With songs both tragically massive and delicately crafted, Alaric ’s record End of Mirrors is a massive triumph for the band and listeners alike. The hybridization of post-punk’s tense, angular structures with the size and spread of extreme metal’s most dynamic sonic components makes for one hell of a ride on this, their first record on the mighty Neurot Recordings. With this album’s mid-2016 release as a sonic landmark for extreme music, we felt it was essential to invite Alaric to share some of the tragedy and immensity with audiences at Roadburn.
The band commented: “Alaric is absolutely honored and humbled to be included to the incredible lineup of artists performing at Roadburn 2017. It is certainly a dream come true for all of us to play at what we feel is the greatest festival in Europe if not the world. We wish to extend our thanks to Walter and his amazing crew and we look forward to bringing our brand of darkness, shadows and beauty to the event.”
With live performances that transcend genre and grip at something innately human, Alaric’s passion for brushing the surface of pure emotion in musical form is ever-present and a must-see. When they perform on Thursday, 20 April
One of the most notable black metal bands to grace Roadburn in the last number of years is Ashborer. This group of American innovators has gone from one of many in the explosive Cascadian black metal scene to a band that stands head and shoulders above all others with an ever-shifting sound that grows and evolves from each record to the next.
The one constant in the band’s career has been a ceaselessly urgent and overwhelming sense of creativity and expansion. From the highly touted early material on their split with Fell Voices to their impending release, The Irrepassable Gate, Ash Borer has always chosen vibrant and evocative new territory over stagnation.
This bold group, perhaps American black metal’s most promising hope, is prepared to make its return to Roadburn as part of a European tour planned with their friends and collaborators in Vanum.
After a five-year absence and a tumult of personnel changes, solo tours and EPs, Pennsylvania’s Backwoods Payback reemerge in Dec. 2016 with Fire Not Reason, their third album and one of the year’s most honest expressions of heartfelt, heavy rock and roll.
Trust us. It’s a record that kicks your ass, with sincerity.
And it’s with sincere pleasure that we welcome Backwoods Payback’s fire to the lineup for Roadburn Festival 2017.
Now a three-piece with guitarist / vocalist Mike Cummings, bassist Jessica Baker and drummer Erik Larson (ex-Alabama Thunderpussy), Backwoods Payback have never had a more powerful delivery than on Fire Not Reason, striking a perfect balance of raw, driven riffing, melody and memorable songwriting.
“We are beyond honoured and excited to have been asked to perform at Roadburn 2017, an occasion marking the 14th year of Backwoods Payback,” says the band. “Roadburn sits high atop the list of things we hoped to accomplish since we started.”
In an unparalleled stoner celebration, reformed Wisconsin riffmasters Bongzilla have been confirmed to perform their classic album Gateway in its entirety at Roadburn Festival on Thursday, April 20, 2017, at the 013 in Tilburg, The Netherlands!
2017 marks 15 years since Bongzilla originally released Gateway in 2002. Their third album, it indeed was for many listeners a doorway into a new world – a dimension of crust-laden sludge that, in the years since, has gone on to put an entire generation of bands under its influence. Unmatched in its dankness, coated in purple and green tonal wash, Gateway’s weedian righteousness is no less potent today than a decade and a half ago.
“We’re stoked to finally get to play mother of heavy rock fests!” says guitarist Jeff “Spanky” Schultz. “The lineup at Roadburn is beyond great year after year – I’m excited to see all the other bands that will battering and slaying!”
In addition to honouring the anniversary of Gateway, Bongzilla are also looking forward in 2017 to their first new material since 2005’s Amerijuanican.
“We’ve been writing like freaks,” Schultz explains, “getting new songs together for some 2017 releases TBA.”
The Rocky Mountains will have never been higher than when Bongzilla take the stage at Roadburn 2017! Don’t miss it!
