UKTMF 2015

Newark Showground, Newark, UK

Words by Dylan Cameron, Photos contributed HERE by Katie Croft

The time of year is upon us, hundreds of metal lovers descend upon Newark Showground to celebrate their collective love for all things tech at this years Tech Fest. With over 50 bands across 3 stages over 3 days, people are guaranteed to find something they love…as long as what they love is technical metal. Us at Mute Print decided we would pop down for the weekend and see what the best of tech metal had to offer, spoiler alert. We weren’t disappointed.
Once we arrived to tech fest we start to get a feel of the almost commune style environment, the site map indicates that the general camp and VIP camp are separated but when you look around and see big name bands pitching up alongside their fans, it’s already plain to see that this is a very unique and special festival. It’s a festival that doesn’t take itself too seriously, backstage is an empty pig hut with a few tables, none of the bands are hiding away from their fans or acting as divas, at one point the vocalist from Carcer City was chasing people around with a water gun, it’s all about the fun and the music here. The site is not very big, much smaller than your typical big name festivals for obvious reasons, but for someone who has never been to a festival before it makes for the perfect starter festival. It’s got everything you need without the overwhelming size some may experience at the likes of Download and other mainstream festivals. After spending almost an hour setting up a tent and running away from may bugs or more hilariously known as “cockchafers” we finally go to check out Thursday nights headliners, Hacktivist.
After entering the room your senses are suddenly ambushed all at once, bright flashing lights, a strong smell of weed and a boiling hot room, although when the venue is a large metal building which has been under a roasting sun all day what do you expect. The band open with an interesting electronic DnB style introduction, with samples from several songs including Flute by New World Sound & Thomas Newson, it sets the pace well for their first song which punched you straight in the chest with a massive amount of bass, a surprising amount actually considering the bands only had one guitarist. It’s almost difficult to tell if it’s the band that are very bass heavy or the venues sound system, it does make it rather difficult to hear the mids and highs which the performance could have done with. They played a great set which including a kiloton version of Niggas In Paris, which included a brilliant middle eight. The bass player is the star of the show, he may be smaller than his actual guitar but he makes up for it by throwing it around as if he is trying to murder his fellow musicians. A complete lack of consideration for each others safety during their manic performance, these guys are certainly of the YOLOmeter.
The organisers clearly knew what they were doing when they set up this event. Unfortunately we were unable to catch any other bands tonight other than Hacktivist, due to the soul crushing commitments of life, damn responsibilities! Nevertheless they were the perfect band for us to experience first, giving us a clear idea of what carnage to expect over the next few days and setting the standard for any other bands that dare grace the stage after such a mighty performance. For more information on who dared continue reading, and probably grab yourself a drink because we’ve got a lot to pack in.
Day two at fest of tech! Well, actually day one and a bit due to missing all but one of Thursdays bands, but I’ve fashioned together a model of myself from office supplies and hobo rags so my manager won’t notice that I’m in fact away djenting for the weekend. What were we talking about? Oh yeah, technical festival. On to the music!
I thought I’d start the day with something a bit chilled but then remembered where I was so instead went to check out Subversion. Heading straight into their biggest track, Born of the Sun, they really know how to start a show, a nice complex rhythm with a piercing melody cutting through the power of the bass and twenty string guitars. The vocalist demonstrating his excitement with some pretty crazy head banging and robot dancing, not enough bands these days robot dance, kudos. They power through a pretty impressive set but due to the early hours and the small crowd people aren’t really feeling it. The band make some questionable attempts at encouraging us to dance by ensuring us they touch us inappropriately, queue awkward silence and a lone, slow clap.
