit than with some harsh mathcore? To be honest it had been a long time since I listened to Pupil Slicer. Their debut, Mirrors, from 2021 made some nice buzz in my ears but for some reason I lost touch with the band. My interest in them reappeared once I saw them live however. At times they seem like a reincarnation of The Dillinger Escape Plan but with extra grind and hardcore sensibilities. The colorful visuals in the background enhanced the alternative, queer identity of the band. The overall product was most energetic and with a positive aura yet still kept a very fierce tone. The vocals felt a bit too over the top at times as I’m not entirely sold on Kate Davies’ more high-pitched screams. Overall a good show which could have been even better if the audience was the least bit engaged (c’mon people, move a little!).

Lil Radu: Sliced my pupils alright. After seeing Kate both at the panel and performing with Backxwash, it was about time to see her main band. Ain’t nothing gonna wake you up like some monstrously chaotic mathcore. It was really moshpit-worthy, but surprisingly I didn't see any. Wack.





KEN ModeKEN MODE[/url]

Rod: KILL EVERYBODY NOW!!!!
Fuck yeah, these guys are one of my all time favorite bands of the last decade that for some reason I don’t listen to often enough. I think the main reason is that I get all too excited (read: MAD) when I listen to their vitriolic hymns. Their music is too hard hitting. The groove is too filthy. The vocals are too impactful. It just works for me and I still remember the high I got back in 2015 when I first saw them at Roadburn. Now, 8 years later and with a couple of new albums under their belt it is fantastic to see how much they’ve grown and the large crowd they gathered at the second largest stage. I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to hear two of my favorite songs, “Counter Culture Complex” and “No; I’m in control”. With the former being a very personal soundtrack to a very tumultuous time in my younger years. But why dwell in the past when you can celebrate their newest record, Null? As soon as “A Love Letter” I felt my mind going berserk as I screamed along Jesse Matthewson (“Something is BROKEN! Something is FUCKED!!!”). Newest member Kathryn Kerr added some extra flavor with her chaotic saxophone but it was the RIFFS and insane vocals delivery that truly sucked you in.

Lil Radu: The vocalist congratulated me so that's nice. My coworkers don’t like my new Loved shirt. It was the kind of music that does leave a lasting impact just through how emotionally devastating that anger and despair feels, especially live.





DUMA & DEAFKIDS

Rod: Just like Radu, I also managed to be somewhat tipsy before the set (or perhaps it was my life force being drained after 3 nights of partying). Duma and Deafkids brought to the stage the fire of Africa and South America combined. It was as trippy as you’d expect it to be. The death industrial mixed with tribal dances and menacing vocal work made you think of a wild sorcerer enchanting the whole Main Stage into a dancing plague. I fell into a trance and danced with my poncho on. It was a great experience although a subdued one.

Lil Radu: I rushed a couple of beers before just so I'd be dizzier during the performance. That seemed to have enhanced the already nauseating experience, but it was one that took quite a while to get going. Wasn’t as explosive as I thought it was gonna be, especially in retrospect after having seen each of the two bands separately, but I’m curious to hear how this will translate to a studio record.






HEALTHYLIVING

Mateusz: Duma & Deafkids bored me so I decided to drop that show in favor of this one. As it turned out, it was not a yoga class with a dietician but instead a rock band with gothic and post vibes with Maud the Moth (who also performed live at the festival independently) on vocals and some Ashenspire members. I saw people massively complain online about the sound of the show, particularly the bass, but personally I heard no issues. Could it be I was standing in a good enough place or earplugs did its job or a bit of both? Regardless, even though it was unannounced, they played their latest album, which was released just 2 weeks before, in full (take that, The Soft Moon). The show was very entertaining. The atmosphere was dreamy, the hooks were there and that’s enough to make it better than the other show happening at the same time.




SOWULO

Lil Radu: It was actually the first time I’ve heard of them, but I jumped at the chance for some more orchestral nordic folk. They brought plenty of traditional instruments alongside more “modern” orchestral instruments, which did create a pretty nice sound. Overall a good addition to the Nordic folk scene, but I wish they did a bit more to set themselves apart from the big names.




