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Tech-Fest Day 1
This would be my first time at Tech-Fest and boy was I in for a treat, firstly, from the car park to the stages is about a 400m walk with the campsite between the 2 which means it is nice and easy to pop back to the car for supplies or even your tent. There is also a good array of food stalls including the stone baked pizzas which were absolutely gorgeous. Another one of my bug bears at gigs (let alone festivals) are the toilet facilities, here we have no such problem. Actual toilets! And to add to that, more than 1 block of them. Oh, and even showers! Top this with 2 very decent sized stages, no clashes, no queues at the bar (with reasonable prices too might I add) and more merch than you could possibly imagine so we are on for a winner.
Breaking my Tech-Fest virginity would be Dakesis, a female fronted prog band. I will say that normally prog is not my thing but these guys and girls may have just changed my mind. Each song is littered with stunning guitars, soaring vocals and punchy bass lines. The vocals particularly stood out to me as the range on them is simply stunning, from soft to almost operatic. Dakesis may have played to a small crowd but boy the crowd loved it and when they closed with the 15 minute epic ‘Fractures’ I was simply blown away! 9/10
Interview – Dakesis
From the beauty to the beast, Azezal take on the second stage with a monster of a sound, these boys are heavy with a capital ‘H.’ The crowd instantly react as the invisible ninja’s (hardcore dancing) appear. What has me truly loving these guys was again the vocal range, it was phenomenal and top that with some breakdowns so heavy they open up a void into the abyss, this set was another that blew me away. Special note for the synchronised head banging as well, this is something I personally love and just works so well. 9/10
Welsh boys Rosen Bridge hit the main stage next and the crowd are greeted with a click track still playing over their usual backing tracks. This normally would be a massive issue but Rosen Bridge kept their cool and continued through the opening number (perfectly in time, which was good as we would have really noticed). Thankfully this was sorted by song 2 and left the crowd having a bit of a giggle but otherwise in a good mood as they were dancing to it. Aside from this technical issue the rest of the set was belting! The range on Alex (vocals) was absolutely on point today and possibly the best I have heard his from him. This was mostly highlighted in their new single where he imitates the roll of Jot from Hacktivist brilliantly. Catchy songs, heavy breakdowns and some exquisite dance moves! 8/10
Interview – Rosen Bridge
Back to the second stage where Manchester based Sertraline hit the stage, a lot has changed from the last time I saw these, most notably the introduction of new vocalist Ben formally from SolarShift. This is a mega change for Sertraline going from female to male fronted but it really hasn’t made any difference. The songs still have clean melodies carried over which Ben did perform beautifully, but we now have a bit more grunt from the growls which is greatly appreciated. Musically these guys have the ‘bounce’ and storm through what was a very catchy and enjoyable set, however I did miss the bassist as there was a distinct lack of low end to their sound which did make them sound a little thinner than normal. Having said that this was one of the most energetic and engaging sets of the weekend so far. 8/10
Things take a darker turn as blackened deathcore mob A Night in the Abyss take to the stage. Their intro track sets these guys up perfectly and gives off this evil yet grand feel to what is about to come. Once their set begins we are treated to a masterful blend of black metal blast beats and riffs mixing with punch to the face breakdowns. These are topped beautifully with keys as well adding yet another layer to A Night in the Abyss not only that but they are performed live as opposed to a backing track. Vocally however is where things take a bit of a turn, firstly he looks plain awkward on stage and with what looks like zero mic control leaves some vocals completely inaudible and others so loud they feed back. They could have been really good, but to me this looks like they weren’t sound checked properly or he didn’t quite understand the power his voice had. Shame really as I really dig the music. 5/10
Karybdis are a band I personally love watching live, from the power of the vocals to the blistering drumming or the tasteful use of backing tracks to enhance the sound to another level, all just ticks every box for me. Guess what, this performance was exactly that and more. The riffs cut through beautifully which instantly get the old noggin bobbin and then there is the energy these guys have on stage! Bouncing around, head banging and generally commanding the crowd to do whatever Karybdis wanted them to do… This included a conga line. For me the clean voice was slightly off today which really is the only thing that stood in the way of this being a perfect set! 9/10
