Road­burn 2017



Coven and Amenra bring rap­ture and rup­ture to Til­burg


Afes­ti­val where no one ever com­plains about head­lin­ers, and whose over­all ex­ploratory spirit be­comes a call­ing for mu­sic-lovers across the world, Road­burn doesn’t feel like an an­nual high­light so much as an ex­pe­ri­ence that oc­cu­pies its own, in­cal­cu­la­bly up­lift­ing plane. In the 013’s vast main au­di­to­rium, SUBROSA’S string-led, apoc­a­lyp­tic doom – fol­lowed by a stripped down yet cap­ti­vat­ing ‘Sub­dued’ set the fol­low­ing day – beau­ti­fully bridges er­ratic, ag­o­nis­ingly heavy pas­sages with melodic mo­ments as they play through lat­est al­bum, For This We Fought The Bat­tle Of The Ages, to a rev­er­ent au­di­ence. If Road­burn is all about peace, unity and mu­si­cal en­rich­ment, no one told UN­EARTHLY TRANCE

[7]. A band with more bile-per-riff than most, they per­form in the ad­ja­cent Green Room like ac­tual, swivel-eyed mur­der­ers rev­el­ling in a slow, grue­some de­scent into sonic hell. Pas­toral per­haps, but a brew­ing storm, ES­BEN AND THE WITCH [8] trans­fix the room as their spell­bound in­can­ta­tions plot their way to­wards a cat­a­clysmic mo­ment of reck­on­ing. Play­ing the first of four sets this year, Man­cu­nian col­lec­tive GNOD [9] serve up warped, ab­stract elec­tron­ica and guitar-driven psy­cho-delic freak­outs, but the Satur­day’s trib­ute to Faust and Tony Con­rad’s 1972 al­bum, Out­side The Dream Syn­di­cate, is a mas­ter­class in im­pro­vised delir­ium. As the undis­puted in­sti­ga­tors of oc­cult rock, COVEN’S [8] first live ap­pear­ance in their new in­car­na­tion feels like an es­sen­tial thread has fi­nally been wo­ven into Road­burn’s wide-rang­ing ta­pes­try. If the band them­selves haven’t yet caught the swing and tem­pes­tu­ous sen­su­al­ity of the orig­i­nal lineup, an age­less Jinx Daw­son re­mains a fear­some chan­nel. Her voice is still a po­tent, im­pos­ing force, Black Sab­bath and Wicked Woman still res­onat­ing as thrillingl­y un­in­hib­ited un­der­ground tenets. His rapid, ec­cen­tric, and some­what sex­u­alised move­ments sug­gest that DEAFHEAVEN [8] front­man Ge­orge Clarke has been tak­ing lessons from a hippy Ian Cur­tis. Here they’re more Sun­bather-heavy than their last out­ing, with Dream House sound­ing big­ger than Jupiter. Bod­ies on the floor, oth­ers sway­ing in a trance, it must be BONGZILLA [7]. Hurl­ing out mam­moth Sab­bathy riffs to the foggy masses, backed by videos of anti-drug pro­pa­ganda, it’s a deaf­en­ing love-in for all things green.


Kick­ing off Fri­day at the con­verted church, Het Pa­tron­aat, as though it were an apoc­a­lyp­tic ser­mon, a robed and im­pe­ri­ous SCHAM­MASCH [8] lead the con­gre­ga­tion through all 110 min­utes of their Tri­an­gle opus. A jour­ney of en­light­en­ment through colos­sal surges and ges­tat­ing tribal grooves, the Swiss psy­cho­nauts use epic scale as their start­ing point and ex­pand into vast new realms be­yond. A packed Green Room spills into the corridor as TRUE WI­DOW [6] bring the riffs on a stoney af­ter­noon as their doom echoes through the deep red lights. OATH­BREAKER’S

[8] sheer power and fe­roc­ity threat­ens to level the 013, while Caro Tanghe’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity and melan­cholic na­ture leaves our senses numb. Seen al­most as a sa­cred priest­ess around these parts, CHELSEA

WOLFE [9] proves to be a torch­bearer for twi­light realms. Her stately yet en­er­vated pro­ces­sion is both a psy­chic re­tun­ing and a dev­as­tat­ingly soul­ful rite of pas­sage.

AMENRA’S [9] deeply af­fect­ing set is a pri­mal, all-en­com­pass­ing ex­pe­ri­ence: a back­drop flashes des­o­late nat­u­ral im­agery while Colin H van Eeck­hout’s an­i­mal­is­tic pres­ence seems pos­sessed. They’re also joined on­stage by Scott Kelly and John

Bai­z­ley – a mem­o­rable mo­ment for the

Road­burn his­tory books. BARONESS [8] are a some­what less fraught propo­si­tion for Bai­z­ley these days, the warmth ra­di­at­ing out of later ma­te­rial such as Lit­tle Things and Fugue sug­gest­ing a clas­sic band still in the mak­ing, and one en­tirely com­fort­able in their own skin. ZEAL & AR­DOR’S [8] in­tox­i­cat­ing black me­tal and chain-gang gospel is cut short when the Pa­tron­aat sound blows out – twice. But the packed au­di­ence stay, belt­ing out Devil Is Fine. Syn­th­wave sen­tinel PER­TUR­BA­TOR [6] seems a bit re­strained and re­stricted in such a small venue. The tunes are killer but eye-fry­ing spec­ta­cle is con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence.


