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Roadburn 2017 Day Four

Words by Julia Neuman Photos by Diana Lungu
Words by Julia Neuman
Photos by Diana Lungu

This is the fourth part of our Roadburn 2017 coverage. Read part one here and part two here and part three here.

Day 4 – Afterburn

Normally considered the Roadburn Afterburner, Day 4 brought a welcomed mellow energy and visibly thinner crowd. Pallbearer eased us into the final day with melodic doom on the Main Stage. This wasn’t the best day for the band’s vocals, since none of their two- and three-part harmonies really came through. Nevertheless, Pallbearer delighted Roadburners with a little old and plenty of new (no complaints there – their latest, Heartless translates well to the stage).

Over in the Green Room, Valborg began their set with the half-whispered German intro to “Vampyr”. Their brand of doom trudges through a narcotic haze, but with march-like deliberateness. Bassist and vocalist Jan Buckard performs with authority but then out of nowhere flashes a teddy bear grin. Given how stark their music is, Valborg have plenty of personality.

Headliners Ulver have released several masterpiece albums in at least two different genres. Admittedly, my expectations for their live show were high. The band had moments of brilliance (i.e. launching into the lengthy outro of “So Falls the World”, with a beat fit for a Berlin techno club), but overall the performance fell prey to the same issues as Chelsea Wolfe’s: it all felt a little impersonal and subdued. Ulver’s mastermind, Kristoffer “Garm” Rygg, laid low towards the back of the stage, shrouded by shadows. He performed all the live vocals himself, which meant that the vibrant harmonies on the band’s latest effort, The Assassination of Julius Caesar, were absent. I also would have preferred to hear another full song instead of the ambient guitar noise that droned on for several minutes midway through the set.

In contrast, Emma Ruth Rundle delivered arguably the most stripped down and vulnerable set of the festival. Her vocal inflections stab like needles into unsuspecting listeners who might just end up crying, or at the very least staring at her incredulously. Uninhibited in a way that’s rare even for a solo performer, Rundle plays guitar like she sings: with some words and chords barely there and others barreling at us. When she sang her lyric Who else would ever stay? in “Marked for Death”, she momentarily removed her hands from the guitar and turned up her palms to gesture her curiosity. And the audience hangs on to her every move, because every detail means something in the story she tells.

Then I caught the first half of Pillorian’s set. Fronted by ex-Agalloch John Haughm, the Oregon black metal band wound up the Main Stage one final time with a fresh energy that could only come from a band in the midst of exciting beginnings.

Inter Arma soundtracked my own last gasp in Het Patronaat. I arrived at the back to the the pulsing drone of “Transfiguration”, and a friend appropriately christened this performance as “a little bit of everything at Roadburn, rolled up into one.” And just like that, Roadburn 2017 came to a very fitting close.

Choice sets: Emma Ruth Rudle, Inter Arma

Other Photos

Author and Punisher

Baroness

Bongzilla

King Woman

Les Discrets

No Spill Blood

Oathbreaker

Subrosa

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Sumac

All words by Julia Neuman.
Photos by Diana Lungu. View her portfolio here and follow her on Instagram at @winterfelled.

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