Tormented sounds howl from the Koepelhal. It is early in the afternoon and Throane brings their ritual to the stage. Standing in a circle around a massive sword sticking up from the center stage, the band delivers a pulverizing set of crushing sludge as the sun still leaks in through the windows. Almost on call the temperature seems to drop outside and a cold settles over the festival.
Editor: Guido Segers / photo’s: Justina Lukosiote & Paul Verhagen
It starts a line of bands that hit home with sounds that contain pain and suffering, but inside of all the distortion and vitriolic delivery we find something bright, something that brings us together. None does this as much as Triptykon today with its Requiem. A life work, full of grief and loss, delivered in absolute beauty, but no different is Anna von Hausswolff with her velvety voice. At one moment she caresses, in the next she slaps you right in the face as her voice changes pitch and pivots into something that almost hurts. Why does sunny, happy, thoughtless music not affect us in the same way? Who can tell…
Fighting the good fight is Svalbard. Visceral hardcore, laden with feminist themes and stories that tell us there’s quite some work to be done. They play so loud, so fast and intense, that it hurts. But what can hurt more than Pijn itself? The Britons play something that matches post-metal vibes with doomy melancholy. Loss is projected on the screen as the cello weeps and they drag you down through a hell of grey and desperate howls. Lingua Ignota bounces on the thin line between noise and classical fragility, creating ravaged beauty that could make you weep.
But today’s climax perhaps came in the shape of 4 Icelandic hardcore musicians, who have no regard for limits in what hardcore should express. Singer Finnbogi Örn Einarsson dons make-up on stage, which would in many hardcore gig be mildly confusing at best, but it’s part of their expression of self: open wound, no holds barred. The singer and bass player Fannar Már Oddsson have been at Roadburn before as part of Une Misère and much like that time around, this is their third show this festival. After two fantastic warm-up laps last year, that band laid waste to Cul de Sac (wonder why it’s not on the program this year?).
Ladybird Skatepark is targeted by Great Grief, and what an utterly devastating show they put up. If there’s 200 people here during the peak moment of the set, it’s a lot, but you are missing out. A pit erupts on the skate track, leading to slippy slide moves, but as Finnbogi Örn unleashes himself on the crowd it all works out well. This is hardcore, this is absolutely going for it with physical and emotional release. In between songs, topics are addressed such as mental illness, depression and confusion, but each word feels like it is spoken directly to you. This show wouldn’t be any different if there were 10 or 1,000 people watching and Great Grief tears through the set. Not because they are booked to do that, but because they need to. That deep urge is tangible throughout the set.
As it ends after an explosive string of songs, it feels as if your cramped up heart muscles have opened up again. There’s a lot of hugging afterwards. It’s genuine and heart felt, because through all the punishing music, the hard themes and the sincere catharsis, we feel better. Maybe Roadburn is, at times, collective therapy for bands and audiences alike. It was for me today.