Next I move on to a band from Toronto, I know this because they have a large Canadian flag and like to remind me after every song that they are in fact Canadian and from Toronto as if by repeating this they will magically increase their social status to that of a band from California. These Toronto tyrants go by the name of, The Parallel. With a particularly ferocious style of math metal the guys are something special to experience indeed, sweeping, tapping, and general insanity goes into their musical cocktail which to Mr Bonds approval is shaken, not stirred. Their stage presence is a little lacking compared to the previous band and so is their enthusiasm, but it’s still pretty early, and no band likes playing inside on such a nice day, so they finish on their most insane track yet Shipwrecked and call it a day.
I head back to the main room to check out a band which has been recommended by a friend,No Sin Evades His Gaze, I should also mention that the main stage is a convenient ten second walk away from the Hands On Printing Stage, and because they have organized the event so that when one band finishes the next band will start it makes it easy for everyone to catch every band…which is a pretty tall order. The first thing I notice about NSEHG is that their drummer lifts, like he probably eats a cow for breakfast, followed by a 12 hour stretch at the gym, and then in his spare time tanks on down to festivals and destroys drum kits. Also the singer looks like a model who was rejected for being too hardcore so decided to spend his remaining days shouting into a microphone and writing songs about lord knows what because I don’t speak “ROOOAAARRR”. As I watch I start to realize a few trends emerging throughout the day, each band is more technical and talented than the last, and tapping is the guitarists’ primary mode of performing. They also have some really great clean vocals supplied from the drummer, the greedy bastard is keeping all the talent for himself, they continue to smash it with a top performance of their track Age of Sedation.
Moving onto something a little more magical with The Room Colored Charlatan, some blokey is filling in for their current singer and they don’t have a bassist, I’m not sure if this is their usual setup but it’s good to hear a band today that isn’t drowning in bass, obviously with this bands style and absent bass the EQ is pretty high but it works in their favour. They start with a dramatic and beautiful ambient style song which title has so far eluded me, it’s almost like something out of a super tense movie soundtrack that just keeps building towards a big finish. It’s amazing that a band with only two guitars, drums and a single vocalist can create such a powerful sound, it’s not like the other bands from earlier where the general rule is play everything as fast and loud as you can, it’s a more dynamic, more concentrated sound which I was starting to worry I’d miss today. They possess a more moody performance, they are pretty damn heavy and fast for the majority of their set but they don’t feel the need to thrash around to prove how badass they are, although the winner of best beard has to go to their guitarist.
About half way through the day I decide to check out a Mr Sithu Aye, I say Mr because I’m not sure if it’s a band name or his actual name because basically it’s a sick guitarist and some pretty decent musicians but everyone knows they are his backing track, he would’ve probably put on a CD and jammed over the top of it but a band looks cooler so here they are. The music is really good, there are no vocals but this guy is making his guitar sing to us anyway, he has single handedly put every guitarist I’ve seen so far to shame. Throwing out beautiful melodies which would sound great if transferred to literally any genre and he writes the best breakdowns, breakdowns with brilliant tunes and rhythms and they aren’t repetitive or generic like most breakdowns you hear. After a while it starts to drag, he clearly has talent but there is only so much of a guy playing a guitar you can listen to before it starts to mold into one long song.
The next band in the main room is a crazy fast group of young lads called Nexilva, and when I say young I’m not joking, I’m certain half these guys are not old enough to drink, and if that’s the case then I quit at life in general because their skills are undeniable. The singer announces their drummer is not here due to an accident, I’m guessing he played so fast that he exploded because these guys are a run away train with no brakes, very fast and coming straight at you. The songs due appear to repeat themselves and there is not much too their music other than blast beats all day long, the singer is putting on a really good performance and the crowd love it, the rest of the band don’t move much but by the looks of it all their energy is going into their hands. The onslaught of hullabaloo continues with no sign of moving into anything interesting so I make a hasty retreat to the bar in an attempt to prevent my ears from evaporating, I’ll be needing those later.
