Roadburn Festival 2022

author AP date 16/05/22

At last — after three long years of pandemic misery, we finally returned to the Dutch city of Tilburg last month for our traditional and much-looked-forward-to weekend at the iconic Roadburn festival, ready for our minds to be altered, our horizons widened, and our wallets severely lightened. And it feels like a homecoming from the moment we board our morning flight to Eindhoven accompanied by several other groups of Roadburn regulars, to the moment we arrive at our quaint hotel on the outskirts of Tilburg and share the weekend’s first pint in the sun as we go over our coverage plans. The sun is shining and our faces are beaming enthusiasm about all of the memorable experiences that lie in store over the course of the next four days, and when we finally arrive in the city centre to swap our tickets for wristbands, it feels as though no time has passed at all. We are here. We are home. Everything is right again in the world. AP

All photos courtesy of Peter Troest

LINEUP

The months leading up to Roadburn are akin to entering the realm of King Midas, with one treasure after the other waiting to be discovered in the line-up. Indeed, the festival’s line-up seldom offers up those big font names you tend to find elsewhere; it demands patience and above all an open mind in order to reveal its secrets to the curious listener. But once you have taken the time to deep-dive into the poster, you will have unearthed so many hidden gems that the schedule suddenly starts to feel daunting — how will you possibly be able to watch all these artists and the unique shows they have planned exclusively for Roadburn? The simple answer is that you cannot, and if there is one recommendation we always make to first-time Roadburners, it is to avoid creating an absolute plan and go where the wind takes you instead. It is almost guaranteed that whichever venue one enters at any given moment, one will leave the show an experience richer, and one’s horizon broadened. And in addition, given that the majority of artists performing at Roadburn have tailored their concert exclusively for the festival, whether in the form of a collaboration, a full-album performance, or an original piece of music commissioned by the festival’s organisers, it makes no sense whatsoever to hop from one concert to another, only watching a part of each. You would be missing out.

Keeping some time freed up is also an especially crucial advice because the festival is renowned for keeping a part of its line-up secret, with plenty of intriguing performances only announced a few hours before taking place, and some of these have, in the past, turned out to be unforgettable experiences. This year, for instance, the NOLA sludge metal icons of Thou seemed to be popping up everywhere, while the much-hyped concert by Lamp of Murmuur did not turn out to be their first after all — given the band decided to play a secret show at Tilburg’s Little Devil venue the day before their official set. Hell, even the Danish Narcosatánicos and the British anarcho-black metal group Dawn Ray’d made surprise appearances during the weekend.

Naturally, there are some must sees every year, but it really needs to be underlined that Roadburn is not about ticking boxes on a list — it is about discovery. Even though the three writers and photographer that comprised our Roadburn squad this year had done our homework, we scrapped some of our original plans in favour of going in blind to watch something else based on little else than an overheard “Everyone needs to see this next show…” comment or just due to a long queue preventing us from getting into one of our scheduled concerts. Should you decide to attend the festival next year, we thus strongly recommend purchasing a ticket as soon as they go on sale, regardless of what artists have or have not been announced at that point. In turn, we will guarantee that you’ll see more nine and ten out of ten shows than ever before at a single festival. AP

FESTIVAL AREA

There were some minor changes to the festival compared to the 2019 edition. Het Patronaat, with its ornate stained glass windows and altar-like stage, was sadly taken over by an art collective and converted into an office space after it sang its swan song that year, and as such, the festival now consists of two primary centres. One of them is in Tilburg’s old town, with the Poppodium 013 complex packing the Main and Next Stages, as well as a foyer with resident DJs soundtracking attendees’ chilling out in between sets, and a basement housing nightly afterparties for those keen on showing off their dance moves after a day’s concerts. Right opposite of the complex was the V39 space used for hosting the festival’s side programme, out of which our writers found the panels on the “Queer Side of Heaviness” and “How Do We Solve a Problem Like Vinyl?” especially fascinating. The latter was landed additional weight by coinciding with the annual Record Store Day on April 23rd, which saw numerous vinyl pushers across Tilburg swarmed by Roadburners looking for that special treasure to bring home as a souvenir.

Outside 013, there were bar and food trucks catering to long tables lining the streets in front of the building, though in the vicinity, it was unquestionably the Weirdo Canyon — a walking street lined with eateries and pubs (including the former Roadburn venue Cul de Sac) — that offered the most attractive place to socialise, relax, and browse through the previous day’s Weirdo Canyon Dispatch newspaper. Festival goers, journalists, photographers, promoters, and both guesting and performing artists were often seen mingling here, embracing the special atmosphere ensured by Tilburg’s transforming into Roadburn City for the weekend and taking in the many special offers aimed at and named after the festival and its attendees. Continuing through the street and turning right, then left onto Telegraafstraat, there was the newest addition to the festival’s venue repertoire: the Paradox jazz club, with its own programme of avant-garde, experimental and jazz artists, plus a couple of surprise performances during the weekend. It was not a venue we explored this time, but considering that it will be a regular fixture for years to come, this venue and its offering will certainly be a higher priority for us henceforth. One thing we did explore, however, was the Little Devil found a few hundred metres further to the West; we had a night to remember at one of its legendary after parties on the second day, enjoying the wide repertoire of rock and metal blasting from the PA and people expending their last shreds of energy after a hard day’s show going.

The second focal point of the festival is the Koepelhal complex, a five-minute walk north of the 013. Due to some renovation work, the Hall of Fame had been moved into a tent outside, just next to a large hangout area outside the main building. Inside the complex, there was not one but two main venues this time: the spacious Terminal, and the somewhat smaller Engine Room. On top of these, the domed hall also contained a shopping area selling both official artist and festival merchandise, and a selection of LPs, artwork and various other trinkets of interest to a music connoisseur. One of the smartest features in this area were the many lockers equipped with a USB charging interface that could be reserved for an entire day and used for storing both the items one bought from the merch stands, and the extra layer of clothing one needed for still rather cool nights. If one ventured further into the labyrinthine Koepelhal complex, one would also eventually have stumbled into the Ladybird Skatepark, which was once again used for hosting most surprise concerts. We were a bit disappointed by the fact that the actual skateboarding aspect of it had been removed — no skaters were showing off their skills during the concerts like last time… though this is probably the safest choice, mind you.

One of the most interesting things around Koepelhal was the Wall of Fame featuring a nice overview of how the festival’s line-up has evolved since its humble beginnings of 1999. We spent a lot of time diving into this, realising in the process just how much Roadburn has changed, from a minor, primarily doom and stoner oriented event featuring only a few artists, to its present form of redefining heaviness as a massive, genre agnostic spectacle revered across the world. For a good break from all the music, there was a more reflective space called NS16 situated across the street from Koepelhal, which, this year, was hosting an audiovisual exhibition by the Valreza Collective, plus an art and photography display by the multi-disciplinary artist Manuel Tinnemans. There were furthermore stunning photos by William Lacalmontie adorning the walls of the 013 venue. And as you can probably guess then, it was impossible not to feel some degree of FOMO during the four days, with more things to see and do than there were hours for in a day. AP

ART

Roadburn has been actively supporting the visual arts as an important part of the music culture that belongs here. Each year a specific artist or art collective shapes a new visual identity for the festival, and this year it means a lush video installation by the Finnish collective Valreza featuring lots of green grass, spraying water in the sun, mindless happy dancing, and finally, meeting in a ritual celebration of music. Apart from using stills from it on banners and merchandise for the festival, the video has been given four different soundtracks by artists playing here this year, highlighting different aspects of its themes that I think highly coincide with different sides to the Roadburn identity as well. The video works are shown at the opening of the stages each day and thus play an active role in shaping our experience even for audience members who do not pass by the exhibition hall nearby where they could be taken in at a more museum-like pace. The exhibition also consisted of a retrospective exhibition of the intricate drawings and etchings by Dutch artist Manuel Tinnemans who has created some beautiful album art for bands like Deathspell Omega, Bölzer, Misþyrming, Autarkh, Dool, Severant and more.

Three out of the four videos are heavily electronic works, but with very different tones and moods (you can watch each yourself on the links that follow): Alice Hubble has created a very danceable, rhythmic soundtrack that brings forward the joy of the whole scene in a very grounded way; Midwife stands for a much more ethereal and thoughtful meditation, making me think of the video as metaphor for an inner experience; Cloud Rat brings a much darker, flowing sound that puts a focus on the ritualistic, slightly ominous character of some of the images with muffled vocals in the background. Finally, Tau & the Drones of Praise brings a natural focus on the communal and collaborative with their more guitar-focused and folk-inspired soundtrack of communal singing, birds chirping and people laughing. Especially the communal seems to be a key take-away from the works, not least as a way of celebrating the fact that we are finally able to meet here in Tilburg in the flesh, and as such it could not be more fitting as this year’s official artwork. LF

FOOD & DRINK

If anyone is going hungry or thirsty at Roadburn, they’re either on a diet or too tight of a schedule. Given that the festival takes place at multiple venues across a medium size city, there are not only food trucks and stalls and official festival bars to choose from, but also a vast selection of more established restaurants. And while the first option is most convenient, it tends to be that yours truly eats his lunch and/or dinner in the second type of establishment. The aforementioned Weirdo Canyon is an especially opportune location for this, and I don’t think a year has gone by when I did not indulge in the deliciously spicy and sumptuous bowls served up by the Indonesian Gember & Sereh restaurant. Another favourite of the Rockfreaks.net crew’s is Café Bakker, which offers an appetising list of craft beers and well made burgers — the one made from impossible meat was a particularly tasty and welcome option after many days of drinking beer and eating meat-heavy and greasy food. From the venues and their surroundings, our team members were especially fond of the toasties served with an assortment of ten different hot sauces that were available from the 013, as well as the delectable spring rolls being pushed just next to it. Safe to say though, that as usual there was plenty to choose from whether you observed a vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian or fully carnivorous diet… albeit perhaps an elegy would be in order for the devastating absence of the nigh iconic spare ribs joint that used to have its home next to the 013 complex.

