Roundup – July 2019

It’s been a scorcher of a month and that’s just this month’s releases!

Metalmance is well and truly back after a well-deserved break. There is so much to catch up on, this year is proving to be a corker of a year for new albums. In the coming months Roundups will also include releases which have captured my attention and singles you might have missed. Links to features this month will also be shared as well as a gem from the archives. This month I’ll start with my Top 3 releases of July and then feature some of my favourite albums of 2019 I’ve been enjoying on my break. Thanks for reading, see you next month!


 

Metalmance’s Top 3 Releases of July

This month has been a death metal paradise with regard to releases. With the scorching heat wave and the wave of brutal tunes, it’s been feeling like hell with a devilish soundtrack! My top releases of this month reflect this, so without further ado here are my Top 3:

 

WORMEDMetaportal EP. Release date: 19 July 2019

I don’t know how I’ve completely slept on WORMED until now, but goodness me am I happy I’ve discovered them. The Spanish sci-fi tech death troupe sound like all my favourite extreme metal bands all rolled into one. Metaprotal is an insane little record. One which you wish was a full length, but perhaps it is better off this way because you can savour each of the four tracks until you’ve consumed all the brutality. Songs like Bionic Relic boast DECAPITATED-esque riffs (cirqa. Organic Hallucinosis) while Cryptoubiquity harks back to the filthy days of BERZERKER, but it is E-Xystem://Ce which has a contemporary dissonant air about it (imagine if NIGHTMARER wrote Carnival is Forever).  These four songs are enough to strike plenty of damage, approach at your own peril.  

2

DISENTOMBThe Decaying Light. Release date: 12 July 2019.

One of my most anticipated albums of 2019 finally landed this month and it was well worth the wait! Brutal death metal Aussies DISENTOMB have returned with the spectacular The Decaying Light and if they weren’t on your radar, then they sure as hell will be now! The dissonant tones which run underneath their ferocious tunes give it an extra menacing edge. The production is as murky as the depths of despair which is a good thing when you want to spread your misery. The pace is relentless throughout the album and vocalist Jordan Phillip is continuing to impress as one of the scene’s most unforgiving guttural merchant. If you’ve yet to venture into the depths of DISENTOMB, then tread carefully. 

3

Thy Art Is MurderHuman Target. Release date: 26 July 2019.

It’s easy to say Human Target, the fifth album by Aussie death metal merchants THY ART IS MURDER could be the raucous soundtrack to our inevitable dystopian future. Truth is, Human Target hits home in the dystopia which is the world TODAY. Never a band to shy away from sensitive topics or worldwide scandels, THY ART IS MURDER channels our sick world into some of the most brutal metal of our time. Human Target is arguably the band’s most blackened material to date and the results are outrageous. There’s oodles of CABAL-esque desperate despair as well as the predictable nods to politics today (Make America Hate Again) but with this album you can really feel every word and every note of misery played. The band are angrier than ever which means the state of the world is even worse, but it’s good news for us because we get an even more relentless steamroll from THY ART IS MURDER.


 

Metalmance Catch Up

As I said above, there’s been plenty of releases I’ve been jamming on my break and so many I want to share with you! This month I’m sharing some of my top albums which dropped in the Spring.   

PORT NOIR – The New Routine. Release date: 10 May 2019.

Much like the title of the second track of this album, The New Routine is indeed Flawless! You might remember Swedish rockers PORT NOIR’s last album Anyway The Wind Carries was my second favourite album of 2016 and it’s felt like a long wait for this third album. Now signed to Inside Out Music I’m glad the band are amongst a progressive roster as PORT NOIR’s music is tough to pigeonhole and needs a label which will let them grow and fly. I was worried their new direction might be a lot poppier and it is in a way, but there is still such an appealing organicness to their music which is irresistible. I love they’re a trio with a huge sound and they really do get their groove on with this album. They sound like DEATH FROM ABOVE but sassier and bassist/vocalist Love Andersson is sounding as delightful as ever. The riffs are on point and the melodies are so smooth and sexy it will make you dream in velvet. Hot stuff, check them out before they get huge.  

