The third day of Roadburn began with this year’s collaboration project, a collective of Dutch bands that ultimately create “Maalstroom”, all taking place at the Het Patronaat stage. Witte Wieven would be first to get up on the stage, and with the whole venue’s atmosphere, one could tell that this entity would be host to an awe-inspiring day. The band showcases a blistering, raw and simultaneously emotive trip of post-black metal infused with panoramic melodies. Their trademark roars with contrasting duality between harsh vocals and high-pitch screams. Wolvennest followed next for their performance of VOID in its entirety. Suffice to say the atmosphere at the main stage was at a peak. Shazzula and the rest of the band are more than able to pile riffs and ambience in a very expressive way. Soaring with multiple influences from psyche, occult, black metal and even krautrock, Wolvennest are carving a new, yet unattained, niche for themselves. Promising act.
Going back to the Patronaat, Turia were next. Maalstroom’s lifeforce expression gained a new riverbed to propagate with Turia’s backbone reaching the deepest pits of raw fury, while still sustaining emotion in a big bulk of static distortion. Even though the exceedingly full venue failed to bring some breathable air in, the concert was daringly physical. Speaking of physical, let’s not forget Sumac at the main stage. Aaron Turner, Brian Cook and Nic Yacyshyn; the trio did not fail to pile a thick wall of sludge, speed and tonality expertise in a three-way of songwriting extravagance. They showed a packed O13 what it takes to Love in Shadow, while playing a stomp of three of the album’s tracks and finishing it off with a collaboration with bassist Caspar Brötzmann in an improv assault.
Wolvennest, Sumac, Turia and Witte Wieven
A while later, it would be Cave In’s turn to take on the biggest stage of the festival. With such a mind-blowing discography and tragic resurgence to music, mostly due to Caleb Scofield's passing, one could only imagine such a dream-like throwback of the band’s career. Turning and twisting to pretty much every album of the orbit’s lifetime, one could see every single face melted into a smile; stuff of legends. Speaking of legendary, what about Sleep’s rendition of Holy Mountain? Few words can describe how full the room was, minutes before Al, Matt and Jason got up on stage. Considering everyone knew what was going to happen, there was no time or any mass of air free from pressurized distortion to really think. The immensity of Sleep’s backline goes without saying, but to witness it being used to weaponize Holy Mountain’s classics like “Dragonaut”, “The Druid” and “Holy Mountain” is beyond physical and tangible to verbal expression. Up until the last riff, the set was already a memorable one, but upon Dopesmoker’s backdrop, every single eye in that space and time glanced in marvel and gazed right into the void of the riff. No one is floating, everyone just stands bludgeoned to oblivion with each riff, each snare drum and each bass flick. No survivors.
These are moments that really make Roadburn like no other festival. But the night wasn’t over yet. The last timeslot was a thing of evil with already three unthinkable overlaps between DOOLHOF, Jaye Jayle and Maalstroom‘s final installment. While thriving to finally catch Jaye Jayle at the Green Room, in incredible atmosphere and intimacy with the venue, on the other side of the festival boundary, precisely at the Ladybird Skatepark, Thou were performing a surprise set of Misfits covers; and it was insane. No official numbers, but one doesn’t really need to know when the room is already filled to its very limit. Crowdsurfing, singalongs, stage dives, Emma Ruth Rundle grabbing the mic, Nate Newton, from Converge, joining the party and the rest of the band thriving to insanity. In no other festival would something like this take place.
Cave In and Sleep
Thou playing Misfits
All of this to take in with the afterburner already ahead. Breathe in, breathe out. Have A Nice Life had already played the day before but their presence at the main stage to perform Deathconsciousness proved to be one of the most desired sets of the weekend. At such an early hour of the day, it was good to see a big room well served with attendance. Dan Barrett alongside Tim Macuga and the rest of the band showed why the album still stands (10 years later) as a contemporary classic in emo music. The american noise rock standoff called Wrong were prepping an assault at the Hall of Fame. Needless to say, packed room, great atmosphere and great density of well written riffs and nostalgic sense of aggression that really brings back the years of Unsane, Snapcase and Karp.
Daughters are on form. Their performance at the biggest stage of the festival mirrors that assertion in evident domination. Playing with surreal intensity and visceral emotion to cement themselves in what many considered to be the show of the edition. While setting the 3,000 capacity to a treatment of defilement and sonic harassment with songs like “Long Road, No Turns”, “Satan in the Wait” and “Less Sex”, one could only imagine a band make such a big room feel so small and claustrophobic. “Memorable” does it no justice. Thou’s turn, and to play Magus-era songs promised a lot but turned out feeling just a little bit redundant and repetitive; although still enormous in proportion and projection.
Have A Nice Life and Wrong
Daughters, Mord’a’Stigmata and Thou
At the Green Room, one had international travelers from New Zealand prepping one of the awaited sets of the festival. Tech death that bonds borderline catharsis with anatomical seizures, blast beats and total dissonance - Ulcerate. It’s an unimaginable conquest to have this trio sustain and submit such a small room to total punishment. It’s interesting to see such a “normalized” style of metal taken to its technical limits and turn the experience to something somewhat bloody and spiritual. Old Man Gloom, on the other hand, is far from spiritual. In fact, the “super” collective, that gathers members from Isis, Converge and Cave In, is the very definition of punk. But with a lot of distortion. They don’t care, they tear and rip and thrash and embody everything that is powerful and careless - in the good sense, of course.
If you saw Sleep playing the Holy Mountain set on Saturday, why not watch them again on Sunday playing their tremendous last record The Sciences. Even though some of these songs have been written for a while, they still feel really modern and up to date. Needless to say, the continuing of the Dopesmoker saga was indispensable. With a dream sequence towards the end of the afterburner, Imperial Triumphant were set out to be the unsung heroes of the edition, with the weight of the festival handed out to them to close down the legendary Het Patronaat venue in immense glory. The trio’s ever flowing dissonant mix of black metal and jazz frames one of the most incredible performances of the day and weekend. The golden masks were the last ones to bathe the legendary space, to enclosure with an awe-inspiring reaction from the crowd.
Old Man Gloom and Ulcerate
These last few days have been indescribable in every standard. This is what Roadburn is. A meeting point between artists, in the purest sense of the word. It’s irrelevant whether you play music, paint, photograph, write, sell records or just listen and take it all in. Everyone is as integral to the festival experience as the music. Roadburn’s vision of an experience reaches a unique sense of involvement and immersion between the crowd, the bands, the stands and city of Tilburg. However, one thing that really should be looked after is the attendance. Even if it was its last year, Patronaat was often at an unbearable state of overcrowding. Too many times were people found to be in line thirty minutes before a band and never imagined reaching beyond the bar. The overlapping of great artists is a direct consequence of a complete and eclectic line-up, but this was damaging. Nonetheless, one shouldn’t forget moments like meeting a musician or a label who’s admired, seeing a small band deliver an impressive set at the skatepark or even a promising group making a huge room feel so small. Those things, those little things, make Roadburn huge.