Drinks were flowing freely all weekend, and contrary to many other festivals, the official bars, too, were serving an impressive selection of craft beer cans made by the Haarlem based Uiltje Brewery. One of these was a signature brew made specifically for Roadburn: the Knuffel Kveik IPA featuring Magnum, East Kent Golding, Amarillo, Ekuanot and Mosaic Cryo hops. It was a fresh and fruity IPA boasting 6.4% ABV, which meant that we kept its consumption to a minimum, preferring instead the festival’s new house beer Bavaria Holland pilsner. As usual this came in two sizes: 0.25 and 0.40 cl., the latter of which was always the preferred option for our crew instead of having to hop over to the bar too often. In terms of cost it was surprisingly cheap at approximately 37 DKK for the large cup. Wine and spirits were also available of course, but due to our heavy work it was not too heavily explored by us either. AP

REVIEWS

THURSDAY, APRIL 21ST

Big|Brave @ 14:00 in The Terminal

After a quick turnaround at our hotel, our team’s Roadburn weekend begins with its very first show, featuring the droning post-metal group Big|Brave from Canada. We make our way through pitch darkness to an optimal vantage point, immediately to be blown back by the astonishing volume of the band’s mix — an omen of what was to be expected during these four days. Big|Brave’s music is loud and overwhelming in its own right, but it would be not be an understatement to claim that it reaches a nigh deafening level via the venue’s sound system. Yet their walls of noise are far more than just that; guitarist & vocalist Robin Wattie’s devious, Julie Christmas-y singing penetrates the rumble and roar with ease, her shamanic voice and slow, arching movements bestowing upon the show an arresting mystique. Indeed, while the Montreal-based trio’s songs certainly trudge forward at a glacial pace and are largely built around lengthy repetitions (“Holding Pattern” off the group’s 2019 album “A Gaze Among Them” for instance consists of only a single note), their showmanship is anything but languid. All three members are putting their entire bodies into strumming and bowing their guitar strings and slamming the drums, while interjections of chiming bells and ambient sounds give rise to an entrancing atmosphere that has the audience in the band’s thrall for the entire 50-minute duration of the set. Noisy, intense, and altogether beautiful, Big|Brave deliver the perfect start to a weekend of experimental music. [8] AP


Bruit < @ 15:00 in The Engine Room

The Engine Room seems to be running on all cylinders evident by the smoke filling the stage. The french post-rockers in BRUIT ≤ have been one of my most anticipated shows of this year’s Roadburn Festival after experiencing their intense latest release earlier in the year but it also had me worried whether or not they could match said intensity on stage. Something tells me we’re about to witness something magical though. The band seems to have doubled its size for the occasion, sporting no less than two French horns and two trombones extra to fill out the sound palette even more. And as the song title “Industry” flashes behind the band, my suspicions become instantly true. Grey tone video of modern industrialisation fills the backdrop as Julien Aoufi’s masterfully groovy drums lay the groundwork for the waves of dramatic horns, cello and violin bathed in the swelling white lights to hypnotic effect before climatically blaring the first wall of sound to crushing effect. People are visibly stunned by the performance, understandably so. The melding of sound, video, lights and stage presence flow in perfect unison. The music ebbs and flows through somber passages of ambience with anti-capitalist samples scrutinizing the billionaires of the world. 

Even though post-rock can be a somewhat introverted genre in a live setting, the energy from the whole band is explosive and captivating, which reaches its boiling point during the thunderous climax of “The Machine Is Burning”. It looks like cellist Luc Blanchot is trying his hardest to saw his instrument in half with his bow in one of the most powerful displays of instrumental music that I have had the honor of witnessing. It is overwhelming to the degree that I can no longer hold back the tears in this awe-inspiring finale. A sonic tidal wave that keeps growing and growing until it crashes all over Roadburn with relentless force. BRUIT ≤ convey the desperation of their politically charged post-rock without a single lyric perfectly, which is what many bands in the genre strive to do, yet few unquestionably succeed in. The standing ovation the band receives as the set comes to a close seems endless and rightfully so. BRUIT ≤ simply delivered one of the best post-rock shows I have ever seen. [9½] KW


Vile Creature & Bismuth performing “A Hymn of Loss and Hope” @ 15:40 on Main Stage

My droning day continues with the first of several commissioned performances: “A Hymn of Loss and Hope” by the Canadian and British duos Vile Creature and Bismuth. It is advertised as the first and last time their collaborations will be played live, which renders the show an absolute must-see for fans of these doom and drone metal creators, and, noticing the grand piano on stage as I enter the 013’s main hall, it seems that something unique will indeed be happening here. Musically, the songs are as expected: heavy and slow, like molten rock making its way down a gradual slope, with Vile Creature’s Kyle William Campol’s scathing growls hissing from the smouldering mass. He alternates with Bismuth’s bassist Tanya Byrne as the front figure in order to add some subtle vocal texture to the mix, but in honesty, after some 20 minutes have passed by, that epiphany that one expects to have at these commissioned performances is yet to arrive. In essence, the piece these four musicians have composed is little more than an amalgam of their respective musical styles — albeit a grand piano soliloquy backed by baritone chants and, somewhat unexpectedly, some quite angelic singing eventually does bring a touch of elegance to the proceedings. It serves as the lead up to a more melodic, yet still unspeakably heavy slab of doom that instantly becomes a highlight of the 50-minute show, which, in my opinion, could have benefited from a stronger visual aesthetic as well as greater degree of daring when it comes to the songwriting. It is a decent showing from these merchants of all things heavy and slow, but I was hoping for more. [6] AP


Year Of No Light @ 16:20 in The Terminal

The Terminal is ready for some more rumbling. The forebodingly named Year Of No Light tries their best to throw the audience into the void of endless space with their sci-fi-synth-smothered instrumental post-metal, drenched in hues of red. Yet the set unfortunately does not captivate me enough throughout. I think the band can best be described as a Cult of Luna without vocals and while that in and of itself isn’t bad as such, you need other hooks or interesting soundscapes to pull the audience in. This is most of all just some pretty standard, if well-played, ominous post-metal with thundering drums and repetitive, atmospheric sound structures. The energy just isn’t here - the applause is weaker than normal and people just seem a little disinterested. Luckily, this picks up toward the end where some more slow doom metal tracks make the band finally shine. There are some chaotic, choppy synths, way more engaging melodic choices like a death psalm, and a nasty breakdown that finally warrants their name. Another track using creepy dissonant horror wails on the synths and a gradual tempo-build into an abrupt cutout gets much more feedback from the audience, ending a set that only really showed its true potential when it was all over. It was not bad at all but just not very memorable either. [6½] KW


Messa performing “Close” @ 17:20 on Main Stage

One of the performances I had most been looking forward to at this year’s Roadburn was without a doubt Messa’s full delivery of their latest album “Close”, which is as much a homage to classic doom in the vein of Black Sabbath et al., as it is a breath of fresh air into a genre that can feel a bit too stagnant and traditionalistic at times. The band’s mantlepiece is vocalist Sara Bianchin, whose powerful and versatile voice leaves me gasping for breath before their opening piece “Suspended” has even been played to conclusion. Whether it is her soprano or her witchier contralto, Bianchin’s voice resonates through and fills the venue with ease, enveloping the audience in an occult haze, silent and submissive. She pours her heart and soul into her lyrics, often collapsing to her knees in order to deliver a particular line with the emotion it deserves, while around her, the rest of the band is joined by members of Wyatt E. and Blak Saagan to infuse live mandolin, flute and atmospheric synthesisers into the mix, beautifully recreating the Middle Eastern vibe in tracks like the standout “Pilgrim”. Classic doom metal is certainly at the core of Messa’s music, but ideas like these, and indeed the usage of a 12-string guitar in the following “0=2”, imbue the band’s songs with a distinct avant-garde sound possessed by other act in the genre (at least to my knowledge). Quite frankly, Messa’s concert sounds stunning — and that is regardless of whether they’re pursuing their more adventurous ideas or simply laying down some heavy, groovy stoner doom slabs in tracks such as “Leffotrak” and the final piece “Serving Him”. And indeed it also looks stunning, with the entire four-piece (and intermittently also their guests) seemingly motivated by the enraptured audience, which is cheering and clapping louder than for any artist at the festival thus far, and putting in their most impassioned performance yet I’m sure. I had an inkling already, but this concert sets it in stone that Messa is a metal band everyone needs to be keeping an eye on right now. [8] AP


Slift performing “Ummon” @ 19:00 in The Terminal

As one of this year’s Artists in Residence of Roadburn, the French trio SLIFT are to play all of three sets during the festival. This first one consists of an album play-through of their 2020 full-length release “Ummon”, a set I have been looking immensely forward to for the past few months. The group plays an equal parts spacey and psychedelic kind of stoner rock which is a genre that’s usually not my most well-liked. These guys, though, play with such intensity and disregard for genre descriptions that it is impossible not to be swallowed up in their sonic equivalent of a bullet-train ride to the outer reaches of the cosmos. I am happy to report that this is true on the immensely well-produced recording as well as at Roadburn tonight. Their way of playing their songs with a jazzy, jam-like sensibility keeps everything intensely alive and everyone in the audience on their toes at the same time as we groove along to the strong beat that holds everything together. To begin with, the sound mix does take some time to even out, and especially some of the vocals sound thin in the big room but this is amended after a little while.

