With the population just slightly above 11 million, Belgium, known for its chocolate and beer, has a lot to offer for extreme music fans. Amenra, Oathbreaker, Empusae, not to mention my favourite label Consouling Sounds, - a fine-tuned ear must be familiar with the Belgian underground scene… To celebrate adventurous music Dunk! festival is summoning mélomanes from around the globe to an open air in Zottegem, East Flanders. Mark your calendar and put your earplugs in, - May 25-27th shall bring riffs, screams, shrieks and beats!
Earth and Swans are the definite headliners of Dunk! The legendary New York experimental rock outfit Swans, with messianic Michail Gira in front, shall grant us an ear-shattering, hypnotizing experience. Transforming madness into catharsis, Swans explore life and death. Earth, on the other hand, shines the light at the end of the tunnel. Drones by Dylan Carlson push experimentation to the forefront, while seamlessly merging elegance and doom. Its crawling pace and ominous repetitive drones make Earth my personal favourite - not to be missed!
They say never meet your heroes. Meet your heroines instead! Atmospheric ballads by Emma Ruth Rundle conquered hearts and ears of many extreme music fans. Known also for Marriages and Red Sparrowes, Emma has fully realised herself in a solo singer-songwriter territory. Thematically focussing on grief, self-destruction, death, Rundle provides her comfort with shoe-gazey melodies that will no doubt cut deep into you.
Fans of Swedish cult band Cult of Luna should not miss out on The Moth Gatherer. Just like COL, Swedish post-rockers The Moth Gatherer incorporate electronic music, melodic moments, and Scandinavian atmosphere. Rooted in metal-hardcore, yet wearing its Isis influence, The Moth Gatherer is artfully dipping between light and dark. Their bombastic riffing and forward thinking electronic soundscapes will certainly keep your feet moving.
I am intrigued by the Forest Stage that puts locals BARST, Syndrome and CHVE on the plate. BARST first came to my attention with the album ‘Western Lands’, a complex, layered journey that embraces the best of drone, post-rock, ambient and electronica. What’s important, two shows of BARST won’t ever be the same. Bart Desmet continuously improvises, alters the pre-written chords and invites a handful of friends to join him on stage.
Syndrome is the solo project by Mathieu Vandekerckhove, the backbone of Amenra. While keeping the heaviness and tenebrosity of Amenra, Mathieu creates a much more intimate personal touch with Syndrome. Loop after loop, whisper after whisper, he drags you into a blackened well. No need to be afraid of your own darkness, - meditative riffs meticulously crafted with an acoustic guitar shall shed light.
Colin H. van Eeckhout (the vocals of Amenra) offers another introspective and intimate solo project. Equipped with a hurdy gurdy and haunting voice (one must admit, Colin’s voice is without equal), CHVE creates a minimalist ambience, where dark alter egos can run free and dance morbidly. Expect a quasi-religious experience and surrender - Colin’s pitch-dark performance opens up a telluric vortex.
The Forest Stage will be shared with Britons worriedaboutsatan. Unlike the rest of the line-up, worriedaboutsatan produce pleasantly danceable warm electronica that will provide a short respite to our shattered ears and melancholic hearts. A fusion of glitch, techno, rock and electronic beats should challenge and expand the sonic boundaries of Dunk! rockers and metalheads.
The 13th edition of Dunk! is an experience and place for discovery. There is a tank truck load of more bands on the bill to check out, so don’t take my word for it! Explore the full line up here and… start packing you bags. Camp, dance and enjoy the three stages hosting 44 extreme and adventurous bands!