Devil Horns, the Left Hand Path, Satanic Rituals, Black Magick, Sexuality, and a seminal debut-album that has had a lasting appeal since 1969. Coven’s Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls was not only ahead of its time, the iconoclastic troupe – helmed by high priestess, and the original wicked woman, Jinx Dawson – heavily influenced future generations of musicians, from Ghost to The Devil’s Blood, from Witchcraft to In Solitude, from Blood Ceremony to Lucifer, and even our festival.
We are equal measures excited, proud and overwhelmed to be able to announce that Coven will thrill Roadburn Festival to it’s darkened core on Thursday, April 20 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands. Jinx Dawson, and her unholy union will take their cult-ritual to the stage for the first time in decades – and for the first time ever on European soil.
Known by many classic rock fans for Jinx Dawson’s early seventies hit, ‘One Tin Soldier’, from the counter culture flick Billy Jack, the song was an anthem for hypocrisy and added more mystery to Coven’s occult imagery and aesthetics that laid the groundwork for hard rock and heavy metal.
The band’s diabolical mix of proto-metal paired with dark psychedelica and prog was dabbed in deeply occult lyrics, and has always been a celebration of all things Left Hand Path. Whether it’s the much sought after and talked about Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls, or the band’s third album Blood on the Snow, Coven’s output has terrified peers and audiences, as well as the moral-elite since their incarnation. Their extreme dark and shocking rites, thriving on a strong woman’s sexuality, was unheard of at the time.
Though Coven went clandestine not long after the release of Blood on the Snow, Jinx Dawson, and the band always remained a landmark within the metal community, and hailed as one of the 10 greatest heavy metal front women. Having battled with record companies, management, opposing religious organisations and law officials has only added to Jinx’s legacy to stay genuinely true to her own firm beliefs, based upon a very long lineage of Occult Adepts and Practitioners of the Ancient Arts.
With the release of 2003’s Goth Queen: Out of the Vault, and 2013’s album, Jinx, Dawson rightfully regained her throne as ‘the originator’ of the burgeoning occult rock scene – a movement that we have wholeheartedly embraced at Roadburn over the years, while offering a platform to her children of the damned.
The world of heavy music is very fond of categorisation. As much as every band prides themselves on at least attempting to do something different from prevailing trends, there is nearly always a comfortable pigeonhole awaiting them. But not every band, of course. Whether through the joyously eccentric musical vision of founder member and guitarist Justin Greaves or just as a result of their sheer bloody-mindedness, Crippled Black Phoenix have slowly and steadily become one of the most respected bands in the world of heavy music.
Shimmering hazily in the disconcerting territory between progressive rock, post-rock and righteous, guitar-driven heaviness, this amorphous ensemble have made a series of spellbinding records that somehow manage to bridge the gap between the mellifluous grandeur of Pink Floyd and the ragged, scattershot experimentation of the anarcho-punk and post-punk eras.
With such a diverse sound and unique approach, Crippled Black Phoenix could hardly be a more fitting addition to the bill for Roadburn in 2017. After a turbulent few years, the band are newly revitalised and poised to launch a fresh campaign to spread their tales of melancholy and rage. Free spirits in an age of conformity, Crippled Black Phoenix will return to Roadburn in 2017 with renewed belief and the wind in their sails.
A creative high point in a career full of them, CBP’s new album Bronze demonstrates how their state of perpetual evolution continues to inspire music that defies description while purposefully sinking its talons into your emotional core. At times unremittingly dark and yet subtly imbued with glimmers of hope, Justin’s latest batch of ingenious anthems are aching to be performed live at Roadburn in 2017: Crippled Black Phoenix exist for people who feel music in the very depths of their souls, and there could be no more fitting stage for the English crew to prowl as they reach out to yet more willing converts.
Hip-hop is not, quite frankly, a genre we’ve thought of exploring much before at Roadburn. But as with any other style of music, exploration is the key, and eventually something will always stand out in surprising ways. Such is the case with New Jersey’s dälek, who have been a name on the radar of many music fans of various scenes for a long time now.
