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By: Jan-Simon

Roadburn. A name that thrills both heavy bands as fans of modern, alternative heavy Music worldwide. The name of a festival you must have been to when you call yourself a fan of stoner, heavy psych, prog metal, hipster black metal, shoegaze, psychedelic rock or whatever heavy subgenre. The festival you want to have played at – no must have played at as a band. A festival as well that makes Tilburg the meeting place for a global community of like-minded alternatives (or weirdo’s as the locals call them lovingly). During that one long weekend in April there is not a single hotel room or airbnb location to be booked in the city or the surrounding area. At least not for normal prices and the chance of hearing English, Finnish or German spoken is bigger than someone starting to talk to you in the local Brabant dialect.

The festival began with a few bands playing on one evening and used to be exclusively stoner oriented. For many Roadburn Music is still another word for stoner rock, but Roadburn stopped being a pure stoner festival a few years ago. That role has been taken over by various Desertfests and other clones. Roadburn, led firmly by artistic director Walter “Mr. Roadburn” Hoeijmakers, has move don and evolved into a festival at which anything is possible under the catchall term “heavy”.

So it came to be the twenty-second edition of the festival, held from 20 to 23 April, offered a wide display of progrock, black metal (ranging from orthodox “trve” to unexpected fusions with other genres), doom, space rock, sludge, synthesizer fun, alt-folk, heavy psych, garage rock, jazz punk, hip hop with Dälek – and even a few old-fashioned stoner bands. 120 shows over four days and five stages, with a number of “album played in full” shows (a trend pioneered at Roadburn for a few years already), remarkable, often one-off collaborations and truly unique appearances by genre defining bands (meaning Coven).

It has become a tradition that Lords of Metal reports extensively from Roadburn and therefore five brave reporters in top condition were sent off to epicenter 013 to immerse themselves for four long days in an almost frightening amount of loud music of (mostly) high quality, looking for the ultimate riff. Traditiegetrouw doet Lords of Metal uitgebreid verslag van Roadburn en daarom trokken dit jaar vijf dappere reporters in topconditie richting epicentrum 013 om zich vier lange dagen te laven aan een bijna beangstigende hoeveelheid luide muziek van (meestal) hoge kwaliteit, op zoek naar de ultieme riff. The adventures of Evil Doctor Smith (EDS), Cedric (C), Jan-Simon (JS), Martin (M) and William (W) you can read here.


The hip-sounding doom of Pallbearer definately did work as a charm for them. During the whole weekend I spotted people with t-shirts or patches from the band, so it is not strange to see that plenty of people were present in the main hall at 013 for the performance of these Americans. Musically the band really sounds impressive, from heavy doom-laden riffs to fragile and beautiful melodies. The whole sounds powerful, passionate and tormented at the same time. Unfortunately Brett Campbell’s vocals seem to have some issues today, and at times he even tends to sound a bit out of tune. His singing has never been the strongpoint of the band when it comes to playing live, but today it is really not at its usual level. Despite all the beautiful songs and music I have to conclude that the vocals are ruining it for me today. But hey, the crowd seems to enjoy it all, so who am I to judge. (C)

Today’s performance by Les Discrets feels very professional. Their sound is crystal clear, the band is playing at high level and the lightshow creates a perfect atmosphere for the dark/postrock of the French band. But since it is the last day of Roadburn everybody is quite tired already, which can clearly be seen in the crowd. Everybody, including yours truly, is feeling a bit numb and the rather soft-sounding music of Les Discrets does not immediately inject us with that necessary energy boost. That is absolutely nothing to blame the band of course, they are giving their best on stage, but because of the programmed timing the overall focus of the crowd seems a bit low. You can regularly see people leaving the hall to get some fresh air. After a couple of songs I am also in need to get some fresh air and decide to go out, but I must say that Les Discrets left a very good impression. Singer/guitarist/mastermind Fursy Teyssier also announced that this show was being recorded. Didn’t they release a Roadburn show quite recently already? (C)