Hey look, a band with drums again! And also a very short singer, well he say’s he’s short but is actually my size so I’m going to say he’s pretty tall. Carcer City, a bunch of tall scousers with some very powerful riffs and even more powerful political messages which were unfortunately drowned out by their music. Lots of heavy djent style riffs and a really tight performance, but the difference between these guys and other bands I’ve seen is how engaging and likeable their singer is between songs. A lot of front men will either promote their album and chat crap or just awkwardly introduce their next track or sometimes say nothing at all, this is not the case for Carcer City. He is a man with a lot to say and a lot of confidence to project it from his heart to ours, speaking with passion and a performance to equate, they are even able to summon the first mosh pit of the festival, it only includes five people but it’s a start.
Finally it’s time to check out a band I’ve been anticipating all day, the mighty Leprous. They leave us waiting for twenty minutes but once everyone floods inside and are welcomed with some warming synth and vocals it’s hard to get upset. All but the singer are motionless but it’s not in a way that makes them appear uninterested, it’s almost like another important aspect of their performance, it creates drama, if they were throwing themselves around it could possibly ruin the moody effect of their beautiful music. They are a difficult band to define, it’s an unmistakable sound like they have pioneered a new subgenre of math rock, they’ve able to create super technical music with time signature and key changes all over the place but it also sounds like something you could hear on mainstream radio stations. It’s the perfect example of how to take a catchy vocal line and apply it to the most insane yet composed music I’ve heard all day, their guitars share a brilliant tone which compliment each other, an extra flavor is added with keyboards and their drummer has no time for basic four to the floor, he is throwing in impossible fills in the most unexpected places. The band treat us to a few tracks from their latest album including Third Law, The Price, and Rewind each demonstrating the bands brilliant onstage chemistry and the singers amazing vocal range and capabilities. I feel that maybe the festival made a mistake and should’ve put Leprous as the main headliner.

Actually no, I take that back. Betraying The Martyrs are right where they need to be, ending the night with the mightiest of bangs. The room is pitch black and some slow ambient music is introduced, as the drums come in all the lights flash to the beat, it’s almost like being in a storm, surrounded by thunder and lightning and an ominous sensation flooding over the room. Then they literally spring onto the stage, no messing about and throw themselves straight into their first song, and also throw water in my face…cheers for that. In all my life I’ve never seen a band with such energy and enthusiasm, I might dare say their stage presence is a bigger part of their performance than their music. From what I’ve seen from the bands today usually one or two members will get fully involved but I’m certain these guys have replaced their blood with Redbull, all of them are running around, jumping on and off any and all surface they have available, the keyboard player is even lifting a huge keyboard behind his head and playing it, for fucks sake. The whole performance is like a combination of everything great I’ve seen today but multiplied, other than the best and most deadly stage presence I’ve ever seen, these guys really know their stuff, extremely hard and heavy riffs glued together with the most delicate of fills and licks, all combined with brilliant song writing. Finally the band move onto the whole reason people are so excited to see them, their dynamite version of Frozens, Let It Go. To be honest it was a bit ridiculous to see such an angry band play this but then they demanded a wall of death…during a track from Frozen. What the hell is going on? Am I on drugs? Probably something in that water they spat on me, forget this, I’m going to bed.
Good morning everyone! Day three of Multifarious Arrangements Of Distortion Fest, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, but fuck bird song, it’s not tech enough, so I’m heading to checkout todays first band, Clockwork. One of the few bands I’ve heard of before attending Tech Fest, they are a very young group with an exceptional talent considering their age, they’ve also recently recruited a new singer so I’m curious to see how they do live. The room is full to the brim which is amazing consider how early it is, also nobody appears to be hung over which is doubly amazing as I’m led to believe alcohol is enjoyed in copious amounts at such events. Who cares, Clockwork are making noises and stuff come out the speaker thingys. They set the tone nicely with an ominous soundtrack with a rendition of Do Not go Gentle Into That Good Night from the movie Interstellar, it gradually builds and then explodes into their first song of the set. My first thought is how talented these guys are, lots of energy, lots more confidence, and they are clearly right at home at Tech Fest, I wasn’t expecting a sloppy, sweaty, rabble of teenagers playing power chords and songs about ex girlfriends, but equally I wasn’t expecting a fairly new band to be so well rehearsed, it’s a pleasant surprise. Plenty of confidence from their vocalist who is able to slip between the most brutal of growls to equally powerful, yet more soothing cleans, combined with the furious twin guitar solos and back breaking drums, this is the perfect band to yank us out of our hangovers and shake us into a frenzy. The only thing that could be improved upon is maybe some backup vocals to harmonise during their more chilled middle eight sections, either way this a band to watch out for in the future, that is assuming the bassist hasn’t knocked everyone off stage with his windmilling.