CHAT PILE

Rod: God’ Country was my favorite album from 2022. But WHY?!?! Well, I explained myself pretty clearly in my review but to summarize: Chat Pile’s debut was the most intense album I’ve heard that year. Levels of frustration and anger at an unjust world that are simply unmeasurable. Sadly I wasn’t aware of their secret show the day before (although Backxwash was a bloody brilliant trade off). The main show by these Oklahoma madmen was one of the biggest attractions for me this year. The same applied to most people in the audience as the Main Stage saw easily the biggest crowd of the entire festival. The sickening bass and drum combo was beyond filthy and disturbed. Had not experienced such a nasty and brutal sound at this stage since Godflesh performed Streetcleaner in full back in 2011. It was THAT good. Singer Raygun Busch delivered an absolute maniac performance. Disturbingly detached and nihilistic at times but also hilarious while talking to the audience and recommending books and movies in between songs.

Lil Radu: "If you ride a bike in my city, you're asking for it." said the Texan vocalist after praising the Dutch infrastructure. The band opened up with their song “Why”, and that phrase ended up being a running joke among the participants for the rest of the festival. Something that me and Roddie also participated in by posting a pic of us eating ice cream outside the entrance with the caption “Why do people have to eat outside?”. I know I’m making it seem like the jokes around the band’s music and the singer’s banter somehow eclipsed the actual music, but the music still felt so impactful to be worth that kind of presentation. But still, it was one band whose presentation made the most comedic impact.

Mateusz: Why?






SCHNELLERTOLLERMEIER

Mateusz: My third and final Paradox adventure this year. They were supposed to play there during the previous edition but the band got sick. Wouldn't you know it, after a year has passed, they were completely healed and served us yet another round of avant-prog. Three songs stretched for the whole show (IIRC the studio versions are way shorter). Good, if not a bit monotonous.




DAVID EUGENE EDWARDS

Rod: I’ve known Wovenhand for a while and I’m aware of their presence at past Roadburns. Sadly I never dived into their music. So seeing David perform his solo work was a good introduction to his musical world. After 3 really crushing performances, I really needed something to relax while sitting down. His show was a nice surprise for me. Dark country that struck a chord within me. It was a very minimalistic performance with him playing different types of guitars and other string instruments while using his very powerful voice. Yee-haw.

Lil Radu: Yee-haw indeed! For some reason the couple of hours of the festival after Chat Pile didn’t register much in my memory, and as much as I enjoyed David Eugene Edwards’ voice, the impression didn’t get further than “pleasant”. I thought it was because it was right after such an impactful gig, but I checked the timetable and there’s a one hour gap in between this and the previous gig I went to that I have no memory of, so the lack of impression is on me.

Mateusz: You guys were just sitting in front of some male butts during the whole show. Of course your mind was focused on something else. However, I had a different view and was also slightly bored. For me this acoustic performance was lacking in things it needed most - atmosphere and soul. It wasn't bad, just disappointing when the most atmospheric part of the show is the singer's hat.






GAVRAN

Mateusz: Part of Roadburn off-road programme, which means I haven’t heard about it before the festival, although now I can see that’s on me, as it was announced early enough. The show took place in Little Devil, which is a bar known for many Roadburners but it just happened I had never been there before. It’s also pretty far away from the other venues, around 10 minutes of walking one-way or so. Nevertheless, even though I have never heard of the band before, “Dutch post-metal” sounded interesting enough to me so I decided to make my Little Devil debut. The singer, who was also a drummer, sounded very similar to the most famous post-metal band of Dutch neighbors - Amenra. Both clean and harsh vocals. Unfortunately, the sound in the venue was way too raw for this atmospheric type of music. But the band itself was good enough I decided to stay for the entire show, including the encore. Ten minute long songs, dreamlike atmosphere, paired with a really nice voice (I did say it’s similar to Amenra’s Colin after all). Definitely a band I am going to listen to their existing albums (so, both of them) and check out the future efforts.




OTAY:ONII

Lil Radu: The pianist in purgatory's lounge. Even when the singing was the only thing performed live, the backdrop had such an oddity and density to it that coupled with the singer's mask gave big Red Room/SCP vibes. Legitimately terrifying in a way where it felt like if we just stood still we might escape unharmed. While it was the closest thing to performance art I’ve seen at this edition, it still relied on the strengths of Lane Shi’s voice, and that’s not even the last performance I’ve seen of her’s at this edition.