There was a clear plan: watch 3 minutes of Ulver’s show, walk away disappointed, just like the previous time, and have some food. The Norwegians already announced they would be playing their very poppy new album ‘The Assassination Of Julius Caesar’ in its entirety. That’s really not the most exciting prospect when it comes to this band. Of course, their black metal days are long gone by (something that singer Kris Rygg reaffirms with a resounding ‘No…’ in response to a fan shouting out for some old cuts), but whatever Ulver have done in recent years, they have always excelled at bringing some good old melancholy. What can a pop album add to that? Well… my plan failed miserably, because somehow I found myself to be intrigued by their live set. It seems that Ulver have finally reached their Depeche Mode phase, but contrary to most other bands who reached that stage, it didn’t backfire. The relatively compact songs work particularly well in a live environment and Ulver manage to captivate the audience throughout their set, with the exception of some really annoying guitar noodling around the halfway point. Of course they still have the stage presence of a bag of potatoes but that is not that big a problem thanks to the very retro but also very beautiful LED/laser show. (M)

Youth (Killing Joke) and David Tibet (Current 93), together in one band. That alone should suffice to create quite the buzz around Hypopazuzu. The verdict? I still don’t know. Hypnopazuzu seems to be Tibet’s vessel above all. Youth’s presence can barely be felt in the music, that is slow, folky and fairly monotonous. Tibet’s unique pipes and spaced out lyrics are clearly the standout element, even though the vocalist manages to go through several bottles of wine with a German kind of efficiency. The music is certainly fascinating, but it also tends to plod along. I find myself watching for a long time, vaguely fascinated, waiting for a crescendo, only to realise eventually that it’s not coming. (M)

A band that many people have been waiting for to get on stage is the American band Pillorian. Since the death of Agalloch John Haughm (vocals/guitars) kept quite busy and started Pillorian with a couple of befriended musicians. Their debut album ‘Obsidian Arc’ can be found playing quite some times at my house, so I was very curious to see how the band would perform these songs on stage. Just to be clear, no the band did not play any Agalloch songs. That chapter is completely over and out for Haughm. The band did however play the debut album in its entirety, which is good for a bit less than one full hour of powerful blackmetal. Of course there are similarities in sound to be found with Agalloch from time to time, but in general Pillorian sounds a lot heavier and agressive than that band. Blastbeats, double bassdrums and tremolo-picking guitar riffs are all over the place. Haughm’s screams/grunts sound more agressive than ever before. But the band also leaves enough room in the songs to let them ‘breathe’ by taking down the pace and injecting more postmetal or doom-inspired elements in the music. Pillorian is more than just the new band of ‘that guy from Agalloch’ and proves that tonight by playing a great show for us. The hall is not really packed, which is regularly the case at the end of Roadburn’s fourth day, but all who are present are really there to see Pillorian. Great band, great performance! (C)


Man versus machine. Throw Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Skinny Puppy and Godflesh into a blender, add a jar of iron scrap, nail bombs and nitro-glycerine and allow it to stand for a full hour at maximum speed. What do you get? Author & Punisher. I came across this name because of the strangely entitled 'Milk and Honey' album (2015). Strangely, because Shore is a full-blooded American with, as far as I know, no Dutch connection. What this one-man band of Tristan Shore can produce for auditory violence is beyond incredible. To produce extreme industrial metalnoise you do not need a band at all, no, you can do it on your own easy peasy. Well, easy peasy? That's a bit too simplistic, because from behind a small scaffold with an endless amount of plugs, strings, buttons and buttons, Tristan is working his ass off to produce a tonal variant of Merzbow. He makes all (or most) of this by himself, but this is entrusted for a neuroscience worker who works with electron microscopes. Intriguing technique he has developed for the loud drum thunders that shakes the Green Room: it goes through a slider that Shore uses with his right hand as if it some kind of a gearbox of a stick-shift. With his left hand, he serves some kind of large handle to deform the sound of these thundering drums. Or from his own voice, of which he spits and shouts without mercy into a jug of a microphone that’s covering three quarters of his face. Nevertheless, after a half an hour of cold industrial violence, I'm missing something that sticks in my mind: a theme, a melody, a riff. In order to not become the victim of the threat of monotony and boredom, I decide to go to see another type of noise band: Sumac. (EDS)

Apparently Caina’s ‘Mourner’ is a bit of an underground shoegaze black metal classic. I never really cared for this one man project, but apparently there has been enough interest to justify asking Andrew Curtis-Brignell to bring this album to the stage under the guise of ACB Of Caina. This turns out to be anything but the smartest move ever. Nothing seems to happen on stage, and the combination of loops, samples and a cheap guitar sound doesn’t make the actual music any better either. Why on earth do we have to suffer this coma inducing bedroom music at this festival? (M)

