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. 

Roundup – November 2018

The last Metalmance Roundup of the year.

This roundup is a tricky one because I don’t want to write too much before my album of the year list. I’ve kept it simple for this one, my usual top 3 albums of the month but I’ve also added an artist spotlight about one of my favourite bands who released their long-anticipated new album earlier in November. Check it out! There won’t be a roundup in December as you will be treated with my album of the year post. Stay tuned.


Metalmance Top 3 Releases of November

1

COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS – Fervor. Release date: 9 November 2018.

You might remember I featured these Danes in my September roundup when I chatted about their single Canaille. This track seemed a little more melodic than their last album Course of Events, but when you give Fervor a chance you discover the band haven’t lost any of their brutality, but instead sound a lot more mature and quite unique. The album boasts the band’s progressive songwriting abilities, but it is hard to ignore one of the major selling points of COLD NIGHTS FOR ALLIGATORS is their immensely talented vocalist Johan Pedersen who really does push himself with this record. Add this to the band’s forward-thinking metal and you’re onto a winner. I’ve been saying it all year, but there really must be something in the water in Denmark judging by the quality of metal bands emerging this year, now you can add COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS to the ever-growing list.

2

NIGHT CROWNED – Humanity Will Echo Out EP. Release date: 30 November 2018.

Featuring ex-members of bands such as DARK FUNERAL, THE CROWN, NIGHTRAGE and CIPHER SYSTEM, you can probably gauge the high calibre of blackened death metal newbies NIGHT CROWNED conjure. Debut EP Humanity Will Echo Out three tracks of blackened perfection. The ferocity and intensity of this incredibly short EP is astounding. It’s one of those darkly magical releases that leaves you absolutely gagging for more – three tracks is nowhere near enough. If you’re left winded after this short EP, just imagine what impact their debut full-length is going to have. Bloody hell. You can read my full review of Humanity Will Echo Out by clicking on the link below.

Night Crowned – Humanity Will Echo Out EP

3

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE – Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams. Release date: 9 November 2018.

Back in 2016, progressive alternative outfit VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE released the stunning Odyssey: Destroyer of Worlds. This month the band from Northampton released the second instalment, Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams. One of the most striking elements about this album is the inclusion of more cinematic moments. The first album was quite dramatic but this album takes it to the next level and sounds positively stratospheric in places. An example being the album opener Via and its epic break in the middle. Songs like Life on Titan has a mild orchestral feel giving their music an extra kick when things lull into too much safety. What I like so much about Odyseey: The Founder of Dreams is it has a bit more oomph! compared to its predecessor. First single Nine Levels hinted that this would be so, and the album doesn’t disappoint.


Artist Spotlight

ARSIS

 This month also saw the release of the long awaited new album by American technical death metal crew ARSIS, titled Visitant, and for me personally this album has been an excruciatingly long wait. The band have always seemed a bit of an elusive entity to me. None of my friends had heard of them at school, let alone listened to them and liked them, but since the rise of online metal communities I’ve learned I’m not alone and the band’s fanbase is in fact, huge. It all started way back in 2005 when I heard their song Maddening Disdain on a record sampler released by their former label Earache Records. I hadn’t heard anything like the technical metal they wrote and it’s awesome to now see them recognised as one of the fathers of the genre. Back then you couldn’t really stream music so it took me years to listen to their debut album A Celebration of Guilt, which Maddening Disdain is featured on. It’s only until now I actually own the CD! If you know me or follow me on Instagram then you’ll know I always prefer buying physical copies of albums, but to the extreme I have to buy it in person and not online. So I always thought I’d never find A Celebration of Guilt in the flesh until by surprise I found the CD for sale at a stand at this year’s Damnation Festival. I already owned 2008 album We Are The Nightmare (I bought it on a whim in HMV when it came out as I was still pining for a copy of their debut) so now I feel like I can finally start to complete my ARSIS collection. It took a couple of spins for Vesitant to ‘click’ but I’m immensely pleased they’re back with a killer record. It’s reassuring to hear the band haven’t watered down their sound at all, and with contempories such as REVOCATION and GOROD also releasing brilliant albums this year, ARSIS have made 2018 the year of the return of technical death metal.

