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ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY TWO: Friday, April 21st

- Redefining Eternity:
A Journey Through Timelessness -



On Friday Roadburn began early, and as always the first band starting on one of the Koepelhal stages made the decision to see them easy, because there wouldn't be any parallel shows in the other venues clashing with it yet.

And in this particular case it was even more of a no-brainer, since my favorite album of 2021 was on the menu in The Engine Room!


Given that I still love the album like on the first day I've heard it, I naturally had no doubts that I would enjoy Ad Nauseam's full performance of "Imperative Imperceptible Impulse". Little did I know that I somehow was still underestimating the Italian band. It's a mild understatement that the uniquely tuned Dissonant Death Metal arrangements of their masterpiece are challenging, but the perfection with which the quartet pulled it off was just staggering!

I know that the acoustics of both Koepelhal stages have always been the cause of many debates, but actually most of that just sounds like people parroting what they've heard other people say. In a place that's not even designed for live music, there'll always be bad spots, but in my experience the occasions where the overall sound was actually sub-standard have been very rare so far.
I'm writing this because I've read complaints about the sound at this particular show, to which I can only say: Dude, you picked the wrong spot in the crowd! Because from where I was standing this was easily in the top five of best-sounding Death Metal shows I have ever seen!

No detail in this dynamic and complex maelstrom was missing - and even though I've praised this album over and over, I only now realized how much singer / guitarist Andrea Petucco not only utilzes Death growls, but also a traditional throat singing approach, which especially live really lends this ferociously brutal music a surprisingly introspective meditative element.
There was no need for a big stage show, because these guys just shredding through this amazing music was spectacle enough.

When the slow Avantgarde Jazz outro  of "Human Interface To No God" had ended, I realized that the unimaginable had happened: I don't still love the album like on the first day I've heard it - I love it even more now.


Planning this day's schedule had been both easy and hard at the same time, because there were a couple of shows that were so mandatory for me, that there wasn't even a real choice. Of course it still hurt to miss Elizabeth Colour Wheel, J. Zunz, the highly laudated Backxwash show  or the complete Hall of Fame programme including - yet again! - Alice Cotton.

Until two days before the festival my plan had been to stay in the Koepelhal until the evening to watch the commisioned project Trounce and then Ashenspire, Oiseaux-Tempête, maybe Teeth Of the Sea (dropped that to be closer to the following Main Stage show)... but then - bam! - everything fell apart, because Funeral Doom Roadburn legends Bell Witch dropped their new album and its exclusive live premiere would of course be here! So that huge empty space on the Main Stage schedule was suddenly filled with far over an hour of my required attendance without discussion.

I still went to the Next Stage to catch a bit of Sangre de Muerdago with Judasz & Nahimana, but I very soon realized that between the aftermath of Ad Nauseam and the anticipation of Bell Witch I just didn't have the ease of mind for this rather folksy music and rather secured a central front row spot in front of the Main Stage, which was shielded from view with a curtain. 


When the curtain opened it revealed... a quite empty stage. On the left Dylan Desmond played bass and far over on the right Jesse Shreibman was locked into a cage of drums, percussion (including a gong) and electronic devices. So most of the stage belonged to a free view onto the dark atmospheric imagery on the screen behind them.

The 2018 performance of their 83 minute song/album "Mirror Reaper" has an extremely special place in my heart, so the Funeral Doom duo surely had a lot to live up to. And they didn't even bring a third man with them this time, because "Future's Shadow Part 1: The Clandestine Gate" is the first Bell Witch record, which doesn't feature regular guest singer Erik Moggridge aka Aerial Ruin.
As the title suggests they appearantly still haven't followed their concept to its maximum consequence, because once again the album ist one giant 83 minutes composition, but it's also just the first part of a cyclic trilogy, which will end where it started. If that means that a couple of years down the road there'll be a four hours Bell Witch show somewhere in the world, the band would really deepen their already incomparable imprint on Metal and ascend to a seldom reached plane of musical myth.

But over two-hundred or "only" eighty minutes like now, what difference does it really make for a performance, which makes you question the very concept of "now" and the steady flow of time?
Desmond and Shreibman have all the time in the world. One can play minutes long clean bass interludes before breaking out in crushing melancholy again, the other can evoke eternity with creeping organ interludes played with his feet.
Vocals - both the clerical chants and the guttural growls - have become rare in "The Clandestine Gate", yet still enough happened in this epic contemplation on stillness to keep the audience invested. The sonic and emotional depth, the world-crushing scope of Bell Witch's movements once again transcended its supposed genre. This wasn't just a Funeral Doom performance. It was a direct intervention into the laws of space and time.