Their sound has baffled and amazed countless audiences with its fusion of various strands of experimentation, touching on everything from noise to dark ambient to even the chunky, punishing sort of metal. They’ve famously been described by deliciously delirious journalists as a cross between Public Enemy and My Bloody Valentine, and while on one hand that is a good start to get newcomers excited about them, on the other hand it doesn’t even begin to cover all the ways in which dälek can crush and numb a listener with the power of their rhythms, beats and atmospheres.
It is, therefore, long overdue that dälek will bring their heaviness to Roadburn. Having shared stages with the likes of other Roadburn favourites like Isis, Tool or the Melvins and released colossal records on such adventurous labels as Ipecac or Profound Lore (surprisingly, their new and tremendous album Asphalt For Eden has seen them join the roster of the cult Canadian label), they are by their own right part of our amazing Roadburniverse.
We’re catching them at the best possible time too – after a hiatus of a few years which followed 2009‘s Gutter Tactics record and a little line-up shuffle, they now reappear armed with the deeply affecting songs of Asphalt For Eden and eager to set the Roadburn stage alight
When Deafheaven released their debut album Roads to Judah back in 2011 they probably were not expecting to be at the center of many heated debates and discussion a couple of years later. Critically acclaimed and widely discussed by black metal purists, shoegaze fanatics and post-rock devotees, the Californian 5-piece has very quickly turned into a global metal act.
After the release of their debut on Deathwish Inc. they released Sunbather, which cemented their place in record collections, year end lists and indeed, the history books. Last year they released their most recent album, New Bermuda on Epitaph sister label ANTI-. The band have traversed the globe, picking up a considerable fanbase and building on their live reputation. Whilst we at Roadburn have admired from afar, until now, we have been unable to welcome Deafheaven to perform at Roadburn.
Whilst Deafheaven have been divisive, they have also been inclusive – paving the way for listeners to explore the more extreme end of the musical spectrum. They have managed to bring extreme metal fans to the same room as shoegaze and post-rock / metal fans; their music doesn’t simply tick all those genre boxes, it plays join the dots with them – just as we like to do at Roadburn Festival.
We were so excited by the confirmation that Wolves In The Throne Room were returning to Europe and to Roadburn after a much too long number of years that we didn’t let the excitement stop there. Remember when we told you, in that announcement , that “The band will steer away from the ambient and ethereal landscapes they created on their 2014 album Celestite”?
Well, we told each other here at Roadburn HQ, what if they wouldn’t? So we invited the Weaver brothers to do exactly that – offer us a performance based on that side of the band, the out there among the stars version of Wolves In The Throne Room that ditched the concept of songs and most of its ties with black metal to build instead great soundscapes enveloping the listener as if we were floating among the dark clouds themselves. As they say, careful with what you wish for, because you just might get it. And as always with this band, we got much more than we had bargained for – Roadburn 2017 will witness the debut of an entirely new side project called Drow Elixir.
We could wax lyrical about Celestite for a while more, but truth is, we don’t know yet if this performance will include any material from that record. It might, it might not, some things are best unveiled in their due time. All we know is what we have been told by the band: “Drow Elixir is woven illusions, ethereal projections and sonic manipulations created with archaic techniques.”
And that, dear friends, we believe to be more than enough to be super excited already. It is an immense pleasure to host such a momentous, never before heard occasion at Roadburn. Members of Wolves In The Throne Room will don their new Drow Elixir guise, whip out their synths and lead us on an ethereal journey on Thursday, April 20 at 013 venue.
They do creep up on us, don’t they? Esben And The Witch, we mean. Ever since their inception in Brighton a few years ago, they seem to have been the sort of band that will draw in unknowing listeners out of curiosity for their name, their sombre, nondescript sort of image or the apparent moroseness of their slowly-developing songs.
They don’t have fancy costumes or evil pseudonyms or a logo that seems like it’s made of tree branches, “goth” or “pop” are usually genres tagged to them by other people who should know better, it all seems pretty harmless. But we’re just like any innocent character in any horror movie just going to get that frisbee from the woods, aren’t we? The trees look healthy and welcoming as we go in, it’s just a fun springtime activity, and after a minute of not finding the damn frisbee that should have been right there, we notice that the landscape has changed dramatically, that suddenly we’re not so comfortable anymore, and that we might be spending a while in this place whether we want to or not.