DY­LAN CAR­SON’S col­lab­o­ra­tion with Kevin Martin a.k.a. THE BUG [8] is a sub­lime meet­ing of minds, the lat­ter’s bowel-shat­ter­ing sub-bass and scabrous, in­dus­trial in­ter­fer­ence pro­vid­ing the drone guru with an un­usu­ally ro­bust but deftly hazy back­drop. Re­turn­ing to Road­burn like an omen-preg­nant comet, ORANSSI PAZUZU [9] sound like they’re re­con­struct­ing your DNA. Pound­ing rhythms like a sub­ter­ranean alien sect drive fir­ma­ment-raz­ing riffs, and brain-freez­ing synths are akin to be­ing rav­aged by a vast, cos­mic in­tel­li­gence. Fe­ro­cious EBM duo YOUTH CODE [8] de­stroy any no­tion of melody with their sharp, glitchy as­sault, throw­ing them­selves around the stage. A re­vived WARN­ING [8] chan­nel love and loss like no other band in doom me­tal. Per­form­ing the clas­sic Watch­ing From A Dis­tance al­bum, Pa­trick Walker and his com­rades re­duce the en­tire room to a blub­ber­ing, head­bang­ing mess. Not ev­ery death me­tal band would fit at Road­burn, but ME­MO­RIAM [8] have the pedi­gree to pull this off. They do things the bru­tal, war-torn, old-school way and all is laid to waste. SLOMATICS [7] launch

Coven’s Jinx Daw­son re­mains

a po­tent, im­pos­ing force

into the first of many colos­sally stoned and epic riffs and the Green Room walls shake. The church is rammed for Ja­cob Ban­non’s WEAR YOUR WOUNDS [7]. De­spite tak­ing a few songs to re­ally click, the mu­sic is drip­ping with bleak­ness and heavy emo­tion, with rous­ing closer Good­bye My Friend tug­ging at all the heart­strings. There are few al­bums more im­por­tant to the evo­lu­tion of all things slow and heavy than Turn Loose

The Swans, and as MY DY­ING BRIDE [9] slither ma­jes­ti­cally through it tonight, it sounds some­how fresher and more rel­e­vant than ever. While the Tomas Lind­berg-led crust gods DIS­FEAR [8] send the Pa­tron­aat into an or­gias­tic frenzy, watch­ing MYSTICUM [6] on the main stage is like hurtling into the eye of a tor­nado while three, scream­ing ma­ni­acs fire ma­chine­guns at your back­side. The multi-screen stage set is un­de­ni­ably stun­ning, but the Nor­we­gians’ mu­sic is a lit­tle too one-di­men­sional to sta­bly un­der­pin the visual bom­bard­ment.


OXBOW [7] are slightly less un­nerv­ing than in the past, but there’s no doubt­ing their unique allure. New songs like Ecce Homo glis­ten with skewed venom and front­man Eu­gene S Robin­son is as com­pelling as al­ways, but an­noy­ingly doesn’t strip down to his un­der­wear. Do you like riffs? PALL­BEARER [7] have riffs. The new saviours of doom’s sen­sa­tional Heart­less set sends the 013 into an hyp­notic state of jux­ta­pos­ing tran­quil­lity and dread. Leif Edling is a doom leg­end and he’s back, at last, with his new band THE DOOMSDAY KING­DOM [8]. There are no curve­balls as the Swedes per­form their first ever gig, just thun­der­ous and won­der­fully pure heavy fuck­ing me­tal. ULVER’S [7] lat­est de­tour into synth-pop realms makes much more sense in the flesh. With shades of Talk Talk, Peter Gabriel and even A-Ha, this slick, at­mo­spheric show is a clas­sic Road­burn curve­ball and all the bet­ter for it. Whether it’s the sump­tu­ous in­dul­gence of Youth’s odd­ball sound­scapes or the Mad Hat­ter mischief of David Ti­bet’s cracked poetry, HYPNOPAZUZ­U’S [7] is a strange, edgy mu­si­cal world that leaves half the au­di­ence beam­ing, the other half ter­mi­nally con­fused. Job done, leav­ing IN­TER ARMA’S [8] earth­shat­ter­ing pulse to send out one last wave of rap­ture as Road­burn res­onates on an al­len­com­pass­ing fre­quency once more.

Aaron My Dy­ing Bride’s Stainthorp­e: stig­matic for the peo­ple Scham­masch reach crit­i­cal mass Dis­fear’s Tomas Lind­berg calls for a sac­ri­fi­cial of­fer­ing Ver­non Subrosa: Re­becca mode gets into mourn­ful Coven’s Jinx Daw­son: oc­cult rock’s orig­i­nal wicked...

Mysticum un­leash dig­i­tal damna­tion Baroness: John Bai­z­ley waves cyan-ara

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