As expected I needed my longest break between shows during the whole festival to process the Bell Witch experience. Finally some time to actually sit down to eat something! Nourishment becomes such a negligibility during these days...
So to my own astonishment I had only watched two shows so far after five and a half hours. But that's part of the fun: Every Roadburn day is different and unpredictable. And despite all those clashes I actually didn't feel like I was missing anything at the moment.


One of the most delicate, pristine performances of the weekend awaited me on the Next Stage, where Amaya López-Carromero played under her moniker Maud The Moth. Just synth/piano, and often beautifully looped and layered angelic vocals carried the audience far away into escapist bliss. I wish I could have seen the full show, because her dramatic Ambient ballads with Neoclassical and sometimes also jazzy influences where yet another instance of time magically standing still.
But at least I could leave with a very pleasant anticipation for her show as singer of the band Healthyliving the next day.


A lot has happened since the festival first tried to book the Belgian trio Brutus. We'll never know on which stage they were supposed to play on the Roadburn edition hat never happened, but with their recent album "Unison Life" their popularity surely has exploded and now they definitely ranked among the "big names" in the line-up. And rightfully so!

Brutus' Post Hardcore Indie Rock songs alone are already fire, but they are propelled far beyond their inherent merits by the explosive and emotional force which is singer/drummer Stefanie Manaerts. What a presence! The unconventional light show also helped to put a special stamp on this performance. Definitely a band I would love to see again rather sooner than later.


You missed the Paradox Jazz club in my Roadburn reports so far? Me too, me too. For the second year this special location was part of the festival, even though it sadly didn't have a four day programme this time, but only enriched the line-up on Friday and Saturday.

My first encounter there was the Artist in Residence Under The Surface with a purely improvisational show. The first piece was performed by the trio on drums/percussions, guitar and vocals alone, and especially the warm versatile voice of singer Sanne Rambags, who even in the context of this weekend was capable of acrobatics I hadn't heard before, set the tone for a dreamlike experience between modern Free Jazz and dramatic mystical Arabisms. Absolutely mesmerizing!

But those fifteen minutes were only the warmup for the much more out there following fourty minutes, for which the band welcomed upright bass player Nathan Wouters and experimental vocalist Micaela Tobin aka White Boy Scream on stage. And what a fantastic journey they took us on!

Even though there luckily exists decent video material on YouTube to relive the experience, this show is easily in the top three on my wishlist for "Live at Roadburn 2023" album releases. 

Afterwards I went outside and had a quick senseless walk powered by the idea that I could maybe glimpse a little bit of the Offroad action in the Little Devil, but I soon realized that this wasn't realistic if I wanted to be back in time for the next show. Plus me being unsure of the direction and my roaming in Tilburg being horribly bad the whole weekend helped to immediately return to the Paradox to close this night.


PoiL are a French Prog Rock band. Junko Ueda is a Japanese singer and satsuma-biwa (a traditional lute instrument) player. So that explains the group's name, but it doesn't even come close to answering the question how on Earth this wild combination of stunning, often polyrhythmic instrumental madness and ancient Japanese folk tales is supposed to work. Spoiler: You may never know why. But it works more than impressively!

My first contact with this group was the pre-Roadburn research for last year, when I immediately decided that I had to see them no matter what else was happening. Then they had to cancel last minute, paradoxically a relief, because it allowed me to see other great shows. But now they were booked again and I'm very glad that I stuck to the promise that I made to myself and witnessed this fascinating and also completely bonkers performance.

The combination of ancient storytelling with over the top Zeuhl-ish King Crimson Prog was a completely different grab for timelessness than what Bell Witch, Maud The Moth or Under the Surface had showcased before - and it was absolutely mind-blowing and unlike anything I've seen before.

One could gush endlessly about every band member here, but let's just keep it to 1. props to the keyboardist for playing his instrument turned towards the audience, so you could see what he was doing and 2. a big fuck yeah! for the bassist. Don't know if I've ever seen someone rock that hard on an acoustic bass before. Probably not.

I had been disciplined concerning merch the whole day, but their self-titled LP just had to go into the bag now.

reviews of the other festival days:

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • THE SPARK: Wednesday, April 19th

- Canned Beer, Chlamydia and Digestive Disaster! -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY ONE: Thursday, April 20th

- Hold Christmas Sacred! -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY THREE: Saturday, April 22nd

- Resources of Suffering, Means of Catharsis -

ROADBURN FESTIVAL 2023 • DAY FOUR: Sunday, April 23rd

- A Constructive Criticism of Jesus and Other Brave Sunday Musings -

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