The gloom and doom has translated to the weather for Saturday, being a bit grey and showery. Good for the garden, they say, hence our starting the day entering the church to the sound of dawn/mid-afternoon chorus of spring time birdsong, and the eccentric entity that is Botanist (above). A one-man black metal project grown into a band for live, the cowled monks of this unnatural order mix hammered dulcimers, multi-string bass, some squeeze box organ type thing to create explosive harsh viciousness sharply contrasted to delicate ambience of outdoor sounds. Fascinating.
While we’re in the mood for a gentle soothing into the day get over to Stage 01 for Coma Wall from Oxfordshire, the husbands and wives team that also make up Undersmile are additionally joined by a cellist. The drifting, mellow acoustic folk pieces are an aural pleasure, impressive to watch the drummer handle banjo duties simultaneously. We are interspersing the smaller venue visits here with interludes of Goblin (below) live soundtracking “Dawn of the Dead” on the main stage, which is bizarre and hilarious to see in huge detail on the back projection but also seems an absolute doss for the band (who originally scored the film anyway) as they sit around a lot then occasionally burst into some electro porn funk.
More from the UK down in the Green Room with Death Penalty, featuring ex-Cathedral guitarist Gaz. He, and the catsuited singer, bring an amiable banter to the stage and follow it up with some full-on retro-metal, enjoyable enough if not outstanding. Simply out standing on his own next was King Dude (above) over at Het, one man in the darkest of blacks and his guitar. He’d only come to my attention being brought into this eclectic line-up but I’m love with his songs already, and he’s evidently loving the experience here himself, as he engages in some dead pan banter and savours the environment before seeming to get focused on the fervour of his occult ballads. His acoustic folk and deep vocal lulls and stirs you into a false sense of security while he supremely twisted lyrical darkness puts him up there with the likes of Nick Cave. Amazing. I am most gutted about leaving this show through clashes, the people queueing outside must think we are hipster idiots but I will definitely be going to check him out when on tour again for the full experience.
Annoying that our chosen attempt to see the dirty thrash punks of Oozing Wound fails in the overflowing Stage 01, then we instead get a cramped view from the gods of the balcony of the Green Room for Sun Worship, black metal from Germany. Initially they are building dark structures but then break out into hyperspeed blasting that goes on and on into the realms of the sonically spectacular. The epic relentless drums bring to mind Wolves in the Throne Room, and it is an irresistible torrent of rolling thunderous riffing, still maintaining an undercurrent of atmospheric shifts in mood throughout, bleak and yet uplifting. Genuinely impressive. Another failed mission next as the queue outside the cult deathsters Acid Witch seems to fail to move through their entire slot, so instead a bit more Enslaved, where my initial upbeat assessment of yesterday starts to fade as they exhibit more standard “Norwegian Heavy Metal”, the kind of funky prog from Messenger next door is ok just not my thing, so rely on Tombs from the US over at the church to pick things up again. Probably the punchiest metal orientated band of the day if not the weekend, they have a blackened angle at times but their core is throwing themselves into twisting, battering rams of riffs that stagger you backwards. Since I last saw them here they have opened out their sound somewhat but retained all the power. To complete a trilogy of tragedy we have no chance of seeing the haunting dark melodies of Darkher from darkest Yorkshire but at least pick up the ritualistic beats and languid, lilting vocals from afar. The Heads are now on the main stage and it’s a full-on Technicolor happening now, though in some ways I preferred them the previous day. We spin around to the Green Room and get hammered by Black Anvil, with some raw black metal from New York City. There’s an old school punk vibe running through their veins, you can see some similarities to Mortals but these guys have a darker/seedier intent overall, it’s good stuff.
This sets up nicely to be in the area for Undersmile (above) here next, as I have been trying to get my head around the strange enigma of their sound since they graced us with their presence at Hammerfest. Their new album “Anhedonia” has seen them become much more varied in their structure than the oppressive, crushing doom of their earlier work, which is still there but now is part of a hypnotising progression. Quiet, drawn out lighter sections, with the vaguely troubling twin vocals suggesting impending threat, which indeed is unleashed with cathartic roars and overwhelming heavy doom shaking the senses. A completely uncompromising and mesmeric performance. After that challenge to the senses a second blast of the brooding beats of The Nephs is somewhat easygoing relief, an interlude as I get in early to brace myself for the next of the UK’s horrorshow, Liverpool’s Coltsblood (below). For once up front of Stage 01 the band are initially frustrated by bass tech difficulties, but patience is rewarded/punished by the eventual unleashing of their feral, ruthless attack of supremely distorted crawling, creeping riffs, topped with vocal passion bordering on unhinged. The off-kilter guitar lines and the tribal drumming add to the unearthly cacophony, a warped pleasure indeed. The UK represented in fine style today.
My final destination of choice on this doomed ride is back to Het Patronaat for the ultimate wasted sludge party with Fistula (below). Again, I’d only checked them when announced and was instantly drawn to their sample laden assault and battery, and chatting with singer and his “rock and roll victim” forehead tattoo before earlier sensed we were in for a good time. Talk about ending on a high, the super phat distorted tones and blend of righteous doom and thundering hardcore arguably outdo Eyehategod and create the wildest pit mayhem since I saw Doom here. Me, and everyone else apparently, leave grinning broadly, and reel around the final bars of Sammal and Zombi prog before tha party continue with after show disco and a zig zag back through the bars and eateries, the atmosphere buzzing.
Can’t stay for the smaller scale but still quality aftershow Afterburner day on the Sunday but more than satisfied, elated, with my fill of the three main days. The only thing that made me unhappy was that I didn’t see enough of the some of the bands I did see, through my greed to experience as much as possible first hand. What that has done though is showcased to me lots of new bands that are already firm favourites and I will be following up live and on release subsequently. For that I am truly grateful for Roadburn for just having sheer TASTE in underground and extreme, I trust their judgement, and more than likely will be sampling this feast again!