CANDY

Rod: After some soothing acoustic set, it was time to go back into the hateful hole of harsh music. This time in the form of Candy who were performing their Heaven Is Here album in full. Set. The album is barely 30 mins long and I’m pretty sure the band shortened the last noise track when performing. So this was one of those “blink or you miss it” shows akin to the Full Of Hell sets from last Roadburn. It is a valid comparison too since Candy’ style of music isn’t too different although diving much more into (metal)hardcore than grindcore. It was a great performance with some crazy light shows and visuals. It’s a shame that I entered the venue a little too late. It was so packed that I couldn’t get closer and properly enjoy the visuals which were complementary to the music. Anyway, visceral stuff which translated better live than in the studio in my opinion.




BACKXWASH

Rod: Time to heat things up with another Backxwash set. I was curious to see if there were going to be any differences with the previous one. Just the lightning alone was a big tip off. Or lack of it, I should say. The tones of red and black put a sinister shroud on the stage with played well with her much heavier performance. It felt more in tune with the metal/dark aesthetics of her work. Dark horror movie scenes plagued the movie screen behind her and the Black Sabbath sample was a lovely touch appreciated by the audience. I only caught the first 30 minutes of it though as I wanted a first row seat for the next performance.

Lil Radu: When an artist has two sets at Roadburn, usually that means a relief because if one of them clashes with something you wanna see, it’s enough to see just one. Not really the case with Backxwash (or Deafheaven it seems), who presented two sets focused on the harsher and the darker sides of her sound respectively. There was still significant overlap, with four songs having been performed in both sets, but this one had that one with the Black Sabbath sample that got me into her in the first place.






GILES COREY

Rod: Another must-see concert for me in the same category of exclusivity as Bell Witch. I have no idea if I’m ever going to have the chance to see Giles Corey again so it was a no-brainer to leave Backxwash early in order to secure a spot among the first rows to witness this performance. Giles Corey was meant to perform at Roadburn a few years ago but the pandemic made it impossible. Their self-titled album means so much to me that I asked for a copy of the vinyl for my 30th birthday. I quickly became obsessed with its haunting sound and just how utterly melancholic and heartfelt it was. Looking around at the audience it was obvious how much this project meant for so many people. Many people near me began sobbing as the first songs started to hit hard upon our heartstrings. You could even argue that the crying made for some blood-chilling background noise to the acoustic laments of Dan Barret (who was accompanied by the rest of the Have A Nice Life line-up). This is music that speaks to broken spirits that refuse to give up and Dan made sure to reassure the audience that no matter how bad things get, there is always a light at the end of everyone’s personal tunnel. Songs like “Blackest Bile” and “I’m Going To Do It” were gloriously harrowing. I still have the image of Dan singing “I’m going to remove myself” imprinted in my mind. But it was the colossal ending of “No One Is Ever Going To Want Me” that stuck with me the most. What a painful yet liberating song. Thank you, Dan. I truly needed that deliverance.

Lil Radu: I was lucky enough to have unknowingly planted Rod to keep me a spot in the first row, so I didn’t have to leave early. Because this is definitely one where just sitting with my arms crossed in the back just wasn’t gonna cut it. Even if it’s not the first time I’ve seen Dan Barret, the set of songs from Giles Corey mean too much to me. And to pretty much everyone else in the front row made evident by how the people around me knew every lyric. I can’t deny that I was especially waiting for “that one song” and hearing getting to scream along to the ending of “No One Is Ever Going To Want Me” was such a cathartic highlight. It was a bit funny when Dan’s string broke in the first song. He'll lie awake at night thinking about it.





BOY HARSHER

Rod: It was difficult to collect myself after the near heartbreak that was Giles Corey. So I walked as quickly as possible across the streets to the Main Stage to end my night on a more upbeat note. The last 40 minutes of Boy Harsher were just what I needed. A real shame they couldn’t make it for their DJ show on friday but boy did they make up for it. Entering the Main Stage was like getting inside a huge goth club in the middle of a lovely rave. Their darkwave felt intimate yet aggressive and demanded full body movement from your part. A great way to dance your sorrows away.