Nowhere is this metaphor more appropriate than on Esben And The Witch‘s new album, Older Terrors, their fourth already, the one that sealed the deal for good on our decision to bring them to Roadburn. The signs are there from the start – four songs all reaching two digits in minutes’ length, the creepy trees on the cover… hell, there’s the word “terror” on its title. But no, we still press play, because it’s only a pop band, as we were told, right? Even if they have been known to describe themselves, when really pushed to do it, as “atmospheric, apocalyptic rock”, there’s only three of them in the band, how apocalyptic can it really be?
Then ‘Sylvan’, the first song, comes on, and it’s all very minimalist, and Rachel Davies‘ voice comes on after a while and it’s all fun and games until you blink and when you open your eyes she’s screaming at you through a wall of noisy guitar work to come with her to the place where the walls are weak. But by that time you’re so enraptured by the whole thing that you just go, long past caring about the consistency of walls.
This constant dualities such as this contrast between harmless and viciously menacing are what makes Esben And The Witch so fascinating. They’re goth without all the pomp and pretence of goth, atmospheric without the lengthy swathes of nothingness you have to endure on “atmospheric” records. They are sparse and minimalist but never leave you astray without anything to hold on to, even if it’s just a broken strand of melody delivered by the amazing Rachel.
They seem breezy enough to be a band you could show your granny, but then humongous bass grooves or flare ups of screechy guitar feedbacks and sneaky riffs make their way in almost unnoticed. They could be easily categorised as doom, but just as easily captivate listeners that have never listened to a doom record in their lives.
Ultimately, Esben And The Witch might not have feel like a Roadburn band at first glance, but not only they are one, they epitomise many of the foggy, half-undefined qualities of what makes a Roadburn band. They get it, and they can’t wait to make sure everyone else gets it too, as is clear by their statement: “We are psyched to have been invited to play Roadburn. Long have we admired the festival’s spirit and fine line-ups, and we look forward to carving our own path through Tilburg next April.”
For some acts in the overarching genre of doom metal, there is a specificity that is required. From funeral doom’s sparse grandeur to the violent filth of sludge, there is often a sort of orthodoxy and limitation within each subset of the musical poor.
For a band like Massachusetts doomsters Fórn, however, doom metal is a smorgasbord of sound from which a group can and should borrow liberally. With soul-crushing lows and groovy assaults at higher moments, there’s hardly any territory left unexplored and bodies that aren’t sore after a Fórn performance.
With a high impact and unearthly quality to their presence onstage, the band is sure to deliver one of the most brutally direct sets of Roadburn 2017. Whether it’s the sludgy punch of Black Lives Matter benefit song ‘Ambitions Towards Nothingness’ or the two-part glory of ‘Saudade’ from their Weltschmertz EP, Fórn is set to deliver a set that will captivate fans of all things slow and heavy.
Drawing a direct line from angular punk to heavy motorik, and from noisy techno vibrations to tripped out near-ambient, tribal rituals, the UK’s psych renegades GNOD will return to Roadburn – their spiritual home overseas – and celebrate their tenth anniversary as Artist In Residence at the 2017 festival.
Fuelled by maverick spirit and fearsome willpower, GNOD have released dozens of full-length albums, CD-Rs, cassettes and short run releases, each seemingly materialising from the ether, as the band, revolving around key members Chris Haslam and Paddy Shine, is shrouded in mystery.
Always thought-provoking and political oppressive, with a mercurial power and fiery intensity that could come from no-one else, GNOD will play four shows during their residency at Roadburn, and following in the footsteps of Circle, Justin K Broadrick and The Heads among others. 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.”
