Roadburn – Tilburg Holland

May 11th, 2017
by Arto Lehtinen

Roadburn 2017

The 21st – 23rd of April 

013 Tilburg Holland

Roadburn enjoys the status of an underground cult event among metal, rock, and stoner music fans. The festival is held annually in the small idyllic town of Tilburg in Holland. This year’s Roadburn was a success once again. Obviously, the festival drew more people than last year as a fourth day was added.

The festival conquered the whole small town and its small bars and restaurants. Roadburn offered a great deal of different kinds of underground stuff covering from hard rock, space rock, stoner rock, to industrial. Most all the mainstream metal styles don’t fit too well with the concept of Roadburn.

The Roadburn festival is held in the prestigious 013 club consisting of five different sizes of venues. The main venue usually draws a couple of thousand people whereas the smaller venue in the same building however draw a couple of hundred each. Of course, a couple of small bars Extuse and Del Sac share the Roadburn bill by giving bands a more intimate club atmosphere. Whereas Hel Patronaat is another bigger one.

Besides all the concerts, Roadburn has put a lot of effort into other interesting and fascinating aspects. Above all, the pre-listening sessions of forthcoming albums of Solstafier, as well as underground movies are an important part of the whole fest, so are seminars and conversation events. All in all the Roadburn festival is a fascinating and exciting gathering of art,  music, and good company.

Metal-Rules made its debut visit to Roadburn to feel the atmosphere of obscure stoner spacy rock and inhale the smell of the weed.


THURSDAY

When arriving at the festival area, the first band to be caught was Wretch. Wretch is kind of continuation for Gates Of Slumber as the band became defunct a few years back. Anyway, the heavily Saint Vitus influenced doom with obvious stoner elements roared out of the monitors. The three piece doomesters did quite weed smelling and sounding gig.

Wolves In The Throne Room is another one of those bands having made a visit at Roadburn before. The band previously played in smaller places so it was fair for them to share the bigger stage. The combo presents a modern day post black metal, or something else, at least the band’s raw sonic assault, as well as hypnotic performance in the heavy smoke, was a pleasurable way to taste the extremity.

Subrosa doesn’t provide much of a metallic outburst, even though ladling ideas from the sludge, the outfit definitely  shares the beautiful as well as a bit melancholic hymns. The emotional songs with the angelic voice of the singer created a bit depressive and kind of sad feeling and atmosphere. The two violins bring a more atmospheric and even experimental feeling. Subrosa is definitely an interesting act combining different elements to one concept.

Deafheaven seems to have the strong following and success in the Benelux countries. Obviously this sort of post-black metal with some metalcore elements appeal to a certain type of metal and core fans. The frontman was really wild as well relentless one on the stage, running all over the place. Frankly, one may dig them, while another may dislike them, but this sort of post whatever black metal is an odd way of spreading the blasphemic hymns.


Coven’s first show ever on European soil had been advertised a lot. After all these years, Jinx Dawson descended to Roadburn to show the sign of the horns. The whole venue was packed and it was obvious the crowd was interested and eager to see the pioneers of occult rock. The creepy sounding intro welcomed the audience into the world of the occultism as well as Satanism. There was the coffin had been placed in the middle of the stage. Well the assistant was kind of hasty when trying to open the casket a bit too early. Jinx Dawson emerged out of the coffin with a glistening mask on her face. The whole gig and performance by Coven and Jinx Dawson was pure magic and occultism from the beginning to the end. Dawson’s character on the stage was incredible strong commanding the crowd into the world of Coven. Some minor technical problems with the guitar didn’t prevent Coven from creating a fabulous show with the spell-bounding and catchy songs.  No wonder other festivals are extremely curious and keen on booking Coven.

The Polish black anti orthodox metal squad Batushka has caused the enormous fuzz in the metal genre. The group has been testified at various festivals and obviously interest towards the band seems to be growing. The venue Hel Patronaat was totally packed when Batushka hit the stage. Frankly the stage was definitely limited and even too small for the whole group. The gig was basically a typical one for Batushka, the heavily orthodox oriented and influenced elements in the stuff. As for the visual aspect, the band had some video footage shown on the screen. The video was mostly showing the Polish countryside and some clips of orthodox priests marching. Batushka would have needed more space and a bit more of a blasphemic atmosphere to bring the evil orthodox mass.