SHOW ME THE BODY

Lil Radu: I’m getting too old and I’m an early bird. After a full day of concerts, sets at this hour just can’t get my full attention. Hence why I didn’t really get why people were complaining afterwards about their behavior on stage and other people defending it as punk without being too specific. But for what it’s worth, it had just enough hip hop tinges to keep the noisy post-hardcore even more interesting. I definitely wanna see them again when I can devote my attention more fully.




IRON JINN

Mateusz: The drawback of procrastinating is that sometimes your memories aren't as good as they used to be. I do remember the show, actually but would have remembered it better if I didn't write about it a month later. Psychedelic rock with some connections to The Devil's Blood, they had their debut release party. It's not on TDB level but that's not an easy feat. They actually played longer than scheduled, last bands of the festival can pull off shenanigans like that. All in all, a good show and I hope the band goes places.






4th Day (23.04)

Lil Radu: Well, me being on my phone during the Nordmann set paid off because I secured tickets for Rod to come with me to that maze again. Not really something you can experience for the first time again, but this time I insisted on exploring everything. Afterwards I still had some time left so I went with Mat to the Natural History Museum to really get to see everything that I can see in the area, but I can’t say I was too impressed with that one.

Rod: I must express full gratitude to Radu for being stubborn enough to drag my tired ass to the Doloris maze in Tilburg. I strongly recommend everyone who has the chance to be in Tilburg (with Roadburn or not as your main destination) to buy the ticket and take the ride. Damn what a clusterfuck of psychedelia it was! Definitely set the mood for my last day at planet Roadburn.




ELIZABETH COLOUR WHEEL & ETHAN LEE MCCARTHY

Rod: I had no idea what to expect from this show as I’m only aware of Ethan’s work within the sludge metal, grindcore and noise scenes. And he was only a part of a whole ensemble of musicians. From what I understood Elizabeth Colour Wheel play an avantgarde style of noise rock and post-rock. The performance was pretty surreal as the dreamy passages clashed with the punishing, sludgy riffs. But the element that really stood out for me were Lane’s vocals. They are absolutely ghostly. I felt like the girl from The Ring was singing lullabies to me. Beautiful but terrifying at the same time. I was in complete awe of her entrancing persona. At times it reminded me of the surrealism behind Bloody Panda, which should be taken as a big compliment. The show ended earlier than expected, which I didn’t mind since I had to run and get a good spot for the Main Stage.

Lil Radu: The third and final of Lane Shi’s shows that I got to see and definitely the heaviest. Turns out that Ethan Lee McCarthy was just the element needed to push Elizabeth Colour Wheel from heavy shoegaze noise rock to proper sludge metal.






THE SONIC DAWN

Mateusz: Alternating this show with Imperial Triumphant's set (I could move between stages in 9 seconds) was certainly an experience. Completely fucking stupid, but an experience. There's not much to say about this one. Psychedelic rock by the numbers but extremely pleasant to the ears. Collab with Imperial Triumphant next time?




IMPERIAL TRIUMPHANT

Rod: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the bizarre, elegant and decadent trio from New York a couple of times. First when they closed down one of the former Roadburn venues, Het Patronaat, back in 2019 and then last year in Gothenburg. This time they were going to perform Spirit Of Ecstacy in full, an album that ties as my favorite album by them together with Vile Luxury. I noticed that the first 3 songs were out of order although I didn’t mind as I was going to stay for the whole show anyway. I agree with Radu that there seemed to be something off with the sound. Especially during the first 20 minutes of the show. It lacked a punchier guitar sound as the bass and drums took over almost completely. Things got much better afterwards though and I fully enjoyed their set. The band really took place on the large stage as they ran around multiple times making fabulous poses and engaging with the audience. It was difficult to decide which musician to focus on, especially when the drummer was out of this world!

The performance reached its climax as the bassist did a bass solo as an interlude. The rest of the band left the stage as the bassist jumped down to the audience and moved around the masses playing bizarre notes and looking like a deranged demon. The final celebration with two bottles of champagne sprayed to the audience was quite a touch too! Another great use of the Main Stage was access to a large screen as the band provided what are most likely the absolute best and most gorgeous visuals the festival saw this year. The large skyscrapers of an utopian metropolis changed forms and tones in a seamless manner which achieved hypnotic results. Overall a most impressive show even though the sound wasn’t fully with them. Although, this is jazz, so who gives a fuck about what notes they play anyway?