The main stage bathed in red lights which can mean only one thing, Red Method are about to take to the stage. Straight away the sound for these guys is way too loud, so much so a few people were actually walking out. Now you can call me old here but there is such a thing as ‘too loud’ because in this case what happened was the sound ended up completely distorted and the clean vocals got completely lost by the guitars and drums, not to mention added feedback during the low growls. The sound has been a little hit and miss on the main stage and with numerous technical gremlins sneaking in, perhaps the festival should be called ‘technical difficulties fest’ (I apologise; I had that brewing for a while). Joking aside Red Method always deliver an energetic performance and properly involves the crowd. Today was no exception, they are on point with engagement and the guitars sound as meaty as ever. It’s a solid performance let down by…volume of all things. 6/10
Every festival has that one band which stands out like a sore thumb and today’s helping of this comes from Confessions of a Traitor, who straight away point out ‘we are probably the least technical band here’ and they aren’t wrong. They play basically metalcore. I’ll be honest, this year alone I have seen in excess of 20 metalcore bands playing very similar things and I am getting bored of them. Confessions… actually stand out here, firstly by sneaking in a Linkin Park cover, which fully got the attention of the crowd and then the vocalist proceeded to join the crowd for the majority of the set. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen this done a million times too and normally I wouldn’t comment, but at this festival it was actually a nice change. Musically, well its metalcore, there isn’t anything new or exciting but it is really good and the backing cleans are especially good but I don’t think that was what this performance was about, Confessions… were great fun and had more of a party vibe…heck they even had a waltz! 8/10
I’ll be honest, by the looks of the crowd for Drewsef I was the only person at Tech-Fest who hadn’t listened to him before. So was I in for a treat? Hellyeah! The vocals here are just unbelievable, the cleans cut through and hit every note perfectly, I was honestly crying with jealousy and then even more so when he unleashed a growl as well. Probably the best live vocals I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. Even the music backed this up, the guitar melodies were tear jerking and the bass powered through beautifully as well. For an artist I have never heard of before, I have never been so utterly gobsmacked as I have been for Drewsef. Holy Fuck this was good! 10/10
Headlining the Thursday was the mighty Exist Immortal. I have been following these guys for many years even catching them at MetalDays, so I was massively hyped for this set. Yet again they do not disappoint, stage lights and banners covering the stage and with a massive crowd in front of them they set into what can only be described as a blinder, the pits were mega, a handful of crowd surfers and a Rob singing along merrily, what more could I ask for? Each song of Exist Immortals is littered with bouncy beats, gorgeous harmonies and stunning vocals which I might add are still stuck in my head. Guitars tonight are absolutely sublime, the solos cutting through the mix with absolute precision leaving the hairs on your arms standing on end. And this is why Exist Immortal remains one of my favourite bands both on and off stage! 10/10
Day 1 was fantastic apart from a couple of technical issues and seemed to have been the perfect warm up for the rest of the weekend. Now I would like to add there were a handful of bands I missed and also each night had an after party with additional bands on but by this point I was shattered so had a few beers and fell asleep.
Tech-Fest Day 2
Day 2 begins with In Fear who seemed to struggle with the infamous technical difficulties that plagues throughout the festival, though this didn’t stop them ploughing through their set. Their take on metalcore is quite a sound and the crowd seem to enjoy this, the mix of both high and low screams also hitting the spot nicely. In Fear performed a solid start to the day even if one of them fell over mid song.
Now Pound are an interesting one as only a 2 piece being guitar and drums. What’s even stranger is the use of 2 drum kits amalgamated into one; it’s certainly an interesting set up but musically does get a bit monotonous as the set goes on. That being said the drumming is pretty damn solid during the performance and the crowd seem to gather in their masses and go completely mental towards the end of the set.
Americans Greylotus hit the stage opening in a rather gentlemanly manner, this is quickly tipped on its head as blastbeats, slams and even the occasional pig squeal take over. The tasteful use of a choir backing throughout one of the songs was a welcome change to the onslaught and added another level to their overall sound however towards the end of the set things did end up sounding a little messy and did kill what had been a brutal set.
