With its fifth annual iteration just under a week away, Newark progressive metal extravaganza Tech-Fest is poised to unleash perhaps its strongest line-up yet. We at Distorted Sound Magazine are going to provide you with a guide to the highlights and hot topics of the weekend to get the most prog for your pound.
Opening the event on the Thursday are a small selection of bands to whet some groove-orientated appetites. Notable acts on the opening night include SWORN AMONGST – a UK-based thrash-tinged ensemble – progressive hardcore experts NO CONSEQUENCE, and shred-layered headliners NAPOLEON, who are currently hot on the heels of their long-awaited album, Newborn Mind, an explosive display of musical acrobatics and melody. All of this is followed by an afterparty to really kick off the weekend.
Friday luxuriates in an instrumental triple threat; headliners ANIMALS AS LEADERS, INTERVALS, and critically acclaimed solo project PLINI. PLINI is a particular highlight this year. With a small discography packed with huge ideas and incredible writing, PLINI has received near unanimous praise amongst his peers. His is a set not to be missed. With a tough act to follow is INTERVALS, who just last year released The Shape of Colour, an exceedingly well constructed effort of catchy melodies and creative songwriting. ANIMALS AS LEADERS are an established powerhouse of the genre, and often credited with popularising the modern progressive movement. They are a very fitting headline act.
Particularly of note preceding these three titans is HARBINGER and A NIGHT IN THE ABYSS. HARBINGER, running with the recent release of their Paroxysm EP, will undoubtedly be delivering some vicious riffing and entertaining noodling. A NIGHT IN THE ABYSS continue the current trend of blackened technical deathcore bands, and they succeed in breathing a breath of fresh air into the genre. With blast beats and incredible shred to behold, this is not one to miss out on. Meanwhile, headlining the festival’s second stage is DISPERSE, a unique blend of lighter alternative pop combined with progressive metal and djent, helmed by renown Polish virtuoso Jakub Żytecki. Earlier in the day is Swedish act MAKE ME A DONUT, who, despite a questionable name, are unquestionably going to bring the weirdness and the tone come Friday.
After shaking off the hangover, or, more likely, simply ploughing through it, why not wake yourself up a bit with some tasteful progressive metal from Cornwall-based FOR THE ORACLE, or perhaps the stylings of instrumental rock trio THE PARALLAX METHOD over on the mainstage. They are followed promptly by Glaswegian heavies FROM SORROW TO SERENITY, featuring ex-NEXILVA vocalist Gaz King, promoting their new full-length album, Remnant of Humanity. Later on are deathcore savages BELIAL on the second stage, undoubtedly showcasing some new and exciting material. Immediately after them, over on the main stage are Australian technical death metal act THE SCHOENBURG AUTOMATION, delivering choice cuts from their brand new album, Apus, a frenetic display on all fronts.
Headlining the second stage that evening is solo guitarist SITHU AYE, who has just released his new double album, Set Course for Andromeda, a wonderful display of upbeat, happy, and undeniably catchy instrumental guitar acrobatics that may never leave your head. Later on is what perhaps may be the highlight of the weekend: playing their only UK festival this year, and undoubtedly soaring in on winds of bated anticipation are Californian technical death metal masters FALLUJAH, who earlier this year stunned the world with the release of their third full length album, Dreamless, which has proven to be a unique and almost overwhelming experience of swirling riffs, knuckle-popping shred and beautiful ambience. FALLUJAH are notoriously well known as purveyors of brilliant live performances, and undoubtedly will not disappoint. Headlining the mainstage later are energetic progressive metallers PROTEST THE HERO. The band has spent the last few months churning out their Pacific Myth EP, which, while suffering under a perhaps questionable distribution method, has resulted in some of their finest work yet; catchy, incredibly well written, and a worthy addition to a catalogue of well-received previous material, one can hope for the inclusion of some numbers included in what looks to be a true party of a live set.
Sunday certainly seems to have a plethora of metalcore bands to offer. Of note are Nottingham-based five-piece THE FIVE HUNDRED, offering some soaring vocals and refreshing melodies, and second stage headliners NOVELISTS, celebrating the release of their debut full-length album, Souvenirs, which premiered late last year.
Over on the main stage during the afternoon are VITALISM, a shred-centric instrumental deathcore act hailing from Rio de Janeiro. They released their debut EP, Causa, in June last year, and it has been turning heads ever since. Following VITALISM is the eagerly awaited live debut of international progressive act FRONTIERER. It’s not often that your first ever show is one of the final slots at the capital of European progressive metal festivals, and if their studio material is anything to judge by, one can expect them to be up to the challenge.
Rounding out the weekend are acclaimed Netherlands groovers TEXTURES, and a name very nearly synonymous with progressive metal, headliners BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME. TEXTURES are hot on the heels of their eagerly fifth studio album, Phenotype, which released earlier this year to rave reviews. With a full five years between it and its predecessor, the band did not disappoint their persistent fans and newcomers alike. Perhaps one of the most popular acts in the genre, BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME have time and time again proven to be the tip of the spear, leading the charge for progressive metal. With the recently released and critically worshipped Coma Ecliptic, along with a staggeringly dense and vibrantly populated back catalogue, there is hardly a shortage material to choose from, and one can be sure they will be visiting much of it throughout their headlining set. Upbeat, explorative, and thoughtful, the band’s huge, expansive, shred-packed DREAM–THEATER-on-a-meth-binge sound is surely to be a perfect ending to what will undoubtedly prove to be the preeminent progressive metal line-ups for years to come.
Tech-Fest kicks off this Thursday at the Newark Showground, and promises to be a fantastic weekend. Progressive metal fans should not miss this opportunity, for it most definitely won’t come again!
Tech-Fest takes place at the Newark Showground from the 7th-10th July. Tickets are still available and can be purchased from the official Tech-Fest website.
For more information on Tech-Fest like the festival’s official page on Facebook.