To take their music even further, they play to some fabulous visuals in tones of black, white, red, and orange. It is like a futuristic mix of old-school acid effects, electronic glitches, and TV static, responding to every development in the songs. It is one of the most high-octane riff-heavy sets we experience at the festival with its powerful blend of kraut and psych over the stoner rock foundations, but there is also room for some more progressive vibes à la Pink Floyd. As the set nears its explosive, fast-paced end, it feels like it will never stop and the band is wringing out every last drop of distortion-heavy energy in their instruments while still managing to finish pretty much on time. This is truly a band with great reach and I am very happy to have been introduced to them by Roadburn. [8½] LF


Trialogos @ 20:00 on Next Stage

One of my undebatable must-sees of the festival this year is this mysterious group of individuals, the trio of Conny Ochs, Sicker Man, and Kiki Bohemia. Together they cover a very broad span of musical styles and influences which can undoubtedly be felt in their music. Premiering during Roadburn Redux of 2021, their album “Stroh Zu Gold” is a haunting, eclectic mix of cinematic soundscapes, repetitive riffs, noise, and thumping beats, that all plays like an eerie soundtrack to a mirror-image of life where everything is just a little off. The air in the small room of the Next Stage feels electric already during the first song and title track, which arrives with an intensely pumping bass sound that vibrates through every cell in our bodies. The three of them mainly play guitars, electric cello, and bass but all contribute with each their synthesizers for samples, beats, and effects, just as lap steel and autoharp add to the distinct sound of their songs.

They demonstrate tonight that they have a uniquely electrifying live feel, as every song played behaves like a conjured, playful ghost that seems to take on a life of its own. My highlights include the already mentioned pumping “Stroh Zu Gold”; an unreal rendition of “Rip Currents” that is so heavy that my breath gets stuck in my throat just from the vibrations; and finally the most beautiful ending with the operatic twin vocals of the moody “Wellenreiter”. They change casually between the more ethereal songs and the massively heavy ones, each rocking out happily in their very own ways to the grooves. They don’t talk much before the end of the set but there is nevertheless a clear connection between them and the audience throughout. This show surely remains one of my very favorite memories from Roadburn 2022, and I can only recommend that you go experience the quirky madness that is Trialogos, whenever you may get the chance. [9] LF


Sólstafir performing “Svartír Sandar” @ 21:10 on Main Stage

Together with 2009’s “Köld”, “Svartír sandar” represents the pinnacle of these Icelandic post-metal cowboys’ repertoire for me thus far, so needless to say, the opportunity to experience them playing the latter double opus in full was an unmissable part of my Roadburn checklist this year. Yet as the band gets going with its opener, “Ljós í stormi”, I cannot help but lament the absence of a stronger visual component to accompany the vast and melancholy music. It is only the singles like “Fjara” and “Draumfari” that are backed by their respective music videos featuring the blackened Icelandic terrain from which the album takes its title, while the remainder of the show proceeds with a blank backdrop and muted, if still elegant lighting. Where other artists have custom designed visuals for the festival, it seems like an odd choice for Sólstafir to have foregone the opportunity, to the extent that if one was not aware of the focus of this concert, it would come across as a pretty standard show from the quartet.

It is fortunate then, that the group’s standard tends to be high, and as my first impressions wear off, they reveal a frontman in Aðalbjörn Tryggvason singing in a customarily powerful, anguished voice, and bassist Svavar Austmann and guitarist Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson, both donning cowboy hats of course, bringing their coolest moves to the party. Indeed, the four musicians — completed by drummer Hallgrímur Jón Hallgrímsson — are performing with real zeal, delivering spellbinding renditions of tracks like the titular “Svartír sandar”, which even sees them joined by a saxophonist in one of the absolute highlight moments of the 80-minute set. It is also a unique experience to hear the likes of “Þín orð” played for the first (and probably last) time ever, with Tryggvason even joking before that song that he’s never touched a baritone guitar again since it was recorded. But as the thinning audience goes to show, Sólstafir’s delivery of this masterpiece is missing that final slice of nerve, as well as immersive visuals truly to be remembered for time immemorial. “Djákninn” provides a breathtaking finale, but it seems too little, too late — most have already wandered off to see Wyatt E. or Full of Hell. [7] AP


Full of Hell performing “Trumpeting Ecstasy” @ 22:10 in The Terminal

The first announced Artist In Residence of Roadburn 2022 is the American grindcore mastodons Full of Hell that start off their residency with an intense album show focusing on 2017’s “Trumpeting Ecstasy”. Full disclosure, only in recent years have I begun dipping into the gritty reaches of grind and crust, and although I am entirely aware of this group’s merits, I show up tonight not really convinced that I will be able to connect with their performance. In hindsight, what was I thinking? As frontman Dylan Walker remarks a few days later during a panel discussion on community and collaboration, the concept of them playing album play-throughs at all is somewhat ironic considering the ~20 minute-length of most of them. Of course, the shorter lengths also mean that they are able to slam through those 20 minutes with everything they have, tonight and the next two nights as well, resulting in some of the more intense outbursts of the festival. 

I am instantly floored by Walker’s different vocal techniques as well as their absolutely insane drummer, Dave Bland, that comes across with a more trve black metal sound and energy than any of the actual black metal bands playing this year. Their music hammers away in the industrial confines of The Terminal, fleshed out not only by guitar and bass but also by the electronics controlled by Walker. After a little while, we get crowd surfers and beer cups flying in the air from the moshpit that has opened up front center. There are a few letups in the intensity of the show with more doomy passages and slower rhythms here and there, which gives it a nice flow and serves to break up the sometimes slightly monotonous sound resulting from the constant onslaught. As often happens at Roadburn, we also get a surprise feature at one point from Jamie Eubanks of Knoll, even as his band is (regrettably) not even playing this weekend. All in all, we are witness here to a frantic performance that cements for me that I will certainly be spending more time with Full of Hell from now on. [8½] LF


Russian Circles @ 23:30 on Main Stage

Post-metal titan 3-piece Russian Circles closes off the Main Stage for the day in powerful fashion. The stage physically looks a little big for the size of the band but as will soon be evident, these 3 amazing musicians have no trouble filling it out with their expansive sound. Somber melodic chords and rumbling bass fills the room in a cascade of ominous sound. What sets Russian Circles apart from any other standard post-metal band is the barrage of interesting riffs and movements - ever-revolving tapping, Tool-ish arpeggios, reverb-filled tremolo-picking, all backed by the legendary drumming from Dave Turncrantz whose insisting, infectious grooves keeps that steady back pulse going over the course of the show. He attacks the drums like it's a wild beast, pummeling them into submission and is always such a sight to behold. It is no coincidence that he is placed way further towards the front of the stage than normal as he draws a lot of the attention at a Russian Circles gig - and for good reason.

Like the famous lighting setup of Meshuggah, Russian Circles ties everything together with a light show purposely built for every facet of their sound, perfectly in sync with everything happening, which effectively supports a new song “Conduit” with flashing beams of light and strobes - a heavy, dark track with headbang-inducing, chuggy grooves that bodes well for a new album. The horrific atmospheres of “Deficit” soar high before nose diving into another breakneck-groove while classic “Youngblood” gets a roaring applause when the iconic angular clean tapping riff starts the end of the show, all culminating in a flurry of epic, melancholic noise. Russian Circles solidly delivered a fantastic show that wasn’t anything completely out of the ordinary for the festival, but performance, sound and visuals were all spot-on which in turn made it entirely impossible to keep your head still. [8½] KW


FRIDAY, APRIL 22ND

LLNN performing “Unmaker” @ 13:00 in The Engine Room

Danish heavyweights of LLNN start off our Friday with a full album show of their newest effort “Unmaker” after a long night of shenanigans. Even though it is this early, The Engine Room is impressively packed to the brim with tired-looking Roadburners looking for that show to kick them properly into gear for the day. LLNN immediately transports the audience to a cold and unforgiving void of space where humanity is meaningless and the unknowable horrors reign supreme. “Imperial” punches the air out of me with no remorse right out of the gate with a loud wall of down-tuned noise and malevolent sci-fi synths. The end of “Desecrator” sees the band gradually slowing down in the ungodly heavy breakdown to the point where you don’t think it can get any slower and grimier; yet it does until the point where the room seems to be shaking from the tremors caused by the dissonant chugs of frontman Christian Bonnesen and bassist Rasmus Furbo. In an earth-shaking rendition of “Scion”, Bonnesen puts his guitar away to writhe around while screaming his lungs out to the bass-heavy atmospheres, while the lighter, foreboding intro of “Interloper” luls the audience into a false sense of hope before demolishing it again with a powerful energy on stage, everyone fiercely headbanging in unison to the beat of the artificially intelligent war machine. “Division” and “Forger” highlights the intensity of the show with a higher tempo and even more relentless dissonance until “Tethers” ties everything together with a much needed breathing room of melodic, melancholic crescendo-focused post-metal in spectacular fashion. LLNN obliterated any semblance of tiredness I had with an endless bombardment of apocalyptic riffs and horrific, claustrophobic sound design. An adrenaline-pumping masterclass of the deepest, darkest depths of what post-metal can be. [9] KW


Five The Hierophant, MC Slice & Wyatt E. performing “Atonia” @ 14:50 on Next Stage

Based on a whim of liking the doomy saxophone-focused music of Five the Hierophant, I decided to check out this unique project dubbed “Atonia” which has so far not been announced as more than a one-off experience at Roadburn. Hands down, the best decision of my Roadburn 2022. I have many really good band experiences this weekend, but this one still stands as my personal favorite overall. If I have counted correctly, Five the Hierophant and Wyatt E. are comprised of five and two main members respectively, while Tomer Damsky, known as MC Slice of the trap group Wackelkontakt, participates on main vocals as a solo artist. Between them, the eight members cover drums, percussion, cymbals, vocals, saxophone, three different groups of synthesizers, bass, and several guitars, uniting artists from the UK, Belgium, and Israel. The music itself sounds, as you can imagine from the amount of instruments, very dense at all times, but it also varies a lot in loudness.