Up next we have Dwayne Johnson’s side project, Heavy Metal Ninjas, despite their band name being Heavy Metal Ninjas, I didn’t actually expect to walk in the room to be faced with ninjas, yeah the name is a pretty massive clue but seriously? Honestly I do love their style, it’s great when bands have little niches about themselves and can have a bit of fun with what they are doing, yeah it’s a gimmick but who doesn’t love a good gimmick every now and then, personally I think it’s brilliant. They are another instrumental band with zero vocals but other than that I can only guess at what they want from me, I don’t know who they are or where they are from because they didn’t say a word…not one…just staring intently at us all with their freaky contact lenses. The music is rather interesting but I can’t help but compare it to Sithu Aye, it’s a very similar style of music, showing off on a guitar with what might as well be a backup band and no vocals. It’s a good approach but something very difficult to get right, and these guys have talent but others have done it better, they are heavy and tight but nothing about their music is really standing out, and if you’re going to make this style of music you really need to include something other than costumes to grab peoples attention. On the other hand they did play a respectable set, they posses skills that most of us mere mortals can only dream of and their lead guitarist is maybe the best human being I’ve seen in my entire life, he’s a ninja (I hope), shreds like a beast, has a Final Fantasy tattoo and looks like The Rock. Enough said.
Onto a band with maybe the most delicious name of the festival, Slice The Cake. I’ve heard this is their first ever gig together, they were formed online and were somehow through the power of internet magic able to create music together…but not together, and now they are in sunny Newark to show us what they’ve got. Like all the other bands here they start with a dramatic opening sequence with sounds from the apocalypse, and the band standing with their backs to us, except they drag it on for way too long, so long in fact that Shia Labeouf rocks up and starts shouting “Just do it!” but it failed. Seriously though, people are chanting encouragement but the performance is still pending, pending so much, I’m actually concerned they have already started and this is in fact the worlds most boring band. Finally after what seems an eternity the singer runs onto the stage and says something about cake and then the music begins, it took a while but it is worth it. As far as I’m aware these guys have only been rehearsing for roughly a week, but you wouldn’t be able to tell from watching them, it’s extremely fast and with polyrhythms all over the place. Their music has so much room for mistakes or a slip up, but not one, they are more capable than bands who have been gigging for years, it’s so hard to believe. The guitars are fat and deep like any good metal band and the drummer has an awesome jazzy metal style going on which I’ve not seen so far, it shouldn’t work together so well but it does. Their half time choruses sound big and epic with some nice cleans from the front man but the verses sometimes seem a bit muddied together with all the full throttle bass, it could just be the sound system but it’s difficult to tell.