 

BRUTUSNest. Release date: 29 March 2019.

I bought Nest just on the basis of falling in love with a live video of BRUTUS’ song War. At the start I thought it was just going to be folky rock (which isn’t my cup of tea) but it developed into an intense, raw display of power and they blew me away. They’re only a trio but they create such huge walls of sound and blistering soundscapes they can be lumped in with post-rock bands as well as your conventional alt-rock groups. They’re signed to Hassle Records so you can expect an element of chaos to what they do. They chuck a lot of styles and influences into the pot yet they create their own BRUTUS sound; black metal riffs, punk energy and shoegaze visions all make an appearance on Nest making it unpredictable yet fresh. Stunning stuff.   

 

EMPLOYED TO SERVE Eternal Forward Motion. Release date: 10 May 2019.

This album goes bloody hard! EMPLOYED TO SERVE’s Eternal Forward Motion is absolutely devastating! I wasn’t expecting the brutal pace and relentless ferocity. I really liked their last album Warmth of a Dying Sun but this new album is something else! It makes me stomp around with the ugly riff face, exactly what I like in a record! There’s been a lot of hype around this band for a few years now so if you still haven’t checked them out or seen them live, then you’re really missing out.  


 

From The Archive…

After reviewing the band’s second album Render earlier this month (link to review at the bottom of this Roundup), I was curious to revisit my first review of Bristolian proggers VALIS ABLAZE back when they released their EP Insularity. Here’s a snippet of what I had to say…

VALIS ABLAZEInsularity EP. Release date: 30 January 2017.

“To push themselves to the forefront of the scene the band should focus on nurturing and fine-tuning their own sound, as the band have proved with this EP they already harness the talent and passion to potentially become a leading force themselves.”

Valis Ablaze – Insularity Review

 


 

DON’T MISS…

Metalmance interview with WOLF JAW

INTERVIEW: Wolf Jaw

Metalmance Tech Fest 2019 reviews

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1

Tech Fest 2019: Part 2

Metalmance live review of CROBOT

Crobot/Wolf Jaw/Kamensko

Metalmance review of VALIS ABLAZE Render

Valis Ablaze – Render

Tech Fest 2019: Part 2

Sat 6th & Sun 7th July 2019. Newark Showground.

After a cracking Friday we all thought we could take it easy Saturday lunch time but no, ARMED FOR APOCALYPSE well and truly blew the cobwebs away. Their ferocious sludgy metal obliterated our senses and played their set with furious energy. You could not take your eyes off the band, front man Nate Burman especially, as they performed with the intensity of a headline act. An early highlight for most on the third day of Tech Fest.

The next act ended up being another ‘DIVIDUM’ for me, a band who I glanced over on the line-up announcement but who ended up being one of my favourite discoveries of the weekend. That band was UNSEEN FAITH, a tech band from Denmark (there’s been a bit of a Danish invasion this year at Tech Fest but that just reiterates what I kept claiming last year – that Denmark is exporting the hottest acts in metal right now) and they are definitely a band you need to listen to NOW. Front man Alexander Eriksen was truly captivating with his intense stares and formidable presence. The band performed as a unit and were utterly spellbinding to watch. Their brand of techy metalcore sounded fresh with just the right amount of familiar elements to keep things interesting, but it was the delivery which won over new fans. One to watch for sure.         

One band which most Tech Festers were anticipating were up next and it was one band I was never sure if I’d be able to witness on UK soil – SHOKRAN. The Russians have released some of the most innovative and downright brilliant progressive metal since their formation in 2012 and everyone was curious to find how their oriental metal translated into a live setting. It’s safe to say SHOKRAN smashed all expectations. Considering they arrived as a trio, every song still sounded colossal. Guitar aficionado Dmitry Demyanenko wowed in yellow with his distinct technical wizardy, but it was vocalist Andrew Ivashchenko who stole the attention with his flawless voice and commanding stage presence. Playing songs from all three of their albums, including new album Ethereal, the material sounded as strong live as it does on record. Ending with fan favourite Creatures From The Mud, it was evident SHOKRAN had proven themselves to be a sublime live act. Do not miss them at Euroblast.   

