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FESTIVAL REVIEW: UK Tech-Fest 2017 – Sunday

With the previous days of UK Tech-Fest 2017 bringing a plethora of progressive and tech metal goodness, the final day of this year’s festival had a tall order to face to ensure that the festival ended on an high. Similar to the previous days (read our coverage of the Thursday & Friday and Saturday here) there was a wide range of bands on offer, covering a whole spectrum of genres and styles. So, here is Distorted Sound‘s coverage of the last day of UK Tech-Fest 2017!

PTEROGLYPH – Gigantic Stage

After the resounding response resulting from their after party performance last year and representing Leeds winning their Metal 2 The Masses heat to qualify for Bloodstock last year, 2017 saw the return of PTEROGLYPH to UK Tech-Fest and despite commencing proceedings on the final day the Gigantic Stage was packed in preparation to witness the flamboyant Jimmy MacGregor and his troops. Their most recent effort Death Of A Prince has just been unleashed to the masses and the four piece were champing at the bit to display the new material to all in attendance and they wasted little time showcasing their skills with powerful riffs and soaring vocal passages. Very few bands would be as bold as to open a song with intricate sweep picking but PTEROGLYPH are not your average musicians. Combining an abundance of genre bending tempo changes their sound was refreshing and set the final day up perfectly.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Dan McHugh

A TRUST UNCLEAN – Carillion Guitars Stage

Considering the brevity of their existence A TRUST UNCLEAN have catapulted themselves into the spotlight with their incredibly impressive level of musicianship particularly in their latest release Parturition. Master technician Mikey Gee (who had already played a phenomenal set with EXIST IMMORTAL earlier in the festival) put on another clinic as his ridiculous talent shone through laying waste to his fretboard with ferociously labyrinthian riffing accompanied by frontman Kyle Lamb who could be compared to the equivalent of summoning Satan with his relentless guttural onslaught. You know you are witnessing something special when the set feels like it was over in a matter of moments and it was so meticulously executed, A TRUST UNCLEAN have made it very evident that they are laying down the gauntlet and setting the benchmark for the UK death metal scene.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Dan McHugh

ONI – Carillion Guitars Stage

UK Tech-Fest had a wide range of emerging and, quite frankly, exciting bands on offer at this year’s festival and Canadian sextet ONI gave a riveting performance on the festival’s main stage. Hard hitting riffs from guitarists Brandon White and Martin Andres led the audio assault whilst frontman Jake Oni did a superb job of delivering his thunderous vocal lines. Whilst the standard package at ONI‘s disposal brought nothing new to the table, but fitting comfortably to the style of UK Tech-Fest, the addition of John DeAngelis use on the xylosynth added an intriguing element to ONI‘s sound and helped propel the band into the memories of those in attendance. Overall, ONI gave an absolutely solid performance, one which showcased the excitement behind the Canadian outfit.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Weaver

NOVENA – Gigantic Stage

Novena live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Novena live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

Sunday’s events are well under way and it was now time for the highly anticipated performance of mad orchestrator and UK Tech-Fest‘s resident superstar Harrison White and his constructed supergroup NOVENA to take the stage. After drummer extraordinaire Mike Malyan unfortunately endured unforeseen medical issues he was physically unable to get behind a kit but in truly admirable style he somehow conjured up the equipment and initiative to perform an entire drum performance via samples played through a keyboard which was mind blowing in itself. Witnessing keyboard blasts was simply incredible and accompanied by the mesmerising treble vocal ensemble of Harrison, the incomparable Dave Maclachlan from UK Tech-Fest favourites THE SUN EXPLODES fame and former SLICE THE CAKE vocalist Gareth Mason was a thing of beauty. To top it off the set also included a crazy fancy dress concept which saw the likes of Ainsley Harriot, a crowd surfing T-Rex amongst many other hilarious constructions make an appearance whilst Facebook angry react stickers were being tossed wildly around the crowd. Despite all the ongoing craziness providing some of the most enjoyable moments of this years festival NOVENA were responsible for one of the most proficient musical displays of the weekend.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Dan McHugh