Earlier on in the day we had a chat with a couple of the guys from, The Sun Explodes, and promised we would check out their set, so here we are, not like we need much encouragement. Before they even start the whole room is chanting the singers name, he’s a very likeable character who has clearly left a massive impression on a lot of people here, fans and artists alike, it’s great to see a band so down to earth and close to the people who support them. The guys head straight into their latest track The Unnatural which sets the tone for their style really well, it’s not overpowering but it’s enough to get the whole room moving with great falsettos and tapping guitar solos. After speaking with them earlier they mentioned they don’t think they are a tech band, I can see they don’t purposely aim for a technical sound but their natural talent and song writing capabilities have that effect weather they like it or not. The whole band put on a exuberant performance, particularly from the drummer and the lead vocalist who has a rather…interesting dancing style, it’s almost feminine and sexual in nature, at times it’s like watching a mad man possessed by the ghost of Michael Jackson but it makes for a good show. It’s clear to see these guys are not here to make “making it” a priority, they are here to have fun, they have a great chemistry and are able to have a laugh, they even encourage the singer to get naked, but he politely declined, I feel a bit ripped off to be honest. They end the set with what is described as their favourite track, the one that sums up their sound the best, SevenThreeOne. It’s utter madness, they’ve taken ever trick and talent and squeezed it all into 5 minutes of dynamic chaos, the structure shoots in every direction and you don’t know where the song is going to go next, a brilliantly insane track to end on.
After taking a short break we move onto one of the more anticipated bands for myself, the Lincoln lads, Martyr Defiled, who are headlining the second stage. The guys are filling in for, Destiny Potato, which they are rather humble about, they also have a fill in bass player for the night, which is rather impressive considering how difficult it must be to learn their songs. Before you can say “please, be gentle” they hit you with the deepest, heaviest, most bloated breakdowns known to man, the vocals sound like a grizzly bears fighting off other equally vicious creatures, I entered the room feeling happy but now I just want to hit everyone’s face in the face. RAGE! Not only are their songs bigger than Jupiter, they also play with such precision and accuracy, it’s not like the other djent bands I’ve heard where it’s all choked by distortion, this has real solid rhythms and crushing distortion without any of the mud. They also combine a haunting lead from the guitar which pulls itself to the front of the mix and levels out the sound, bass is good but not when that’s all you have to offer. The band have an amazing “fuck you” midlands attitude which really comes across in their performance, particularly the front man, they stampede into a brutal version of No Morality, by this point the singer is probably thinking to himself “that mosh pit looks fun” so he jumps right in, yes to bands that interact to the max.
Only two bands left and we’re eager to have a listen so we move into the first, Agent Fresco. The only contact I’ve had with this band is a quick listen to their track Dark Water which was rather pleasant so I’m eager to see what else they have to offer. Unfortunately I’ve missed half their set due to some nice lady verbalizing her disgust at my diet and suggesting I stop eating like a ten year old who’s parents hate him, but I’ll get around to that, right after Agent Fresco. My first impressions are that they are not metal but definitely have a technical style, the vocals are mainly clean, the distortion and breakdowns are almost non existent, their songs are structured well with brilliant dynamics, it’s almost like Biffy Clyro if they spent a little longer at music college. They have songs which actually stick in your head and aren’t forgotten as soon as it’s over, people here are singing along and interacting with the music in ways that are not possible with any other bands here, most bands at tech fest only seem to express rage and anger and hatred, which is all well and good, but these guys have got every other emotion covered. I’m also very fond on the way their front man is speaking to us, he is such a kind, humble individual who is clearly grateful to be performing here, he makes announcements about their bass player recently getting engaged, and opens up about which songs are written about his own personal tragedies, he’s not just including us in the music but into his life. It’s difficult to nail down their style, classical elements coming from the piano, metal from the vocals at times, it’s even got hints of Motown floating around, they are by far the most diverse band I’ve seen at the festival, it is rather reminiscent of Leprous but with a more catchy, summery feel. The performance is spectacular, masses of energy coming from the entire band but when you’re playing music this good it’s hard not to get excited about playing it, the drum beats are original with complex fills slotted in perfectly, the guitars work well together and drop out appropriately to highlight the piano parts, even at times the long high notes from the vocals sounded like a guitar. One of the best bands here by far, I think I may have a new favourite.