FRIDAY

Magma was definitely one of the most anticipated bands on the list among the Roadburn crowd. The legendary French progressive rockers truly enjoy a fabulous and fanatical cult following in its genre and beyond. The band’s main core is surrounded by the drummer Christian Vander whose endless passion to navigate Magma thru these years is definitely phenomenal. His hypnotic and spellbinding playing, along with the band was excellent. Magma offered a wide range of progressive offerings and definitely captured the audience with outstanding musical genius and a well coordinated stage performance.

Zhrine presents a modern day black metal approach. Frankly, it is kind of weird to witness these bands of the modern day black metal generation, as these bands look like normal nice looking school boys. What exactly happened to the black metal mandatory dress-code? However, the Icelandic black jesters did a brutal set of blackish, yet technically, superb music.

Oathbreaker, from Belgium, had been invited by the frontman of Baroness to Roadburn. The band’s melancholic approach filled with grim sounding tunes turned out to be an interesting mix and balance of various styles, from metal to black metal, sludge, and even an avant garde style. Oathbreaker and Myrkur may share the same musical approach in the style, as mixing various various genres with the evil hysterical sounding high pitched scream and pure singing styles. The front lady’s relentless acting was truly passionate, even a bit haunting and occasionally out of control. She truly lived up to her performance. Interesting band and worth to check out.

Amenra  from Belgium has been the regular visitor at Roadburn year after year. They offered  brutal mix of metal and hardcorish elements. When the singer got on the stage, he basically limped. Obviously the singer’s hurt leg prevented the band to unleash the blistering and explosive gig this time. Besides playing on the bigger main stage didn’t create the most aggressive and intensive feeling as Amenra definitely fits and sounds better in the smaller venue. Amenra’s raw and energetic playing is always the mandatory aspect in their performance. The Neurosis guy Scott Kelly joined the band by doing  Nowena | 9.10. Amenra should be witnessed again when the singer is in a better shape and above all the crowd should go insane in the pit.

The Icelandic black metal scene is definitely amazing as a lot of great and unique bands seem to be crawling out of the country of fire and ice. When Zhrine got the audience convinced with their own (post ? – )black metal approach Naðra’ s black metal was more primitive and harsh. The Naðra line-up consists of guys from Misþyrming as it is kind of expected because of the inner-self and small scene. If other bands at the fest relied on having more office-type of clothes and look like a normal nice son-in-law, Naðra use the more old school black metal dress-code. Even though the whole Icelandic scene is linked to each other, each band stands for a bit little different approach with the unique sounds and above all the relentless frontman like Naðra does. The band sounded raw, barbaric, yet melancholic and melodic. Naðra ain’t that raw and nihilistic like Svartidaudi. However Naðra pulled a real enjoyable and passionate gig.

Baroness was kind of headliner of Roadburn as the vocalist John Baizley was the curator by asking and inventing interesting bands and acts to the festival. Being a headliner of the festival for Baroness was more than obvious. The band has the tremendous following and fanbase in the Benelux territories, and the main venue was totally packed when the combo kicked the set off. The long 90 minute gig was kicked off by “Tower Falls” and was followed by “The Birthing” and a plenty of others. The band was in a fiery strike and kept that kind o vibe thru the whole set without slowing down. The heavy groove riffs floating around the venue and the audience truly appreciated.

Perturbator – Has every goddamn metal fan lost their mind when dancing in the hypnotic trance during Perturbator’s performance. The 80’s sounding computer aided synthesizer stuff has always been like a piece of a red cloth. Instead the audience appeared to be spellbounded and in trance when Perturbator aka James Kent started the massive firework of electric tunes. The heavily 80’s influenced stuff sounded interesting and refreshing, but in the long run it turns pretty boring after all.


SATURDAY

Oranssi Pazuzu made a visit to Roadburn a year ago, but for some reason the band had been placed to play in the smaller venue resulting the whole bunch of people couldn’t enter to see them at all. However Roadburn had asked Oranssi Pazuzu to return to Roadburn to play on the main stage. They did and the whole venue was entirely packed. Even though Oranssi Pazuzu ain’t the spellbounding live band at all, instead the lights were in the dominating part creating the silhouette profiles of each member. The post black metal or whatever it can be named, but Oranssi Pazuzu’s stuff is grim and definitely brutal for sure, on the other hand the band definitely relies on the brutal approach of the music and the crowd gotta be in a certain feeling to achieve the cosmic connection with Oranssi Pazuzu

Memoriam feat. current members of Benediction and the former Bolt Thrower guys in the rank trust the old school death metal approach. The former frontman of Bolt Thrower has the recognizable voice and hasn’t started altering it to venture into another direction. The four-piece’s old school death metal with obvious crust influences were dominating. The set included a couple of songs from Bolt Thrower and surprisingly Sacrilege. One hour with Memoriam went smoothly even though sounds weren’t that balanced, but the band itself was in the good strike for the next combat.