Pravitas could really have used a fair amount more crowd engagement or to be a little bit livelier on stage, the dual head banging from the guitarists was welcomed, but it didn’t provide enough in the way of entertainment for the crowd who sadly looked a little bored. That being said there was plenty to enjoy when it comes to the music, the guitar solos in general really shone through during their songs.
From minimal engagement to maximum engagement, Borders seem to have brought the entire festival with them as the room is absolutely maxed out. This is no surprise as their mix of metalcore/rap/djent/everything is very versatile and appeals to many. This set in particular offers something a bit special in the way of a brand new track which goes down an absolute treat. Borders have the entire crowd in the palm of their hand and set a standard for those that follow.
Fronterier are another lively band to hit the stage, these guys don’t stand still bouncing all over the stage this is backed up with a very chuggy, heavy bass tone which really hits you in ‘dem feels.’ Another part of note was the simply epic double bass towards the end of their set. Honestly this was quite a show and the crowd reacted beautifully to it giving us the first crowd surfer of the day.
3 piece nu metal/metalcore crossover Creak were next to hit the stage in a much slower, chunkier sound than the previous 2 bands, but this doesn’t mean them or the crowd lack energy as the 2 stepping begins from the slightly smaller audience. Creak use a variety of different effects on the vocals and in some cases sound almost alien, this is really cool to watch and certainly listen to mix things up from the high pitched screams that are present throughout the majority of the set. Probably could have done with a few more watchers as those who did thoroughly enjoyed them.
Have I mentioned technical difficulties before? Well they strike again and this time for Ten56 meaning there is a massive 30 minute wait for them to hit the stage. Luckily for those that stuck around they blast onto the stage with their King810 style heaviness and pure energy which is mirrored by the crowd who respond to everything that is asked from pits to 2 stepping. Honestly despite the wait, these were my personal favourite so far.
There were many reasons I was gutted not to be here for day 2 and one of them was the completely bonkers Seething Akira. From the notes I was given it seemed I missed out. Seething Akira are known for their high energy shows and fantastic dual rapping and today was no exception, completely dominating the stage and making the whole festival feel like a party. This is what they are about, something a bit different and very upbeat and that’s what the crowd got.
More rapping comes in the shape of Djent/Rap heavyweights Hacktivist. Their combination of both growls and rapping is something that has been missing from the scene for many years and since these guys hit the stage they have been a fan favourite, this is apparent due to the sheer size of the crowd that has gathered for them. Hacktivist always perform better when the crowd is with them, feeding off their energy and thus giving back in tasty riffs and a bass tone that is just delicious. Another cracking set from one of the UK’s hottest bands.
Another band really taking the step up recently is Harbinger and again the crowd seem to be fully behind them by almost filling the room. Their new vocalist really has fitted straight into his roll and today is instantly at the barriers screaming at the onlookers. The solo during Darkest Days is a personal highlight through their setting just cutting through perfectly. Heck we are even treated to a couple of covers, one being Cowboys from Hell and the other being Happy Birthday. The second being because it was one of the band member’s birthdays. Harbinger really is a band on the rise and I would urge you to check them out.
Betraying the Martyrs are one of those metalcore bands that really have taken off, their catchy songs seem to hit the right note for many people and today is no exception with the crowd singing along to the majority of songs. Their set today is filled with energy and constant crowd engagement couple this with a hyper keyboardist and the whole show is an absolute pleasure to watch. Betraying the Martyrs played a blinder with Swan Song being a personal favourite.
Rounding out day 2 was Melodic Death metal heavyweights Scar Symmetry. Playing a mix of songs from their mega back catalogue with a fair few from Pitch Black Progress, the guitar work is on point with the melodies really carrying the whole music. Yet again however technical difficulties raise their ugly head, but this is covered nicely with some cheeky guitar solos, much to the crowds delight. The only slight thing to note is there were lyric sheets in front of the band, for me this is a big no no as these guys have been going for long enough to know better than to have these on display. Never the less, a stunning set.
Tech-Fest day 3
Returning to the Techy grounds tired and with a bit of a sore neck, all I really wanted was a cheeky pizza, a beer and some damn good music… Luckily the pizza is being served, the bar has no queue and the lineup is as solid as ever.
