To be released as a 10” on Record Store Day, which always happens to fall onto the Roadburn weekend, this split EP with a twist features two Dutch bands, which are not even playing on this year’s edition of the festival. Yet still there are several very good reasons to include them in our Roadburn special.
Right away a tiny but crucial correction is due: The groups from Tilburg and Utrecht aren’t part of the core official festival programme, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no chance to see them live during the weekend, too! If an event like Roadburn took place in a city the size as London, Hamburg or comparable, you’d probably take five steps outside of any participating location and noone around you would know or care why you’re in town. Tilburg is different, as you can tell the presence of Roadburn in the whole city center. And just like the 013 venue the festival is accepted as a cultural institution which functions as an ambassador of the city’s name far beyond the Southern Netherlands.
This year the surroundings of the festival will be an even stronger part of the experience with a whole side programme called Offroad, in which several bars, clubs and restaurants will offer discounts, special menus and shows, which are free to visit not only for ticket holders, but for everyone. Among them are familiar names like The Little Devil, which has hosted Roadburn bonus shows before, or the Cul de Sac, which has even been a fully integrated festival stage and home of many dear Roadburn memories for several years. Further venues included are Club Smederij, Kraakkelder or The Cat’s Back. (More information about everything Offroad can be found here on the official site.)
Now enter oppressive Sludge Metal locals Ggu:ll (whose last album Ex Est Thorsten reviewed last year) and relentless Black Metal blasters Terzij de Horde, who delivered an addictive genre highlight with In One Of These, I Am Your Enemy! On Saturday the first will play a show in Kaffee ‘t Buitenbeentje, while the latter will perform in the Loc Brewery in the immediate neighbourhood of the Hall of Fame, both celebrating the release of Van Grond.
Last year both bands had teamed up for a colossal joint show, which basically saw them playing their separate sets without a break in between, but also featured a couple of line-up switches as interim steps and of course a crowning finale with all nine musicians on stage. An important part of this monstrous gathering – and also the reason it happened in the first place – is this EP, which is based on a simple yet also quite challenging premise: Both bands provided one regular song themselves (both of those, “Cheiron” and “Falter” having been previously released as parts of their albums), but then they gave just the drum tracks of it to the other band to build an entire new piece around it. With Ggu:ll being experts in majestic Doom / Post Metal stomping and Terzij De Horde usually operating within the inhuman light-speed sector, the bands naturally had to to step out of their respective comfort zones to adapt and meet each other half-way.
Ultimately this leads to an EP with a steady larger than life aggression and blackened atmosphere, expressed in four stylistically varying expressions, which are still close enough to each other to make you think you’re only listening to one band with two vocalists on the whole thing. If you didn’t know about the concept it probably wouldn’t even occur to you that the drum tracks have been used twice, because the guitar work over it interprets them so differently.
What could have been a quirky, rather forced experiment ended as a full success: a rush of crushing brutal creativity, showcasing the best of both exceptional bands.
The aim of grabbing this gem from the merchandise stand surely is a good motivator to catch them on stage. And if you have other non-musical priorities: The guitarist from Terzij De Horde is a brewer, so in the spirit of the bands’ collaboration his Utrecht-based brewerey also teamed up with brewers from Tilburg to create a beer called - you already know it - “Van Grond”. Will I actually even have a chance to make it there? Given the clash-fest which the official Roadburn schedule already is I don’t dare predictions like that. I’m certain though that with or without me the rooms will be packed - and deservedly so!