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PREVIEW: Roadburn 2017
Toby Cook , April 18th, 2017 15:19

With this year's Roadburn fast approaching, Toby Cook looks ahead to what are sure to be some of the festival's highlight sets in 2017

Horns up, ya shitters! Yes it’s finally happened, in a momentary error of judgement someone has mistakenly let me back on tQ. And just in time too, for that special time of year for metallers around the globe is nearly upon us.

No, it’s not Dio’s birthday, and nor is it time to put the battle jacket through the wash just yet. No, it’s nearly that time when we make that mecca-like pilgrimage to Tilburg, Holland, for Roadburn.

With the lineup expanding and broadening with each passing year, though, it can so often become an aneurism-inducing task just trying to work out who to see. Well put your bong-addled brains to rest, because we’ve got you covered like Hawaiian shirts with our totally reductive and hopelessly subjective guide to 10 performances you absolutely can’t afford to miss.

Check below for the full list. Honestly, it could easily have been 50.

Gnod

That the Salford based psychonauts are this year’s Artists In Residence is one more glittering example of just how diverse Roadburn has become over the years, and just how fully it’s shaken off its tag as simply a ‘metal’ festival. Given their A.I.R. tag it’s no surprise that the group are playing about 17 times in a kaleidoscope of different guises. Playing twice as simply Gnod – Thursday teatime, and late night on Friday – should satisfy most psyche itches, but it’s the sonic peyote that is their special collaborative performance with Dutch troupe Radar Men From The Moon, billed as Temple of BBV (and taking place Sunday afternoon) that is simply not to be missed.

The Bug Vs Dylan Carlson of Earth

On paper, perhaps, this looks like a collaboration that simply shouldn’t work – two individuals whose musical paths, no matter how diverse and exploratory, seem to run parallel to each other, doomed never to quite fully meet. In reality, though, this collaboration sees the pair’s individual sonic journeys entwine almost helically, with neither man’s contribution battling for prominence yet never totally merging with the others into some indistinguishable soup either. From moments that sound like the throb of London Zoon rinsed in caustic drone, to moments of eerie bliss, like one of those Justin Bieber songs on YouTube that’s been slowed down 1000% and sounds like an angelic choir lashed over harsh ambient drone. A truly special collaboration; not to be missed.

Schammasch

This shadowy quartet make thinking man’s black metal, if the thinking man in question is a quantum physicist. Morphing from sulphurous, technical extremes to vast ambient soundscapes and monastic chanting, last year’s staggering triple album, Triangle, was arguably one of the most ambitious extreme metal albums of recent years; “Like Tool covering Emperor” someone said. But that sounds terrible, doesn’t it. See for yourself: Friday Lunchtime in the Het Patronaat.

Whores

Atlanta hardcore/noise rock institution Whores: Dude, all the groove and all the riffs. Like, all of them. Imagine Shellac channelling Unsane inhabiting a pissed off Fugazi all delivered with the unhinged grace of Michael Douglas in Falling Down. Which is exactly what you want at 9pm on a Friday, yeah.

No Spill Blood

Let’s face it, at 2:30pm on Saturday you’re going to need an eye-opener; Dublin trio No Spill Blood are that outrageously electrifying solution. As tQ’s Mike Diver said in his review of the trio’s 2015 debut proper: “Heavy Electricity is like someone made my favourite spaceships-and-stuff shooter of the 16bit video game era into a metal album." I literally can’t put it better myself.

Oranssi Pazuzu

Witnessing the kaleidoscopic hell-ride that is Oranssi Pazuzu live is something like being dragged down a psilocybin wormhole by the winged, Babylonian demon they take their name from. Constantly balancing on the precipice of absolute chaos the Finnish troupe craft the sort of bracing psychedelia that sees dynamics and repetition as weapons in a cosmic war against the listener’s ability to maintain verticality. Just want you want on Saturday, immediately after The Bug Vs Dylan Carlson.

Oxbow

Wat can you say about Oxbow that hasn’t been written many, many times over already. Imposing vocalist Eugene Robinson is no longer wanking on stage or choking out members of his own audience, which is a plus. And yet their recent, stunning, return LP Thin Black Duke, composed of unnerving and often jarring, orchestral accompanied slowcore filtered through a Tom Waits landscape still carries within it a very real and almost physical sense of threat. If they capture half of that, mid-afternoon Sunday, it’ll be pretty special indeed.

Aluk Todolo (playing Voix in Full)

Much like Schammasch, French trio Aluk Todolo, too, prove that black metal can be the starting point at which to venture off in limitless sonic directions. Voix, last year’s much awaited follow up to 2012’s brilliant Occult Rock, journeys from moments of blast-beat black metal channelled through Hawkwind’s third eye, to the moments of near krautrock repetition that sound something like Can haunting a deserted, plague struck village. And it works, it totally fucking works. Saturday, 9:50pm, the Green Room stage turns into an art-metal temple.

Zeal & Ardour

There is perhaps no artist on this year’s bill that has received quite as much hype over such a short space of time – this time last year, in fact, I doubt anybody could’ve told you who the New York residing Swiss, and soul member, Manuel Gagneux was. Now the fucking Independent are streaming his debut record. From folk-based black metal augmentations to African-American spiritual chants, porch-blues and flamenco-hued gypsy folk polka and hip-hop beats; there is sure to be no more divisive artist performing this year. Friday, 11pm, Het Patronaat. Get there early and make your own mind up, yeah?

Bongzilla (playing Gateway in full)

They’re called ‘Bongzilla’, the album’s called ‘Gateway’, and it sounds like endless Sabbath jams recorded in Tommy Chong’s kitchen. I mean, why would you not go and see this?!

Roadburn takes place between April 20-23 at the O13 and other venues in Tilburg, Holland. A limited number of day tickets are still available via the festival's website

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