A band I have seen a few times before Only The Righteous were first to take to the stage on Saturday and do so with a tonne of energy! Their take on metalcore leans heavily towards the bouncy side which means on a bigger stage, these boys really are in their element. I have to admit, this time I really did enjoy these guys a lot more, the clean vocals were beautifully performed and added a stark contrast to their breakdowns but as I have said before, I have heard this style a million times and for me it is a little generic although this was a very strong set and a great way to kick off the day. 7/10
Another band I have seen a fair few times is Where Oceans Burn and these guys have an annoying habit of getting stuck in my head for the subsequent few weeks. This set was the same, with the new song Manifest being played just added more harmonies to the old noggin that I still can’t shake. As for their performance, they always bring the energy and today is no exception, the whole band fill the stage and never seem to stand still. Last time I noted that the lack of bass left their sound feeling empty but credit here as their whole sound was much thicker and fuller than before. Catchy choruses, great vocals and lots of energy, bloody brilliant 9/10
Interview – Where Oceans Burn
Techy Lamb of God next and by that I mean Krysthla, I use that phrase as a compliment as it is a hard task to get grooves such as these guys do while still having the techy vibe to them. I honestly enjoyed this set which was mainly helped by the stunning riffs that are on display here as well as the superb crowd engagement. Though if I was them I would have asked the sound guy to turn the snare down, it was way too loud but this could be me being an old man again. Krysthla added something a bit different to the festival for me, more riff orientated as opposed to just plain showing off on a guitar so just felt altogether less disjointed than other acts. Truly a band to check out. 8/10
The Five Hundred take to the main stage in their usual high energy manner, smashing their way through a slightly longer set than previous bands. The Five Hundred have gained quite a reputation in being one of the up and coming UK Metalcore acts recently and with the tight performance today it was easy to see why. Not only that but their engaging presence on stage grips the crowd by the neck, though sadly not enough for them to actually start pitting as they asked and instead left 2 fans to battle it out. Vocally there was so much power in the screams, but the cleans did lack a little bit of oomph by comparison. Never the less, The Five Hundred still stand as a class Metalcore act who are ridiculously catchy. 7/10
Interview – The Five Hundred
Wings Denied were the first band of the day that I haven’t actually seen before and also had no idea what to expect. What I was met with was quite possibly one of the best Moustaches of the festival. On a more serious note, these guitars are quite something to enjoy, the dual solos are simply stunning even if they are sometimes a little low in the mix but this isn’t a fault with the bands. Again the band perform with fantastic energy and have the crowd in the palm of their hand, they even bribed the crowd with a shot. This I am not complaining about. 8/10
Another band I haven’t seen before was The Hirash Effect; these guys bring probably one of the tightest sets of the day and top it off with some simply gorgeous vocals. While most bands have been engaging today, these have a bit more of a dancey/bouncy feel to them and this is very much welcome, their showmanship is absolutely on point today which even spread to the drummer who didn’t seem to be able to sit still. I also really liked their use of smoke machines, setting them off while a particular solo was taking place really added to the aforementioned showmanship. Honestly I could rave all day about this set, it was fantastic. 9/10
Female fronted bands these days do tend to get lumped in one of 2 categories, Jinger or Nightwish but Blind Summit have gone for the much softer approach and this creates an almost dreamscape atmosphere during the calmer bits of their set. Throw in some almost transient backing tracks and you really are taken away from the whole festival atmosphere…that is until guitars and bass drop into their heavier side and my god is the tone brutal. Blind Summit have managed to pull off what many bands have failed, calm yet heavy and this was by far my favourite set of the day. 10/10
Onto some experimental prog/death metal curtsey of Anima Tempo and these guys bring a fantastic blend of both genres from the interesting and technical parts to the heaviness of the breakdowns, both work beautifully together. To add to that some of the happiest looking musicians on stage, it is an absolute pleasure to watch. Another thing that really peaked my interest was the Latin influence sprinkled on top which added a completely different dimension to their whole sound. Truly these guys really stood out amongst the other bands over the weekend and were definitely one of my top finds. 9/10