Lil Radu: Sound was pretty weird by main stage standards. Stage presence made up for most of that. Nothing’s gonna compare to seeing them for the first time as the last band to ever perform in the Het Patronaat. Ironically the other venue I saw them in back in my city also closed down. I fear for 013.






OSSAERT

Lil Radu: Good campy "spiked bracelets and face paint" black metal. Nice ambient moments. Apparently first ever show, but didn't come across as inexperienced.

Rod: I had some time to kill after Imperial Triumphant so I decided to go camp the stage where Wayfarer were going to play. This was a great decision as I tumbled upon another discovery: Ossaert. I had no idea who they were nor what they played but just one look at them and one second later I got my answer: Trve Kvlt Black Metal! With classic spiked and corpsepaint attire they certainly paid great homage to the classics of the genre. After witnessing many experimentations within the genre it is always great to come back to the classic sound which they delivered beautifully. It was dark and ghostly which reminded me of both Urfaust and Faceless Entity but with a much more defined sense of melody and catchy riffs. Great performance especially considering it was apparently their first one ever! The Dutch black metal scene keeps on delivering.





THE GOLDEN GRASS

Lil Radu: Crazy how a band from the 60s can look so young. Oh, they're not from the 60s? Could've fooled me. Always appreciating a drummer that can sing.

Mateusz: I just wanted to mention I had a blast but what really surprised me is their choice of a song they covered. "Motorcycle Rock" by Mothers of Track. 70s Belgian band (TGG is from the USA) with less than 500 listeners on last.fm. I mean, how did they even find it?!




WITTE WIEVEN

Mateusz: Haven't seen the whole show due to clashes. My first time at the Hall of Fame this year (I tried before but it was packed). Dutch post-ish black metal band with female vocals. They created a nice atmosphere and I wish I had seen the whole show.




BIG BRAVE

Lil Radu: Only managed to catch a part of it and I was once again in low energy mode, but soundwise it sounded better than they did last year. Also didn't feel like the singer was unhealthily pushing her voice as much. Glad to see them on an even bigger stage.




WAYFARER

Lil Radu: Two sets, one retrospective, one of new stuff, separated by a film. I only caught the first one and a bit of the second. As far as the first one was concerned, it was nice that they performed the title track from their debut for the first time in a long while, alongside songs from their last two albums. The movie itself felt a bit unnecessarily long, and with the Jay Munly narration I wish they worked with him on actual music instead. Still, nice to see them acknowledge their gothic country influence, and the new song I heard felt more upfront about it. Happy to say I’m hyped about the next album.

Rod: Yeehaw! Black metal from the old west! Wayfarer have been around for over a decade now but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that it wasn’t until their third opus, World's Blood, where people really started paying attention to this great act. Their performance had the title “A High Plains Eulogy”, a fitting title for their inspiring brand of black metal mixed with gothic country and americana. The show consisted of a full celebration of their career with a setlist divided in two parts. The first one covered all their current material and the second one consisted mostly of new songs which have not yet been released to the public. I agree with Radu that the movie interlude was unnecessary and it didn’t add much to the experience as I would much rather listen to live music than just samples. Dubious decisions aside, I was very glad I could see these guys live. The galloping riffs and thundering drums provided plenty of fuel for a massive headbanging session. Now I’m really interested in how the new album will turn out!





ZOLA JESUS

Lil Radu: The decision to take a mostly electronic sound into a fully instrumental band direction can work, but the technical issues and iffy sound pretty much ruined most of the set. Vocals were still impeccably performed, sometimes more unhinged than on the album. But for a first time seeing an artist I was really looking forward to live, it left a bit of a bitter taste. Hope I get the chance to wash that taste away.




ISKANDR

Mateusz: My friend, who liked the band, left the show early, calling it black metal karaoke. Well, I stayed but that description was actually kinda correct. One man with a guitar and a voice and the rest of the music was played on tape. That was enough of a dealbreaker for some people but if you managed to ignore it, then you got yourself a decent show. Composed mostly of unreleased songs. Still, a full band experience would obviously have been better.
Anyway, I'm just waiting until black metal karaoke gets normalized at bars.




