So, I headed on down to Newark this past weekend for some Tech Metal based fun. Still broken after Sonisphere my intention was to take it slow… oh how wrong was I.
Now I’m home from Tech Fest and after a 14 hour sleep I feel brand new again. Well kinda.
My weekend started around 1pm on Thursday with Bristol tech nutters Valis Ablaze who are led by one of the most batsh*t crazy frontmen I think I’ve ever seen. Bringing their own brand of progressive metal to open the festival with a bang, this band of metalists have a seriously bright future if they continue down the path they’ve set themselves on – Download their debut – ‘Albiogenesis’ for FREE here.
A short break for lunch led me back just in time for The Sun Explodes  the Carlisle math rock machine took things to a new level with this performance. Frontman Dave Maclachlan leading the band through tracks from their latest album We Build Mountains. The crowd that have gathered to see these guys is impressive, and with soaring vocals and crushing atmospherics it’s not hard to see why.
Next up for me was Exeter wrecking crew Idiom. I first saw these guys supporting Devildriver and 36 Crazyfists many years ago and was seriously keen to see how the band had grown in that time. Whilst the growth wasn’t anything drastic, the band were impressive and commanding of the stage and off when vocalist Matt Sharland jumped into the pit and delivered some vocals which ultimately just left him with a broken microphone.
Polish prog stars DispersE  put on what was arguably one of the best of the weekend, although playing on a different day than first billed the band gave the capacity crowd a spectacle to behold. Soaring vocals and their slamming instrumentals also lead the band into one hell of a cover of The Prodigy’s Voodoo People. I can’t even begin to convey just how this music really gets me going.
Onwards to the evenings entertainment that came in the shape of ‘techoke’ which as the name suggests was all about the djent…and Ozzy Osbourne…and a rather majestic rendition of Bohemian Rapsody which I totally had nothing to do with ;). After that came Fist ‘Em While They’re Down which was a System Of A Down tribute headed up by No Consequence with the addition of guest vocalists throughout. By this point I was beyond smashed and it really was time to go pass out.
My Friday began with me dragging myself to the shower to try and kill off a beast of a hangover, it was Texan/British prog masters Eumeria  who delivered one of my favourite performances of the weekend. Their kind of classic prog with modern technicalities is right up my street and the band pull off all the nuances on their recorded material which even for a prog band, is a rarity. It also turns out that the band are in the process of writing for their next release which is news that excites me greatly.
Continuing entertainment came in the shape of a trip to Asda with the chaps in Exist Immortal which is never a dull thing even when getting your fingers are crushed by a singer in the car door. Fail. Back in time for Vildhjarta  who bring their thall to Newark Showground. Creating a wall of noise so utterly devastating that the pits that came into being are purely a blur of flying bodies and limbs. The dual vocals on show bring added dimensions to the bands live sound.
The after party entertainment tonight came in the form of Southampton Dub Rockers Seething Akira  and Brighton based Progressive Dub Quintet Collisions  both of which brought the night to a close in a seriously classy style. Back to camp for some banter as a Silent Hill-esque fog descends all around. It’s time for some foggy explorations involving a flashlight and members of The Sun Explodes (oh my).
Saturday began loudly. Acoda  whom were simply divine, and in the baking heat of the main stage they put out one hell of a performance. They bring with them so much energy that it’s almost easy to forget just how supremely hot it is. Following Acoda was Now, Voyager  the Belgian quintet were on my list as a must see for the weekend. They certainly didn’t disappoint. With impressive command of the stage and a penchant for melody the band embraced the crowd that had formed to see them and played their hearts out.
As with any festival, late minute cancellations are inevitable. It was a last minute thing that saw Napoleon pull out but last minute replacements Terraform  more than made up for it. Although minus a drummer, the trio of guitarists and the steamroller like vocals more than made up for the lack of live drums. Then it happened, the crushing and heavy band of the weekend. Made up of nothing but pure destruction, the Sunderland hate crew Nexilva  fresh from the release of their new album Eschatologies. The wrecking crew smashed their way through tracks like The Misdirection Of God and Evil Will Prevail that featured live guest vocals from Exist Immortal frontman, Meyrick De La Fuente. This is a band that is simply unfathomably heavy and are most certainly better experienced live than recorded.