The backbone of it is a fairly heavy, droning sound, with a very Arabic vibe created from specific rhythms and choice of melodic scales. The ever-present circling saxophone gives it a further very jazz-heavy side, and finally, Damsky’s impressive vocals soar above the entrancing repetitions. She sings a lot of the time in a very grounded yet huge voice with plenty of Middle Eastern modulations, and from the highly conceptual description of the performance in the program, I gather that everything here is sung in Biblical Hebrew. She not only sings, however, but also gives us the chills as she suddenly bursts into some soul-ripping punk screaming that only heightens the intense feeling created by the instruments. One song around the middle of the set changes it up again, playing as a spoken word reading with all the emotional intensity and drama of a strongly religious ceremony, and it has me shedding a tear or two as the musical layers build and build.

The musicians seem in complete sync the whole set through, and provide us with music that is dark at all times but at the same time incredibly well-rounded and organic to listen to. Everything works together as the set breathes in and out, seeming like one big progression even as there are clear starts and stops to the individual songs. Some are heavier on guitars, some a little lighter with added percussive elements instead, but all of them have a very heavy emotional weight channeled perfectly by the band members in instrumentals as well as vocals. This show is definitely the shining gem at the very top of my festival experience this year, and while it is a treasured memory, we can also only hope that these musicians might collaborate again in the future. [10] LF


James Kent & Johannes Persson performing “Final Light” @ 15:30 on Main Stage

Seeing as these two artists are some of my very favourite within their respective genres, this is without a doubt the set I have anticipated the most at Roadburn Festival 2022. But exactly what to expect is hard to tell - given the experimental nature of the festival, are we down for something entirely electronic a la Perturbator? A jammier natured show? Something completely out of their comfort zone? Well the first guess can at least be laid to rest rather quickly as I walk into Main Stage since, apart from the amps and guitars of Johannes Persson and the synth setup of James Kent, two full drum kits are visible behind them. A bigger setup than I perhaps had imagined at first, but what is for damn sure is how utterly unprepared I was for what was about to hit me.

With flickering, white lights, the rumbling 80s synth bass and eerie flowing leads that the music of Perturbator is known for, the piece “Final Light” is set into hypnotic motion before an explosion of noise and distorted post-metal guitar floors my very being. After the masterpiece that was “Mariner”, it should come as no surprise that these spacey, atmospheric soundscapes of dark-synth would lock perfectly in place with the grandiose, heavy post-metal of Cult of Luna, but just how well this would work I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. Everything here supports and elevates every facet of the music to a higher level than the sum of its parts. The fast, mechanical drum machines, the thunderous slams of the snares and detailed cymbal-play and percussion from the two drummers, the nasty, earth-shaking bass, the sawing synth leads, all backed by absolutely perfect sound mixing; it dumbfounds me completely. I cannot do anything else than stand in disbelief at how incredible this all is, how every new track finds another mind blowing way of fusing these two distinct sounds together in what sounds like a cinematic journey towards the event horizon of a black hole. I am not alone in my excitement - this phenomenal commissioned piece gets an ever-growing roaring applause with every song that ends.

As the pulsating, rave-y synths of Kent keeps the intensity going, Persson’s commanding presence is seen towering over the audience before he lays the heaviest fucking riff on top of the synth-fest happening with immense force, as you stand and ask yourself how this could get any dirtier and is delivered the answer. More distortion on the bass of course. “Holy shit!” I exclaim to myself for the 10th time, it is just unbelievably how heavy this is. Yet heaviness is not everything “Final Light” offers. After this relentless beating, the chill, mellow vibes happening now is a welcome change of pace and adds some beautiful dynamics to the show as the light suddenly gets some sinister red colors added to them - before now they had only remained a cold white hue. The heaviness returns, as the tempo keeps rising until the whole stage goes completely berserk in strobes, oscillating bass and roaring guitars; a suitably explosive finale to a legendary show that will be remembered for many, many years in Roadburn history. This is why people love Roadburn - a chance to experience these once in a lifetime shows that you just cannot get anywhere else. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen — this will go down in my memory as one of the most powerful, visceral musical experiences of my life. [10] KW


Wiegedood performing “There Is Always Blood at the End of the Road” @ 17:20 on Main Stage

A harrowing, inhaled growl that gives me the crawls, and the onslaught begins. “FN SCAR 16” off this Belgian trio’s latest offering “There’s Always Blood at the End of the Road” sounds every bit as malicious live as it does on record, yet the dim red lighting in an otherwise pitch black venue still renders Wiegedood’s performance even more intense and claustrophobic than I had expected. Even without a bassist, the band is able to generate an imposing tsunami of black metal noise that overwhelms a visibly terrified audience during tracks like “Until It Is Not”. It is interesting that these three musicians have no need of frills or theatrics in order to create a foreboding atmosphere; they do so purely on the basis of their music, and their purposefully expressionless demeanour. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such an ominous track as “Ontzieling”, with its ominous throat singing by the frontman Levy Seynaeve and a ringing melody that feels oddly disjointed from the rhythm, coming across sort of as music from a broken carousel. I do notice that quite a few people have begun to chat in loud voices as that song is approaching its conclusion, but thankfully this is swiftly rectified by the eruption of “De doden hebben het goed II” — the only song played by Wiegedood today not to reside on their latest album. Indeed, the trio seems unfazed by the crowd’s disrespect, focusing their attention on conjuring sheer terror inside the main stage hall with tracks like the penultimate “Nuages”, looking like a pack of fiends as they rip through their eerie riffs and drum pummeling. So intense is Wim Sreppoc’s percussion in fact, that his entire platform quakes throughout the show, looking like it might collapse any second. To be honest, I was kind of hoping it would, if only to add the same kind of chaos to Wiegedood’s performance that reigns in their music. The sheer defiance of the group’s music does leave me gasping for breath when the music crashes to a halt in the end of “Carousel”, but from a visual perspective, I was hoping for a bit more. [7] AP


GGGOLDDD performing “This Shame Should Not Be Mine” @ 19:00 on Main Stage

In many ways, this commissioned performance by Dutch group GGGOLDDD, feels like the true culmination of finally making it to Roadburn 2022. As several other works, it was supposed to have happened earlier, and was one of the main events of Roadburn Redux last year. The two driving forces of the band, Milena Eva and Thomas Sciarone, was furthermore chosen as the curators this year and have been deeply involved with the shaping of the line-up that defines Roadburn 2022. As the doors are closed and the bars temporarily taken out of function shortly before this set, the gravity of the performance makes itself tangible in the room even before a single note has been played. I cannot imagine that anyone here at this point is not already aware of the personal experience that informs the work which is also the band’s latest album release. A raw description of the impact of rape and the feelings and thoughts that follow, it is not a pleasant or easy work to engage in but nevertheless, the Main Stage room is full of people ready to witness this iconic set. The band starts on mellow tones and a string section sits at the ready, setting the stage before Eva herself enters in a black, veiled dress. The music is heavily electronic, with dark beats and distorted guitars building the atmosphere, varying between great noise and dead quiet passages throughout the set. 

The power of these songs is especially in their unadorned quality and straight lyrics that give them a firm kind of power over the listener. Never more so than tonight, with the very direct vocal delivery of innumerable lyrics that sear their way straight into the brain. The vocals are somewhat similar in tone throughout, but with minute changes there is still great variation in the emotions they are able to convey, sometimes coming across as numb and empty, while at other times defiant and strong. Musically, the contrast-filled “Like Magic”, “Invisible”, and “Notes on How to Trust” stand for me as the most crushing yet melodic highlights of the album and they make great impressions live as well. Tonight, however, the most chill-inducing part of the show comes undoubtedly with the dark “Spring”, as an unfaltering Eva delivers lines like ”I want the smell to leave me / I want to shower till my skin comes off” and ”How did I end up here? / Did you know that I would be this quiet? / What have you done? / My body crumbles / I want to never see it again”. She strikes a stunning figure as she leads the whole room through these songs that are intense to say the least. I cannot help thinking that listening to the album in the confines of my own home, I have been able to keep a sort of distance to the songs that is impossible to hide behind when confronted with this power of reality in performance.

