Ten years ago, cult label Profound Lore, itself a major force on the rise at the time, put out a record by a somewhat mysterious one-man project from England. It was already said project’s second record, but the first one to be made available to a larger audience, so many of us had their first contact with it through this piece, ominously called Mourner.
The name of the project, Caïna, was suggestive enough to inspire curiosity (Caina, minus the umlaut, is a place on Dante‘s ninth circle of hell), but very few of us could have imagined the depth of the abyss we were about to fall into as we gave it that tentative first spin. While retaining some of the incredibly intense and raw black metal that was at the core of the early demo material, Mourner turned out to be much, much more than an album you could describe with one or two comfortable genre tags. Moody, sombre and profoundly emotional, it uses mazey songwriting and tense atmospheres to create an uneasy listening experience. Even the folk-like acoustic passages, with placid clean vocals punctuating them, feel foreboding and hint at the raging chaos that will eventually follow.
In short, Mourner was a landmark. For black metal, because that is still the genre sort of closer to it, it was one of the few good occasions to use the “post” prefix aptly, and it showed how many boundaries can be broken if you approach extreme music and its “square” genres with a fresh mind and an inventive spirit. That all of it was the work of just one man, a Mr. Andrew Curtis-Brignell, who didn’t really feel the need to hide under some “evil” pseudonym even then, just made it all the more visceral and organic. It was the record that made Caïna a well-known name in the European underground, and since then, it has been a prolific and significant entity.
Several musicians have been added to the line-up with time, most notably vocalist Laurence Taylor who has been the most consistent presence, and throughout the past decade, a few other records from the Caïna discography – like the creepy Temporary Antennae which followed Mourner, the gigantic Hands That Pluck, which closed a cycle and signaled a small hiatus, or last year’s nasty, vicious Christ Clad In White Phosphorus – turned into underground classics that rival Mourner‘s impact. Sadly, last October, Andrew announced the end of Caïna, focusing on his future solo work under his own name, his other project Ritual Object, or his participation in Crowhurst.
However, in 2017, Mourner will be ten years old, and some opportunities just need to be seized. So we invited Caïna to celebrate this anniversary in the same form as Mourner was originally born – Andrew Curtis-Brignell, alone, as Caïna, will therefore perform the Mourner tenth anniversary set, a unique, once-in-a-lifetime occasion to hear this cult classic performed almost in its entirety, plus a few other bonuses Andrew has in store for us. We talked to him recently and he is as excited as we are about all this: “Although I’ve never managed to go, because I’m a penniless screwup, Roadburn feels like a pilgrimage point for anyone passionate about groundbreaking music. I can’t really put into words how excited and honoured I am to be playing this year and to just experience the festival as a whole – it may sound hyperbolic but it feels like being called up to the Majors or something,” he told us, and we are humbled to be held in such high regard.
“I’m thrilled to be putting together this exclusive set of material from Mourner (with a few other selections from my first three albums). With the tenth anniversary of the album’s release looming this year I had been wanting to revisit it, and Roadburn feels like the perfect place to do that. It’s still my most popular record with my listeners and was really my breakthrough – the first time anyone took me seriously – and I’m so proud that the Roadburn crew asked me to revisit it before I even brought it up. Whilst Mourner was a critical success in 2007, to a certain extent it never quite found its audience and has remained something of a cult favourite. Although Caïna is redundant as a project, I’m returning to a lot of the album’s themes in my forthcoming solo record, and to a lesser extent in my side project Ritual Object, meaning that this set comes at the perfect time for both me and the music. Playing solo again after a couple of years as a duo is a challenge, but I can’t wait to give it my best shot for the best festival in the world.”
Here at Roadburn, we value creativity, innovation and outside-the-box thinking, and we’re constantly on the lookout for artists who employ these characteristics in the approach to their expression.
So, naturally, Mr. Tristan Shone, the man behind Author & Punisher , has been on our radar for quite some time, and it is finally possible for us to welcome him at Roadburn 2017.
Of course we are excited for every band we have announced, or we wouldn’t have booked them in the first place, but there is something particularly fascinating about imagining Tristan going about his business on a Roadburn stage. His is a particularly impressive set up, as we’re sure you’re aware by now, after six amazing records released under the Author & Punisher name – all the machinery used in the performance has been custom built by Tristan himself, who is also a mechanical engineer, and they are all playable as extensions of his own physical and vocal movement.