MAMALEEK

Rod: The magic of Roadburn strikes again. Because when am I ever going to see Mamaleek again? No fucking clue. So that's why this show was a must. They must be one of the most secretive bands in avantgarde metal/rock. All members came up to the stage fully masked and managed to create a very intimidating tone which only got more prominent as the music turned weirder and weirder. It felt like a fever dream. The band dissolved in a pool of so many genres. Jazz, black metal, noise rock. It was intense, unnerving and at times just downright scary in all its unpredictability. The singer felt like he was on the verge of assaulting anyone. The animal sounds the crowd made in between songs was a clever way to add to the bizarre atmosphere. Unfortunately the scary factor turned up to eleven due to some dickhead in the audience looking for a fight as he was a one-man moshpit that wasn’t exactly suitable to put it mildly. In a twisted way, you can even see art in how he got kicked out of the venue as it matched the otherworldliness of what I just witnessed. Unpredictable show for sure. No one was ready for it.

Lil Radu: Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers show, and that’s a band that I still can’t properly wrap my head around in the studio, and seeing them live somehow didn’t make that any easier. The sound itself was a bit too loud for its own good. The crowd made animal noises between songs, which somehow can only fit a band like Mamaleek.





THAMMUZ

Mateusz: As I was uninterested in anything playing between Mamaleek and Afsky, I was just eating pizza and browsing my phone when I remembered that Offroad programme was active on that day as well. I had no idea about the band playing at Little Devil. But I saw the word 'stoner' and that's a genre that Roadburn was so desperately lacking this year. The band was cool enough that I was late for the beginning of the Afsky show. The sound at Little Devil was more fitting to these heavy stoner riffs and deep vocals than Garvan previously. Good times.




CAVE IN

Lil Radu: I'm a much bigger Cave In fan than I was when I first saw them, plus they were playing my favorite album of theirs in full. Still not entirely sold on the clean vocals, but this was all so smoothly performed.




DEAFKIDS

Lil Radu: The one set where it felt most appropriate to zone out. Precisely what I needed at this stage in the festival.




AFSKY

Rod: Music journalism can be extremely subjective. And there is no better example I can come up with at the moment than when I read about Afsky’s upcoming Roadburn performance on the Roadburn homepage. When can talk about all the “subtleties of melancholic folk” the band uses on their studio work. But I couldn’t help but laugh as the band started by blasting the hell out of the venue! This was most likely the loudest and harshest black metal concert I saw at Roadburn after Antichrist Siege Machine. Absolutely loved how aggressive it was yet there was a subliminal level of melancholy still hidden in those riffs. Props to whoever was behind the soundtable for it was still pretty clear despite the violence of the music. The bass in particular had a very dominant role which is always a plus for me when it comes to black metal. It added so much to the catchy moments as well as the sorrowful guitar melodies. There was great vocal delivery too. An impactful way to close down this section of the festival venues.





OISEAUX-TEMPÊTE

Mateusz: The only OT show I saw and it became my favorite Roadburn performance this year. I just stood there in a trance the whole show. If anyone tells you something about shows next stage being better, you know they had a few beers too many.

Lil Radu: Do two half sets count as a complete set? (Mateusz: No) I was perfectly fine with this being the last set of Roadburn, and when I caught one of their previous sets I left thinking that I’m gonna see this one last set in full anyway. Well, then Duma was announced, which, of course they would, they wouldn’t travel all the way here just for a collab set. I did feel a bit sorry for leaving a set that sounded as good as Oiseaux-Tempête’s did, but I promised myself I’d check how Duma sounded and then come back after a while…




DUMA

Lil Radu: … and that never happened. Last year had The Bug as the rowdiest set in the Next Stage. This year it was Duma. There was such a filthy manic energy to their set that I couldn’t convince myself to go back and check Oiseaux-Tempête again. All my fatigue went away just as soon as I realized that soon all of this will be just me remembering and I was still living it so I had to make the most of it. And what a note to end on.

Rod: Always fun to end on a completely different note. From grand black metal to harsh death industrial I go! All the punchiness I desired from the Duma collaboration with Deafkids I got on this set instead. Duma truly delivered one of the most intense performances of the festival. A visceral energy that quickly spreaded out to the audience with moshpits, crowd surfing and maniacal dancing involved.







