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ROADBURN Festival 2016 • DAY FOUR : The Afterburner / Sunday, April 17th

Buried At Sea

Warning: This review contains a heavy amount of whining.

As I already mentioned in my review of the Anneke van Giersbergen concert in Hamburg my computer just sent me through a week of digital hell, not only causing a delay of this very text you're reading right now, but also including the destruction of my harddrive which of course I hadn't backed up since way too long. Which means that I have lost all digital photographs of this year, except for the low-fi copies which I have uploaded to flickr, facebook or this blog.

So other than my Saturday report, for which I had already prepared the pictures when the crash happened, I have lost all my festival shots of Sunday. The only thing I have left is the picture above which I briefly used as facebook title image and one other small thing (see further below).
It's a pity - to put it mildly -, since I really had taken some nice ones, especially of Menhir and Neurosis.

For the sake of keeping the established structure you'll see a bunch of placeholders here, all film photographs which I have taken during my Roadburn stay in the environment of Oisterwijk.

Some of them where taken on Thursday, others on a second trip to the Kampina heath on Sunday.

As much as I don't regret that second excursion, I probably should have rested shorter in my hotel room afterwards. Remember me spotting members of The Vintage Caravan Friday night?
Of course they played an early surprise show in the Cul de Sac, which I only realized when I saw their records in the merch area while they were already far into their set, so I opted for a good spot at the first Main Stage show instead.

At least concerts of the Caravan aren't that rare these days and I'll probably see them in Wacken in a few months.

And while I'm still at it, let's jump ahead to the very last band of the festival and then be done with the whining:

Even though the Cul de Sac is by far the smallest Roadburn venue, there's mostly enough room in front of the stage to breathe. You just have to get there first. I arrived before Death Alley started and watched the room getting more crowded than I had ever seen before.
Which was ok, because I was already there. But then the band played one song for the line check and immediately a couple of douchebags deemed it a good idea to start a moshpit right next to the monitor boxes which were standing on cases with rolls. These cases are always in danger to slip under the stage and cause the boxes to fall and that's some seriously dangerous shit in such a jammed place. And on top of that I realized that the music and the singer of Death Alley - well, don't understand this as an offence, since it is only a matter of taste - they just weren't up my alley. (dingdingding - pun alert!)

So I was stuck there with a band I probably wouldn't care much about as the last thing I saw at this Roadburn. But let's give them a chance, maybe it's only that song... So they started their set, the crowd went wild, the band was admittedly rocking it and... boom! An amp fell of its box.
The break caused by this accident was long. Too long for me, so I finally decided to leave the place even though this looked like an impossible task. It took me quite a while and felt like travelling through an overlong birth canal. But finally I made it and there was just enough time to end my festival programme another way...

But now finally to the shows I attended, which all took place either inside the 013 or the Cul de Sac, since the Afterburner always is a little more intimate with the festival beeing reduced to three (instead of five) stages.

not Green Carnation

On the Main Stage Green Caranation performed their classic album "Light Of Day, Day Of Darkness" in its entirety.

That album is supposed to be one song of sixty minutes, but let's face it, that's just a technicality. Somewhere beyond the half-hour mark any song of multiple parts ceases to feel like one singular piece. Just an observation which obvioulsy doesn't take away from the quality or Hörvergnügen.
Yet especially with this piece it's rather obvious, because some of the transitions on "Light Of Day" are a bit clumsy and forced.

The album from 2001 features a lot of genres, from doom metal with orchestral and prog rock elements to gothic rock, folk and world music influences.
The ambition was great, the production a product of its time (shitty artificial drums galore!), the musical arrangements for the biggest part great. But every now and then some really bad kitsch or a totally redudant riff happens and makes you shudder: Why this?

But in a way even the failures are part of the charme of this album, so I was keen to hear it live. And admittedly the band even made the originally meh parts sound really good. Nothing embarassing left.

What struck me right from the beginning was how refreshing the singer appeared in the context of this festival. The full out classic metal / gothic / almost operatic voice really was something different here. As was the whole performance, which introduced yet another form of epicness to Roadburn.

Very big, professional and ambitious - and definitely more rousing and touching than the studio version. 

not Blind Idiot God

But now back to Roadburn normal. Give me some sick shit!

Starting with brutal minimalistic riffs over insane power prog drumming Blind Idiot God made it clear from the beginning that they had a totally unique - and above all just fucking mental - sound. The instrumental trio has been around since the Eighties and their style is best described as a hybrid of King Crimson ("Red" phase) and harsh No Wave.

Yet beside the mind-melting headbanging craziness the band also has another side which manifests in rather relaxing spacy dub tunes. Too bad I could only see half the show, but I later bought a CD of them for the drive home at least. Boy, this stuff makes your brain jump around like a superball in your head.

not Jakob

The reason why I cut Blind Idiot God short came all the way from New Zealand and was also an instrumental trio.
Over a rhythm section with a surprisingly roasting bass Jakob flooded the audience with waves of dreamy elegiac post rock, a welcome trance-inducing experience for all tired Roadburners. Those weren't very talkative this whole afternoon, making the pauses between applause and the beginning of the next song unbelievable silent for such a huge crowd.