It is a frightening and intimidating sight to see him as a terrifying cyborg of doom up there, often using voice-modulating masks, pulling on a piston-like machine that triggers drum sounds with one hand and unleashing hellish noise with the throttles on his other hand.
We didn’t use the expression “cyborg of doom” just to be funny, either. Tristan could well be a damn Transformer up there, that in the end it would amount to very little if the music wasn’t up to the whole set up, but it is. Oh boy, yes it is.
As much as it seems like a paradox, his very special (read: face-melting) version of industrial doom metal doesn’t come across as machinal. Darkly industrial, yes, coming from a future where the machines have taken over and humanity is but a slave to their cold brutality, double-yes, but there is an organic, slithering pull to it all as well, the way the absurdly heavy rhythms are dealt makes you feel like there are little goblins inside those machines, toiling away like Uruk-hai underneath Isengard, doing the evil bidding of their Tristan master.
On top of everything, it is an experienced Author & Punisher we are going to receive at Roadburn. 2015‘s Melk En Honing, from which we’re still reeling (hell, we’re still reeling from that unbelievable Terrorbird opener on 2012‘s Ursus Americanus…) was, as we mentioned above, already the sixth record on a frighteningly productive career that has spanned just over a decade since 2004, and seen him tour just about everywhere. We’re up against a seriously battle worn soldier, so expect the beating to be merciless.
Tristan comments: “To perform at Roadburn 2017 is really a watershed moment for me and to do it alongside so many genre benders and bands I love makes this year very special.”
If you like your sludge extra filthy, Grief are a big part of the reason why.
Formed in Boston in 1991, they’d have a dirt-covered hand in shaping the genre of sludge metal on landmark releases like 1993’s Dismal, 1994’s Come to Grief and 1996’s Miserably Ever After, and their influence would continue to resonate long after their summary 2002 compilation, Turbulent Times, put a final misanthropic stamp on their tenure.
Grief is dead, but founding guitarist Terry Savastano formed Come To Grief in 2015 as a rebirth of their disgruntled, slow-crawling malevolence, and today we can officially announce that Come to Grief will pay homage to Grief’s legacy at Roadburn 2017, playing on Sunday, April 23, at Het Patronaat.
Comprised of Savastano, drummer Chuck Conlon (who played on Grief’s last album, 2000’s …And Man Will Become the Hunted), as well as guitarist / vocalist Jonathan Hébert and bassist Justin Christian (Morgion), Come to Grief is the manifestation of Grief’s repugnant sludge, and after so long, it’s time for that repugnance to finally get its due.
The intense intimacy and open vulnerability of a live Emma Ruth Rundle show probably won’t be a surprise to anybody who has listened to her latest release, Marked For Death. It’s an album that feels a little bit like you’re reading somebody’s private journals – but they’re left wide open for you, nothing to hide, nowhere to hide. During her sets on her recent tour around Europe, so enraptured were the audiences that you could have heard a pin drop; Rundle had them bewitched.
Don’t be fooled by the lullaby-esque lilt or the often minimalist arrangement of the songs; Marked for Death is a heavy album; thick with emotion and densely packed with honesty. The nuanced weight of loss and longing resonates.
Given that Marked For Death’ is likely to be making an appearance on our album of the year lists here at Roadburn HQ, we’re thrilled to announce that Emma Ruth Rundle will be performing at Roadburn 2017. Having last performed at Roadburn with Marriages in 2015 – a show that a lucky few got to witness at Cul de Sac, whilst the rest of us stood on tip toes by the door – we’re very happy to welcome Emma back to Tilburg.
Each year, Roadburn Festival selects an Artist In Residence to perform multiple times over the course of the weekend. Following in the footsteps of Misþyrming, The Heads and Circle, this year, GNOD will bring their own brand of eclectic lunacy to Roadburn. Performing four times in different guises (including a collaboration with Holland’s own Radar Men From The Moon, known as Temple ov BBV), the full scope of GNOD‘s psychedelic capabilities will be be explored in full at Roadburn 2017.