OUTROS AND SUCH

Lil Radu: After a little bit of after-partying with Rod, Mat, and the girls, where I delayed going back at the hotel as much as I could, and I dreaded having to wake up that early to catch the plane back home. But catch it I had to, and I can’t say I was especially looking forward to being back in Romania, especially true after actually coming back and having to take a train from the airport to the train station and being immediately met with the fact that Romania’s train system is centuries behind Germany’s and Netherlands’ due to it not having any air conditioning and having a significant delay on a half hour route. Sooner than I knew, I was not in the Netherlands, I was not on a plane, I was not on the train, I was back in the office.

This was a special Roadburn for a couple of reasons. For one, I could actually afford drinking beer instead of being a cheapskate and only spending on merch. Then I actually took the time to engage with Tilburg more than just going to the shows and eating. But as far as the festival itself was concerned, it felt like a more relaxed version where I didn’t feel like I had to crush my soul every time a huge clash happened. Clashes still happened, and I wish I could’ve seen Predatory Void, Spirit Possession, Esben & The Witch, Ad Nauseam, Bell Witch (!), Portrayal Of Guilt, PoiL Ueda, Boy Harsher, and Circuits Des Yeux. And even though I resisted jumping from incomplete set to incomplete set, I wish I could’ve heard more or Oiseaux-Tempéte, and Big Brave especially. And that’s not even counting the “Rocket Records 25th anniversary” programme I haven’t even touched. I was still quite a main stage camper, but it’s not my fault that that’s the only venue where I can sit down because of the stairs.

I didn’t feel like the festival was struggling to fill its lineup or that they were moving in a direction I’m not fond of. Every lineup announcement leading up to it was filled with names I haven’t heard of, but also ones I was excited for, and I knew that it’s actually for the better that there’s more names I don’t know, because those I wouldn’t feel that bad for missing out on. There’s no set that I’ve seen that felt like filler, even if out of the ones I’ve seen not all of them had the same impact as the ones like Giles Corey, Otay:onii, and Chat Pile did.

Mateusz: My third Roadburn and even though I was slightly skeptical due to knowing less bands than in the years before, I had a great time. Like Radu said, the clashes weren't too painful this time. I already bought my ticket for next year. This festival is one of a kind.

Rod: After yet another after-party with Rad, Mat, my sister and friend, it was hard to picture the weekend ending. There is always a lingering feeling in the back of your mind. A voice whispering “this can NOT be the end”. So after saying my goodbyes to Radu and Mat with the proper hugs, the girls and I went to the Little Devil bar where it was packed with Roadburn people. I even got the opportunity to thank Afsky for their excellent show and hugged the bassist for doing a particularly excellent job. The beers kept on pouring and the wild song request hit the nail each time. We closed the bar at ungodly hours and walked our way to the campsite where an ugly sight welcomed us. A massive flood at the campsite! We managed to get in our hut and slept a few hours before leaving planet Roadburn for good.

11th Roadburn in a row. I feel like I have very little left to say that I haven’t said previously with other articles where I’ve talked high praise for this festival which celebrates underground heavy music. This was another year where I could witness marvelous shows but also kept in touch with my people. All the friends I gathered after a decade. My dear friend Marcel remains in my memory and I kept my word of attending each year. I now have a family to return to each year. If there is one moment I have to mention and keep as a core memory from this weekend it was when a friend of mine called me on Sunday to meet him and sign the engagement book he designed when he proposed to his boyfriend at the Main Stage. How Roadburn paved the way for me to participate in such a personal moment is something that I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams. It shows just how important this festival can be for so many people. I say to you, dear reader: Buy the ticket. Take the ride. I hope to see you next Roadburn. It might just change your life forever.



If you wanna read our coverage of last year's edition here's part one, and here's part two.





Comments

Comments: 9   Visited by: 56 users
22.05.2023 - 09:18
nikarg
Staff
As always, an enjoyable read. I was not very impressed with the lineup, tbh, compared to other years. However, there were still bands that I would like to see live, like Brutus, Cave In, Bell Witch, Poison Ruïn, Ad Nauseam, Wayfarer, Imperial Triumphant, Boy Harsher, Spirit Possession, and maybe a couple of others.
Loading...
22.05.2023 - 10:03
musclassia
Staff
Written by nikarg on 22.05.2023 at 09:18

I was not very impressed with the lineup, tbh, compared to other years.