The first will see the DIY collective firing out slabs of towering, acidic invective and nihilistic electronics, while enticing our bodies to lose control to the propulsive, repetitive beats at the very same time. Their second appearance will aim to fog our brains and eyeballs with a wash of hallucinations, turning Roadburn into a gigantic trippy, otherworldly, and occasionally beautiful mess. On Saturday, April 22, GNOD will go in unexpected directions, joined by other musicians willing to abandon their safety net and walk the high wire, reafirming the band’s eclecticism, and shifting sonic pallete during their career to date.
The final chapter of GNOD‘s residency will culminate in a collaborative performance with Holland‘s own Radar Men From The Moon, known as Temple ov BBV, and which can be interpreted as a stream of materialised thoughts, giving the opportunity to listen, view and contemplate both band’s material in ever changing ways. Prior to their first sonic ritual at Eindhoven‘s 2016 Psychlab, they recorded an album, which hopefully will see the light of day at Roadburn 2017 – it would be a fitting testament to GNOD‘s tenth anniversary celebrations at this year’s festival.
Working with a slow-burning yet vibrant fire in its belly, Oakland, CA funeral doom act Lycus has been responsible for some of the most heartfelt and haunting metal of the past few years. While the young band’s debut demo release was promising, it was 2013’s monumental Tempest album that cemented this as an act of great talent and merit. In early 2016, the band issued their finest work to date with Chasms, an album that manages to bludgeon and seduce all at once.
With such haunting majesty at its core, Chasms quickly worked its way into our hearts. In light of the immense talent at hand, we’re delighted to announce that Lycus will appear to spread their brand of mournful and massive doom at Roadburn 2017.
In addition to the monolithic songs we know and love, the band is currently hibernating away to work on new material, some of which we hope to see appear at their performance this coming April.
If Roadburn 2017 is rife with artists removing guitar from its dominant spot in extreme music, then few bands would be more necessary to include than Texan innovators Pinkish Black.
With “just” drums and synthesizers at their disposal, this duo makes a haunting sort of music that floats between the weight of heavy metal and the buzzing atmospheres of classic horror soundtracks. It’s psychedelic without fully committing to the trip and energetic without ever losing a sense of restraint and focus.
The tension created in this constant state of in-between is cathartic and tragic, with the gripping voice of keyboard wizard Daron Beck guiding the listener through the dense murk the band creates.
The band commented: “The festival has always had wonderful and diverse line-ups, and that seems to expand every year. We are truly honored to be included on this year’s legendary list.”
Pinkish Black will be making waves and breaking hearts with their chilling synthesizer dirges when they appear at Roadburn 2017.
ROME has been the creative vehicle for Luxembourgian singer / songwriter Jerome Reuter for over a decade already. Throughout this time, his prolific output has seen him traverse several musical plains, building what is by now a genuinely unique, distinctive and recognisable personality.
From the more martial industrial beginnings with those first few works still released by Cold Meat Industry, the sound of ROME has flourished adventurously, touching upon folk, dark ambient, cold wave and even chanson – Jerome has revealed great admiration for such giants as Jacques Brel or Léo Ferré –, not to mention the myriad of different literary references that have acted as decisive inspiration as well, tracing an artistic path that is constantly braving new territories, permanently in exploration mode.
Obviously, we needed to have ROME at Roadburn. The previous description, a mere nudge in the right direction (i.e., your nearest record store!) in case you are less familiar with Jerome‘s work, because we’d need several pages to go into a proper deep analysis of a long and rich discography and band history already, could essentially serve as a template for everything we’re looking for in an artist when we put each edition of Roadburn together every year.
It is a good time for a Roadburn debut too – 2016 alone has seen two remarkable ROME releases, very different from each other. Both The Hyperion Machine and the Coriolan mini-album (the first record with actual “Roman” inspiration Jerome has ever made – the name ROME is a derivation from his name and not originally meant to reference the city itself) are full of stark, deeply touching songs, some of which will surely make it to the setlist that will enrapture Roadburn in April. Actually, if it was up to us, we’d chain Jerome to the Het Patronaat stage and make him play every song from every ROME record — “Well, if it were up to me I’d play every year, as Roadburn is exactly my kind of festival.”