Roundup – September 2018

This month has seen a plethora of awesome album releases (see below) but September has also been an outstanding month for new singles. So much so I have decided to dedicate the second half of this roundup to September Singles. A bit of alliteration is nice innit. Hope you enjoy this roundup, see you next month! (Hopefully before that as I’ve got a lot of bloody good reviews in the pipeline…)


Metalmance Top 3 Releases from September

It’s been hard to choose just 3 releases to include, as this month also saw blistering releases from the likes of PIG DESTROYER, REVOCATION and ABORTED but I have finally settled on a Top 3 and I’m very happy with it. Seriously, every month I say this but what the hell is going to happen with my album of the year list in December?! 2018 has been a killer year for releases and we still have 3 months to go! Help!

1

ANAAL NATHRAKH – A New Kind of Horror. Release date: 28 September.

A New Kind of Horror

Based on the atrocities of the First World War, this was never going to be a cheery listen. If you follow my blog you will have already read my little review of the album preview show at the Black Heart (link below) but listening to it again properly is just another mindblowing experience. If you know me then you’ll know I think the band’s 2012 album Vanitas is perfection, so you will understand how good A New Kind of Horror is once I’ve told you I think this is the band’s best material since 2012. Songs like The Reek of Fear and Forward! boast the classic beefy riffs and intensity ANAAL NATHRAKH are so well known for. It’s reassuring to hear they haven’t watered down their sound now they’re further along in their career. In fact they sound ballsier and more terrifying than ever. This album is a must-listen.

Anaal Nathrakh + The Atrocity Exhibit Live Review

2

SKYHARBOR – Sunshine Dust. Release date: 7 September.

Sunshine Dust

I’m surprised to see Sunshine Dust hasn’t been making the waves I was expecting it to, because I think this album is absolutely stunning. A major factor of this album’s appeal is the warbles from new frontman Eric Emery. Before this album was re-recorded and released, we had already been treated to Out of Time and Chemical Hands (now Synthetic Hands) so this album has been an extremely long wait. It was all worth it though as Sunshine Dust boasts a wealth of beautifully progressive and emotive songs. Tracks like Ugly Heart, Dim and the title track all tug on the heart strings yet still pack a punch. Definitely a contender for album of the year, don’t be surprised if you see Sunshine Dust high up in my list at the end of 2018.

Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust Review

3

FROM INSIDE – When I’m Breathing Without You EP. Release date: 14 September.

From Inside

At the tail end of 2016 I reviewed FROM INSIDE’s first EP The New Era (link below) and I predicted big things for the band and named them as possible game-changers down the line. This statement still stands as this new EP is a major jump in both confidence and quality. Opener Helpless has an irresistible European tinge to proceedings (think ANNISOKAY and DEAD BY APRIL) and You & I reminds me of THE USED and ISSUES, so you can probably gauge the high calibre metal on offer here. Still an unsigned band, the Liverpudlians are doing just fine continuing as an independent band, playing oodles of shows and building their fanbase. If this EP is anything to go by, when FROM INSIDE do release a debut album it’s going to be absolute killer.

From Inside – The New Era Review


September Singles

Normally this section is dedicated to other albums I’ve been listening to in the past month, but September has seen an influx of stupidly good singles, ahead of album releases. So I thought I would use this opportunity to share my favourite ones of the month and shed light on the bands in the lead up to their records dropping.