Headlining the Fireball Stage were British hardcore metallers PALM READER. “This is the first time we’ve played Tech Fest and we’re headlining the stage!” gushed humbled front man Josh Mckeown. The room was packed to witness their unique slab of hardcore and their intense delivery never fails to amaze. Tracks from latest album Braille go down a treat and the crowd response shows the band is going from strength to strength. PALM READER are definitely one band who do not get softer the bigger they get (oo-er).

The crowds were gathering for Tasmanian tech death metallers PSYCROPTIC and the wait was worth it because the set was phenomenal. With brutal circle pits, brutal tunes and stellar front man Jason Peppiatt owning the stage, PSYCROPTIC’s set was an obliterating sensory experience. With a wealth of material under their belts, their set was always going to be one to remember, but tracks from last year’s album As The Kingdom Drowns took on a life of their own in a live setting and fans went into meltdown. Rapidly becoming one of the most celebrated bands in the tech death scene, it’s no wonder why when you see PSYCROPTIC live!   

It was inevitable that tonight’s headliners were going to stir up emotions. British prog metallers MONUMENTS have always been firm favourites at Tech Fest, having played the very first instalment of the festival back in 2011. The week before this year’s edition, the band announced the departure of vocalist Chris Barretto and the introduction of Andy Cizek of MAKARI as stand-in for the tour and festivals. Tonight’s set was met with anticipation, but only one word can describe the event – otherworldly.

With the biggest crowd Tech Fest had seen so far this weekend it seemed the whole festival had packed into the main room to witness this spectacle. A mystical light show, bodies moving, John Browne’s  signature riffage and Cizek’s phenomenal vocals, resulted in a mind-blowing performance. Newer songs from last year’s Phronesis held their own amongst older classics but each song merged into the other creating a never-ending flow of glorious progressive metal and never-ending mosh pits.  It was clear Cizek was winning over the audience and after the set, many were heard saying they wouldn’t complain if he stepped up as a full time member.

Sunday

Sunday is usually the hardest day to get through, with hangovers, fatigue and sobering up before the Monday drive home, all taking their toll. Luckily for us Indian proggers PROJECT MISHRAM woke us all up and got us on our feet. The progressive Carnatic fusion band wowed the crowd with not only their djent, but their violin, flute and traditional Carnatic vocals. ‘Mishram’ means ‘mix’ which is truly apt for the concoction of styles PROJECT MISHRAM provide. This is what Tech Fest is about; innovation, discovering unknown bands and celebrating how diverse the metal community is. PROJECT MISHRAM attracted the biggest audience for this time in the afternoon and certainly became one of everyone’s favourite discoveries.

It is always a pleasure to witness Hull metallers SWORN AMONGST. Flawless, fun and professional, this band have worked so hard in the scene and their experience  as band is reflected in the quality of their live show. Front man Darryl Jones is an unstoppable force with his boundless energy on stage. The band had a great turnout and passionate fans down the front screamed back every word. With three albums and two EPs under their belts, including this year’s brilliant Reclamation EP, SWORN AMONGST have plenty of material to play a blistering set. Their positivity and talent never get boring to watch. Higher up the bill next time please?

CARCER CITY have always been darlings of the scene but sadly today was their farewell show. “Support bands, buy a CD, buy merch.” warns front man Patch Pinion to the crowd. The bittersweet set was a tremendous send-off for the lads from Liverpool, with circle pits and a wall of death to say goodbye. The band played their hearts out, clearly not having lost any passion for their craft after announcing their split. One of the most polished and tightest bands of the weekend, it’s a sore reminder of what the world will miss. Support the scene kids. 