Since their debut release came out 20 years ago, Scissorfight have been a steel-toed boot in the ass of boring rock and roll. The band faded out after the release of 2006’s Jaggernaut album, but came back with a new lineup for 2016’s Chaos County EP, and we can’t wait to host their brutal Granite State grooves at Roadburn!
Led by founding guitarist Jay Fortin and bassist Paul Jarvis, Scissorfight took a bold step late in 2015 in welcoming new frontman Doug Aubin and drummer Rick Orcutt to the four-piece. Immediately there were doubters, haters and bitchers-on-the-internet.
All concerned parties received a hearty shut-the-fuck-up in fine Scissorfight tradition with their on-stage force and with the four-track Chaos County, which proved beyond a doubt that the band’s middle-finger salute was well intact after so long an absence.
The band says: “Scissorfight is extremely pleased and excited to unleash some New Hampshire backwoods debauchery with so many great bands and people at Roadburn Festival 2017!”
For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages is an album that hits you with full force from the very first time you hear it. Subsequent listens unveil layer after layer of bold creativity and sonic explorations that stay with you long after the needle is lifted and the vinyl stored away. SubRosa’s latest album has been out less than two months, but at Roadburn HQ it not only hovers near the top of our album of the year lists, it is marked as a future classic.
Whilst not strictly a concept album in the traditional sense, the narrative and the dystopian voyage of discovery that …Battle of Ages took us on left such an impression that it was with great ease – and excitement – that we envisaged it being played in full at Roadburn 2017. Although each track works perfectly well alone or nestled in amongst SubRosa’s older material on a setlist, what better way for this masterpiece to shine than when performed in full as originally intended?
Contrast is a key player when it comes to SubRosa; the delicate harmonies and light-as-a-feather interludes give way to a rumble of sludgey riffs and pure heaviness. We often note at Roadburn that heavy comes in many forms, and we have invited SubRosa to perform a second time at Roadburn 2017, in a set that may well tear up the rule book of heavy, and throw it out of a beautiful stained glass window.
Take a look at the artwork of Suma‘s four full-length records so far (we particularly like the brutally effective simplicity of the one that adorns Let The Churches Burn) and you’ll realise that, with an exception here and there, grey is the overwhelmingly dominant tonality. It’s not a surprise, because the Swedish band’s particular brand of uncomfortably abrasive noisy doom is pretty much grey all over.
From the filthy swagger of Roaches or Swordlord on the very first album, signaling their malicious intent right from the start, to the nihilist dirges of Education For Death on this year’s tense and terrifyingly heavy The Order Of Things, no light has ever shone on a Suma tune. The grooves are there sometimes, the riffs too, but such is patience and the consuming despondency of their delivery, sort of like an Eyehategod that has finally given up on this sad life, that they will eventually beat you down.
And now, boys and girls, we get to experience all this live! “Happy” might not be the right word for it in this context, but what the hell, we are extremely happy to have Suma back on Roadburnian soil, throwing down this morbid intensity on us until we’re numb and ready to give up on music and life itself.
We survived it in 2010 when they were last at the festival, the sludgy molass that permeates their third album Ashes still fresh on our mind having been released shortly before that performance, so now, even if they come with seven more years of experience in the arts of grey music and armed with that aforementioned monstrosity of a record, The Order Of Things, once again captured by accomplished producer Billy Anderson, the man behind the knobs of many a horrid sludgy masterpiece, we should make it out in one piece after the end too.
A tired, broken-down, grey-skinned piece, but whole, nonetheless. Suma will try to ruin Roadburn 2017 on Thursday, 20 April.
Heavily inspired by Delta blues, and standing at the crossroads of both American and British blues-based rock, The Devil and the Almighty Blues hail about as far from that unmarked place where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil as one can be – Oslo, Norway; a source of inpiration to Roadburn though, hence our lineage with the inspiring country’s take on all things metal.