With the narrative of the set, we are led slowly but firmly towards the title track that also stands as the main message of the entire work. This is a show that communicates incredible strength first and foremost, and in this second half there is time and space for grateful smiles as well as slow dancing to the more upbeat parts of the instrumentals. The strings really shine during “Notes on How to Trust” which is suddenly even more menacing than on album. After, the string players come forward in a semi-circle around Eva for a down-toned performance of “On You”. The massive and forward-looking “Beat by Beat” ends the set with incredible release, and Eva shakes her head smilingly in a sort of disbelief and what seems like incredible humility and gratitude for us to have shared this with her and the rest of the band. No doubt, one of the most iconic performances here, and a a show of force that we will not soon forget. [9] LF


Alcest performing “Écailles de Lune” @ 20:50 on Main Stage

Widely regarded as Alcest’s finest work, not to mention a crucial pillar of the blackgaze genre, this full performance of 2010’s “Écailles de lune” has attracted a sizeable audience into the 013’s main hall. The show is immediately rendered a hair-raising experience by the crowd’s booming voices in unison humming the melancholy guitar melody in the opener, “Écailles de lune - Part 1”, and when frontman Stéphane ‘Neige’ Paut eventually adds his distinctive, soft singing voice to the track, it is starting to feel like ASMR stimulation. The sound mix is perfect, the lighting elegant, and the band seems lost in the maelstrom of emotion that is their music, pouring their hearts and souls into each strum and stroke and beat. Their performance is dramatic without being excessive or theatrical and the shut eyes and pleased smiles painting the faces of virtually everyone inside the venue during not only staples like the beautiful “Percées de lumière”, but also the tracks that are seldom, if ever aired at Alcest’s ordinary concerts — such as “Solar Song” and the spellbinding concluding piece “Sur l’océan couleur de fer”. Indeed, one of the things that I love about full-album concerts is the opportunity to hear deep cuts played live, not to mention of course to hear the songs played in their rightful context. It is not always a success of course, but in this case it underlines the fact that “Écailles de lune” truly is a masterpiece, and so as the bonus piece “Kodama” off its namesake 2016 album brings the concert to a triumphant end, I am left with tears glistening in my eyes. This has been a stunning performance even by the band’s usual high standard, one that I hope Alcest will repeat with one of their other masterful records in the future. [8] AP


Cloud Rat @ 20:50 in The Engine Room

The grindcore trio Cloud Rat from Michigan have existed since 2010 but is a relatively new name for me. Apart from their ferocious grindcore, they have been putting out electronically based songs lately that are way more mellow, almost ethereal in sound. In truth, I was really hoping to experience the two sides of the band in one eclectic show but instead, they are playing two separate shows, one for each expression. A serious scheduling clash prohibits me from witnessing their electronic set but I go out of my way to at least experience this more aggressive one. They start off well, with a barrage of songs one after the other without much pause, and their frontwoman Madison Marshall delivers her aggressive vocals while stomping around on the stage. There is crowdsurfing and a general good vibe among the crowd. However, after my initial excitement to just be seeing the set, a number of things start to drag everything down. First of all, the sound is probably the worst I experience at the festival. It is incredibly trashy and thin, and while I do not mind a more DIY punk tone in general, especially the drums just sound flat and drag the energy right out of the songs despite the tempo set on them by their drummer. The band seems somewhat disengaged despite banging their heads and moving along to the music. Marshall herself stays mostly out of the light, on one side of the stage, and seems reluctant to be in focus. Perhaps the experience on the front rows is another one but from a bit further back in the room, I end up with a very bland impression even as it started out somewhat promising. [5] LF


Mizmor & Thou @ 22:50 on Main Stage

It is no secret that Thou is a regular attendee of Roadburn’s, both privately and in the capacity of a performing artist. But this year, the NOLA sludge metal troop seems to be everywhere, to the point that some people are joking about the band probably going to announce a surprise set in the 013 toilets before the weekend is over. Before that, however, it was sprung upon the crowd during the morning that Thou would be partnering up with Mizmor for an unannounced collaborative set in the venue’s main hall, which, being a fan of both artists, was of course something that I needed to see. There are six musicians on stage and my first impression of the set is that it seems to be completely improvised, starting off in grim black metal style with Mizmor’s frontman A.L.N leading the charge, and eventually morphing into the crunchy riffage and scathing growls we have come to expect from Thou’s brand of sludgy stoner doom. As the set lumbers on and Thou’s vocalist Bryan Funck takes the lead, things start to turn a little more interesting, with the title track to the pairing’s surprise release, “Myopia”, in particular tickling me in all the right places with its grand, melancholy lead melody and heavy disposition. And once the set enters its final moments with “The Root”, I am not surprised to detect the reek of weed lingering in the air; it is exactly the sort of slow burning and psychedelic doom piece that stoners love to use as their smoking soundtrack. It is a fine show from these artists, but I would have loved to hear more innovation in it rather than just an amalgam of their individual styles. [7] AP


Health @ 23:30 in The Engine Room

We’ve dusted off our dancing shoes for one final rave at The Engine Room. HEALTH is bathed in swathes of red light and post-rocky ambience before breaking into flashing strobes and pumping bass drums, then disintegrating into fast blast beats and screaming. As you can probably tell, the first hand impression you get from the music HEALTH creates is somewhat schizophrenic - lots of different styles of metal, synth, industrial, new wave and more - but once the show gets properly going it is entirely captivating to watch how they weave these numerous different styles together so seamlessly. “Stonefist” brings the hard pumping techno bass and distorted synth stabs ready for the grimiest club in Berlin with Jake Duzsik laying his high pitched, soft vocals on top to create an atmosphere that is entirely their own.

What I have heard from the band on record has been a lot more electronic, so seeing the live bassist and drummer adds an interesting acoustic touch to tracks I have already and “Men Today” is no exception - this short burst of oscillating synth and mathcore-sque drum breaks and noise is overwhelming to witness while the slow jam “Strange Days (1999)” at first hypnotizes instead of energizing before a really cool break of machine-gun-like noise fires at the crowd. It is a very strange combination of sounds that on paper maybe shouldn’t work but yet it does. In one moment you’re grooving along to punchy beats and mellow synths like you’re visiting some underground cyberpunk club of the future, the next you’re overwhelmed by harsh noise and black-metal screams. Being just weird is not in of itself a recipe for success but HEALTH pulls it off and is one of the more genuinely creative shows I’ve seen thus far at this year’s Roadburn Festival. [8½] KW


SATURDAY, APRIL 23RD

Midwife @ 13:00 in The Engine Room

Compared to the demolition administered by LLNN the day before, Midwife’s lo-fi slowcore offers a delightfully mild start to this third day of the festival. Initially her performance entails only strums of electric guitar, until — some five minutes in — an electronic beat kicks in and the artist behind the moniker, Madeline Johnston, starts to sing in her soft and whispery voice that reminds me of Billie Eilish. She does so through a microphone that is in fact an old, rewired telephone handle, which adds a distant and megaphonic effect to her singing, as though she were calling us from afar to share her thoughts and feelings with us. The room is absolutely dead silent, providing the perfect atmosphere for a particularly fragile rendition of the standout “God Is a Cop” from Midwife’s 2021 album “Luminol”, its heart wrenching lamentations of “I can’t kill the evil thought" resonating cutting through the crowd like a scalpel. It is impressive how evocative Midwife’s music turns out to be despite its being so minimalistic and inward-turning, a sensation heightened by the dim, slowly panning lights and simplistic guitar solos bursting with nerve. And if anyone was in doubt about how Johnston’s music fits the festival’s philosophy of redefining heaviness, she serves us a prompt reminder in the final track “Name” (taken from 2017’s “Like Author, Like Daughter”) with her abrupt, distorted growls of “Your god hates me!" that erupt from an otherwise downtrodden piece of music. This is an eye opening set for me, one that unearths a hidden gem from the soils of experimental music. [8] AP


Jo Quail performing “The Cartographer” @ 15:20 on Main Stage

Jo Quail and her electric cello is something I have never experienced as anything but a solo act but this year, with the commissioned work “The Cartographer”, she shines not only as a performer but especially as a composer. For Roadburn, a fully orchestral work in five movements, they start out on stage with a grand piano, violin, a set of bass drums, percussion, and eight trombones, aside from Jo Quail in focus on her usual instrument, and Jos Pijnappel front and center as the conductor. An ominous tone is set, and a quick spoken word start from Belgian singer Lucie Dehli sets things in motion. Everyone in the audience is quiet, thanks to the closed bars and doors of the venue, and we are left to dive with the musicians into this massive work of art. Quail leads for a while, stacking her sounds in layers on top of each other as we are used to, laying the groundwork for what is to come. The trombones set in periodically, contrasting their heavy almost intrusive sound to a more fleeting violin melody. Next, a part follows with an almost majestic feel in the slowly moving rhythm and more dominating trombones here, later on intersecting heavily with differing piano sections. The music is generally brooding and haunting in its tonal landscape, and no doubt, the eerie cover design for the album which is the visual background for a good part of the set tonight, informs our interpretation of the piece as well. I must admit that I am not equally engaged throughout the piece but I am also wondering if this is not mainly because I am unused to the progressions and build-ups of classical music.

Two parts really stand out for me, though, both appearing across the middle section of the piece. First, a tonal shift appears, suddenly, in the third movement. Dehli has been back in front of her microphone with a purposely frail melody backing the violin but is joined this time by Jake Harding of Grave Lines. Single drum beats join with dark piano tones and his whispering voice for an incredibly ominous feeling of being dragged into murky waters or maybe hunted by the undead bird of the album cover. Majestic trombones come and go for a while, leading up to a short but effective culmination as Harding almost bursts into growls. Then, as the vocalists exit the stage, this is followed by another change in vibe. We are presented with a much lighter sound with a percussion-heavy rhythm and circling violin pattern that gives it a communal feel almost akin to folk music. It still has the same groundwork built up and maintained by Quail and the sound grows in intensity for a while before breaking down to a halt. The last, shorter movement builds up to the most massive sound yet, as a celebratory overture comprising every orchestra member. Certainly, it has been a commanding and refreshingly different experience than a lot of the sets we otherwise see at Roadburn. [8] LF