GNOD‘s Paddy Shine commented: “Gnod live at Roadburn at Het Patronaat in 2012 is definitely one of the biggest highlights of our ten years of constant flux. To be invited back at all is a big big deal for us; to be invited back as ‘Artist in Residence’ in 2017, on what will be the tenth anniversary of the birth of Gnod, is an absolute honour. Gnod Bless.”
Pothead Pixies rejoice! We’re leaving for planet Gong on Sunday, April 23 at Het Patronaat. As Kavus Torabi, along with Fabio Golfetti, Dave Sturt, Ian East and Cheb Nettles, will carry these Franco–British prog legends, “on into new unknown heights and depths far beyond I could ever imagine myself” – according to the late, great Master Builder himself, Daevid Allen.
Gong should need no introduction – their unique take on prog and space rock, an experimental mixture of psych rock, otherworldly atmospherics and lyrics, and jazzy leanings, has been influencing fellow travellers since the early 70s. Luminaries like Robert Wyatt, Steve Hillage, Allen Holdsworth and Pierre Moerlin have all been part of the extended Gong-family. Plus albums like Camembert Electrique, and the Radio Gnome Trilogy, consisting of Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg and You, are regarded as bonafide prog / psych classics.
The band’s latest album, Rejoice! I’m Dead is a fitting tribute to Daevid Allen, the band’s fallen hero, and sees Gong flying their freak flag high – still after all these years, and reflecting the band’s entire history.
For us, it’s such a dream come true to welcome Gong at Roadburn, as we have had most of their peers, like Hawkwind, Magma, Amon Duul II and Guru Guru among others, gracing our stages over the years, and the only one missing was… Gong. We proudly feel that we finally have come full circle!
Girls and Boys—
For our HypnoPickNick
Bring Moons and Toys!
Hypnopazūzu (David Tibet of Current 93 and Youth of Killing Joke) will perform at Roadburn Festival 2017 on Sunday, April 23.
Their album, “Create Christ, Sailor Boy”, ranks among our albums of the year at Roadburn HQ, and we cannot wait to witness it brought to life on stage at Roadburn 2017.
Inter Arma stopped off in Tilburg back in 2014; the band were on tour through Europe and played a euphoric set at the then-smaller Green Room at the 013 venue. Those stood in the centre of the room at the beginning of the set were shifted on the tide of the crowd as it swelled right out of the door and spilled into the bar outside. People stood on tip toes to glimpse the band over the rhythmic, congregational head banging from inside the room.
For a band that appear wild and untamed on stage, Inter Arma are an incredibly tight and skilfully perfected ensemble. Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, the five piece cause merry hell; traversing through sweeping instrumental passages into pummelling doom with the greatest of ease, and helmed by Mike Paparo’s distinctive howl.
Their latest album, Paradise Gallows is head-spinning in the sheer changeable nature of its contents, but not once throughout does the quality dip. Not once is energy expended on the unnecessary – every layer, every sound plays an essential part of the overall composition. If juxtapositions and unlikely combinations are Inter Arma’s thing, then they do it extremely well.
It’s unlikely that many attending Roadburn back in 2014 would have expected to emerge from the Green Room declaring themselves to have had a religious experience in there with a guy in tiny pink shorts, brandishing a tree branch. But in fact, they did. As a band, they remain challenging and exciting (in 2014 they released the ambitious 45 minute long song / album, The Cavern), as a live act, they are truly captivating, which is why we are thrilled to welcome them back to Roadburn Festival. Pink shorts and tree branch optional.
We are positively delighted to welcome Les Discrets back to Roadburn in 2017. These French purveyors of shadowy, dreamlike moods first visited the festival back in 2013, as a part of Neige‘s residency, and they enthralled the Het Patronaat to such an extent that they subsequently put out their ‘Live At Roadburn‘ album, taken from that show. Now, four years later, we are getting a double treat, with the forthcoming release of their new record Prédateurs and this Roadburn appearance.
Formed originally in 2003 as a solo side-project of Fursy Teyssier, the mind, heart and soul behind Les Discrets, the core of the Lyon group is comprised of Fursy and Audrey Hadorn today, although they usually expand to a luxurious five-piece when playing live. Prédateurs will be their highly anticipated third album, coming after 2010‘s Septembre et Ses Dernières Pensées and 2012’s Ariettes oubliées…, and Roadburn 2017 will be one of the very first lucky places where you will be able to hear some of this new music live.
