So far Roadburn has been treated to the black metal stylings of Slaegt at Patronaat and the emotional rollercoaster ride MONO featuring the Jo Quail Quartet at 013. But Thursday proved just to be the start of Tomas Lindberg’s curation. The second day of Roadburn is chock-full of bands straight out of The Burning Darkness selection. With, among others, Anna Von Hausswolff, Loop and At the Gates themselves. Such a wide and diverse selection of bands is nearly impossible to check out in an already royally proportioned line-up. However, with some careful planning and a good amount of pints for the road, a proper portion of The Burning Darkness shall not go unseen and unheard.
Editor: Merijn Siben
Anna von Hausswolff
The first act under Lindberg’s banner is the Swedish composer Anna von Hausswolff. Without a doubt already one of the most harrowing and visceral performances of the day, at a festival with no shortage of them. The opening sound of a howling wind is an ominous precursor for the storm, a harbinger of terror soon to follow. Whereas MONO managed to exude lighter tones and euphoric sensibilities the evening before, Anna von Hausswolff mercilessly drags you back into the darkness. A folk-tinged brew paired with heavy drones, mournful guitars, doomy drum rhythms and an absolutely enthralling lightshow. It feels as if you’re lost in the wilderness, raw, unpredictable. Impossible for any sunlight to pierce through. The Swedish singer may be of small stature, but her range is all encompassing and huge. Which, together with an amazing live band, creates a rich and adventurous atmosphere.
At the Gates
At the Gates has been offering fist pumping death metal for years, but underneath the melodeath basics lies a subtle melancholic layer. Sure there are blastbeats and thrashy riffs aplenty, but many times these veterans take a step back, as they do when they are at one third of the set. Anna Von Hausswolff takes the stage to play an interesting rendition of Koyaanisqatsi by minimalist composer Phillip Glass, or when the last part of the show is accompanied by the Jo Quail Quartet. Although most of the set features trusty classics such as the ferocious Suicide Nation or the monstrous Blinded by Fear, it is the aforementioned moments that show us a fitting representation of what At the Gates is capable of: mixing death metal with an occasional atmospheric quality, which fully comes into fruition in the epic closer The Night Eternal.
It can go either way with older bands. On the one hand, lots of playing and touring can wear a band down, but there’s also the possibility that veteran bands have suitable time to perfect their craft and transform themselves in a must-see live-act. The latter is the case with Loop, a British rockband who reunited after 23 years yet seem better than ever, wholly comfortable with their nightshift on the Main Stage. At first glance the attention is captured by eye-popping, colorful visuals, but ultimately it is the subtle grooves that hook you in. Not only is their brand of spacerock/psychrock hypnotic and mesmerizing, but also supported by a heavy, omnifarious rhythm section. A full package, with great songwriting to top it all off. It results in a satisfying closer full off crunchy stonerrifs, pounding drum work and a bassline smooth as silk. Loop sets off a fire in At the Gates’ eternal night, burning in the darkness, warming our souls and hearts.