Hangman’s Chair performing “A Loner” @ 16:40 in The Terminal

If you are yet to listen to “A Loner”, the latest album by this French quartet, you have been missing out on one of the best releases of 2022 thus far. And here they are, playing the entire thing live for the first time, all four members engaged in what can only be described as an occult dance routine during the opener “An Ode to Breakdown”. The band is a thrill to watch, and although the record’s marriage of gothic rock and stoner doom does sound quite original, this concert is nonetheless the first of the weekend to offer something simple and straightforward. Songs like “Cold & Distant” and the moody slow burner that is “Storm Resounds” are verging on catchy, which is not a term that is used too often in the context of Roadburn music, but above all it is the emotion and nerve residing in the instrumental segments that strike a chord with me. And as I am leaning back, taking in the expertly composed “Supreme”, it is plain for anyone to see that the musicians themselves are just as invested in the music, guitarist Julien Chanut leaning over as he shreds the wailing lead in that song and bassist Clément Hanvic brandishing his instrument like a standard bearer matching into battle. Hangman’s Chair’s music is nothing if not melancholy, yet their showmanship is antithetical to its nature, coming across like the antics of a mainstream rock band rather than the introspective doom metal crew they really are. I jokingly note down that the band strikes me as the doom metal equivalent of Alcest, but the more I’ve thought about it afterwards, this is actually a description that makes a lot of sense — Hangman’s Chair’s demeanour in the live setting is just as impassioned. [8] AP


Liturgy performing “H.A.Q.Q.” @ 18:50 on Main Stage

The 013’s main hall is oddly silent when Liturgy, led by the arresting Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, enters the stage. There is a strange sense of insecurity lingering in the air, underscored by bassist Tia Vincent Clark’s dropping her instrument for a brief moment, but once the iterating riff and gradually intensifying heaviness of the opener “HAJJ” grips the audience, the concert seems to be getting more assertive. This is, again, a full-album performance of Liturgy’s critically revered 2019 offering “H.A.Q.Q.”, which, although it is not a record I am too familiar with, certainly earns its praise as an important part of the burgeoning post-black metal scene. Except Hunt-Hendrix’s distinctive style of vocals, that is. I cannot possibly be the first person to think her shrieks have a tendency to grow a bit exhausting after a while. The best way to describe them, I think, is as growls without the gr, utterly devoid of depth. But while Hunt-Hendrix’s vocalisation rubs me the wrong way, there is no denying the quality of the instrumentals in tracks like “Virginity” and “Pasaqalia”; cascading riffs and sweeping, cinematic soundscapes that reach a climax in “God of Love”. Interestingly, the band opts to skip all of the instrumental pieces that also reside on “H.A.Q.Q.”, preferring instead to play a trident of older cuts in the end of the set, out of which the heavy and droning “Generation” and the tempestuous “Glory Bronze” (both taken from 2011’s “Aesthethica”) emerge as clear highlights of the set. It is a set that grows better by the minute then, albeit never offering the epiphanies that I always hope to have at a Roadburn concert. [6] AP


Nothing @ 19:30 in The Terminal

Dreamy visual backdrops with a 90s VHS aesthetic sets the tone for the shoegaze sensibilities of Nothing. Backboard-breaking dunks, psychedelic landscapes interspersed with clips of everyday life, the visual aspect of Nothing is evocative, yet the music unfortunately starts out being the opposite. This kind of washed out, sleepy shoegaze is not my forte admittedly but the first couple of tracks just does not resonate with me enough compared to the captivating visuals. It’s definitely well played and the somber, fragile vocals from Domenic Palermo fits nicely with the vibe, but they do little to set themselves apart from all the other big names in the sphere. It all feels a little standard.

Luckily, as the iconic scene of Major Kong riding the atom bomb from “Dr. Strangelove” hits the screen, the intensity takes a much needed turn upwards as the groovy start-stop noise of “April Ha Ha” while the David Lynchian guitar intro of “The Dead Are Dumb” could’ve been taken straight out of a roadhouse scene in Twin Peaks. The two guitarists harmonize with each other nicely throughout while bassist Christina Michelle does a great job of being the main stage presence while the other two are singing, grooving along nicely to the mellow atmospheres. A personal favourite of mine “Famine Asylum” is also a clear highlight here - the dreamy shoegaze definitely works best when the heaviness increases and sets it apart from the rest, a moment of the show that finally successfully mesmerizes me. All in all, Nothing delivered a nice-sounding, at times slightly dull show, that hurt no one but also did not wow me. [6½] KW


Five The Hierophant @ 19:50 on Next Stage

This instrumental UK five-piece has been on my radar for a while but I have never managed to catch them live before tonight. I did not foresee the heavily shamanistic quality to the performance of their droning music, beginning with the band all in black robes, the burning of incense, and the chiming of a bell. Monochrome flames burn on the backdrop as the music slowly builds, and two ceremonial horns are brought in to supplement their lead saxophone. The ritual has been initiated. Shortly after, the tempo picks up a bit and we are off. Their songs effortlessly blend the heaviness of doom with an avant-garde jazz tradition that in turn contains touches of Middle-Eastern music in the wailing of the saxophone. They play very much on repetition and the building of grooving patterns for a hypnotic effect. The main movement of the show is one of ebb and flow as we cycle between loud and quiet, and the free-form saxophone is ever-present to keep things alive over the heavy vibrations of the cycling guitars and bass. After a while, some of us are clearly getting out of the zone, though, lacking just a bit more variety, although the groove has kept a hold on the audience for a good while. [7] LF


Silver Knife @ 20:10 in Hall of Fame

I have to preface this review with the fact that it was unfortunately the first time I simply could not get into the Hall of Fame in time. The queue was massive and I couldn’t get there ahead of time as I was reviewing Nothing so I only caught the last 20 minutes or so of Silver Knife - so adjust expectations for this review accordingly.

But that just makes it that more annoying that what I am greeted with is some powerful atmospheric black metal from this underground supergroup. Harrowing screams, tremolo-picking and blast beats - all the main ingredients of the genre are here. And while it’s not something entirely out of the ordinary sound-wise, it is performed with such emotional authenticity that I get absolutely stunned. The vocals are absolutely insane - it literally sounds like he’s dying with these genuinely pained screams which is perfect for this intense brand of melancholic black metal. Performance-wise there’s not much going on apart from the usual barrage of strobes and plenty of smoke on stage but the music speaks for itself. The sound mix is cavernous, like the frontman is screaming all alone in an abandoned, locked cellar as this chilling end to the set laces the melancholy with a sinister undertone, like there’s no coming out of the hellhole that is depression. Even though it was a short showcase for me personally, Silver Knife definitely left a mark on me with their sonically distilled hopelessness. [8] KW


Slift & Etienne Jaumet @ 20:40 on Main Stage

It was a borderline hallucinatory experience, watching the artists-in-residence Slift rip through the heavy psychedelia of their latest album “Ummon” on the festival’s opening day — so the prospect of a saxophonist joining the French trio on stage was too appetising for me to pass on, despite not having planned on it initially. The band’s set tonight is a mixed affair as far as the setlist goes, but it is no less trippy. In fact, the infusions of improvisational sax by Etienne Jaumet serve to render it even more kaleidoscopic, in particular when he adds some bizarre effects to his brass instrument. Not everything in this performance seems premeditated, which is one of my favourite things about psychedelic rock, yet the four musicians deliver their jams astonishingly tightly, whilst also rocking out wildly in the process. A mesmerising visual backdrop depicting, among other space themes, an event horizon, only amplifies the immersive nature of the experience, which, despite lasting a good hour, feels all too short when the band’s lengthy final jam reaches its conclusion, with Jaumet turning and twisting knobs to create a whirlwind of effects amidst the roaring guitar, bass and drums. It is rare to find bands who have the kind of subliminal understanding of each other to be able to pull such heavily improvised creations off so seamlessly, and if I wasn’t a huge fan of Slift on the basis of their first set already, I certainly am now! [8] AP


Kælan Mikla performing “Undir Köldum Noruljósum” @ 20:50 in The Engine Room

Tonight is not my first show with this bewitching electronic trio from Iceland but it is certainly a special one since they will be playing all of their latest magnificent album. I would say they fall firmly in the genre of dark wave or even synth pop which might seem a stretch for Roadburn but there is certainly something very eerie and dark in their music that makes it fit nevertheless. The cold, industrial sounds created by synthesizer, effects, and bass, are always grounded in a heavy beat and some great melodies that have had me dancing around at home before. Here they make a great impression as well, as the three play through the songs in scrambled order, keeping the album show surprising throughout. Unfortunately, the vocals do feel less warm and present than on record - a problem I am sure stems from creating an intimate mix in the industrial confines of The Engine Room and not anywhere on stage. The band members all seem engaged in their performance, and especially main vocalist, Laufey Soffía, makes some impressive contributions, several times stepping back from the microphone to let out some high-pitched vocals of incredible force that echo through the sound mix to great effect.