It's an impossible quadruple clash: The Doomsday Kingdom, Emma Ruth Rundle, Hypnopazuzu and Come To Grief. I'd like to see all bands. But everything clashes with each other. What to do? I look at my schedule and see that I am scheduled to go to Pontiak after The Doomsday Kingdom. Well, that's nice. I have to get acquainted with the big unknown. But what about those three other artists then? Thick finger to Pontiak, I'm going to Hypnopazuzu for a hypnotic immersion in an increasingly hot pazuzu. If I dutifully check the start of Pontiak, just to go back to Hypnopazuzu, I'll rub my eyes well. Huh, I see double. No, I see triple! Am I still hallucinating from Hypnopazuzu? No, I really see it. I see three identical looking rednecks on stage. And not just rednecks, no, these are by far the ugliest dumb-ass motherfuckers you can imagine. Baldy foreheads with sloppy long hair that contains more dead points than the number of victims after an average chemical poison attack in Syria, deeply low-lying monobrows that make up the link between the extinct Neanderthaler and the Homo erectus, untrimmed long beards that look more filthy than the Quentin Blake drawings of The Twits, and song titles like ‘Ignorance Makes Me High’, ‘Hidden Prettiness’ and ‘Easy Does It’: the band is not ashamed to make fun with their own appearance. But all the jokes aside, these ZZ inbred-bastard sons of ZZ Top know how to put a delicious stoner set. Fat riffs, delicious jams and almost psychedelic grooves: you can say what you want, but this band has been on the road for twelve years and has released nine albums (!), and you can hear that. And that they are perfectly matched to each other should also not be a miracle, as it seems they are brothers. That could not be anything else. Noteworthy thing: they do not even come from the Southern States, but live at the Westcoast nearby Washington DC. In any case it’s certainly time to snatch some work of this band. Originally Roadburn was a stoner festival, but in recent years it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a band like this at the festival. Therefore another reason Pontiak appears to be a very appropriate conclusion from an extremely tasty and satisfying edition. See you next year! (EDS)


It is very clear that many people have been looking forward to seeing Oxbow. Even our interview with Scott Kelly (set to appear online next month) has been planned around this show, to enable him to see the show. Why exactly? Frontman Eugene Robinson and his band are most certainly one of a kind and they don’t exactly play often, at least in Europe. Robinson hits the stage all suited up, even wearing a hat, but everyone who is vaguely familiar with the band should know that it won’t take long before all those layers of clothes are gradually shed off. Robinson’s borderline male stripper act is certainly unique, not to mention the black gaffer tape over his ears. Everyone needs a hobby. By the time I decide to leave the venue, Robinson is still quite decent (fortunately). Regardless of the buzz around the band, their music just doesn’t cut it for me. Oxbow’s noisy rock is definitely special, and nothing can be held against the band’s performance, but they only manage to captivate me during the harsher songs, when the feedback hits you full on. However, this only happens sporadically. (M)

Crash beep grin grunt noise barn drunk deep boom growl farmer lumber riff gargle rage sludge dissonant heavy roar feedback shout cacophony low. No, all subtlety is strange to Sumac, not to be confused with Suma who performed on Thursday or with Peruvian exotic singer Yma Sumac. Sumac is the not so new anymore lovechild of Aaron Turner (Old Man Gloom and Isis-fame), which he fertilized with bassist Brian Cook (These Arms Are Snakes and Botch Legends) and Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists). A small super group, me think. I didn’t know what to expect, but the big bearded, long and wild haired Turner gave some serious raging hell. He pukes and vomits bloody streams of fury, adrenaline and frustration, both with his lump Neanderthal roars and with the lead and doomed caveman sludgeriffs. Very imposing, even intimidating. It's a pity that too many passages consist of dissonant sounds, monotonous crashes, cracking feedback and aimlessly punches in the margin, which make the pace (which?) of the performance kinda erratic. Since after this performance the greatest possible conceivable musical counterpart of them occurs and my stomach screams for a chicken roti bite, I decide to leave the deafening pounding sludge after a good half hour. Sumac doesn’t bother, and continues its violent act. Thunder, hell, down, kill, die, sludge, poof!, bam!, stroke, violence, freak, hoarse. (EDS)