Finally, the last band, I’m not even sure if I’m excited or relieved but here we go, time for some, Heart Of A Coward, I like to think that’s a reference to, The Wizard Of Oz, but it probably isn’t. Like the previous nights headliners they have great stage presence, lots of stimulating lighting and introductions, but it feels like something is lacking. The enthusiasm is there but their drummer seems to be putting in a little less than the rest of the band, his double kick is something pretty special but other than that it’s all really straight simple beats that holds the music together and nothing more. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that but when it comes to this style of music you expect a bit more flare from the musicians, especially when they are ending the night. The music itself doesn’t stick out as anything too special or spectacular, it’s good and solid and is loud and bassy as fuck, but that’s about it, there are next to no melodies, almost no dynamics, it’s not even as fast and insane as other bands I’ve seen of this style, it’s like they are just plodding along in the middle lane, nothing making them stand out. The vocalist has good stage presence and has plenty of zest, he’s clearly the one driving this set but it’s just not enough, the crowd doesn’t seem nearly as engaged compared to the previous headliners. Towards the end the singer mentions, “You bring the energy, we just bring the music” probably the most incorrect statement ever made.
Here we are, the forth and final day of We Hope You Like Tinnitus Fest, I’m feeling an unusual blend of emotions, eager for the music to come, sad that it’s the last day and disappointed that I’ve never come to such a great festival before, this place has won me over and I’m most certainly going to be around next year. The first band on todays agenda is the female fronted,Hieroglyph, this is the first band I’ve actually seen with a female, up to this point I was thinking, Isn’t It Great To Have A Penis Fest, would’ve been a more fitting name. Not only is there a female vocalist taking charge but a very talented female bassist, this band has 200% more women in than any other I’ve seen at Tech Fest, hopefully next year the equality is leveled out a bit. The band have a very interesting middle eastern metal sound, it reminds me a bit of Wicked Wisdom, clean oriental style vocals coming from the female and the more aggressive shouting style coming from the male, they’ve got the balance between the pair of them perfect. Whilst the cleaner vocals do take more of a lead with their music, it does give the backup vocalist an opportunity to jump around, hype up the crowd and be a general badass, even though he was dressed like a farmer. Musically it’s rather regular, they do have some brilliant tracks, particularly their last song Weyland-Yutani which features some amazing guitars, but it sounds like all the songs are being performed in the same key and tempo, it would be nice for them to mix it up a bit.
Next up we have,Bad Sign. A lot of people have been telling me good things about them but not really specifying what they sound like, as it’s too difficult to explain. I guess that’s where I come in. They are a three piece, not the youngest band here but with age comes experience, for these guys that’s most certainly the case. The best way I can describe their sound is a punky version of Royal Blood but with the much needed addition of a effect riddled guitar and falsetto vocals, everything they play is full of energy and sounds like something you’d find on a rock radio station. As they mention it’s not exactly tech, but who cares, its catchy, it’s infectious, it’s full of power and attitude. The guitarist in particular is having a brilliant time, jumping off walls and using up all the space available to him, and if that’s not enough space he’ll climb into the crowd, it’s like someone gave a child far too much sugar and informed him he could live at Disney World. Towards the end the bassist and guitarist enter the crowd and have the best guitar battle this festival has ever seen, thank god for wireless guitars. Sadly their set comes to an end, but with a brilliant performance of their song, The Recidivist, I’d say this track sums the guys up perfectly, it’s fast, has an amazing chanted vocal line which will stick in your head for days, it even features a snare drum reverb effect, a nice touch.
Now today has been good so far, but where is all the djent at? Apparently right here, in the form of, The Dali thundering concept. It’s a bit of a slow start due to some sound guy leaving all his gear on stage, this was shortly followed by heckling from his colleagues…and he probably got laughed out of Newark. Now I’ll be straight, these guys are maniacs, so far this band are one of the best examples of the djent genre I’ve seen, they have some of the tightest riffs one minute and the filthiest, fattest riffs the next, it’s enough to rival, Martyr Defiled. It’s also good to see another band mixing up the djent genre a bit, they combine it with some insane math metal intros and each track is littered with dark and beautiful samples of keyboards and eerie percussion hits, it makes their set that little bit more interesting than other bands trying to perform in their style. There was a weird part where the vocalist awkwardly passes a mannequin into the already awkward Sunday afternoon moshpit, I’ve no idea why this happened, I’m guessing that maybe it was full of liquor and sweets and this is how the band shows their appreciation. They finish the set with probably their best track so far, Beyond Mirrors, half way through they bring on a guest vocalist but the sound guy has forgotten to plug in his mic, the crew are not on the ball today. After speaking to some drunk fellow I was informed that the guest singer was, Ashe O'hara, the ex Tesseract vocalist, although I’m not sure how reliable this information is due to him holding two beers and struggling to pick up a third.