Overall this is an incredibly atmospheric set, and I welcome the electronic foundations in a line-up that is mainly guitar-focused. The amazing, echoing and repetitive “Ósýnileg” has me grooving along especially, and “Sólstöður” with its haunting screams from the entire trio in the choruses, induces chills late in the set. Finally, the hypnotic and slow “Hvítir Sandar” which features Neige of Alcest on guitar and vocals appears in a perfect performance last in the set, and has me rambling for the next hour about the uniqueness of shows and artists meeting up at Roadburn. It is certainly a high point of the festival for me to experience this combination live as I never really thought before that I ever would. Still, this is not the best Kælan Mikla have sounded live and in hindsight, it pulls the entire experience down for me a bit. The band themselves did what they do best, no doubt there, but the melodies and various adornments across the songs just fell too much in the background for the songs to really pack the same punch as I feel they would otherwise. [7½] LF


Ulver performing “Flowers of Evil” @ 22:30 on Main Stage

The thin, nearly invisible veil in front of the stage inside the 013’s main hall is a promising sign that Ulver has something special in store for us. And as the Norwegian experimental rock group’s show gets underway with an extended version of “One Last Dance” and the subsequent “Russian Doll”, that hunch is confirmed by one of the most stunning visual aesthetics I have seen at a concert yet. The band is projecting the chalk outline of a ballet dancer onto the veil and simultaneously running video animations on a backdrop to create a three-dimensional visual experience that engulfs the eight musicians. It is an absolutely breathtaking effect that complements the ensemble’s avant-garde fusions of gothic and post-rock, krautrock and electronica perfectly. All around me, members of the audience are raving to the tune of Ulver’s psychedelic creations, but while I can understand how the music would have that effect on people, I am far too mesmerised for such antics by the astonishing projections of a ring of fire that seems to expand from thin air from the middle of the stage during “Apocalypse 1993”, or the pixel noise flickering behind, in front of, and even amidst the octet as “Bring Out Your Dead” is aired. The musicians, led by the enigmatic vocalist Kristoffer Rygg, seem keen on stretching their material into unusual lengths, adding a guitar solo to an intro here, a jam segment to an outro there, and even a piano soliloquy to “Little Boy”, creating a show that must feel cool and unpredictable even for devout fans of the band’s 2020 album “Flowers of Evil”, which is the subject of the performance. I had never actually listened to Ulver’s music before tonight, but the rhythmic nature and the entrancing atmosphere of this elegant, magisterial concert mean that this is certainly going to change now. [9] AP


Dödsrit @ 23:30 in Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame is once again packed a full 20 minutes before the show. I must admit that I did not expect this massive turnout for something as arguably somewhat “basic black metal” on the surface as Dödsrit but perhaps people are looking for some more straight intensity at this late night showing, in between all the experimental, hipster-y stuff of the festival. And my guessing seems to have been right - the energy is palpable as the band starts churning out epic, almost classic heavy metal dual harmonies from the guitars, resounding blast beats, and throat-shredding black metal screams and the temperature only keeps rising. When the flood of melodic black metal and insanely catchy lead melody of “Apathetic Tongues” fires on all cylinders, a rare sight is spotted… it is the fabled crowd surfer of Roadburn! They are usually a rare sight at the festival as most resort to the “arms-crossed, nodding in approval”-stance at most shows, but not here. It is a testament to the incredibly effective show Dödsrit is putting on - multiple arms and legs are seen flying on top of people throughout the show, mosh-pits are breaking out constantly but the band also know when to interchange the blast beats and d-beats with incredible, hypnotic post-metal sections. This reaches its highest point with the only song not from their newest album “Mortal Coil” - “Aura” from “Spirit Crusher”. While it starts out with blazingly fast crust punk rhythms and once again sets the crowd on fire, it is the trance-inducing, introspective post-metal outro that takes the cake of the show with massive force. I can only close my eyes and headbang along to this amazing, foreboding atmosphere - an amazing end to an amazing show. [9] KW


Full of Hell & Nothing @ 00:40 on Main Stage

One of the most interesting collaborations on this year’s Roadburn bill was this joint performance by the grindcore masters in Full of Hell and the dreamy noise rock ensemble Nothing. What would it sound like? Well, as it turns out, the music these two outfits have concocted for the occasion is neither grindcore nor noise rock, rather taking the character of slow and atmospheric post-rock or perhaps shoegaze. Swathes of the set are lacking in standout moments, although the dreaminess and moodiness of the songs do strike a chord with me to an extent — especially when, some 20 minutes in, the collective airs a creepy track that sounds like the score to some A24 horror movie. There is also an excellent piece of post-rock build-up that arrives around the middle of the set backed by strange, yet arresting visuals of insects going about their business, but in general terms I would argue that each of these bands is better on their own than in unison. It is a decent show, featuring a number of mind blowing individual moments, but as a whole, it is nothing to write home about in this scribe’s humble opinion. [6] AP


SUNDAY, APRIL 24TH

Terzij de Horde & Ggu:ll @ 14:10 in The Terminal

My final day at Roadburn begins with one of my top-of-the-agenda concerts, namely (what I thought would be) a collaborative performance featuring the Dutch bands Terzij de Horde and Ggu:ll. Black metal, doom an drone tend to result in a mouthwatering cocktail, as artists such as Mizmor and The Ruins of Beverast et al. have proven, but it soon emerges that this is not going to be a collaborative performance, strictly speaking. Rather, the set begins with black metallers Terzij de Horde on stage and their vocalist Joost Vervoort orating in spoken word against a soundtrack of slow and droning instrumentals in “De Eerste Zoon”. This is followed by a full performance of their latest EP “In One of These, I Am Your Enemy”, with fiery, solar visuals creating a dramatic backdrop for the messianic antics of Vervoort and his hellbent looking troupe of musicians. His impassioned demeanour sends him kneeling at times, his face contorting into an expression of anguish as he lets out his harrowing growls amidst droves of cascading guitar melodies and thunderous drumming. The show reminds me strongly of the commissioned, Icelandic “Vánagandr: Sól an varma” performance at this festival in 2018, with its vast, apocalyptic soundscape and intensely entrancing nature.

Once “Cheiron” brings the EP to its conclusion, the lighting turns from reddish orange to pure green as the musicians from the psychedelic drone metal act Ggu:ll take over, radically altering the nature of the concert toward a grimy, sludgy, and stoning style. But while their music is much less intense than that of Terzij de Horde, the quartet’s showmanship is just as arresting, with all four members of the quartet throwing their instruments around in the throes of passion, striking each, crushing chord with brutish force. The penultimate song “Waan”, off Ggu:ll’s first and only album “Dwaling” from 2016, is particularly impressive, by virtue of the malicious guitar lead laid down by frontman William van der Voort and his colleague Gert-Jan Kerremans — but even this masterpiece is dwarfed by the finale, “Hoon”, which finally unites both bands in full force, with two vocalists, four guitarists, two drummers and two bassists all melting together to generate one of the most astonishing walls of noise I have ever borne witness to. [8] AP


The Devil’s Trade & John Cxnnor @ 15:00 on Next Stage

There is complete silence on stage as brothers Rasmus and Ketil Sejersen aka John Cxnnor stand looming in front of their synths before Blade Runner-sque cinematic ambience fills the room. The Devil’s Trade (Dávid Makó) lends his chilling, soulful voice in this commissioned piece at Roadburn. Being familiar with both of their work, I must admit I had my doubts about how well they would meld together but all doubts are quickly put to rest. The music evolves from pumping hardcore techno beats to slow mellow tracks with steel-infused cybernetic overtones. Ungodly pitch shifting, digitizing effects turn The Devil’s Trade into some evil AI overlord at one point, while another sees him spine-tinglingly croon over a slow mellow beat. Everything is in the right place somehow and helps transport the listener into this brutal future world they are conjuring up through mechanical bass and foreboding synth.

“This is the first time we share a stage together and probably the last” - The Devil’s Trade laments about the difficult process of making this project work but the winners are definitely everyone in the audience tonight. This is a wicked, wholly unique experience that seems so unlikely to work on paper but just does. The hellish dissonance of this last track is disgusting, the bass is grinding my very soul to dust, while the chilling vocalizations and added guitar of The Devil’s Trade closes off this cold, futuristic ceremony. All hail our new mechanical masters. [9] KW


Liturgy performing “Origin of the Alimonies” @ 15:40 on Main Stage

The collection of songs that we are to experience this afternoon form a highly conceptual pseudo-religious sort of creation myth set forth into the world by the electronically infused avant-garde black metal band’s frontwoman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix. It stands in clear connection with the band’s earlier output that has been engaged in outlining an entire belief system via lyrics and accompanying diagrams and texts. As if that was not complex enough, this extremely avant-garde album prominently features a classical orchestra, and also came out complete with visual accompaniment in the shape of a movie starring and created by Hunt-Hendrix in her own living room. Today, the album is played as it was perhaps always meant to be: with classical musicians on stage, and this video blown up on the huge backdrop behind the band. The intensity of the music seems to follow along almost like a soundtrack or indeed an opera to the ups and downs in the drama of the myth which is explained throughout with written-out lyrics, and even long bits of text during instrumental parts, that overlay the video. Visually, we circle through various sequences of her body in various stance, lit up ominously by various lights. 

As mentioned, the whole thing is quite operatic in setup and as such, the scope of it is immense. At the same time, the intimacy of the video provides an odd juxtaposition that stretches out the meaning of the music with further layers. It feels like we are experiencing a visual drama that is at once taking place on the grandest of cosmic scales, trying to explain metaphysics and the passing of human history and development, and on the most intimately personal scale, dealing with emotions and thoughts related to the frontwoman’s experience as transgender. As such, thematically it is a fascinating achievement and I let it wash over me, but at the same time, it is sonically really hard for me to like. The music itself is filled with dissonance and indeed behaves like an extremely dramatic and eclectic soundtrack, while the vocals hit a constantly sharp and somewhat monotonous tone, that comes through way too high-pitched for my liking. It is a lot to take in, and even the sheer amount of reading and trying to wrap my head around the whole system while taking in the music too, in the end does not prove successful, as much as I really want it to. [6] LF


Solar Temple & Dead Neanderthals performing “Embers Beget the Divine” @ 16:30 in The Terminal

Droning synths and ominous guitar feedback envelops The Terminal before the heavy psych truly starts with this next commissioned piece from Solar Temple and Dead Neanderthals aptly titled “Embers Beget the Divine” based on the burning embers on the backdrop visuals. The drum sound has a cool raw quality to it but apart from that the sound mix seems very messy at first - I can see guitarists moving their hands but barely make out any sonic feedback from it. Fortunately it doesn’t take that long for more definition to show up in the guitar department, but sadly that does little for my enjoyment of the show. The band tries their hardest to lull me into a trance but does not leave any impact on me whatsoever. It is basically the same riff and root note being played over and over again for over 20 minutes ad nauseam. I think for jammy songs like this to work in that capacity, you have to have some kind of change to the sound on top to maintain any interest. Some may call this hypnotic, I call it sleep-inducing. 

