Saturday begins with Altostratus opening the Gigantic Stage, the first of several instrumental bands on the day. Mixing groove-laden riffs with typically impressive lead work, it’s an enjoyable listen throughout, even if the heat makes it difficult to fully enjoy most acts.
Harbringer are something of a rising star in the tech and death metal worlds, and conclusively wake up anyone hungover who wandered into the Carillion Guitars stage during their set. It’s uber-heavy, and guitarists Charlie Griffiths and Ben Sutherland throw in some impressive technical flourishes, in what is an intense performance. This is just the beginning.
Continuing the instrumental theme, The Fine Constant show a much more melodic side, beautiful tapping work that, while occasionally meandering and slightly aimless, does occasionally reach some remarkable post-rock high points.
It’s not often you’ll hear instrumental acts described as catchy, but it’s the best way to describe The Parallax Method; and who needs lyrics when the excellently named ‘Honey I Shrunk The Squid’ turns out to be the most stupidly memorable tracks of the weekend.
As well as the abundance of instrumental acts, it’s also something of a bittersweet day: three bands today are bidding farewell. Exivious fall into both categories, and sign off with a meandering stroll through the cross-sections of the jazz and metal worlds. It’s light-hearted and breezy; an easy listen for a hot day.
The Colour Line are the next band bidding farewell, and give a phenomenal final Tech Fest performance. Within minutes, vocalist Sam Rudderforth is in the crowd, preaching like a mathcore Jesus about the need to party from his knees (circle pit around him), from the barrier, and while crowdsurfing; the whole band remaining tight throughout despite the chaos around them. It was a privilege to see them even once, and following the Jesus metaphor, we can only hope for a quick resurrection…
On cherche le groupe mystérieux qui s’appelle The Algorithm. Les pèlerins restent dans le hangar, pour écouter parler le prophète de néon. Entre le stroboscope éblouissant et le soleil brûlant, nous entendons des sons; plus de machine que d’homme, fous mais incroyables. Il y a deux silhouettes. L’une, une machine précise; l’autre, le prophète. Nous regardons, émerveillés. La musique est un crescendo brutal. Et, enfin, le prophète parle : “Oui.”
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe how good Uneven Structure are live. Uncompromisingly heavy; introspectively beautiful; awe inspiring. From more serene La Partition cuts, to the jaw-dropping heavy moments from Februus; it’s best described as a journey, and one that it’s hard to imagine anyone else this weekend bettering.
Persefone, forced to perform without their keyboardist/clean vocalist Miguel Espinosa, and without the samples to replace him, still put in a blinding performance. Sure, it’s occasionally painfully obvious (for example, in the intro to ‘Living Waves’) that there’s a crucial component missing from their sound, but in spite of this, they soldier on, ripping through a set of fierce yet contemplative melodeath that will only increase calls for a full performance/UK tour next year.
Compared to the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder and Aborted the day before, Obscura are practically a prog rock act. As such, instead of a bruising non-stop mosh pit, Newark gets its dancing shoes on, providing an hour of breakdance, ballet and waltz to the progressive metal titans. It’s a note-perfect, if low-key performance from the band, bassist Linus Klausenitzer particularly impressive; the highlight being the clap-along ‘stadium tech-death’ finale to closer ‘Centric Flow’.
The final Tech Fest farewell is to Textures, headliners of the very first event, and they make it a farewell to remember. From emotional singalongs to massive mosh pits, atmospheric prog serenity to extraordinarily tight extreme metal, it was everything an amazing metal show is supposed to be. The band know how to bring the party too; trying to create the biggest wall of death the festival has seen – even going behind the sound-desk, another impromptu conga line, and inviting two of the most recognisable figures at the festival – the T-rex and the flamingo – to fight it out in the pit. The flamingo won. There’s an emotional pang to closer ‘Laments of an Icarus’; the doubt that you’ll ever hear such quality music live again, so try to make it to one of the shows in November, or regret it…
Once again the small subset of after party I managed to stay awake for threw up a curveball – as much as the name Hypophora may suggest another prog-something act, they’re actually a groove-heavy rock act, and a fun one too. It’s the sort of music that’s impossible not to dance/otherwise move to, and is a great way to end the night.