As I leave the main hall and approach the second stage, I’m about to head back to my tent as I’m in desperate need for a warm beer, but on the way I hear what can only be described as magical sounds conjured up from the most indie of indie movie soundtracks. I’m of course talking about a band so majestic that their name must be entirely uppercase, the mighty, F.O.E.S. Compared to what I’ve seen from the festival so far, this room is particularly empty, there must be like thirty people tops, but after hearing their first track I begin to understand. For me, this is possibly one of the better bands I’ve seen, but it’s not tech, and it’s barely metal, if you’ve come to tech metal fest, and were presented with this, you might also feel a bit ripped off. Their sound primarily focuses on the guitars effects and vocals, it’s a very dreamy atmospheric sound but with a heavy indie vibe, the music is well written and the sounds they throw out are like nothing I’ve heard, it saddens me to see that not many others are here to experience this. Saying that, the music is still very powerful, it pulls you in with calming sounds, lulls you into a false sense of serenity and then wakes you back up with a huge wall of guitar tremolo and drum fills. This band are big, bigger than their masses of facial hair which I’m assuming is an initiation right, but not quite big enough for this audience, it’s possible they’ve booked the wrong band this time.
Heading back to the main room, we encounter a lovely little band named, No Consequence, unfortunately it’s not their full lineup due to one of their guitarists being involved in a car accident, but fear not, he will be shredding again in no time. As soon as they start playing I get the impression they are a extremely well rehearsed band and have spent an unhealthy amount of time studying music, with crazy tempo changes, polyrhythms and time signatures bouncing around, you’d probably have to be a mathematician to be able to dance to these guys. A lot of tom work from the drummer which makes the whole room rumble when combined with the bass and samples, unfortunately this does drown out the only guitar they have which is supplying the bulk of the melodies, it would be nice to see this guys with their full lineup. They perform one of their latest tracks, Bury The Debt, which kicks in with a sleek and sharp drum fill, the song has a sort of Dillinger Escape Plan sound, with lots of fast drums, stinging guitar chords and some interesting call and response between all the members. A very strong performance, only problem is I feel slightly dizzy trying to work out what was going on.
Oh my god! Another band featuring a female vocalist, you’re spoiling us, tech fest. Next up we have, Mask Of Judas. Before the band even arrive on stage I’m impressed, their drummers setup is similar to what you’d expect to see Metallica using, so many cymbals, I doubt any drummer would need that many, it’s great to look at nonetheless. These guys really pack a punch, their vocalist in particular is able to cover just about every vocal style this festival has to offer, deep growls, piercing screams and soothing cleans, and she’s able to weave in and out of them without breaking a sweat. Along with the crazy cymbal work from the drummer (yes, he uses them all) and the guitarists ability to turn the art of sweeping into a rhythmic melody and bust out the best guitar solo of the festival so far, these guys really do stand out as something special. Their sound reminds me of a strange mix between Arch Enemy and Marmozets, but with a much more technical twinge, if your band are able to staple together death metal and jazz and not make it sound like total ass, then you’re doing something right.
