Roadburn 2015 – Tilburg Holland
Article and pictures by Arto Lehtinen
The prestigious Roadburn Festival is an extra pumped adventure into the sonic catacombs of the underground of stoner/doom metal from both known and truly unknown acts. The 2015 line-up once again offered a wide range of metal/rock and other torturing sonic pleasures. As usual, there is always a curator picking bands to play at Roadburn. The two curators being Ivar Bjornson from Enslaved and Einar Selvik from Wardruna had been recruited to create the event for their own tastes under the moniker “House Of The Holistic”. Even though these Norwegians navigated the curator roles in the finest possible way, the fourth day has been named “Afterburner” being one kind of After Party type of day. Anathema had been booked to headline that day. Well, some people may cite it as a boring act and way to conclude the four-day event, but wait, the big surprise is on the way in the article. Approximately 2500 people had arrived to enjoy the art and the music at Roadburn in various forms.
Here is the brief write-up on the festival and “a few” bands in the line-up. A couple of bands did a double slot like Goblin, Fields Of The Nephilim, Enslaved, Eyehategod, so writing a daily based report for them would be odd. Therefore, the bands are more important for sure. Check it out !
The Icelandic act Solstafier had the privilege to kick off the 20th edition of Roadburn. The outfit didn’t do a normal set by playing the songs of their own. Instead the set was based on the soundtrack for a movie called “The Raven Flies”. That was quite an odd and weird way to start the festival. But Solstafier’s second stint was amazing. Under the brilliant lights, the band sounded better than ever. The atmosphere in the audience was amazing as everyone appeared to dig the second performance.
Bellwitch is a two-piece doom band out of Seattle. The guys have pulled a nice attendance despite being the opening band at Roadburn. Their slow doomy riffs have slight reminiscence of old Winter from the past and some sludge elements added as well. As for Bellwitch’s performance, nothing can pointed out as it is more than extremely challenging to arrange the tremendous spectacle with two guys.
Russian Circles logos could be spotted in several pics of At The Gates when one of the Bröjler twins wears the shirt with loyal faith. Now it was a good chance to witness Russian Circles live, finally. Chicago finests’ post rock meets a metallic approach got the prestigious handling under the suitable atmosphere. The visual aspects were well suited to the atmosphere. Their catchy riffs sounded spellbinding and awesome in the big venue.
The NOLA crowned stoner kings Eyehategod kicked the first set on the main stage. EyeHateGod did a solid set with the groove heavy hitting riffs with a brutal stoner approach. Obviously the big stage, security barrier, and the audience only standing and starring at the band, didn’t bring and create the ultimate chaotic atmosphere and pitting.
EyeHateGod also advertised the new movie based on the Nola metal scene. The guys from Eyehategod and Goatwhore recalled the days over twenty years when gigs were brutal and how everything started out. Interesting conversation indeed.
As for the second show at the Het Patronaat, it was at an old chapel changed to a gig. It was a nice venue, it could be felt and expected that this one is going to be a brutal. Obviously the vocalist Mike Williams got psyched by watching Fields Of The Nephilim before getting on the stage. Anyway, the whole stoner group appeared to be a way more relaxed. As there was no security barrier between the stage and the audience, all hell broke on loose on the floor. The band whipped hard and brutal the audience got to go utter beserk.
Goatwhore played in the small Green Room venue. This was another sweaty experience where appx a few hundred people can get in. It was boiling hot when Goatwhore unleashed their intense and brutal set of raw/fast sludge/blackened/death/whatever stuff. The frontman L. Ben Falgoust II is known to be a relentless character behind the mic. The four piece truly hit hard and loud with a merciless attitude.
Virus out of Norway is kind of the brainchild of Carl Michael Eide who works with several other Norwegian bands such as Aura Noir. Virus’ progressive and even melancholic gig on the main stage created a harmonious atmosphere. The band’s twisted riffs and hymns have the perfect match with the Roadburn concept.
Svartidaudi hails from Iceland and belongs to the extreme side and approach of barbaric black metal. The small Green Room venue was fully packed when the extreme Icelanders unleashed a brutal powerful bass sound tearing the walls down. The four piece, with the hooded faces, had a real merciless nihilistic and raw sounding gig for sure.
Fields Of The Nephilim also did a double slot at Roadburn. Led by Carl Mccoy, they never let the die hard gothic rock fans down. The man with the pale custom stays loyal to his roots year after year. The first set consisted of eight songs with MoonChild opening the set. The stage was as gloomy as possible, even smokey. The band sounded tremendous. The second set didn’t make any exception in this case. Even though the playing time would have 110 minutes, but instead they skipped 20-25 minutes off from the scheduled time. Why? Who knows! But however, Fields Of The Nephilim delivered awesome shows on both the days. Their old bass player had also returned to the ranks, which made FOTN more interesting.
Wardruna have gained extra exposure due to the TV series “Vikings”. If you didn’t know, one of their tunes is played on the show constantly. Besides, former Gorgoroth frontman Gaalh is involved in the Wardruna thing. However Gaalh didn’t show up at the Roadburn festival as according to another founding member, Kvitrafn, he no longer plays live, only works in the studio. Well whatever, the Norwegian mythologist created a breathtaking show and performance for the next one hour. It felt like it would have been taken to the Norwegian landscape with the cold winter wind blowing all over us. Norwegian culture and nature is mixed with the folk influences creating the main aspect of the musical approach of Wardruna. The hymns, and above all, the whole atmosphere was beyond amazing.