Last time I saw Vexed at Bloodstock Festival I got annoyed with the lack of mic control from their vocalist, meaning some of the cleans were barely audible nor was chatting between songs but I was delighted when this time I could hear everything perfectly this time. My god were her growls fantastic, they were delivered with such power and control, I was jealous. The cleans this time were ok, sometimes to me a little flat but otherwise very solid. The whole sound just worked here with the riffs also cutting through nicely so the crowd could enjoy the riffs on display. Vexed managed to hold the crowd and unleash carnage with numerous pits opening up throughout their set it was like I was watching a completely different band from last time and it was brilliant. 8/10
Headlining the day was The Ocean Collective, another band I haven’t really listened to but again was pleasantly surprised. The mix of melody and power was really something to behold and the lead guitars were simply beautiful to listen to all driven perfectly from the rhythm section. Also to note again the fantastic blend of harsh and clean vocals which again hammered home the point of melody and power. Now for me there was one massive problem with this set. I get that in this genre having smoke gives off a certain atmosphere but there is such a thing as too much smoke. I mean no one could even see the silhouettes of the band let alone marvel at what they were playing. This was a real shame as I personally love seeing a band perform but in this case I may as well have listened to their albums (which I will do as the music is sweet). So sadly there are no pictures to accompany this part of the review as all we could see was fog. So the Ocean, great music, would like to actually see it. 6/10
Tech-Fest day 4
The final day began with Eleusis a band which, I’ll be honest I didn’t enjoy. While the music itself was solid and their energy on stage was good and did wake up the small crowd that had gathered, the vocals did absolutely nothing for me. They sounded strained and it was just painful to listen to, this is before I get to the dreary cleans. Now I will give credit where it is due, I listened to their recorded material and actually really dig the vocals when theyre recorded so my only guess is by day 4 and a lot of shouting all weekend they had lost their voices. 2/10
I rated Archaeon very highly last year with their set at techabillitation being one of my favorites of the year and their album Transcendence also being in my top 10. This time I am lucky enough to see the full band. Yet again this band amazes me, the guitar solos and riffs perfectly blend prog and metalcore throw in a stunning vocal range as well and this just perfect. Honestly inside it was bloody brilliant, I cannot stress enough how much you should see these, from the solos, to the voice and to their own game which can be played on their merch table. Fab! 9/10
A Titan, A Deity have been a band on my radar but never actually saw until now. What have I been missing out on? The sound for these guys is so full in comparison to nearly every band on the second stage and this is backed up by some stunning tapping on the guitars, honestly I was in awe of the guitars but it wasn’t just that. Both sets of harsh and clean vocals were absolutely on point, brutal for the harsh and soft for the cleans. Another band that were really fucking good. 9/10
Back onto the mainstage for Novena who are completely different to everything else I have seen this weekend, for a start, look how happy they are. The music itself also portrays a level of upbeat, jolly and feel good vibe which I absolutely love. With this also come dual vocals both male and female and the voices compliment each other beautifully, there seems to be real chemistry between them on stage and it is an absolute pleasure to watch. While the style is not my usual taste, I did leave their set with a massive smile on my face which is something no band this weekend has done. 9/10
No Consiquence are a band I have not seen since Hammerfest many years ago so again I was really excited to catch them, sadly in the midst of interviews and food I only managed to catch their last song, but my god was it a belter! The breakdown had so many layers to it and interesting rhythms I was blown away, not to mention the riff leading up to it being chunky as fuck. Probably my biggest regret of the weekend was not watching their full set so I will have to wait until next time.
(I cant really mark 1 song).
