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

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Day 3 - Climax

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On the third day, we rose again – bleary eyed, but ready for what would end up being the best day by far. My friend checked her phone to find that Misþyrming were set to play a surprise gig at Cul de Sac at 3:30. Excitement ensued. She had recently professed newfound love for Icelandic black metal, so naturally I demanded she go see Misþyrming instead of Cobalt. We made the morning trek to nearby Cafe Stoffel for bloody marys and coffee, then headed over to the venue.

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To say that the Cul de Sac ‘press/photo area’ was close to the stage would be an understatement. It was basically 5th member status just behind the bass amp, a prime spot for watching the young Icelandic quartet play their furious brand of black metal. Wide-eyed frontman Dagur Gonzales barked lyrics with more ferocity than the tiny room could handle. A true personality, Gonzales possesses the je ne sais quoi that many black metal vocalists lack. Not to be mistaken for a warmup act, Misþyrming paralyzed Cul de Sac with bouts of icy riffs that stuck with us for the day ahead.

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Finnish psych black metallers Oranssi Pazuzu took the main stage to creeping fog and an ominous backlit stage. They’re not a shock and awe kind of band; instead, they reel you in like a hypnosis patient. Pazuzu conjured an atmosphere entirely their own, a consuming and abyssal vortex of textures and sounds commanded flawlessly by frontman Juho Vanhanen. About halfway through “Vasemman käden hierarkia”, as the guitar swelled and the main riff reprised into a slow, doomy climax, Vanhanen raised his arms slowly, and the sheer weight of the experience overwhelmed me. Tears welled up in my eyes. This is why I came to Roadburn – to witness a set like this, the kind that keeps you going weeks later simply because it happened.

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Next came a triple header of different types of doom (again – why I came to Roadburn). UK trad doom band Warning took the Main Stage to enthusiastic support from the crowd. Their sweeping, soul-crushing tunes coupled with quirks like tuning out loud in between songs warmed Roadburner hearts in droves. Slomatics, who dish out some of the heaviest single note riffs you’ll hear, wasted no time whipping the Green Room into line, opening with the inimitable “Electric Breath.”

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The Main Stage then took a turn towards the dark as My Dying Bride trekked through Turn Loose the Swans in its entirety. The crowd didn’t seem to notice how poor the mix was with one guitar much louder than the other, but in this case, hey, who cares? “Your River” live is everything.

Over in the Green Room again, Aluk Todolo cast an omnipotent impression before they even began. The trio’s stage setup left plenty to our sleep deprived imaginations. With little more than an alluring drumkit, a rustic light bulb swinging from a long rope, and another flickering light – they launched into a trance-like set absent of actual riffs and clearly driven by drummer Antoine Hadjioannou, who sat behind towering cymbals. The band combines the musical spirit of dark ‘70s rock with a cavernous French black metal aesthetic, to great effect.

Speaking of great effect: Shortly after, we all succumbed to Disfear and a no-frills trip into ‘90s Swedish d-beat heaven. The band’s fierce set reduced most of Het Patronaat’s crowd to pools of sweat and satisfied grins.

By this point I was aching and ready for some kind of miracle performance to revive me. It really seemed like Mysticum would be the one. They came out of the gate with an impressive light show – apparently one that pushed the envelope of production at Roadburn. As it turns out, however, three men standing on pillars with flashing lights gets old after about three minutes. Roadburn performances frequently have a polarizing effect on people – Mysticum’s being the perfect example. Some loved it, some didn’t.

It was Carpenter Brut who ultimately worked the magic of reviving my weary body. If we’re comparing French synthwave artists, I’ve always been more of a Perturbator fan on record – but Carpenter Brut’s live show was a huge surprise. This is what I wish Perturbator’s show was; live guitar, live drums, and dripping ‘80s goodness. While Perturbator has gone the more EDM/DJ route in a one-man show with emphasis on lights, Carpenter Brut allows his metal crossover to flourish. I couldn’t bring myself to leave even though I desperately needed to sit down somewhere and rest. Every time I thought of heading out, Carpenter Brut launched into another infectious beat. The expertly sequenced set, engaging live guitarist and cheeky ‘80s video montage made this a standout of the festival and a great segue into afterparty madness.

And madness it was. The penultimate day on Planet Roadburn ended in a haze of smoke, dancing and bad ‘80s singalongs at the infamous Little Devil bar.

Choice sets: Oranssi Pazuzu, Carpenter Brut

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

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