The imposing figure of Eugene S. Robinson has left a few marks on Roadburn already. He performed solo in 2009 as a part of Neurosis‘ unforgettable Beyond The Pale curation, and on that same year he joined the equally unhinged Black Sun for a devastating guest performance that left more than a few mental scars on those present.
But all that, great as it was, wasn’t anywhere near a completion of our desires. No, Eugene‘s main band, the mighty Oxbow, still eluded us for a few years. Now, at long last, the loquacious singer / writer / “man with a sunny disposition” (as he wonderfully describes himself on his Facebook page), alongside his equally grandiose cohorts, multitalented genius, a unique guitarist, composer and producer and Grand noisemaster Niko Wenner, bassist Dan Adams (who is also an award-winning jazz drummer) and powerhouse drummer Greg Davis will be rendering and harrowing the soul of both their new music, as well as longstanding past walks into the murk.
This is a big deal.
Oxbow have been one of the most decisive acts in heavy music, and perhaps one of the most frequently, and unjustly, left out at times of accolade distribution. Their opening pair of records, the legendary Fuckfest and King Of The Jews, still stand firmly on top of the noise rock hill, and even that is a damn shortsighted quick description of what Oxbow are all about. Numerous traces of blues, jazz and metal are found on all of their records, each and every one of them having left a sizeable dent on the psyche of their listeners.
That’s another thing, records.
Never a particularly prolific band, Oxbow, with a release pace that has slowed down to a painful crawl, even more painful than listening to Pannonica all the way through, will step into 2017, the tenth anniversary of their last proper album, 2007‘s The Narcotic Story, with release of their much anticipated new full-length, the Thin Black Duke. We don’t know much about it yet, other than it’s being co-produced by legend Joe Chiccarelli, and Niko, that the band has sold a few yellow and blue t-shirts and posters with what might or might not be the final artwork, that there will be a video for a song called ‘Cold & Well-Lit Place’, and that it will be released in mid March, so by the time Roadburn 2017 rolls along, we will probably already know the whole damn thing by heart. Because the other thing that we know, based on Oxbow‘s history, is that it will be a fucking beast of a record that will take over our minds with arrogant ease.
All in all, it seems like the perfect time to finally have Oxbow with us. “We’ve been trying to play Roadburn for years now so it’s supremely satisfying to actually be doing so and doing so right on the heels of the Thin Black Duke,” Eugene says, about this announcement. “I can’t really think of a better place and a more receptive audience for what I’m thinking will be a record that’s going to change how you think about music.” Roadburn was even able to soften the big man’s heart just for a second: “Even if I spend 98 percent of my time irritated by the reduced vistas of those who should be able to see much further than it seems they do, playing at Roadburn is probably as close to a dream coming true as I am likely to get,” he offers. The feeling is mutual, Eugene.
Few bands have struck such a deep and emotional chord within the world of doom in the last few years as Pallbearer The quartet from Little Rock, Arkansas stormed out of the gates with their demo in 2010 which instantly made a gigantic splash in the more attentive underground, and their debut Sorrow And Extinction two years later really sealed the deal for just about anyone into any kind of heavy music.
At their core a doom band, yes, as the mournful sadness and the slow heaviness of their long, funereal songs more than attest, but they are able to transcend their genre of birth with heartfelt nods to past giants. Most of all, they’ve always sounded, more than anything else, like Pallbearer. That is why as early as 2013, while touring in support of that amazing debut album, we invited them to come and woo the Roadburn audience, which they did, not once, but twice, playing on Thursday and on the Afterburner of that year as well. Since then, Foundations Of Burden has come out, confirming all the enormous expectations and expanding their forlorn, tragically beautiful appeal.
A month or so prior to Roadburn, Pallbearer will drop their brand new album, Heartless (which will be released on March 24 via Profound Lore Records in North America and, Nuclear Blast in the EU) – and the anticipation is already high for that one. As a little taster, the boys have dropped a little EP called Fear & Fury with a new song and a couple of very appropriate cover versions – Black Sabbath and Type O Negative. The return of Pallbearer is cause for celebration and see us spinning the first two records a bunch more times to remember all those winding, desolate melodies and crushing riffs in preparation for this great event.