UK tech wizards HARBINGER’s stage presence has mightily improved since their last Tech Fest appearance in 2017. However, they are still not living up to the hype for me and still have a long way to go to really capture everyone’s attention during a live show, the same way next act FROM SORROW TO SERENITY do. They utterly blew me away last year at Tech Fest, so expectations were high for their set today. I needn’t have worried as their performance was faultless. Vocalist Gaz King was most impressive of all, a true professional, his voice did not falter once considering the extreme workout it was getting. New album Reclaim was released earlier this year and the songs played today sounded absolutely huge. Being signed to Long Branch Records is suiting them well. Surely it’s only a matter of time before FROM SORROW TO SERENITY hit the big time.   

Having reviewed new album Render before the weekend by VALIS ABLAZE (it’s bloody brilliant), I was curious to hear how the new songs fared live. Now with a solidified line-up, the proggers from Bristol had a fuller stage presence and everything seemed to gel really well. New songs Hollow Heart, The Convincer and State of Decay all took on a new power in a live setting, and old reliables Insularity and Paradox still packed a punch. This band have ‘grown up’ playing at Tech Fest through the years, we’ve seen it all, from their numerous line-up changes, their Insularity EP, last year’s debut album Boundless and now Render. There is an air of ‘this is it now, watch us fly’ surrounding the band and the crowd can feel the buzz too. A band finally hitting their stride, see them before they get huge!

The real buzz today was around the highly anticipated co-headline set by VILDHJARTA. This would be the first time witnessing these elusive Swedes for the majority of people here tonight. In fact this is the band some had only come to Tech Fest for at all, so it was a momentous occasion and the pits and perspiration in the air were testament to that. Playing tracks such as Dagger and Eternal Golden Monk, the crowd were going wild and lapping up each moment. “Banana guy, get up here and headbang” led to the most legendary moment of the weekend. When people thought the set couldn’t get any better, they brought out Filip Danielsson from HUMAITY’S LAST BREATH to do guest vocals. That, my friend is how to go down in history at Tech Fest.

After that colossal set the pressure was on for Norwegian proggers LEPROUS to finish the weekend on a high. Of course they were up to the task and they were nothing short of spectacular. A godly set, LEPROUS churned out all the favourites including The Price and The Flood and played From The Flame and Mirage for their encore. Even the burliest metalhead was singing along to LEPROUS. Their crossover appeal is one of their greatest assets and their melodic prog was the perfect way to end the weekend. With a surreal atmosphere thanks to the ambient lighting and magical riffs, front man Einar Solberg “Aaahh-ah-ah-aaa”-ed his way through the set, much to the delight of fans. His luscious tones resonated around the room, somehow uniting all witnesses in this moment. Listening to LEPROUS, we could all forget we’d be returning to reality the next day. It concluded a spectacular weekend of innovative music, up and coming bands and old favourites. Repeat after me: TECH FEST IS BEST FEST.   

   

INTERVIEW: Wolf Jaw

Talking about odd-shaped balls, their love of Black Sabbath and their new album.

It was a rainy evening in the fine city of Norwich when WOLF JAW vocalist Tom Leighton met me at The Waterfront venue. Poking his head out the side door to greet me while I looked like a drowned rat, we went upstairs to meet the rest of the band. Bassist Dale Tonks was glued to a retro pinball machine while drummer Karl Selickis was chilling on a leather sofa. Passing me a beer as we all sat down to chat, I was eager to hear about the guys’ year so far and plans for the future.

Q: WOLF JAW! Thanks for meeting me. You’ve just played Download, you’ve been signed to Listenable Records and you have your album out in the autumn, what has been your personal highlight of the year so far?

All: Definitely Download. 

Q: Did you play three times?

Tom: We did three sets yeah, we did a VIP one on the Thursday, acoustic on Friday and the Dogtooth stage on Sunday. So it was pretty hectic.

Karl: It was all very, very surreal. It was a massive highlight of the year and the career so far.

