The 10th addition of Techfest happens to be the last, its a sad day but with a line up like this its easy to see why the campsite is so much busier than last year and who can blame them?! The facilities are fantastic, proper toilets, showers and no clashes. The negative has to be the beer prices… £6 a pint is a bit steep!
Nevertheless opening the festival is London based post metallers Itself Timeless who kick things off with a whole host of melodies and almost black metal esque shrieks. This was a pleasant start to the festival and although there were a few nice chunky breakdowns and plenty of raw emotion throughout the set, they didn’t kick the festival off with the bang i was expecting. Still this was an enjoyable set. 7/10
The first of a few bands from the Unearthed roster opened up the main stage where we are treated to some good old Bournemouth deathcore in the shape of To Obey A Tyrant. Now this is exactly the kind of band I was wanting to kick the festival off with! TOAT have a huge sound which is amplified by their tasteful use of backing tracks and monster vocals throughout the set. They power through their 30 minute set getting the crowd well and truly in the Techfest spirit! 9/10
Back to the second stage and to another new band for me, Lost to Light. These guys are basically a super group with members from Sworn Amongst, Laguna Sunrise, The Cartographer and Skies In Motion. Quite a line up and they provide the crowd with a good mix of hardcore and metalcore with Confess being a personal favourite as well as being the one track that seemingly got these guys in their stride. A particular highlight was the clean vocals which, being a dual vocaled band can sometimes mean they trip over each other, not in this case. There are some brilliant clean harmonies as well as growls and shouts. However the famous click track did make an appearance during one song and did seem to throw them for a song or two. 7/10
Every year Techfest throws a curve ball of a band that is completely different to everything else and the first example of this is Bristol quartet, Chaos Sequence who showcase a blend of Nu Metal and Metalcore along with a sprinkling of dance, drum and bass. Its cool and has a sound I’ve not heard for a while and their performance is incredibly lively although the absence of a bassist is a trend I think they’ve started for the weekend and sometimes the vocals did get drowned out by the backing tracks and other instruments. It was a weird set and certainly something away from the norm, I did find myself enjoying them though. 7/10
There felt like a distinct lack of prog bands this year and the same with instrumental bands when compared to last year but we did still have the Parallax Method who really do show off when it comes to musical complexity and diversity. The way they flipped from elements of metal to prog then into jazz sections was a marvel to watch . Couple this with every member grinning from ear to ear throughout as well as having a great sense of humour between songs leaves me with only one way to describe The Parallax Method… Happy music! 7/10
Brighton based metalcore outfit Glass Grave take to the main stage next to give the crowd some serious melodies alongside some fantastic stage presence with constant crowd pumping. For me I love this style of music. I love the almost tear jerking riffs and heartfelt screams and Glass Grave give me exactly what I love. Their whole set is just relaxing and beautiful in a brutal kind of way. I loved this! 9/10
Returning to the second stage to see Midlanders Netherhall, now these guys I have seen a few times before and are the first band on the line up that I actually know what to expect. Or did I? I was pretty sure the last time I saw Netherhall there were a lot less screams than there were today, this is no bad thing as I think they fit really nicely as a contrast to the lovely singing. If you are currently not familiar with Netherhall, imagine watching Tesseract… they really do give me those kind of vibes from the proggy/techy metal crossed with the soaring vocals. This was another seriously pretty and brilliant set! 8/10
Starved are a band that hit my radar after being recently announced as support for Ghost Kid later this year so again I had a bit of an idea what to expect in terms of music… Hardcore. So what was I met with? Well pure aggression and yes Hardcore. Starved appear to be the first band where the 2 stepping really comes out amongst the crowd and Starved play to them by giving one of the most energetic performances of the day. What sets these guys out from other hardcore bands I’ve seen was their inclusion of some dance elements, this fits really well and only adds to this violent and commanding performance. 8/10
From Eden To Exile hit the second stage bringing with them a modern take on metalcore, the riffs really are something special and are a true highlight throughout the set coupled with some epic solos which really hit you in the feels. Its an all round quality set with plenty of energy, though no bassist, that the crowd and myself enjoy greatly. For me it might not be anything new or that I havent heard before but thats not to say there is anything wrong as its performed to an exceedingly high standard. 7/10
Its been a long time since I’ve seen In Devth as back then they were known as Dreameater and frankly I fell in love with their mix of brutality and elements of rap/scream. Im delighted to say that this hasn’t changed and their levels of aggression and sheer heaviness is still very much at the forefront of their music, as for their performance. Well this was equally as intense with plenty of crowd pumping and good old anger. To their credit, the only notes I made for them was ‘oh my god, yes!’ That in itself should sum up how much my neck hurt after these guys! 10/10
Arcaeon are a band I have reviewed a number of times and frequently make my yearly top 10s whether it be through recorded material or their live shows. So for me I am excited to see what’s new in the Arcaeon camp. Well 2 songs to be precise. The brand new song (not released yet) is phenomenal and shows a heavier side to these guys and I like it! While the clean singing is stunning throughout the set the addition of lower tuned riffs and breakdowns is more than welcomed and to end with by far their heaviest song really worked for me which in turn left me wanting more. Was this their best set ive seen… Eccles will take some beating but this time Arcaeon had the huge crowd in the palm of their hand. Simply brilliant. 9/10
Having arrived just before the first band of the day it had suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t set up a tent or got any food or supplies from my car so unfortunately I did miss 2 bands, The Human Veil and Black Coast. Both bands I had heard great things about so will have to catch them at another point if I can. Sleeping facilities sorted it was time for the second stage headliner and one who wowed me last year. Anima Tempa have a packed room and its easy to see why, their intricate guitar work is mind bogglingly good with the melodies absolutely driving their music to a level of wow that is rare to see. Throw in some absolutely jaw dropping vocal harmonies and screams and this is just incredible! The entire set is just a see of people watching in awe, moshing and generally having a great time. For me Anima Tempa are the perfect Techfest band, they’re catchy, technically insane and truly a marvel to watch on stage. 10/10
How many times have I seen Harbinger? More than I can count. With each time normally comes a new injury, but this is day 1 of 4 so I really resisted the temptation to dive into the pits. (Very difficult after a few beers). Harbinger as headliners is something I’ve wanted to see for a while as they have progressively improved each time I have seen them to become this groovy, metal sledgehammer of a band. Tonight is no exception with their riffs smashing the crowd into a frenzy and the vocals bellowing full pelt into everyone’s face. This is a commanding set and filled with everything you would want from a headlining band. Although, im not sure on the heavier use on backing tracks, Harbinger have always had this raw aggression and technicality to them, reminding me of Lamb of God in ways but throwing in the backing tracks just feels like they’re going with the modern trend. I like the sound but it feels like everything else these days. Hey, I am not knocking their set as this is the first time watching them headline a festival and they really have stepped their game up in terms of performance and I did thoroughly enjoy it, just wish it was more raw. 8/10
So, day one over! Plenty of incredible bands and not one that wasn’t enjoy. I am pretty sure this is a first for a festival. Still time to sink a few beers and hit the After Party before we do it all again.