The band has spent the last couple of years touring massively around the world, sometimes headlining, sometimes supporting some of our favourite bands, like our beloved curator John Dyer Baizley’s band Baroness who have been on the road with Pallbearer but a couple of months ago. So won over was John, that he invited Pallbearer to perform as an addition to his curated event at Roadburn 2017.
John Dyer Baizley comments: “Pallbearer is coming to Roadburn. Chances are, most of you are aware of them; you know… the doomy band with the soaring nearly-pop vocals and beautiful twin guitar-monies.
They are a fantastic set of musicians, and have a seamless chemistry onstage. Baroness have been very lucky to have toured with them and to have played alongside them at quite a few memorable shows, not least of which was our comeback show in Philadelphia following our bus accident. More recently we’ve sung countless Foreigner, The Band, Priest, and Spinal Tap songs with them at Benny’s Karaoke on Tybee Island, GA (much to the dismay of the locals); and we really have forged a friendship with this group.
These guys have a ceaseless and dedicated tour-ethic; and in a four-week tour through the United States I literally never heard a single complaint from them (for any reason whatsoever), which is anomalous to say the least, everyone should have something to complain about! They, like so many bands in my curation, are undeniably solid-gold folks on top of it all, which is why it’s so important to include them in my lineup for Roadburn 2017.”
That Roadburn 2017 will witness John Haugm‘s third appearance at the festival – having performed a haunting solo show in 2016, and played a memorable concert on the Main Stage with the now disbanded Agalloch back in 2012 – is already motive for celebration, and it’s especially so when that appearance will mean the opportunity for us to behold the new entity that is Pillorian.
This band, which will surely become an important name in the scene, was recently formed by John, Stephen Parker (Maestus, ex-Arkhum) and Trevor Matthews (Uada, ex-Infernus), and those names coupled with their description of the sound are giving us the chills already: “Fusing haunting melodies with avantgarde structures, dark folk elements and blackened walls of furious sound; the music of Pillorian is the perfect aural definition of its namesake,” they state on their bio, and given that the world “pillorian” means “of, or relating to, scorn and condemnation,” we might be in for something very sinister indeed.
The debut album is scheduled to be recorded this fall / winter, to be released in 2017 by Eisenwald Records to whom they have recently signed, so hopefully we should have some sounds to guide us be before we face the might of Pillorian face to face. Whatever the case may be, we are in for a harsh journey of discovery and revelation, one that John Haugm himself is eager to embark on. “I am honored to have been invited to play Roadburn in 2017 with my new band, Pillorian,” he told us. “Having played this legendary festival twice in the past, I can say without a doubt it is one of the finest and most masterfully organized music festivals in Europe.”
Wikipedia is sometimes unintentionally funny, especially when it slips just a little bit on the use of that habitual factual tone – take Pontiak‘s entry there, for instance, on the “Genre” section: “Their music is not easily classified,” it starts off tentatively, as a sort of preparation for the incoming deluge, and then the wheels come off completely.
“They have been compared to Harvey Milk, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young. Also, My Morning Jacket, Sleep, Slint, Midlake, Crazy Horse, Mudhoney, and others. And: neo-psychedelic rock, ’60s psych and acid rock, ’70s progressive and proto-metal, and ’90s stoner rock and indie rock.” So, now you know, right? Pontiak sound like ALL THE BANDS THAT EVER EXISTED IN THE WORLD.
Thing is, they’re not completely wrong. These three brothers from Virginia – Jennings, Van and Lain Carney, bassist, guitarist and drummer, respectively, and all of them sing too – really are hard to pigeonhole even during the course of one of their numerous records, let alone looking at their thirteen year career as a whole.
Though they’ve spent a few years in Baltimore, their native Virginia is often an important background to the atmosphere of many of their tunes, and sometimes it’s much more than that – like on Heat Leisure, a short film the band released in 2013, in which images of some of the state’s most quietly beautiful farms, many of them sites of civil war battles, were set against the potent energy or their live show.
Their last album Innocence was released in 2014 to overall acclaim, but prolific as they’ve always been, the new one is just around the corner – in fact, the band posted a teasing picture of the test pressings being received just last week on their Facebook.