Tom: We don’t live too far from where Download is, about 45 minutes away so we’ve always gone as kids and grown-ups. Always gone to Donnington to see our favourite bands play and we got asked to play it. It was like “Jesus!” it really blew our minds a bit. I don’t think we really got it until we got on stage…

Karl: You know what, for me it didn’t really sink in until we came off stage on Sunday. 

Tom: Yeah I was standing there when we got off stage. We were on quite early Sunday, um…ten to twelve, when we got there and looked across it was completely empty. Looking at the mainstage and it was like…yeah this is really cool.  

Q: I guess playing Download would be the dream for every band! Download also premiered your Hear Me single, how was that received?

Dale: That was received really well. We’ve really been feeling now anticipation for this, because this is something we’re really excited about. Not that we weren’t about the first one, but this feels like it’s got something else about it, and that’s just us hearing the tracks over and over again and every time we listen to it, it’s like listening afresh and the guys at Download putting it on there is just incredible. This is like, it couldn’t have gone any better than having the video there and the three sets as well, it’s just incredible.

Tom: All the guys there at Download and the organisers were great, we got Instagram takeover for the day so we just messed around on there. And when they premiered the video it was like, this is cool yeah. It got good reviews and went really well.

Q: It is a good track! What I like about WOLF JAW and Hear Me in particular is how riffy you guys are. Do you have any kind of riff heroes? Or any favourite riffs?

Tom: Anything by BLACK SABBATH.

Karl: Just SABBATH, yeah!

Tom: Um…Jimmy Page, you know, all the original guys [laughs] so to speak when it comes to rock. Um yeah…I mean modern guys like CROBOT who we’re playing with tonight, and CLUTCH, all stuff like that we have on in the van. Just riff hounds [all laugh].

Dale: I was brought up on the same stuff, like SABBATH, bands like THIN LIZZY as well. We were very into that and WISHBONE ASH.

Tom: We bonded over THIN LIZZY didn’t we?

Dale: Yeah [laughs] worst day of my life that was [all laugh]. I mean, there are so many classic bands, even stuff like bands like TRAPEZE, that sort of funkier, groovier side of it.

Tom: They’re from our hometown, our neck of the woods.

Q: Where is your hometown?

Tom: Me and Dale are originally from Cannock in the Midlands, where Glen Hughes and Mel Galley [from TRAPEZE] and all that are from. So it’s in the heritage really, we were all brought up on that kind of thing. Karl’s from Rugby…so…

Karl: I like odd-shaped balls…[all laugh].

Tom: Use that in a quote! 

Q: I will! So with the singles Hear Me and I Lose My Mind, is that a good taste of what’s to come on the album? Or are there other surprises?

Tom: Um…there’s so much on this one. With Starting Gun, when we released that when we were the band formally known as THE BAD FLOWERS [laughs] we tried to be as varied as possible and put all sorts of different stuff on. But it was songs we worked with for years and years wasn’t it? [Dale agrees] You know, four or five years of writing. And this one, we wrote the songs in about two months.   

Karl: It was written and mostly recorded in the space of the two – two and a half months.

Tom: Yeah so we just absolutely went for it and like, it’s riffy, but there’s also some heartfelt stuff on there as well. From a songwriting point of view, there’s a lot of what’s gone on in my head, things that have happened like in the last couple of years, so it’s quite a personal record. Yeah it’s good. 

Q: Yeah, from the transformation of THE BAD FLOWERS to WOLF JAW, is there anything you want to talk about?

Dale: Just how well it’s been received by people. Like, we were honestly really concerned about it, ’cause we built that name up and had the followers. To that extent we thought, if we change the name do we lose everything? The way people have backed it and received it and got behind it as well…

Karl: It was nerve wracking wasn’t it.

Dale: It was very tense and it was like, is this the right thing to do? Looking back at it now – Download and rolling into the new album, it was.

Karl: One hundred percent…One hundred percent.

Tom: We changed the name and wanted to go a little heavier, I think the name reflects it. Not heavier as such it’s just…

Karl: A bit darker, a bit grittier.