In our ongoing quest to bring some of Norway‘s most exciting underground bands, as well as the more established black and prog metal innovators to Roadburn, we’re very thrilled to present The Devil and the Almighty Blues on Thursday, April 20, at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.
On their much acclaimed, self-titled, debut album, which is hands down one of the heaviest and coolest blues-based albums ever to be released from Norway, The Devil and the Almighty Blues offer a new take on this traditional genre – by infusing all the world’s other sub-genres of rock, from punk to garage rock, and from heavy psych to southern sludge, the band sounds heavy without becoming too metal, slow without being doom, and raw, fucked up and bluesy without being predictable, or losing the blues’ muddy origins.
The band said: “We’re stoked and honoured to be a part of this amazing line-up. Walter is the wizard of Roadburn, making this a one-of-a-kind festival a highlight every f***ing year.”
Welcome to The Devil and the Almighty Blues‘ highly electric worship at the altar of Robert Johnson – are you ready for one of Roadburn 2017‘s undisputed highlights? We are…
Sounding like two undead holiness preachers, which they actually are (legally certified preachers, we mean, not undead… we think!), crawling out of an abandoned Mississippi graveyard consumed by the foul bog and delivering their message of the endtimes, Those Poor Bastards will hover around the next edition of Roadburn determined to convince you that your eternal soul is already damned beyond redemption.
The duo comprised of Lonesome Wyatt and The Minister sound exactly like all those images we just described hint at. The former’s howling, desperate vocals hurl tales of woe and endless misery at you over a whirlwind – and yet compellingly minimialist – blend of gothic country, doom as if originated from the most depraved carny and a sort of x-rated version of Nightmare Before Christmas.
It was none other than Hank Williams III who first established that comparison with the creepy cartoon film, and he should know Those Poor Bastards better than most, having covered their song ‘Pills I Took’ on his landmark record Straight To Hell. Hints of Hank himself might also be found in the gruesome twosome’s songs, but it’s mostly the presence of a drunk(er) Tom Waits and Nick Cave at his most vaudevillian that appear as mains references among all the guilt, the drugs, the sin and the depravation of these songs.
And there will be a lot of songs to choose from! Though they might have just become a familiar name to certain audiences, Those Poor Bastards have been dragging the corpse of their music around for a while now, and there is a frightening back catalogue for the newcomers to lose themselves in.
All of them released through Lonesome Wyatt’s Tribulation Record Co., which is also the outlet for his other projects, both musical (solo and collaborative records) and literary – we recommend his novel The Terrible Tale Of Edgar Switchblade as some light reading before an evening of the ensuing excruciating nightmares, especially if you read it while listening to Behold The Abyss, its companion album – Those Poor Bastards have stepped up on the haunting factor from record to record. 2014’s Vicious Losers seemed like a tough act to follow, featuring ditties as unpleasant as ‘Give Me Drugs’, ‘Lonely Man’ or the noise-ridden epic of despair that is ‘Today I Saw My Funeral’, but goddamn it if they haven’t pulled it off with this year’s Sing It Ugly, a terrible ode to bitter failure and depression that still keeps us up at night. One of the standout songs is called ‘Sorry For Everything’, and they damn well should be.
With the devil on their trail and the graveyard constantly looming ahead, Those Poor Bastards will ruin the festival when they play their ghoulish songs at Roadburn 2017 on Thursday, April 20.
Thank you, guys. Seriously. Ryan Lipynsky, Jay Newman and Darren Verni, you’re the best for bringing Unearthly Trance back to activity last year, because it would have been an eternal source of sorrow and regret for Roadburn that those devastating, haunting, dirging pieces of musical filth were never poured on our festival like burning lava on top of willing sacrifice victims (and that’s a reference to the first line of In The Red, fellow UT fans!).
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, Unearthly Trance will play Roadburn 2017 – if you’re having a great day, if the sun happens to be shining in Tilburg, if you’ve just seen a flowery psych band bopping along while you nodded your head in contentment, if you’ve just come back from a delightful lunch on Heuvelstraat, you can now go and ruin your mood, your day, and everything you have ever loved or enjoyed in the company of these guys.