With a full stomach it is better to listen. Especially if you are served the hippy-love-and-peace-space progfolk of Gong . I never managed to see this band, which already established in 1968 (!). And actually I thought it does not matter anymore to see the band at all. Because the embodiment of the band, Daevid Allen, passed away two years ago at the [from a rock’n’roll point of view] respectable age of 77. And the other co-founder, and former Allen's wife, Gilli Smyth (83 years) passed away last October as well. So what’s authentic of the band these days? With some suspicion, I was still looking forward to see their performance. The band has been blessed by Daevid Aellen on his deathbed, so it's legitimate. And I can say after the show: thank God! Because what we hear in the next five quarters exceeds my doubtful expectations. By far. No silly hippy tunes, no lazy Snuday afternoon progfolk, but f*cking brilliant energetic proggy hard rock! The band starts flashing with 'The Thing That Should Be', released from the first post-Allen released album 'Rejoice!' I'm Dead! '. Allen has been replaced by Perzian Brit Kavus Torabi and this eccentric singer/guitarist, with his hilarious hysterical mimic and unpredictable stage presentation, winds the audience around his finger. I now also know why I saw someone wearing a short of The Cardiacs on Roadburn, because Torabi plays also in a new incarnation of this band. It was a long time that I had listened to Gong albums like 'Flying Teapot', 'Camembert Electrique' and 'Angel's Egg', but what I hear now sounds so much more powerful, powerful and yes, even better than what I can remember from these classic albums from the early 70's. This ain’t sweet Canterbury prog, it’s robust and heavy King Crimson meets Van Der Graaf Generator prog power, including saxophone (sometimes exchanged for a clarinet or a thin whistle). Highlight of the show was undoubtedly the extremely extended twelve minute version of 'Master Builder', which originally took six minutes to groove on the album 'You' (1976), and is dominated by a truly monster-fat spacerock riff. I’m going berserk during this song, awesome! Torabi, after this truly fantastic epic: "Best riff in the world, thank you Steve Hillage!" They're playing some other ancient songs like ‘I've Been Stoned Before’ and ‘Never Glid Before’, but also brand new work from their new album (title track, ‘Kapital’). When they left the stage with big smiles, after receiving enormous long appreciation from the audience, I was thinking: maybe it was even better to see the band without Allen and Smyth, because I can’t think that these fellows could generate so much energetic strength at their age. Therefore, really rest in peace Daevid and Gilli and see from a cloud above us that Gong is still doing the right thing. (EDS)

One of the few bands I had listened to in advance because of their Roadburn gig was The Doomsday Kingdom. It's not just a ordinary band, because it’s the new band of bassist Leif Edling. With Candlemass, Krux and Avatarium, he has created three of my favourite (doom) metalbands. Each band hits the bull's eye, so expectations were high. These expectations were not completely fulfilled on the record. Where Leif was able to raise the genre to a new or higher plan with the other bands, The Doomsday King sounds remarkably traditional, with many influences from the same-like traditional 80s NWOBHM/heavy metal. For the sake of clarity: it's again very good! How is this live, that, to my disappointed surprise, only generates a three-quartier-filled Patronaat? The sound is bloody loud (already the guitar soundcheck before the show: ouch! That's my pity for refusing wearing earplugs) and during the first few songs singer Niklas Stålvind is hardly heard (at least at the front). What a little man he is by the way. With his curly nose, sluggish hair and sharp voice, this Lilliputian that was kidnapped from the power metal band Wolf seems like a male witch. The performance is good after the sound enhancement, the music sounds good, the band seems in a good mood and shape (certainly nothing wrong with Niklas' active performance), but more importantly, Leif seems to have that shape as well, despite his tiresome appearance. He still suffers from (the aftermath of) a stubborn, prolonged burnout, which costed even reading or watching TV too much energy. Only music composing illuminated and aired his life. And the launch of this band, of which can be read more about in the reviews of the ’Never Machine EP’ and their debut album. Of course, many of these songs are played, but at the end of the set we are treated with a big surprise. Niklas gives the microphone to Leif and takes over the bass guitar. Huh? What happens now? Will Leif sing? Yes! But the best man is too tired to be on stage with his other bands, and now he takes even the mic for the lead vocals? Kinda weird. The song in particular, 'The God Particle', he says, has been an important therapeutic number to deal with his disease. And, looking at Niklas: "He's probably a better bass player than me anyway." I thought of a unique moment, but friends told me that Leif had also sung on stage with Candlemass once before, also on Roadburn. Nevertheless, it was all special and emotional, but you have to admit it’s not a coincident he is bassist and not a singer. Beautiful solos of guitarist Marcus Jidell by the way, but we are used to that from this workaholic man (Avatarium, Evergrey, Soen, Royal Hunt). After this beautiful piece of play, with Leif shaking hands with the crowd, the band returns for a thrilling performance of 'Hand Of Hell'. Considering that this is their debut performance (!), it was a totally satisfying concert. (EDS)