Now on the other end of the equipment spectrum we have, Rolo Tomassi, everything they own looks cheap and is kept to the minimum, most bands here all have the newest guitars and the biggest amps and the most drums, but not these guys, they are clearly more of a rough and ready type of band. The band enter to a creepy intro track with lots of reverse samples (reverse samples are the best samples) and general dark noises, then suddenly they fly straight into their first track Estranged. The track is a great one to begin on because it tells you everything you need to know about the band, angry call and response style vocals from both singers, sexy dancing from the female, messy keyboards and if you’re hoping for some simple straight beats then sorry to disappoint. When I first saw their cheap, cheerful setup I had a bad feeling the sound would be pretty poor, but if anything it’s much better, there is none of that overpowering bass you get from all the other bands, everything is mixed well and the guitarists have the most impressive array of effects pedals I’ve ever seen, Rolo Tomassi, proving you can still kick ass on a budget. Without a doubt, these guys are the most insane band of the festival, and probably the most technical and talented. It’s chaos orchestrated in the most beautiful way, the performance is overflowing with vitality, the best chemistry between band members so far, it’s basically The XX, on speed. The singer sings, dances and speaks in a way that demands your full attention, they have an almost sexual undertone to their presence which somehow suits their sound of splashy drums and razor sharp guitars. They finish with a couple more tracks from their new album, one in particular has some very intelligent time signature changes, I thought I’d heard everything music had to offer until seeing what these guys are capable of, it’s more tech than I can handle, I’m not even going to try to dance, it’s futile. I’ll just roll on the floor and hope for the best, or should I say rolo on the floor…I thought not.
We are nearing the end of tech fest with only two bands left, one of which is now missing a vocalist due to something called “vocal nodules”which has stopped him from performing, the band I’m referring to is in fact, Monuments. I’m already disappointed as I was very much looking forward to their full lineup. After the singer bravely coming on and announcing he won’t be able to perform the band shortly follow and kick straight into the best introduction sequence ever, radio static switching through random tracks from different genres and eras and a few funny samples such as “It’s over 9000”thrown in for extra measure. As soon as the intro track ends they go flying in with blast beats galore, the music is fast and full of super technical guitar parts but nothing seems to fall outside of 4/4. They have a nice Fall Of Troy guitar style overlaying the slow heavy breakdowns which works very effectively, but apart from that there is not a lot of melodies, I suppose this is usually supplied by the vocalist. I’m aware these guys are not an instrumental band, and it would be much better if the vocalist was involved, but even without him they pull it off convincingly and have one of the most confident performances of the day. It looks like just about everyone on camp, bands included, have shown up to watch, frisbees and toilet roll are being thrown around in excitement, the most pit is so large that I have to cower at the back of the room, it’s very uplifting to see so many people are throwing so much enjoyment into watching this band despite the lack of vocals.
Last but not least, we have the almighty, Decapitated, the band everyone here has been eagerly anticipating, I’m certain that everyone has shown up to check out the band who defined a genre, which is not in the least surprising. The band are almost an hour late but to be fair most the bands have been pushed back at least ten minutes today and it is the final band so it can be overlooked. As security allow us access I’m experiencing a few things that so far have not happened, I’m actually finding it difficult to get inside the room due to the rush, equally difficult to get a good view, and for the first time I actually feel like I’m about to experience something once in a lifetime. Finally after more delays as the event organisers gave away prizes, the show begins, the entire room is flooded with lights flashing at an alarming rate, I just hope nobody here has epilepsy because they would’ve been in some serious trouble. After watching them for just thirty seconds I can see what every band here has been trying to aspire to, it’s everything I’ve seen so far but with more speed, more precision, more noise and more rage, far more than any of their predecessors could invoke. They also master the quitter parts of songs too, whenever it calls for the music to drop or for them to open with something dramatic they throw together gloomy guitar riffs and ambient lighting, this combined with the terrifying presence of their enormous lead vocalist gives the impression that I’m on the set of a horror movie. Throughout the set they all put on a brilliant performance jam packed with guitar solos, blast beats, slap bass, and lots and lots of hair, it’s a very old school vibe from a band who don’t need to speak to the crowd as there is no need for them to remind us of who they are, everyone here has no doubt and shall remember for a very long time.