ARSIS – Tricking the Gods

The best news this month was hearing technical melodic death metal legends ARSIS are finally releasing their sixth album Visitant on 2nd November. I grew up listening to albums Celebration of Guilt and We Are The Nightmare, so ARSIS have been pivotal in my extreme metal history. This single is by far the best thing they’ve ever done, so if the new album is anything like this then we are all in for a little treat. The band haven’t lost any of their intensity or brutality, if anything it sounds like they’ve become even more technical and ambitious. This accompanying video is very fitting and not for the faint hearted. All the lyrics of the forthcoming album are apparently about different horror movies so be prepared for a blistering and terrifying release.

LASTELLE – This Cage I Built Myself

Who the hell are LASTELLE? I just so happened to stumble upon them on a Youtube channel and I’ve been besotted with this song ever since. It appears the band are only just starting out but have already sold out a gig in their home city of Oxford. LASTELLE have the knack of writing spine-tingling melodies with their drummer stealing the show with his melodic vocals (ATREYU vibes are strong with this one) but they seem to have penned the perfect post-hardcore track for the contemporary scene. Be prepared to feel all the feels. And be prepared to hear a lot more of this talented band.

COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS – Canaille

Danish progressive metal band COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS have been on my radar for a little while, so when I saw they had now been signed to Long Branch Records I was very excited. After hearing new single Canaille my thought was confirmed that the band are only going to get bigger and receive more recognition. A little bit more melodic than their previous material, this single is an absolute belter. There are a lot of interesting elements to Canaille, including jazz and djent and emotive rock. I am curious to hear how forthcoming album Fervor (out 9th November) will sound as a whole. Refreshing, fun and talented, COLD NIGHT FOR ALLIGATORS are sure to warm the coldest of reptiles with their forward-thinking metal. Expect to hear more about these guys.

DECAY THE OCEAN – Oizys, Beneath Me

Fed up with being labelled as just another 4/4 metalcore band, Kings Lynn DECAY THE OCEAN have fought back at critics with this promising new single, Oizys, Beneath Me. Starting with a beefy riff, this new track has got more grit, guts and determination than any of the songs on their debut EP Mirror City. Clearly stepping in the right direction to prove their doubters wrong, it’s good to see this young band eager to mature their sound and constantly improve. The love of playing music is clearly there and will hopefully continue to ooze out in the material they release later down the line.

VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE – Nine Levels

Following on from 2016’s Odyssey: The Destroyer of Worlds, British progressive champions VOICES FROM THE FUSELAGE dropped the news this week they will be releasing their next album, titled Odyssey: The Founder of Dreams later in the year. Along with the news of the forthcoming album, the band also released their first single off it, Nine Levels. I feel this song has a strong COHEED AND CAMBRIA vibe at the beginning before it erupts into the classic emotive metal the band is known for. Vocalist Ashe O’Hara is a little gem in the metal scene and absolutely shines on this single, and the soaring melodies heard in Nine Levels are truly something else. A band to watch for sure, this album is definitely geared up and set to stun.

ABORTED – Vespertine Decay

Another sexy gorefest of a video this month, Vespertine Decay by Belgian death metallers ABORTED is the blistering new single from new album Terrorvision. This song shows the metal legends going down a more blackened route. Arguably more ‘melodic’ than their other material, this suggests the band are pushing the boat out and pushing their own boundaries in turn. One of the heaviest singles of the year so far, it has the potential to rip your face off. The ferocious brutality and intensity is suffocating and makes for an incredibly compelling listen.

VOLA – Ghosts

VOLA were one of the first bands I featured in Metalmance, I labelled them as a ‘Band to watch’ and I reviewed their debut album InMazes and since then I’ve watched them explode. Now on the brink of releasing their second album Applause From A Distant Crowd 12th October, the band have released two singles from it so far. Ghosts is the second of the two singles and quite a stark contrast to Smartfriend, the first single to be released. Ghost is a beautiful, tranquil track which makes good use of electronics, but it’s one of those calming tracks which gets stuck in your head for days. A dangerous combination! Hopefully the album will boast more diverse tracks, as the singles so far have featured less of the djent which featured heavily in their debut album.