The next song is much more effective out of the gate though with its epic, airy feel and much more engaging drum groove. The textures are more realised but once again it all gets stale after no real change for 10 minutes. It is not until the last movement of the song where it all grows way darker and more dramatic that I actually start to feel a little of the hypnotic qualities that they are clearly going for, and when the tremolo picking starts in the last song everything becomes straight-up psychedelic black metal. At first I celebrated this descent into more intensity as it is generally more my style - but my happiness is short lived after hearing this same tremolo-picked lead riff for the billionth time. Kudos to the guitarist though for being able to actually do this so tightly for what seems like forever, but is it engaging? Not in the slightest. I will wake up sweaty in the night hearing this simple tremolo riff, ringing in my head for the rest of eternity if this keeps going. This becomes so self-indulgent to the point of insanity that I have absolutely no idea what people get out of this. But I am probably just not stoned enough or something. I can’t complain about the performance itself though - everyone delivered on that front and the warm visuals were a great touch. But the piece itself was just mind-numbing for a majority of the time, only really catching my attention in the middle part. [5] KW


Dawn Ray’d @ 17:00 in Ladybird Skatepark

Some 2/3’s of the way into Solar Temple & Dead Neanderthal’s tsunami of droning noise, I make an impromptu decision to jog over to the Ladybird Skatepark to catch the just-announced surprise set by the British anarcho-black metallers of Dawn Ray’d. The trio’s performance is already underway when I arrive and the first thing I notice is how infernally loud and reverberating the sound mix is. But once the initial shock wears off, I focus my attention on guitarist Fabian Devlin, who is playing his instrument with gritted teeth, twisting and turning like a wraith amidst the blastbeat-driven storm of the band’s music, and I am instantly drawn to the group. There is a distinct DIY vibe about their show, giving the three musicians the appearance of black metal buskers, an impression culminating in a short speech by vocalist Simon Barr about solving societal problems from the bottom up as a community, and lamenting how in his hometown of Liverpool, “everything seems to be getting worse, and worse, and worse — all the time". This political edge, combined with Barr’s infusions of violin into the group’s songs, renders Dawn Ray’d into a surprising discovery offering both unique music and messages most of us at this festival can probably get behind at least on some level. It is a shame that the show is taking place in the light and is suffering from too much clang and treble in the mix to really succeed on the highest level, but at the very least, Barr’s message comes through loud and clear. [6] AP


Hangman’s Chair & Regarde les Hommes Tomber @ 19:10 on Main Stage

No less than 9 people occupy the Main Stage. Another interesting combination of sounds have been put together for Roadburn Festival 2022: Hangman’s Chair with their bright, gothic doom metal seeks to fuse with the fierce atmospheric black of Regarde les Hommes Tomber. A curious combination on paper which just makes it all the more interesting to witness the outcome. Artist Costin Chioreanu has provided some very evocative drawn visuals of several humans tumbling down through the different layers of hell, which fits really well with these dark leads and gloomy ambience. While the vocals constantly switch between the black metal screams of Thomas Chenu and the emotive, soaring singing of Cédric Toufouti, the music itself seems to quite drastically switch between the two bands’ style instead of marrying them to create something greater. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds really good but one could’ve hoped for a little more synchronization between the two in these first moments. 

Yet this isn’t always the case as this next track much more successfully combines the sounds the bands are known for which makes it all the more unique: the pounding double bass from the two drummers combined with the bright sludgy tones of Hangman’s Chair is a memorable sound which later descends into a monstrous, heavy doom groove with demons, cherubs, tortured souls, and rotting remnants of people on spikes are seen in the background, rattling my bones with from the rumbling force the 3 guitarists, two bassists and two drummers combine to conjure up. It ended up being a piece that for the most part sounded exactly like you’d expect which in this case was… well… great! [8] KW


Lamp Of Murmuur @ 20:10 in The Terminal

“Finally some corpse paint and an illegible bundle of sticks logo!”, I exclaim perhaps a bit too loudly, as this mysterious and extremely hyped black metal project from Los Angeles, CA takes the stage with a visual aesthetic that oozes tradition. What I mean is that some straightforward, classic black metal could provide a welcome break from all the experimentalism that has characterised much of my Roadburn ’22 experience thus far, and on the basis of their opening track, “Reduced to Slavery and Submission” off last year’s “Submission and Slavery” album, this indeed seems to be the name of the game. It is a convincing start boasting all the hallmarks of the genre: epic, yet ominous guitar leads, blastbeats galore, and shrill growls that could shatter glass by the enigmatic frontman known only by his pseudonym M.. Yet in true Roadburn fashion, this is of course a ruse, as touches of shoegaze, ’70s hair metal guitar soloing à la Slægt, and even a punky disco beat arrive to disrupt the otherwise frigid conformance to a traditional Norwegian palette. The lighting is also aggressively pink at times, which however couples perfectly with the sheets of retro synth in the closing “Heir of Ecliptical Romanticism” from the band’s 2020 début album of the same name, underlining that while Lamp of Murmuur certainly like to think of themselves as a black metal act, they’re not shy about changing things up either. But although the band’s performance is quite dramatic and ecclesiastical, there is an argument to be made that some of the musical marriages happening within the music might be just a tad too wild to come across as compatible. This is nonetheless a nice and long-due introduction to a band that will probably be on everyone’s lips in the near future, and I for one will be following their evolution keenly. [7] AP


Green Lung performing “Black Harvest” @ 22:00 on Next Stage

With my brain completely fried from all the wild concert experiences during the weekend, the British stoner doom ensemble Green Lung’s more straightforward take on their genre feels like the perfect ending to the weekend for me. The crunchy, pentatonic riffs of guitarist Scott Black, the swathes of theatrical organ by John Wright, and those distinctive, howling vocals of Tom Templar in “Old Gods” quickly have the audience banging their heads in riff heaven while a creepy devil mask stationed at the organ stares us down ominously. And while the rest of the band’s performance is quite typical of the stoner genre in being somewhat introspective, Templar’s performance is anything but. He is one of the most forthcoming frontmen I have seen at the festival thus far, owning the audience through his expressive showmanship and knack for letting out catchy choruses in tracks like the standout “Graveyard Sun”, with its distinct Led Zeppelin vibe. Noticing the enthusiasm of the crowd, Wright’s own performance also turns wild at this point, and he spends the rest of this play-through of “Black Harvest” rocking out like a man possessed (by that demonic mask in front of him?). “I wish we could play ‘Woodland Rites’ in full also”, Templar laments as the time comes for an encore with the groovy and smoke laced “Doomsayer”, before proceeding to conclude the show with a roar of “HAIL SATAN!” much to the crowd’s satisfaction. Indeed, while Green Lung’s music is not an innovation on stoner doom, it is easy to see why they were booked for Roadburn nonetheless, as simply put: they’re on of the best live bands I have seen in the genre thus far. [8] AP


Radar Men From The Moon & Twin Sister performing “Mirrors for Discharge” @ 22:50 on Main Stage

Our final musical experience this Roadburn is a loud one featuring two drummers on each their drumkit, three guitars, bass, synthesizer, and last but not least some intense and deep-set screaming. I regret that I was not able to be here on the warm-up day to the festival to experience the Dutch “acid metal” group Radar Me From The Moon tear everything apart but at least I get to be here for this collaborative set with the normally more heavy-set and slow Twin Sister. These songs have an immensely firm beat and a steadily rolling tempo, of course, brought on by the two drummers that mostly play in sync through the set. The expression is like a booming kind of post-punk with monotonous but fiercely engaged vocals and repetitive but always highly energetic riffs that drone on and on for some long and intense pieces. I note to myself that this is the final death of our poor ears that have been pushed to their limits already with the number of sonic experiences they have taken in over the past four days. It is a barrage that, at first, I have a hard time engaging fully in out of sheer exhaustion and being just a bit full of droning bands at this point. As the set keeps stubbornly pushing on, though, I do find myself swooped up and carried by the constant waves of sound, as it surely provides a fittingly loud finish to this year’s magical Roadburn experience. [7½] LF

CONCLUSION

The 2022 edition of Roadburn was, once again, an eye opening experience, full of new discoveries made, new horizons found, and new friendships forged. There was so much music packed into the four days that I honestly had to take two weeks off from listening to anything let alone attending any concerts, just to process everything that I had seen at the festival. And when you feel that way, it is a testimony to not only an expertly composed programme, but of a booking team whose mission in life seems to be to cater to the genuine connoisseurs of music — to give people experiences that are far beyond what they would get out of an ‘ordinary’ concert by most, if not all of the artists who played this year. From a musical perspective thus, there isn’t a finger to place on anything Walter Hoeijmakers, Becky Laverty and Joël Heijda could have done differently, and with a fascinating side programme to go with it, it really feels like Roadburn 2022 was something so rare as complete.

Under normal circumstances we would use this space to comment on some of the things that did not work so well at a particular festival, but in the context of Roadburn this year, we’re not sure what that should be. The biggest issue at past editions of the festival has been excessively long queues, but this has been resolved by the retirement of both Cul de Sac and Het Patronaat, and in the case of Hall of Fame: not placing some of the most hyped or popular artists onto that stage. Indeed, the most time any of our team had to queue for a concert was perhaps 10 minutes at the most, and in terms of getting food, drink or a bathroom break, everything ran smoothly as well.

So instead, I will use this section of the article to heap praise on the entire team behind Roadburn, without whom there would be nothing as unique as this now iconic festival. Its warm and welcoming atmosphere, the community that has formed around it, and the visionary bookings that continue to defy belief year after year, are the reason we continue to return to Tilburg — in order to feel part of something much bigger than just another music festival.

THANK YOU, AND SEE YOU IN 2023!

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