We’re expecting a lesson in rock to take place at Roadburn 2017 at 013 venue, on Sunday, 23 April in Tilburg, The Netherlands, with the Carney bros as head teachers.
On Sunday, April 23, Dutch art collective, Radar Man From The Moon will team up with Roadburn 2017 artist in residence GNOD for a collaborative performance known as Temple Ov BBV.
Having been such an admirers of these Eindhoven-based neo- psych, kraut, space rock and noise experimentalists, we can’t eagerly await the band’s own return as well, after hosting their debut-album release show for Echo Forever at our 2013 festival.
Over the last few years, Radar Men From The Moon made quite a name for themselves; not only with their prolific live shows, but the band has also been streching the definition noise, space and time through their Subversive trilogy.
Throughout the first two Subversive albums, Radar Men From The Moon have been exploring, deconstructing and subverting their creative process and themselves as a band, and we expect them to be doing the exact same at Roadburn 2017.
It is, first of all, an enormous pleasure to welcome Aaron Turner to Roadburn once again. Having performed at the festival before with the legendary Isis, the dreamy Mamiffer and the colossal Old Man Gloom, not to mention the many Hydra Head bands that have already trodden the 013 boards, Aaron is one of the staples of Roadburn, and we’re delighted to have him back once more with a relatively new vehicle of expression, the mighty Sumac.
He comes in great company too. Completing the stellar line-up of Sumac are bassist Brian Cook, very well known for his past in Botch and These Arms Are Snakes and even more so for his glorious present in Russian Circles, whom we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming at Roadburn twice already in 2010 and 2015, and drummer Nick Yacyshyn, also of the amazing Baptists, whom Dave Grohl famously considered to be his favourite drummer a couple of years back. With this kind of musical agility and talent available, Sumac was bound to be special, and 2015‘s The Deal confirmed that in spades.
Denser than a black hole having a really bad day, heavier than a bag of the heaviest things you can imagine, and yet dynamic, constantly unpredictable and evoking a very real sense of dread, it was a record that firmly established the trio as so much more than a curious super-group, but something to really look out for in the next few years.
Fortunately they’ve wasted no time in following it up, and this year’s What One Becomes, released via Thrill Jockey last June, was even better. It’s like The Deal tested the waters and allowed the three sonic explorers to draw a map and realise where they could go together, whereas on What One Becomes they just said screw the map, tossed it, and marched ahead into uncharted territories without a care in the world, crossing boundaries of metal and heavy music in general as if they were never there in the first place. As if that wasn’t enough, in a couple of weeks a special release called Before You I Appear will offer us some of What One Becomes‘ pieces reworked a reconstructed by like-minded luminaries like Samuel Kerridge or Kevin Drumm, among others.
Aaron Turner commented: “Very happy to be returning to Roadburn once again. I’ve had a lot of great shows as a participant in Roadburn for what must be close to a decade now. Having played there with Mamiffer, Old Man Gloom and ISIS, I’m glad to have the chance to come with SUMAC this time around. Looking forward to it and grateful to be included yet again.”
The short but meaningful career of Sumac so far seems to be a constant adventure taking place beyond the wall of conventionality and limitation, and that’s exactly how we are expecting their show to be like at Roadburn 2017. That, and super-heavy, of course.
Doom-heads rejoice! Leif Edling, the master bassist and songwriter behind Candlemass, will bring his new project The Doomsday Kingdom to play their first show at Roadburn 2017 on Sunday, April 23, at Het Patronaat!
Edling’s legacy is second to none in doom. For over 30 years he has crafted songs that find vibrancy in darkness, life within the morose, and explored grand miseries that have influenced two generations of bands from around the world.
With The Doomsday Kingdom, he takes the reins once more on the genre he helped forge. Working with vocalist Niklas Stålvind when not handling those duties himself, Edling presented the Never Machine Demo EP earlier this year in a limited edition of 250 12” copies that sold out immediately. What doom awaits at their first live show? Find out in April!
We are truly spoiled by Ulver at Roadburn, let’s face it. Back in 2012, they delighted us with the first and only rendition of the songs on Childhood’s End, their album of obscure 60s psychedelia covers. It was a unique and unrepeatable treat that still resonates deeply within our collective Roadburn memory bank.
