Roadburn Festival is one of heavy music’s best kept secrets through no fault of its own. Each year, it draws several thousand people from all corners of the globe to sleepy Tilburg, Netherlands - for doom-leaning metalheads and stoner rock aficionados, it's better than Christmas. It'd be more hyped were it centered around any other type of music, but its experimental leanings make Roadburn a precious secret. Still, to its organizers, atmosphere is more important than exposure. It’s more than a festival, it is a close-knit community of thousands. It may sound flip to label it a sort of Mecca for heshers, but that’s exactly what it is: Roadburn is the Promised Land for those who follow the riff, a land of doom and hashish that keeps the good times rolling and the amps turned up to eleven.
This year’s lineup featured the usual mix of promising young bloods and legacy acts. Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth renown served as this year’s guest curator, and his well-documented love of prog rock more than made its mark on the bill. While the past few years have seen more extreme strains of metal creeping into the fest, Roadburn 2014 was a more mellow affair than usual. The big headliners were Candlemass (playing Ancient Dreams in its entirety), Loop, Triptykon, Crowbar, and of course Opeth. As is the case with any big festival, though, sometimes the most compelling acts are lurking on the second stage.