Well, okay then: let me try to squeeze into Cul de Small at least once. It's Sunday, the quietest Roadburn day, and still early in the afternoon. So maybe there's small hole to wrap me in. And yes, there is! Probably because colleague Marcel just went outside, there was enough space again for a man or five to enter. The Tilburg/Breda-based Faal had already been deeply engaged in their last number (a new number according to Marcel). It's a funny, amusing thing to see: five long-haired men and women (behind the keys) on such a tricky, small podium. Somewhere in the back, pressed against the wall, the drummer is hitting the skins. Singer William Nijhof has to step back, right after the guitarists, otherwise he gets a guitar neck in his face. So I'm just picking up a last song, but that's the big ten minutes of the title track of 'The Clouds Are Burning'. They are often compared to Esoteric, but due to the subtle atmospheric black metal and post-metal influences, I find them ploughing with more tension and melody through their desolate, nihilistic (funeral) death-doom. Also Williams grunts are very convincing. It actually sounds damn good! Marcel, do you want to make room for me sooner, next time? (EDS)

Usually, the Roadburn sunday is a day on which I am very tired. Feet ache, back hurts, the hangovers start start to take their tol land the post-Roadburn depression starts to sink in. Difficult music is something I have major issues with this day. Sink does exactly what I like a lot, but I also notice that I have trouble following it because of the state I am in. Electronics/psychedelics all the way. Drones, woolly passages and many a thing that make me twirl, dream and stare. This Sunday turned out to be a short one for me, since I had to get up very early on Monday and that early bedtime was a necessity. Damn it, I am not that old but all those Roadburn impulse. I do love them, though. (W)

I bought the ‘Dor’, the debut album by Turia last year and I was sold immediately. This trio, mostly consisting out of (the amazing) Lubbert Das, is a band that I would not miss in the world. After the deception that Ulver was, this band was such a relief. Atmospheric, organic sounding black metal with a heavy 90s vibe. Which obviously makes me very happy. After the show progressed, I was able to find a better spot than I initially did and this enabled me to see the intense performance. The excellent vocals, the hypnotic riffing and the pummeling, almost ritualistic drums resulted in an almost soothing mindset with me. While writing this, I am playing the recently released ‘Dede Kondre’ and while doing so, I wish it was Roadburn Sunday again. Even i fit was tos end more people to go and see Turia. (W)

The show of Dutch band Stone In Egypt in Cul De Sac can be summed up really quickly. Their show was full of energy, very entertaining, but their overall sound is not very original. Put (a lot of) Pentagram in a mix with some hardcore influences and sometimes even some thrashy ‘Kill ‘Em All’-styled guitar parts and you have a good idea of what you can expect from Stone In Egypt. Tjeerd de Jong (vocals/guitars) is no world-class singer, but clearly has a lot of passion for his music. Strangely, his vocals sometimes even sound a bit like Brian Molko from Placebo. Apart from the lack of originality the band’s enthousiasm makes up for a lot and the crowd is really enjoying themselves. The vibe in Cul De Sac tonight is very good and people are happily drinking some beers. All in all an entertaining show by Stone In Egypt.

Conclusion of the day:

William: I am off to home, depressed. Apparently it does not matter how often you attend Roadburn. You never get used tot he festival, or leaving.

Cedric: Pillorian, Pillorian, Pillorian! What a great conclusion to another succesful edition of Roadburn!

Evil Dr. Smith: What was previously considered an Afterburner, Sunday is now a full fourth Roadburn day. Even though some artists will be programmed specifically for the Sunday (Les Discrets, Ulver, Hypnopazuzu, Gong, Emma Ruth Rundle). I once again had a great day with just a few disappointments (missing Emma Ruth Rundle), something that this Roadburn edition lacks of anyway: disappointments. Except Thursday, which was the ‘mellowest’ day when it comes to appreciation and highlights. Sunday's highlight was Gong's wonderful performance (runners-up are The Doomsday Kingdom and Pontiak). Yup, once again the veterans won the price of the day (while the other Magmaaaaarrrgh's oldies also got the festival prize). Special attention to the street musician who, in the evening with his accordion play, made a lot of visitors smile and even seduced some of them for a funny group dance. But most of all I like to thank Walter, without whom Roadburn would not have existed. Man, you did a terribly good job, again! For like ten years now, Roadburn has been my holiday of the year (ssssh, don’t say this to my girlfriend) and once again it has become a holiday that I will remember for a long time. Thank you.

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