Now, as it became more and more apparent that we really urgently needed another fix of Ulver to ease our ills, we have struck lycanthropic gold once more – the much-revered Norwegian band are working on concluding their hotly anticipated new album, and its release show will take place at Roadburn 2017.
We don’t know much besides its title for now, but that title alone is mouth-watering – can you imagine what Ulver will do with a record called The Assassination Of Julius Caesar? We are giddy with anticipation, and the band – devilish tricksters as ever – seem to take delight in the curiosity this forthcoming album is generating among their many fans, only dropping the vaguest of hints about it here and there in their interviews and posts.
It is a particular delight for us to welcome Ulver back to Roadburn, because they are one of the artists who embody everything we feel the festival is all about. Restlessly – almost feverishly – creative, as their entire body of work so matter-of-factly attests, they have always been unafraid to take plunges into uncharted waters at every turn.
Free from any burdens of expectation, industry rules or perceived genres, they’ve drifted from black metal to folk, trip-hop, ambient, drone, electronica, psychedelia, rock and pop, to name a few, with the gusto of true musical explorers, all while leaving their own very specific imprint on each genre at every turn.
Not just on music genres, either, as they are always deeply connected with all other media through which their inspiration can be channelled, from the affecting projections on their live shows, to their always challenging artwork or their care with words (who can forget the recitation of a Keith Waldrop poem on Wars Of The Roses, for instance)… speaking of live shows, for a long time they were reclusive wolves, but after becoming a regular live band from 2009 onwards, it didn’t take Ulver long to start poking holes in the fabric of how we perceive live music either.
Their latest record ATGCLVLSSCAP is perhaps the biggest statement on how they have blossomed on the potentially awkward environment of the stage, as they built the foundations for its twelve songs over a string of spontaneous, half-improvised shows. No safety net, nothing set in stone, wild freedom and a devoted following of the muse – we think you will agree that sums up both Ulver and Roadburn itself very nicely.
So, let us make this a celebration – of a surely fantastic new album being released, but also of an attitude and artistic stance we embrace wholeheartedly.
The last time Valborg graced Roadburn with their bleakly elegant presence was already almost seven years ago – at Roadburn 2010, as a part of Tom G. Warrior‘s unforgettable Only Death Is Real curatorship. To be honest, we couldn’t think of a better pairing – this German ensemble of dread is often compared to Celtic Frost / Triptykon and in fact some similarities are clearly discernible. However, in 2010, Valborg were still very much in their beginnings. Their second album, Crown Of Sorrow, was officially released only a couple of days after their show. Since then, they have come a long way, and the shadows they now cast are much longer and much more sinister.
The Valborg palette is still undoubtedly made up of black and grey mostly, but the progressive, unusual approach they have always had to their sort of doom / death metal has proved they are inventive beyond easy categorisation or lazy tagging. Records like 2012‘s Nekrodepression or especially 2015‘s Romantik have brought billowing clouds of sombre atmosphere to the songs, giving them a narcotic dreamlike feel that very few bands achieve. Or maybe we should call it nightmarelike instead, because the threatening vibe is still there, Christian Kolf‘s multifaceted vocals still drip with malice and the whiff of death is still all around in the miasma created by every riff and every beat.
Lately, we’ve had the surprising Werwolf single hit us, a couple of older, unreleased songs that hark back to their more blunt, forceful approach of yore, so we’re really excited right now to hear what they’ve been up to when their announced forthcoming full-length Endstrand hits us. And then, we’ll be all ready to plunge into the abyss of their Roadburn show.
The band commented: “It’s an honour and a privilege to get invited to Roadburn Festival for a second time. For us it will always remain a very special event, because the third show we ever played got us invited by Tom; a very big step very early in our live career. And it was quite impressive for us to witness this combination of peak professionalism and at the same time respect, heart-felt friendliness and cordiality towards everybody – including to us, at this point a completely unknown band (sadly something we rarely encountered in our career as a live band in the six years afterwards!). Anyway, we’ve had seven years to evolve as a live band now and we promise a unique experience of utter destruction to anybody who attends. See you there!”
Roadburn Festival 2017 will take place April 20-23 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tickets are on sale!