Tom: Yeah, yeah. And then, like you say, we signed with Listenable which is good and they’ve been great so far to us. We’re really looking forward to working with them on the new record, and Download got confirmed when we changed the name. So…so far so good, definitely.

Q: Especially Listenable, they’re famed for signing GOJIRA and other techier metal bands, so are you excited to bring more of a rock aspect to their label?

Tom: Yeah definitely, I think the label itself is expanding a little bit, like they had JARED JAMES NICHOLS, I’m wearing his shirt right now, he’s a friend of ours, we’ve toured with him and played a lot of shows with him. I think that’s where a lot of this came from and they’ve signed AARON BUCHANAN AND THE CULT CLASSICS too, so I think it’s maybe showing a new a direction, broadening their horizons maybe. We’re just happy to be a part of it because I think we can crossover that boundary quite well.

Dale: I think it shows a change in the way people are listening to music and what music people are listening to. From people wanting to expand, wanting to dip their toes into something that’s being marketed to suit everybody.

Q: I agree from a personal point of view. But one question I did want to ask you, the name WOLF JAW in itself…were you thinking of animals and body parts? Where did the name come from? And were there any names which were Plan B?

Tom: Well, we had about four hundred different names didn’t we? And they were mostly all stupid [laughs]. Mostly all silly like, WOLF JAW was…I don’t really know…Me and my partner have got a five year old, and he likes Jaws, always singing Jaws. We’ve never let him watch it but he’s obsessed with sharks. The wolf thing came from…he just calls himself a little wolf cub or something and he was singing it…so er, [laughs] it’s probably not as rock n roll… ‘Cause we were racking our brains and we needed to sort something out and everyone said yes to it so…

Karl: It works. There was that many names floating around, it was like “that’s cool…that one’s cool”, that one was right down and it was like, yeah, that works.

Dale: It was all shooting backwards and forwards on Whatsapp and when you see it you think “oh yeah, that’s the one”…

Tom: We always had animal connections really, our famous tshirt, the best-selling one we ever did was a lion, a phoenix and a shark on it. ‘Cause Dale’s got a shark tattooed on him, Karl’s got a phoenix and I’ve got a lion. So we drew them into one thing and we’ve always had that I suppose.  

Q: I guess as you were changing your name there was more pressure as well…

Tom: Tonnes of pressure. It was like, we’ve got to get this right. Like what Dale said earlier, we didn’t want to lose any fans. It was mostly received really well, there were a few people who were a bit funny about it which I can understand ’cause they spent money on merch and everything, but all we’ve got to do now is do really well so it’s worth a lot of money for them [laughs] in a few years, you know.

Dale: The nice thing is, you [Karl] were saying you went out to a gig the other night there was someone still wearing a BAD FLOWERS tshirt and stuff…

Tom: Yeah we’re still the same band. 

Dale: Definitely.

Tom: A few letters different.

Q: So this is the first night of the tour [with CROBOT]. Is there anything you’re expecting or wanting to achieve on this tour?

Karl: Personally I don’t want to fall off my drum stool this time [all laugh], ’cause that kinda sucked. That was the what, first or second show of the last tour?

Tom: Yeah last tour we did in September, Karl fell off his drum stool on the first gig [laughs].

Karl: Properly damaged and really hurt my neck and my back and that really sucked for the next couple of days, but no…we just wanna go out and premiere some of our new stuff and maybe stuff people haven’t seen before. So we’ve got a mixture of old tracks, new tracks and it’s just a bit of a belter really.

Tom: We’ve got two stops in the whole set so we just go through and fit as much in as we can.

Dale: Just blow the roof off every night. That’s it, that’s my aim! Be as loud as possible and just rip the roof off of everywhere we play.

Tom: Yeah we’re really looking forward to it, we played with CROBOT three years ago, maybe longer?

Dale: It’s just coming up to four years.

Tom: Nearly four years ago yeah.

Dale: Both bands have changed.

Tom: Yeah, and we’ve stayed in touch with the guys and we’re excited to be back out with them for sure.

Thanks guys! I hope tonight and the rest of the tour goes well.

[Dale returns to the pinball machine]

Crobot/Wolf Jaw/Kamensko Live Review

Tech Fest 2019: Part 1

Thurs 4th & Fri 5th July 2019. Newark Showground.

After last year’s UK Sweatfest, everyone was hoping for things to be a little cooler. A shame then the bands brought the heat and set Newark Showground alight.

Thursday  

It all started for me on the Early Bird Thursday with the mighty KARYBDIS, the melodic death metal band from ‘Laaandaan’. Pulling in a decent crowd for a Thursday afternoon, the band played bangers from their latest album In The Shadow of Paradise which lured in more curious onlookers. With a tight set, punishing vocals and good vibes all round, KARYBDIS got everyone warmed up for a weekend of tech.  

“We are not a kinetic band” states VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE front man Ashe O’Hara. However, witnessing their super melodic prog metal live transcends you. Playing songs from both Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams and Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, the riffs twinkled and the vocals soothed. Ending with the upbeat Vestibule of Hell, the band proved they could also pack a punch.

Unfortunately my Thursday ended here due to pollen sending me into a stupor…  

Friday

Kicking off the morning with ABHORRENT DECIMATION, who definitely blew away any cobwebs which may have accumulated the night before. Their ballsy set should have been illeagal for this time in the very early afternoon.      

After everyone got their ears pummelled, a few dazily wandered to the Fireball Stage to check out DIVIDIUM. This ended up being one of those special moments of a festival when you watch a band on a whim and fall completely in love with them. The passion, energy and talent oozed from these melodic tech metallers from Hull. Playing songs from records In Terrifying Colour and T.H.R.E.E, DIVIDIUM got the crowd onside with front man Neil Bailey performing the majority of their set amongst the dazzled witnesses. Leaving the stage with a whole new legion of fans in tow, the band ended up being a hot topic for the remainder of the day.

Next up were Metalmance regulars SIAMESE. These Danish rockers played the Early Bird last year but the demand for more of their catchy-as-sin rock brought the loveable rogues back for this year and on the Line 6 Stage. Playing songs from Shameless and new album Super Human, each song went down a treat with the very charismatic front man Mirza Radonjica winning over the punters.  Opening with B.A.N.A.N.A.S and confusing the newcomers, their high-energy set continued to pull in crowds, so by the time the band ended with the euphoric Soul and Chemicals, they had garnered many a new follower to their rock flock.   

After briefly checking out ODD PALACE and their ‘odd’ concoction of quirky ditties, it was time for one of my mostly eagerly anticipated sets, that of COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS. Last year’s album Fervor was spectacular and the band’s fans, me included, couldn’t wait to hear the new material live. Not letting technical issues deter them, the band delighted fans with the likes of Black Swan and Canaille and songs from 2016 album Course of Events. Vocalist Johan Pedersen commanded the crowd and brought the energy, ensuring the audience were warmed up ready for the monstrous acts later. COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are still a band to watch, if they keep this up they’ll be headlining soon.  

No time to rest, as Scottish tech death darlings GODEATER were getting underway on the Fireball Stage. Just think, back in 2017 the band played their second ever gig here, and now they’ve packed out the room. The new material and latest single Exsanguinated sounded absolutely devastating live, with lots of SHOKRAN-esque oriental twangs thrown into proceedings. An intense performance by all members and a terrific turnout proves bright times ahead for GODEATER.

Norwich deathcore veterans ANNOTATIONS OF AN AUTOPSY hit the Line 6 and pummelled the crowd with old classics and material from their comeback EP World of Sludge. Delivering an absolutely punishing set, it felt like the band never went away. Welcome back lads.

