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. 

Despised Icon + Malevolence + Archspire + Vulvodynia

The Dome, London. 11 February 2018.

We’re only two months into 2018 and we’re already being spoilt with what could be the line-up of the year. A night of brutal metal awaits. Filled with slam fans, technical metalheads, hardcore lads and old school deathcore lovers, The Dome at Tufnell Park welcomes all punters and tonight it does feel like the perfect venue to host these stellar bands.

The room was almost full for opening band VULVODYNIA; ultimately one of the biggest crowds for an opening band seen for a long while. This is reassuring to see as the up-and-coming slamming brutal death metal group (and super nice chaps too) rightly deserve a large crowd, especially as they’ve travelled all the way from South Africa and we don’t see them enough! Circle pits immediately erupt as the band perform in front of the gory backdrop of the album cover for Psychosadistic Design. The eerie stage and lighting set the mood for their unforgiving show. Headbanging and windmilling while the drums and guitars threaten to pummel us into the ground, frontman Duncan Bentley is a mass of hair and underworldly vocals. VULVODYNIA had a lot of fans in the crowd tonight as Bentley only needed to say the last song was the first song the band ever wrote together, for the crowd to start chanting “DROWNED. IN. VOMIT!” Needless to say no one actually drowned in vomit, but we were at risk of drowning in other people’s sweat, and it was only the first band of the night! A fantastically chaotic start to the evening.

Metalmance has always been curious to see how ARCHSPIRE’s impressive technical death metal translates live. Opening with Calamus Will Animate, the machine-gun vocals unfortunately weren’t phased in fast enough, denying the crowd of the sudden brutal impact the band is well known for. Nevertheless, the Canadians proved to be an impressive force, expertly delivering their technical tunes with an irresistible flair. It is clear each member of the band is an extremely talented musician; almost to the point you become concerned the complexity would detract from their joy of performing, but no need to worry as they all look absolutely thrilled. None more so than frontman Oliver Rae Aleron, whose unique vocals are shot out of a mischievous grin. The diction could be a little clearer but this is to be expected in a live setting. The mix gradually improves during the set and by the time ARCHSPIRE close with Remote Tumour Seeker, the sound is spot on and the riff grooves harder than ever. Don’t be surprised if the next time ARCHSPIRE play the UK they’re headlining a whole tour.

Up next are Sheffield bruisers MALEVOLENCE. Last time Metalmance had the pleasure of witnessing the group tearing up a stage was last June when they headlined this very venue. And now they are supporting their heroes; “We’ve been fans of DESPISED ICON since we were *this* high!” claims frontman Alex Taylor. The band seem more relaxed at this show than last time, they were in good spirits and seemed to be buzzing about playing in this line-up tonight. They completely owned the stage and their fans owned the pit. Playing a lot of songs from last year’s blistering Self Supremacy, MALEVOLENCE are an untouchable team of brutality. If you’re not stomping along to their grooves, then you’re shouting along with guitarist Konan Hall to Slave to Satisfaction, Wasted Breath and Serpents Chokehold. With stage divers and fists in the air, this is exactly where you want to be on a cold and dreary Sunday night. MALEVOLENCE are a family and they always make their fans feels as much too. This, coupled with their monstrous anthems make the band truly unstoppable and it still only feels like the beginning.

Finally, the pioneers of deathcore grace the stage; DESPISED ICON are here to show the young ‘uns how it’s really done. The mix for the band was incredible with the vocals of dual vocalists Alex Erian and Steve Marois sounding crystal clear and resonating to devastating effect. Listening to classics such as Day of Mourning, Furtive Monologues and Retina, it’s easy to hear how DESPISED ICON have influenced countless of bands including tonight’s supports. They oozed professionalism and confidence, yet remained humbled by the crowd’s response and participation. A great band with a sickeningly impressive back catalogue, DESPISED ICON reminded everyone tonight of why they are still well respected in the scene. Smashing through songs from latest album Beast, including the punishing Inner Demons, the group prove they are still relevant and pack a greater punch than the majority of their peers. One thing’s for sure, tonight has set the bar high for the rest of the gigs in 2018.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Earl.