My Dying Bride is a real icon of the British doom metal genre. Therefore seeing them  at Roadburn was just the matter of time as both Anathema and Paradise Lost have made their presence at the fest earlier. My Dying Bride has a massive catalog therefore picking up TURN LOOSE THE SWANS was essential one to play thru as a whole. My Dying Bride’s sad and desperate riffs and hymns made the singer live up in his performance. His acting kind of reflected all the oppressive aspects what My Dying Bride presents. Above all his lyrics are pure poetry.  Besides the album is a tremendous classic doom and even death metal that came out over 20 years ago. The band definitely sounded brilliant and their performance gave the full filled fair handling for the album. Of course the death metal growling was there.

Disfear is basically Tomas Lindberg’s baby operating more in the crust d-beat punk approach. The band hit the second size stage in a church lookalike venue. These pits and crowdsurfing are kind of rare to be seen at Roadburn, but during Disfear the crowd went utter beserk as the ceiling nearly got blown away. Disfear offered the raw punkish lesson for the crowd. Tomas had full job to keep his cap glued in his head when moving relentless around the stage. The wilder feeling the better band sounded.

Mysticum’s show is always breathtaking and capturing. The brutal industrialized black metal assault with the amazing light and flashes were to about the mandatory epilepsy strike. However a band like Mysticum with three guys had come up a brilliant stage structure as all the three guys were standing a nearly three meter high towers. The lights and videos were flashing  all the time creating the pure apocalyptic and even epileptic trauma feeling. The whole package with the brutal outburst of industrial black metal with insane lights as the production was beyond amazing indeed. Mysticum’s show has to be seen and felt with own eyes.

SUNDAY

Ulver’s debut opus Bergtatt stood for the more black metal elements, but the outfit has undergone musical changes throughout the years. Therefore all the past involvements in the extreme metal are gone instead Kristoffer aka Garm has evolved Ulver’s world into the avant-garde and electronical approach. It is easy to compare Ulver and Depeche Mode cos similarities can be found and pointed out easily. However Ulver has the sounds and visions of their own and of course all the visual things on the stage play the important factor. Jamming and electronic elements have brought Ulver into another dimension of the musical journey.


The Doomsday Kingdom is basically the child of the riffmaster of the mighty Candlemass Leif Edling. Apparently the whole project was formed by Edling to focus on his healing process from the long term burn-out syndrom. After all The Doomsday Kingdom turned out to be a real band when the Wolf singer Niklas Stålvind, the Avatarium guitarist Marcus Jidell and Andreas Johansson from Narnia were recruited to complete the full line-up. Roadburn had succeeded in offering a slot for the band to make a debut gig happen in the festival. The gig was Edling’s test how he copes with the band in the live situation. Frankly it went well. The band sounded good and above all majestic heavy doom. Fortunately the set didn’t have any songs from other bands of members, just the material of The Doomsday Kingdom. Even though Stålvin’s voice may raise different kind of opinions, but he sounded and did damn well job when interpreting Edling’s well of souls. Edling himself sung one song based on his own experience about the whole healing process.

Come To Grief formerly known just as Grief hit the stag at Hel Patronaat. The full filled death doom sludge metal roared out of the speakers with the deadly strike. The band was blasting the old material with the rough sound and the vocalist Jeff Hayward’s snotty brutal voice was incredible raw and fitted to the style of Come To Grief.

Pillorian has the prestigious task to be the last band of the whole fest on the main stage. On the other band Pillorian being the last act was kind of weird, but at this point of the evening people had started leaving and spending more time by smoking the weed. The three piece combo from Portland shared that black metal stuff. They sounded solid and all in all in. But spending four days in a row at 013 definitely drives each of roadburngoers to the psychical limits, following bands became more or less a brutal survival game.

Roadburn 2017 is done and welcome 2018 ! Seriously the festival seems to be growing all the time and every time. Apparently tickets had been sold more than before as the fourth day had been switched to a normal festival day, it wasn’t advertised a “afterburner” event. Roadburn offers a wide and vast genre of different types of bands and artists. It is both awesome and even weird to see how people dig some previously unknown bands’ stuff. Above all rather unknown bands and artists have an utter perfect chance to perform the stuff of their own for the Roadburn crowd. Well should you think of attending Roadburn ? Hell of course, as it is one kind of festival and with the unique and friendly vibe and atmosphere.  Looking forward to Roadburn 2018.

www.roadburn.com

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