Finishing up the evening was Jon Gomm  and Monuments  the first of which may seem somewhat out of place when surrounded by some of the most heavy bands our dear tech scene has to offer but he became a welcome and much needed addition to the lineup. Acoustic wonderment which for the longest time left the tech fest crowd completely and utterly speechless. Jon Gomm is the purveyor of some of the finest acoustic music these ears have ever heard.
Onwards to Monuments and when Chris Barretto and co hit the stage it’s time for all hell to unleash. Whilst Chris is one of the finest frontman on the scene it was a swarm of technical issues that lead to jarring starts and stops to what could have been one of the performances of the weekend. Showcasing music from their new album The Amanuensis the packed room sing along to tracks both new and old.
After party time came in the shape of another acoustic act this time in the shape of Sean de Burca  who much like Jon Gomm plays the acoustic in a way that is both relaxing and engaging, acting as a perfect chill out activity after a seriously heavy day. Kicking back with some rum and some enjoying the string work with some friends. Unfortunately what followed wasn’t as impressive. The billed Superjam  was dull whilst featuring some of the best musicians that the festival had to offer it merely drooled out a slow amble of music that was largely unimpressive and never really went anywhere.
My Sunday began with the almighty Aeolist  who despite having a drummer with a broken hand nailed it, which kudos really have to go out to Toby Mills for playing a killer set despite his pain. This Norwich tech crew blur the lines between melodic hardcore and tech which is simply sublime live. Their set made up of their debut EP which can be downloaded here for free. The screams are powerful and guitars destructive and it appears that the huge crowd take the same opinion.
Back to the second stage for Aeon Zen  the prog stars of the day work their way through a set of old and new. With guest vocals for this set, they delivered a tight and and soaring performance that was both heavy and symphonically brilliant. New track Unite shows a more crushing tech feel for the band adding an extra texture to their already well layered sound.
Out come London modern metallers Exist Immortal  who work their way through a set made largely of tracks from their new album Darkness Of An Age. The band deliver riff after riff in a precise and engaging manner and the packed out room is nothing but a testament of their skill as entertainers and musicians. Destrage  delivered a set of completely wild progressive wonderment that showed that the bands on the two stages today were of next level quality. Whilst completely insane, these Italian metallers bring to mind the work of Protest The Hero and it’s simply delicious!
This level of excellence didn’t end there, making their UK début Alaya  the US melodic prog trio bring about a thirty minute slice of awesome. After being a fan of this band for quite come time it was a pleasure to hear these tracks played live. This band need to hit the UK again. NOW! I had to take somewhat of a break to rehydrate and do that eating thing which made me miss Friend For A Foe. Which I’m still kicking myself over.
Closing up the festival for me was The Ocean Collective  who played through their latest and greatest album Pelagial in it’s entirety. Words really can’t express how perfect that experience was. The German collective tightly worked their way through one of the most perfect albums in existence. It’s depth of recording and it’s concept really comes across as a stroke of genius when delivered live. Someone take me back…now?
Tonight’s after party comes in shape of Press To Meco  who’s spacey alt rock is a perfect way to begin a wind down for the end of the festival, their sound is huge and I know these guys have huge things ahead of them. Mark my words, the world will be their oyster!
Closing Tech Fest for it’s thrid year is all-round legend and genius guitar player, Drewsif Stalin’s Musical Endeavours  who blasted out a set of covers including Katy Perry, One Direction, Journey and of course Miley Cyrus. To which everyone in the crowd was singing along and dancing to. YES! What a finish!
I have to give my personal thanks and congratulations to Simon Garrod and the team for putting together one of the finest and friendliest festivals I’ve ever been to. I ache and I’m still tired but I miss my Tech Fest family so dearly. Until next year! Adieu!
Plenty of galleries to check out on Facebook, here’s a couple to start with: