The big problem attending a festival of Roadburn’s caliber? You hardly even get to scratch but the surface of all that’s going on. In my case that means skipping on the panel discussions, the exhibitions, the afterparties with fucking Alan Averill of Primordial, etcetera, etcetera. It’s a big shame, but on the other hand I’m stumped to pick anything from what I’ve done so far to have not done – so I’m not complaining!
Day 3 got off to an early start, as the screening of the Diamanda Galas/Davide Pape film-project Schrei 27 was set to start at 1.30 – so I chose to be there 45 minutes early, and just wait in line to secure my spot.
The film cannot be described in a few words, but the combination of the haunting, devastating vocal performance of Galas, and the visual side depicting the torture and experimentation going on at a mental institution was both extremely disturbing and somewhat sobering. Bad, dark things are happening to helpless people all around the world, killing them, sucking the life and humanity out of them to satisfy either “scientific curiosity” or simply base, inhuman depravity. And to hear Galas speaking in the Q/A session afterwards, drawing parallels to for instance the modern-day economic wasteland of Greece was, well, as disturbing as the film itself. It was an experience that will be hard to shake, as it should be – we need to hold this close to our hearts, and not simply try to go back living fairy-tale lives…
It almost seems sacrilegious to go back to talking about music again, but luckily the next band up, was the incredible trio Yodok III, with belgian guitarist Dirk Serries and the Norwegian duo Yodok. And in an inspired 50 minutes of a single, improvised compositions they took us on a journey through amazing landscapes of both great beauty and overwhelming impact. So remarkably joyous was this experience, that the silence after they ended seemed nearly unbearable for the few seconds it took for the thundering applause to break loose. Magic.
I’ve noticed throughout these diaries, that I tend to grossly overuse words like amazing, fantastic, magic… One thing is for certain, if (when) I go to Roadburn again, I’ll need a new and better vocabulary!
After Yodok III, I got to the Extase early to catch french dark metal improvisers Chaos Echoes. And a good thing that was – the place was almost packed 30 minutes before showtime! I guess I wasn’t the only one really excited about them – and not the least their latest album Transient, which was what they’d be playing today. And it turned into a soulripping affair with the band alternating between slow, undulating passages of noisey ambience and feedback and all-out metallic attack, letting our bodies and minds soar on the wings of a musical vision both clear and focused. I truly hope I can somehow make it into the Cul De Sac for their show on day 4 – but I’m not holding my hopes too high, since I’ll only be able to get there right before the set starts…
I then was able to squeeze into the Green Room to catch a little of Astrosonic’s performance – both to actually sample what the band was like on stage (and they were mesmerizing) and also to check out Walter’s visuals for the set (which were equally mesmerizing and beautifully done). In a worse world I would have had no problem catching the full show, but Roadburn being Roadburn… I had somewhere else I needed to be.
Which happened to be at the main stage, for the set by Tau Cross. Centered around Rob Miller (ex-Amebix) and Away (very-much-not-ex-Voivod) they have already made one of the most significant metal albums for quite some time (all without ever having been in the same room/studio all of them at once), and boy, did they sparkle when they were actually together on stage. The combination of strong material (much of it of anthemic quality) and an incredibly focused performance made this a show to definitely remember. Rob Miller entered the stage and almost from the get go he owned the place. He’s such an amazing frontman with a demanding presence and an almost eerie connection to his audience. Highlights of this top-notch performance was the crowd going crazy with Miller and belting the choruses on tracks like We Control The Fear (a track with goosebump-quality) And Hangman’s Hyll, and we went away from the concert believing that yes, “Our day will come”.
And still, more magic to come. Next up on the mainstage was Converge’s much talked about Blood Moon performance where the band would be playing some of their slower, more elaborate compositions, accompanied by a few good friends. It was of course a quite different experience than their in-your-face greatness of the Jane Doe performance on day one. Almost a sobering one, since you don’t normally think about Converge as a band playing these more sonically intriguing stuff, but of course it’s always been there, stuck between their hardcore/metalcore/mathcore/younameit material. And it did shine in a most significant way, not the least when Steve Von Till (for a single track) and Chelsea Wolfe was brought on stage for magnificent vocal performances. It will definitely be interesting to see which kind of impact these Blood Moon shows will have (if any) on upcoming Converge material and shows. And we bow to these masters in respect…
And talking about respect easily segues us into the next, transcending experience of the day, the Amenra acoustic show. Because how can you have anything but respect for these guys. As blistering and caustically enlightening as their electric masses can be (speaking of their albums as I have yet to catch them live), just as introspective, beautiful, liberating is their acoustic work. And set up, sitting in a semi-circle around the drummer, facing away from the audience, everything shouted privacy, introvercy, sacredness – so much so I could not bring myself to take any pictures of them performing as I did not want to invade their obviously private space. And it was an hour of antagonisingly, haunting, deeply emotional beauty, which I imagine from the extreme silence in the big room, captivated the rest of the audience as much as it did me, and in the end helped on the path towards enlightening our souls and becoming better persons.
Which left only a short while to try to recover enough from this, in order to be ready for the first Neurosis set of the weekend. And did it just become the perfect high-point of the day? Suffice it to say, they delivered 2 hours of blisteringly caustic, excruciatingly heavy and ear-shatteringly, earplugs-vibratingly loud greatness – a physical impact to celebrate their very own impact on metal history. I’ll get to describing the full Neurosis 30 year experience after their second show on day 4 – but no doubt in my mind (and the minds of all those other people around me): we want more!