But the love was apparantly there - and rightfully so, because play in a l league which can only be topped by few other bands like let's say Mono.

Their music was accompanied by atmospheric layered live video collage of woods, rivers and such, so in this case my placebo picture is indeed not too far from the real thing.

not Ecstatic Visions

In the mood for some driving upbeat space rock with hoarse vocals, crystal clear flute and saxy sexophone? Enter Ectstatic Visions!

At an average every Roadburn day needs at least one psychedelic freak-out.

Ultimately I prefered the likes of Hills, Der Blutharsch and New Keepers Of The Water Towers on this weekend, but that doesn't diminish Ecstatic Visions much, as they put their own fast and raw rock'n'roll edge on it, which was undeniable infectious and fun.

However I am still confused by the sax player. Are we related somehow? Especially with his hat on the guy really looks a lot like my brother. Doppelgängeralarm.

not Witch Trail

The early evening began with a young dutch band in the Cul de Sac.

Witch Trail reminded me of bands like Bast or Vattnet Viskar who combine black metal with slices of doom, sludge and post rock, but they are still a few worlds away from those two.

Which is ok, as these were three young guys still developing their style. And the direction is already very promising.

Neurosis, actually

Neurosis continued their anniversary celebration and this time I was closer to the stage and witnessed a longer part of the show, which had a good bunch of very straight-forward hardcore (or post hardcore or whatever you call it) tracks in it, besides the more challenging and disturbing stuff.

It's hard to explain, what sets Neurosis apart. Of course they are always ridiculously thick and heavy. But they are not the only super brutal band of angrily shouting middle-aged men on the planet.
I think a part of it is really that you feel the personalities of Scott Kelly, Steve von Till and Dave Edwardson bringing this seemingly untamable beast to life and somehow even controlling it, which makes the difference.

Legends at work. What a display of power!

You could think that no deep and noisy tune could entertain you after this, but what if Roadburn gave you something double-deep?

not Menhir - well almost not ;)

The dutch trio Menhir entered the Cul de Sac stage with two bass guitars and drums (plus industrial and spaced out samples) to unleash what they pretty self-explaining call "astro sludge".

So yeah, they sound like a monolith smashing its way through a meteor field. The drone of the basses of which one was often played in the style of a regular six-string rhythm or lead guitar was pleasantly overwhelming, the deep vocals sometimes reminded me of the choral stuff which happens on the newer Napalm Death records besides the growls and screams. And even more significant for me, I felt thrown back to the apocalyptical bleakness of Rich Walker on Saw Throat's legendary "Inde$troy" album.

They were not as devestating as Jucifer on Wednesday nor as hypnotic as Dark Buddha Rising, let alone as almighty as the all-overtowering Neurosis, but somehow of all the super heavy sludge bands, Menhir were the one I ultimately had the most fun watching.

I would have bought their strictly limited "Hiding In Light" cassette (embedded in black silicon rubber with golden sprinkles) right there, if only I hadn't already ordered it a while before. Damn, I could have saved the postage. Great band!

not Buried At Sea

The last band on the Main Stage also belonged in the category of How can this get even nastier, heavier and angrier?

Buried At Sea not only emulated the general wall of noise from Neurosis, but combined it with vocals which deliberately were so over-the-top distorted and overdriven, that it really felt uncomfortable like beeing ripped apart and dragged down the ocean by seriously pissed off sharks of doom. Maybe this is indeed the sound of drowning.
What the fuck made these dudes so furious? Impressive.

I took a short break from Buried At Sea for a few minutes of Death Alley *whistling*, but was back right in time to see the last songs of the band. And it was well worth it.

And thus ended another incredible Roadburn festival.

It still is too overwhelming to analyze the whole thing in a cold résumé or try to compare it to the last years, so I just take it as it was and is - the fucking greatest week of music of the year. Peerless, inspiring and still unbelievable. See you in 2017!

As a conclusion here's a short wish list of some artists I would like to see there in the future (not that Roadburn-Walter would need my help to put together an incredible line-up):

  • Earth
  • Sunn O))) (just because)
  • Autopsy (well if there's one death metal band which Roadburn desperately needs...)
  • Lis Er Stille (one of the most exciting live bands out there and deserving every bit of attention)
  • Radare (for the sake of doom jazz)
  • Seven Impale (for the sake of a prog/metal/jazz freak-out)
  • or as an alternative Exivious and/or Our Oceans
  • anything with John Zorn (no explanation necessary)
  • Julie Christmas
  • Laibach revisited again (their programme of slovene 80s classics would totally fit Roadburn and kill it)
  • Karyn Crisis' Gospel Of The Witches 
 Ok, I guess that's enough for now.

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