A day largely to be spent at the main stage with such another wealth of quality bands, Roadburn you are spoiling us. First up to crush our hopes for the day and eternity are Skepticism from Finland. Remiss of me not to know them, regarded as they are as pioneers of the funeral doom genre since 1991, and enjoyable they were as that, as a feet dragging procession of sombre riffing washed our worries away, while they cheered various people up by handing out death bouquets.
Upping the tempo a bit but no relief in the sound pressure were Brothers of the Sonic Cloth over for their first visit from the States I believe. A relatively new band with just their self-titled album under their loosened belt, they not only feature a sister on bass but also a man of a hefty musical legacy up front in Tad Doyle, formerly of Tad. I loved the Seattle grunge band’s “Gods Balls” album and there’s a familiar repetitive impact to the driving riffs, expect now they are subsumed within a tide of something on a more epic, geological scale. It just comes together really well in the mix, a refined heavy riff workout.
brothers of the sonic cloth
Next up in the legends reborn parade is Rob from seminal anarcho crusties Amebix with his new project Tau Cross, also featuring Away from Voivod on the drums. I was lucky enough to catch Amebix not back in the day but at their shortlived revival at Hellfest in the late 2000’s and there’s a lot of similarity to that latter day polished, Killing Joke reminding, ritual thunder. His vocals are top notch though, from when he stands still and cloaked at the intro to when he’s ripping through anthemic tracks with energy and dry humour, it’s great to hear that distinctive power cutting through again. Not just about him though, this is a band of craftsmen and here’s to more from this triumphant return. Converge are back again with their “Blood Moon” jam band featuring the likes of Chelsea Wolfe and Steve Von Till guesting but while I catch a bit that is pretty good in its battering multi-layered riffing I’m off to see something new that had attracted my attention in the pre-festival trawl. Dead to a Dying World from the States absolutely delivered for me with their immense and intense mix of light and shade, from ethereal drifting passage of post metal aided by violin lines to blasting black metal outbursts. Very much in their own focussed world with their uncompromising structures, it was great to see the male and female vocalists drop to their haunches in the quieter sections before rising again to scream in each others faces when the power kicked back in. Reminded me of some relationships. As well as the guitarist swigging from his whiskey bottle, inspiring us to hit the hipflasks too.
dead to a dying world
Back to the main stage for a little Amenra, with the band gathered in a circle onstage for a fragile, compelling acoustic set that also included a striking cover of Tool’s “Parabol”. After getting told of for disturbing the peace I was always going to bail on this lighter version in the knowledge they’d be back with full force tomorrow, and at long last made a successful entry into tiny Cul de Sac for French band VVovnds. Possibly pronounced Wounds, who knows, what I do know is they were a great vicious, sharpest of contrasts with seriously raging and in your face hardcore, interspersed with more experimental passages, a proper shot in the arm/face.
All that remains is the climax, with at least two hours of Neurosis back at the main stage. So, I can’t claim the full 30 year anniversary devotion to the post metal behemoth, but from my entry point probably around the time they contributed a track to Alternative Tentacles’ compilation album Virus 100 in ’92 and their concurrent “Souls at Zero” album they were a firm favourite, a lumbering beast of threatening riffs and deep soundscapes that were a pleasurable challenge to get your head round. Never ones for banter (not a single word) a simple gesture like Steve wearing a Motorhead shirt says an awful lot to me of their embrace of the heavy genres and at the same time their endless challenging of the boundaries. From the start we are “Lost” in a pretty evenly balanced if random tour of their back catalogue, gem after gem is rolled out and smashed under the hammering riffs and tribal beats. While the latter day songs from their more drawn out and somewhat testing in attention span period do not seem to drag at all I am genuinely blown away at the sheer punk as fuck violent energy they inject into the early crust stuff they originated with and that I have never got to hear in a live environment. It’s a revitalisation that maybe was never even needed, an absolute pleasure anyway. As is hearing the green haired beast Dave doing a fair share of the vocals again, especially for this earlier stuff, he is hardcore in his heart and probably my favourite bass player too. The time just flies by, a Joy Division cover slipped in before a stunning ultra heavy onslaught ending from their mid period culminating in the sonic psychedelic destruction body and mind of “Stones from the Sky”. Amazing stuff, the best I’d seen them over the years, a glorious celebration of their place and ours with them in music. Oh and wait a minute, they’re back tomorrow…