Nothing prepared anyone for the absolute side-splitting sesh that was ARCHSPIRE. Their unique tech death is hard to rival, but now their live show is too. From their clam hands clap, the ‘Applause’ signs and banter of eating your better half’s prosterior, fans were not only entertained but blown away by the technical brilliance of the disgustingly talented Canadians. The venue was absolutely rammed, the circle pits around Banana Man were relentless (if you know, you know) and the positivity in the room was overwhelming. THIS is what Tech Fest is all about.  

BLACK TONGUE were getting nasty over on the Line 6 Stage. The down-tempo misery merchants were stirring up the most violent pits of the festival so far. Their self-proclaimed ‘doomcore’ sounded absolutely colossal, with front man Alex Teyen pacing the stage barefoot with a fury in his eyes and a fire in his barks to the crowd. Playing tracks from their whole back catalogue, the intensity BLACK TONGUE stamp up is mightily impressive, with the crowd antics matching the energy. A brutal set which raised the bar for the remainder of the acts this weekend.

Tonight’s headliner need not worry about keeping proceedings brutal. DYING FETUS have punished the masses for longer than some of the audience have been alive. Their destructive grooves were exactly what was needed to conclude a blistering Friday. The death metal trio didn’t let up the pace at all and blasted the crowd into oblivion. DYING FETUS showed the young ‘uns how it’s done and were the cherry on the cake that was an outstanding second day at Tech Fest. Superb. 

Crobot/Wolf Jaw/Kamensko

The Waterfront Studio, Norwich. 20 July 2019.

A Saturday night in The Fine City is the perfect time for a night of hip-shaking rock. Kicking off the night was Norwich stoner rockers KAMENSKO. It was reassuring to see a good amount of the local music community had come down early to catch the band’s groovy riffage. Playing tracks from their forthcoming EP and their current material, KAMENSKO blitzed through their set with guitar solos aplenty. Clearly humbled by the turnout and crowd response, the band stumped up the good vibes which continued throughout the evening.

Up next were the Midlands rock n rollers WOLF JAW. Last month saw this loveable trio play three sets at Download no less, and they treated The Waterfront Studio like any stage at Donnington. Spoiling us with new tracks from their forthcoming debut album as WOLF JAW as well as gems from their time as THE BAD FLOWERS, the band were addictive to watch; dungaree-clad Dale Tonk’s bass face, drummer Karl Selickis’ energetic drumstick twiddling and flying hair and front man Tom Leighton’s distinct gritty vocals and raucous guitar playing made for a blistering live show. WOLF JAW sounded huge and would give any headliner a run for their money, proving three is the magic number when it comes to making a monstrous impact on the live stage. Playing at the barrier and getting the crowd involved got everyone on side and in the palm of their hands. If these chaps continue the rest of the tour in this manner, they will and truly cement themselves in the music world as WOLF JAW.

After the riotous second set, tonight’s headliners CROBOT had a hard task to top what we had just witnessed, but the American groove rockers absolutely smashed it. It was impossible to take your eyes off charismatic front man Brandon Yeagley. His bejewelled waistcoat, allure with his mic stand tricks, and most importantly his talent as a rock vocalist will surely make him a legendary rock star. The chemistry between all members was something special and any interaction between each other was comedic, yet real. However, they made sure the crowd felt part of the family, even inviting one young punter to play the last riffs of the night.

Treating fans to lots of new songs from their soon-to-be-released album Motherbrain, CROBOT also entertained the room with snippets of BLACK SABBATH, TOTO and…Ghostbusters. In an age of super serious bands, playing their super serious music with super serious stage presence, it is so refreshing to watch a band who are both professional yet visibly still having the time of their lives. This sense of fun is infectious and dominates the atmosphere. Guitar slinging, harmonica solos and clambering on top of monitors (and each other), CROBOT are full of tricks and mischief which is a dangerous combination when coupled with the grooviest riffs. Their energy didn’t dip for one second ensuring everyone left the venue a hot and sweaty mess and a massive smile on their face. An absolutely blinding evening, tonight will go down as one of the best Norwich gigs of the year.