Because seriously, have you paid attention to their records? There is some nasty, nasty shit there. The first line of God Is A Beast, another one of their most well-known songs, has Ryan proclaiming bitterly “there are no winners this year” in his spiteful, gargly snarl, and frankly, there don’t seem to be any winners on any Unearthly Trance song, ever. They combine the nihilism and confrontational approach of real sludge, both in lyrics and in actual musical delivery, with the unbearable heaviness of proper metallic doom, and the result is always a monumental earthquake inside your head that will leave your ears ringing well into next week.
Ryan has, of course, lent his talents to many other frightful bands, like the equally reactivated Thralldom, the odious The Howling Wind, the supergroup of sorts that is Serpentine Path or the recent droning horror of Hollow Senses, but Unearthly Trance still seems to be where the squalid ooze of misery runs the thickest, and we’re delighted to finally be subjected to it at Roadburn.
Vanum is a project that is somehow, almost unbelievably, larger than the sum of its parts, with K. Morgan of Ash Borer and M. Rekevics of Fell Voices serving as its creative core. These two musicians have long had intersecting paths, yet on their 2015 release, Realm of Sacrifice, their shared commitment to only releasing what is essential and vital became consecrated in a more permanent, enduring form.
As Vanum currently focuses on a new release due in 2017, their European tour with their brethren in Ash Borer will surely set the whole continent ablaze with their harrowing blend of icy melody and blackened atmospheric majesty.
When you think of party music, epic black metal haunted by bleakness and loss are probably not often high up on the playlist. However, Wolves In the Throne Room will return to Roadburn Festival in 2017, and for us, that’s a real cause to celebrate.
Having played the festival in 2008 – which was a pivotal moment for us at the festival, and dare we say it, for them as a band – and again in 2009, Wolves In The Throne Room will be back in Tilburg, in their spiritual home once again. This time around, they’ll grace the main stage with their presence – the perfect place for them to wrap their icy tendrils of Cascadian black metal around the throats of attentive Roadburners.
Wolves In The Throne Room will be returning to Europe for the first time since 2012, and since they announced their subsequent hiatus. Having only played a smattering of shows across the US and Canada in recent years, this return to European shores will see the band welcomed with open arms – by none more so than us here at Roadburn.
The band will steer away from the ambient and ethereal landscapes they created on their 2014 album Celestite, instead setting their sites on the more raw and earthy sounds from earlier in their back catalogue. Whatever choice cuts they select to serve up, the set is sure to be a masterclass in atmospheric black metal from one of the most important bands to leave their mark on the genre in recent years.
Winter will be over before you know it; it’s almost time for Wolves In The Throne Room to come out of hibernation.
For Karl Simon – formerly of the much revered doom-metal stalwarts, The Gates of Slumber – Wretch‘s heartfelt traditional metal heraldry is much more than mere Sabbath worship; it’s a gut wrenching form of art, reflecting Simon’s heart and soul, and also functions as catharsis in time of need, especially now.
Wretch’s true devotion to sheer lamentation and sadness may stand as a testament to Jason McCash, and other fallen comrades, but it’s a new beginning for Simon, too – together with drummer Chris Gordon and bassist Bryce Clark, Simon is going through such a genuine emotional resurgence that he’s turning tragedy and grief into a sorrowful yet soulful debut at the very same time.
It’s done with such honesty and grace that Wretch – like The Gates of Slumber – is following the same heartfelt linage of Saint Vitus, The Obsessed and Cirith Ungol, and we can’t wait for the band to play their first ever European show at Roadburn Festival 2017.
Knowing that The Gates of Slumber played their last ever show on the old continent at Roadburn back in 2012, we couldn’t think of a more fitting place than Het Patronaat, the beautifully converted church, for Karl and company to start over again while paying tribute to those who had such an impact on him as a person, and as a musician.
Roadburn Festival 2017 will take place April 20-23 at the 013 venue, Tilburg, The Netherlands. Tickets are on sale!