At first sight it seems like a remarkable choice, Tomas Lindberg as this year’s Roadburn curator. Although immediately known as the frontman for melodeath stalwarts At the Gates, a little research shows a diverse career in music. From fronting bands such as Disfear to stints in Lock Up, Lindberg’s definitely caught Roadburn’s attention, culminating in a friendship with festival director Walter Hoeijmakers and resulting in a curation under the banner The Burning Darkness. Clearly showing that Lindberg knows what Roadburn stands for and presenting an eclectic collection of bands.
The selection of bands will play from Thursday to Saturday, amongst them post-rockers MONO (in collaboration with the Jo Quail Quartet), experimental songwriter Anna von Hauswolff, heavy black metal beast Slaegt, spacerock legends Loop and At the Gates themselves, playing a special set with lesser known gems. But what does Lindberg’s curation entail? What connects these bands under The Burning Darkness? Whatever the answer is, this adventure definitely began on Thursday, with the mighty MONO and the Jo Quail Quartet.
Editor: Merijn Siben / Photography: Paul Verhagen
Thursday only has two bands under The Burning Darkness banner. The first being black metal band Slaegt at Het Patronaat, playing in front of a full room with a line continuously waiting outside. And us being unable to catch a glimpse, distracted by the many bands playing at once. Later in the evening however, the night belongs to MONO. The band from Tokyo has cemented themselves as one of the leading formations in the post-rock genre. Not only because of their excellent discography, but also because of an amazing live reputation. Looking at the emotional and poignant aspects of the music, it seems only fitting that they struck a fruitful partnership with Jo Quail, a cellist and composer. Who, after supporting MONO last year, provides a strong backbone tonight to their full performance of MONO’s phenomenal album Hymn to the Immortal Wind.
Beginning with the stupendous live staple Ashes in the Snow, it is immediately clear 013 is in for a devastatingly beautiful performance. This opener, like the rest of their 2009 album, starts fragile and melancholic, before gradually building towards an intricate wall of sound, with multiple layers vying for your attention. The real genius of MONO is the way in which they mix the darkness with the light, the raw with the beautiful or hopelessness with euphoria. For example the thundering Burial at Sea, which has an intense ending before following with the emotional Silent Flight, Sleeping Dawn. It’s a song that feels like a calm ocean at night, a stillness after the storm, buoyed by intricate playing from the Jo Quail Quartet and keys by bassist Tamaki Kunishi leaving audience members in a silent awe. It is seamlessly followed by another slew of epics, such as the chaotic Pure As Snow, the uplifting The Battle to Heaven and fittingly the climactic Everlasting Light, bursting with positivity.
Ultimately, it results in one of the first highlights, with MONO as well as the Jo Quail Quartet perfectly illustrating that both sadness and happiness sometimes have the same thing in common: both can be beautiful. And this beauty has been masterfully rendered on this first day of Planet Roadburn, shining an everlasting light on The Burning Darkness.