Enslaved’s Ivar Bjornson was another curator for Roadburn along with the frontman of Wardruna. Enslaved did a double slot as well. After the Wardruna set, the four piece Enslaved hit the stage and played an over 60 minute set. It was pure magic featuring older material from the HORDES LAND, FROST, ELD that definitely pleased the old school black metal fans. As for the second stint, that one had a few guests from Wardruna, Focus and Solstafier. The set was completely different and more newer stuff from the recent albums. Enslaved was in a tight strike at both gigs.
Skuggsja was a project of the members of Wardruna and Enslaved. Obviously the Skuggsja thing was one of these project things that the Enslaved guys have carried out before such Trinacria along with the Norwegian Shining. Skuggsja could be described a mix of Enslaved meets Wardruna with the obvious Norwegian mythology references having a strong impression in the music and the visual thing.
Profetus is a Finnish funeral doom outfit. Their slow doomy and heavy riffs shook the shack. The dismal lights created a perfect atmosphere for the Finnish suicidal doom march. No words are needed to express any kind of the stage performance as the funeral doom tells all.
Skeletonwitch went through a nasty unexpected vocalist change when Chance Garnette pulled out and was replaced by Andy Horn aka Weedgrinder. Due to the departure of the long time vocalist, Skeletonwitch lost a lethal important magnificent piece in the band. The man’s relentless and hysterical performance on the stage could be compared to a madman released from a local asylum. The current replacement handled the gig well, but he has big shoes to fill up.
Goblin also had two slots at Roadburn. Both gigs were based on the playing of the soundtracks for two cult horror movies. The first one was the legendary horror/zombie/splatter movie DAWN OF THE DEAD for which Goblin played the instrumental soundtrack. Frankly it was both quite odd and interesting. Goblin has carried out these kinds of soundtracks projects for movies earlier. Another was the soundtrack gig for the SUSPIRIA movie. Playing the soundtracks for two movies was an eccentric event cos of never ever before seen and experienced that. Both the movies however present the old school zombie/splatter and horror feelings from back in the day. Goblin knows how to create the eerie atmosphere and how to rise the hair up of gig attendances.
Death Penalty feat. ex-Cathedral member released the self titled full length album last year on Rise Above. Seeing Death Penalty was quite logical and expected at Roadburn for sure. Death Penalty owes a lot to the old school new wave of the British Heavy metal movement, but with a female vocalist on the mic. As for the gig, the band struggled with a few minor technical dilemmas, but in general the gig of Death Penalty sounded quite boring and even sloppy, not that convincing at all. Something was missing…
Acid Witch enjoys a sort of cult following, therefore, it wasn’t any surprise as a huge line was forming outside Het Patrionaat. Waiting to get in took plenty of time. The bassist’s eccentric humor and crazy speeches between songs were truly odd, as well as hilarious. Obviously, the whole band had tested some smoking stimulants to reach the needed mentality.
Black Anvil hailing from NY stands for an extreme hybrid of barbaric death/black metal. Both their albums have been a total blast from the beginning to end without any compromise. The same thing could be felt and seen as Black Anvil’s raw blackened death metal hit hard. The outfit kicked their set in with a raw in-your-face approach in the first 30 minutes, but toward the end it turned to be a bit monotous. Black Anvil was however real savage on the stage.
Urfaust is utterly popular in the UG catacombs. Once again the Green Venue venue was over-packed with hundreds of people. Moving in any direction was out of question. The two piece’s black metal is simple and beautiful in a way. The vocalist’s dry growling with the slow melodic hymns are excellent combined by one guitar with drums. Urfaust’s raw and nihilistic black metal in the small venue was a sweaty experience.
Bongripper is a familiar name at Roadburn. The band is known for ultra brutal and heart ripping gigs. The intensity of the noisewall is incredible from BongRipper. It is odd to see how the guys can stand up all the heart ripping as the soundpressure is insane.
Anathema have got a looong journey in terms of the musical approach since 1990. They started out as a doom oriented band with mandatory influences from other British bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. However, Anathema ventured more and more into the progressive and even alternative rock direction. Anathema has a legion of loyal fans for sure. The band’s 150 minute set, yes you did read it right, contained songs from each album played from the latest one then heading back in reverse. As it was commonly known the former singer from the heyday of the early 90’s would join Anathema on the stage. Darren White got the stage with raging applause and feedback from the audience. Despite a shy start, White got his performance rolling. And holy crap, what a gig and what a show from Darren White! Those old Anathema hymns from the Darren era sounded epic and triumphant. All those songs like Kingdom, Under A Veil were great. Well Unfortunately the Crestfallen song wasn’t on the set list. Hopefully Anathema will do more shows with Darren White.
The Roadburn festival was a real blast with several great bands on the bill. The well organized festival has gained its place amongst the weedsmoking doom/stoner metal maniacs. It is going to be interesting to see who is going to be a curator for Roadburn in 2016! Roadburn is a great place to get familiar with some previously unknown bands as well as cult names from the underground.