Same; I enjoyed reading this, but having been unimpressed by the line-up on the surface, I'm not having any more regret over missing it after seeing how it translated into a festival experience. The only acts I was eager to see from the announcements (after White Ward had to pull out) were Backxwash and Wayfarer, the latter of whom I saw in London last month anyway. I hope to get to see Backxwash at some point as the guys make those two sets sound as hype as I assumed they would be, but otherwise, this year's line-up has a decent bunch of sets that would've been interesting to see, but on the whole really wasn't my thing
Loading...
22.05.2023 - 21:22
NastyHero
Written by musclassia on 22.05.2023 at 10:03

I hope to get to see Backxwash at some point as the guys make those two sets sound as hype as I assumed they would be

Just seconding this as I didn't want to repeat too much in the article - I saw only first Backxwash set but it was really great. The thing is, I'm not at all into hip-hop, there are some albums that I respect and kinda enjoy but it's never my thing that I would just put on because I feel like it. Except for Backxwash, that last album is dope. The opening track (which was played), Vibanda, goes super hard. Also met her the day later when she was walking between the venues and told her that, she's super nice.

As for the rest of your and nikarg's comment - those were my initial thoughts when I saw the final line-up. And while after the 2019 edition (my first), I thought Roadburn would always be a no-brainer for me as I could buy a new ticket before any of the line-up was announced, same was after the 2022 edition. This time I thought I may wait a little, as I was underwhelmed at first.
But trust me, it goes away very quickly once you're in there. I know if I miss next year, I will regret it a lot. So I bought a ticket (and yes, ok, lower ticket price before June helped me make the decision a bit )
And yes, Roadburn will be more underground from now on. Hope it goes well for them, as the festival capacity is very limited but the prices keep on going up... This time there were a lot of people but it's also first Roadburn in years which was not sold out. I'm still going to go to more "traditional" festivals as I'm not a complete hipster, after all.


(honestly, I'm impressed you read the whole article : D)
Loading...
23.05.2023 - 15:15
Cynic Metalhead
Paisa Vich Nasha
Kudos to everyone for pulling up another brilliant Roadburn article for us.

I've been reading Roadburn articles since joining the site; it's always amazing. Kudos especially to Rod, who brings his exhilarated analysis about the live shows year in and year out. I miss Marcel's and Apothecary's views too.

Keep up the great work.
Loading...
25.05.2023 - 15:44
Vombatus
Potorro
Nice write up. Always a pleasure to read these Roadburn reports.
The lineup does seem to be more "out there" and perhaps less appealing if looking for more metal oriented bands.
But I remember going to a big metal fest where the best bands of the weekend were precisely the more experimental/non-metal ones. You never know what might blow you away.
Anyway, Roadburn is a great place.
Loading...
28.05.2023 - 09:14
mz
I was not familiar with Backxwash, and boy it sounds sick indeed. I have been long interested in harsh combination of industrial/noise and hip-hop and this definitely deliveres.

Hopefully I'd be there next year as I live so close to the festival now and meet some MSers in real life.
----
Giving my ears a rest from music.
Loading...
16.06.2023 - 19:31
Nanocar
Roadburn has announced the final names for its main musical programme for the 2023 edition. Zola Jesus, Backxwash, Nicole Dollanganger and White Boy Scream are among the 25 new additions to the line up. Roadburn 2023 will take place between April 20-23, with a pre-festival show on Wednesday, April 19.
Loading...
16.06.2023 - 20:38
musclassia
Staff
Written by Nanocar on 16.06.2023 at 19:31

Roadburn has announced the final names for its main musical programme for the 2023 edition. Zola Jesus, Backxwash, Nicole Dollanganger and White Boy Scream are among the 25 new additions to the line up. Roadburn 2023 will take place between April 20-23, with a pre-festival show on Wednesday, April 19.

Cheers for the update, sounds good, I'll see if I can get a ticket for it
Loading...
21.11.2023 - 09:10
RoyBoy432
Dr. Quark
Thank you for the article! Plenty of new bands to add to my trove. Always appreciate it.
Loading...

Hits total: 3075 | This month: 95