Now I have been told a lot about Ohhms, but never actually listened to them but on paper these guys shouldn’t really be my thing. That being said they take to the second stage with bags of energy which surprised me considering their doomy sound but it was a welcome one I mean every one of the band was constantly moving which really kept my attention. Well that and yet more chunky riffs, these guys were phat and I loved it. 8/10
Now if you want to spend a lot of money to watch the main staples of the deathcore scene then be my guest but trust me you are sleeping on Martyr Defiled! These guys have all the makings of a band that should be on the level of Thy Art is Murder. From the gut wrenching vocals to the crushing riffs and the sub drops that shake the entire venue, these guys have it all including a crowd going absolutely mental for them! I just wish there was a second guitar as the solos lost a lot of power without the drive behind. Still fucking heavy. 8/10
It seemed the odd band out was slam masters Party Cannon being decidedly not technical but who cares when they bring a shit load of inflatables, guterals and slams? I certainly don’t and neither did the crowd, many of which ride the whale or just crowd surf and there was a lot of them! Don’t get me wrong there isn’t any musical genius here just a group of guys having a laugh and playing some filthy music with disgusting vocals while the crowd play volleyball. What’s not to like? 9/10
It’s been 2 and a half years since InMe have played a show and judging by the crowd that’s gathered for them, they have been missed. There is a lot of nostalgic tunes and styles on display here and although the genre maybe dated it still feels relevant within todays mash of modern metal. Everything about their performance feels tight and the vocals are on point hitting all the notes. They’re catchy, engaging and a good bit of fun, though while it may not be to my personal taste, this is still a solid performance. 7/10
Pupil Slicer are another band who’s name keeps getting mentioned yet I have never managed to catch, well today was that day. These guys blast onto the second stage filled with energy and aggression pummelling the crowd into submission with their tech infused hardcore style. There is so much power and presence from Pupil Slicer and the crowd lap it up with numerous pits and the standard moshing. It’s a fantastic show that keeps you gripped throughout but for me the clean vocals are a little winey, aside from that YES! 7/10
Late last year I randomly picked up Novelists latest album from HMV not really knowing what to expect from it, since then I became obsessed with this band so they were on my list of bands to watch. Their stage set up is simply brilliant with the LED lights and their name glowing brightly behind them all changing colour in sync. Now these guys had travelled from France to this show that day and were visibly a little bit tired from this, that did affect the clean vocals slightly as they weren’t as crisp as they are on the album aside from that they still managed to throw a good amount of energy into their show. There were a few things that got to me a little, I felt there was a lot of time wasted tuning between songs and the many interludes didn’t kick into a song so just ended up feeling like fillers. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the set, but I think it could have been structured a little better. 7/10
So at this point there was a giveaway for a guitar which was done via a raffle. I love this idea and its one I haven’t seen at a larger festival before however it seemed everyone who had entered the raffle had buggered off as there was about 3 draws for a winner. Eh, it’s a bit of fun and got the whole crowd counting down… This actually led nicely into God Is An Astronaut who decided to start their set in the same manner, well played! Now I will say, these guys are incredibly talented as most of them switch instruments throughout the set or even song and play them perfectly every time. I will mention again that there was an awful lot of tuning during their set and a fair amount of faffing about which did kind of kill the vibe but never the less the stunning guitar work and the fantastic light show really covered this. GIAA sound as a whole was just relaxing and felt like the perfect way to close out the weekend. 8/10
They think it’s all over… well there is an after party with a stage that is far from suitable for bands to play on. All weekend this stage has been used for showcases and a bit of an after party each night but having missed most of them I couldn’t comment on the bands. Though for Forever In The Making, I made an exception. I have been following these guys for a fair while, but again never seen them live. While they do squeeze themselves on stage and with a few of the stage hands holding up the amps on stage it is a little laughable, but this is nothing the band were doing wrong. FITM metalcore stands out with a huge focus on melodies which are forefront this evening and really cut through beautifully. Top that with some tasty breakdowns and I’m in my element. Now a common trend for bands these days is to do a pop cover and make it metal, tonight we have All The Things She Said while this is a cracking cover it was way too early in their set, I would have liked this towards the end when people are properly into the vibe the band give and would go a little more crazy for it. Aside from that, this was a cheeky gem of a band that I think a lot of people slept on this weekend. 8/10
Honestly, Tech-Fest was fantastic, the lineup was stunning, the facilities were on point and aside from a few technical difficulties everything ran smoothly. I would highly recommend this festival even if Djent or Techy music isn’t your thing, just as there is something for everyone here and the whole atmosphere of the festival is that of a family. I guess why there are t-shirts with Tech-Fam on.
(Quick disclaimer, Rob was not present on day 2 due to having to play a gig in North Wales so all these reviews have been written from notes provided by Klare Sherwood).
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