SARAH LONGFIELD – Carillion Guitars Stage

Sarah Longfield live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Sarah Longfield live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

After her rather splendid set with THE FINE CONSTANT the previous day, SARAH LONGFIELD took the Carillion Guitars Stage to perform a set of transcending and rather tranquil solo material. Backed by intricate percussion drumming, LONGFIELD gave a solid instrumental set showcasing her prowess and expertise with dazzling guitar work that held the audience in a trance. For all her expertise and the impressive soundscape, the lack of vocal lines hindered the overall impact of LONGFIELD‘s set but regardless of this shortcoming, there is no disputing the sheer talent at her disposal and her slot showcased the sheer diversity on offer at UK Tech-Fest.

Rating: 8/10

Words: James Weaver

GHOST IRIS – Gigantic Stage

So it’s Sunday, and that feeling has rolled around again: its early, we’re worse for wear from the previous night, and we’re looking for some good quality music to get us going all over again. Right on cue, in comes GHOST IRIS on the second stage, a Danish progressive metalcore quintet who came with an unparalleled sense of energy and confidence. Despite being a small band, this outfit turned out to be thoroughly impressive, with vocalist Jesper Vincencio pulling off an incredible range of cleans and screams, and the rest of the band sounding seemingly note-perfect. The mix and tone sounded great all round, allowing the guitarist’s leads to penetrate through perfectly, and enabling him to adequately showcase his arsenal of riffs and solos. In addition, the performance as a whole came with a greatly variety of heavy and melodic sections, perfect to start the day off with, and a great balance for a metalcore band in general. All in all, this performance was impossible to find fault with, and we hope to see much more from GHOST IRIS in the UK very soon.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Sam Alberti

CARCER CITY – Carillion Guitars Stage

Carcer City live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Carcer City live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

CARCER CITY have come a long way since their appearance at the 2014’s edition of UK Tech-Fest, currently in support of 2016’s very successful release Infinite//Unknown the band have quickly became a staple of UK Tech-Fest related events. Hot off their recent tour with OCEANS ATE ALASKA and NAPOLEON they were aiming to continue that momentum into their slot on the Carillion Guitars Stage. Frontman Patrick ‘Patch’ Pinion was as charismatic and commanding as ever energising the crowd and getting the adrenaline flowing. They may not be the most technical band on the lineup but they have enough in their arsenal to pull the heavy hitters out of the bag at exactly the right time and this proved to be an enticing and consummate performance.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Dan McHugh

AENIMUS – Gigantic Stage

Sunday afternoon saw the appearance of AENIMUS, a long-awaited arrival this side of the Atlantic. Hailing from San Francisco, the technical deathcore act has seen some upheaval in the line-up since the release of their 2013 debut full-length album, Transcend Reality. While the record was an incredibly solid piece of musicianship, it proved somewhat one-dimensional, and lacked the longevity of some of its contemporaries. Following this, the band lost a key writer and guitarist, to be replaced by a worthy play, only for him to then join RINGS OF SATURN. This all meant that new AENIMUS material was postponed until a solid line-up could be found. Well, four years since their debut release, AENIMUS finally ventured over to the UK, and by good fortune and booking skills, to UK Tech-Fest itself, and many were eager to see how the band would fare.

Without any delay, the set launched into action. Opening the technical deathcore tirade was AENIMUS staple The Awakening, which does a fine job of showcasing all of the band’s considerable skills, from thunderous grooves to razor sharp blast beats. It’s certainly an excellent choice to open a set with. However, things diverged from the familiar very quickly. The vast majority of the material played Sunday afternoon was unreleased and previously unheard new songs, unless one has a predilection for heavily distorted and shaky mobile phone footage on YouTube. Not only were these songs new, they were also very well written. Newcomer Jordan Rush stepped up to the plate as lead guitarist, and performed with nigh-on virtuosity. The flurry of lead licks and perfectly picked alternate runs carried the set throughout, adding a multitude of complexities to the already confident material. AENIMUS proved a slight surprise, for, while one would expect them to perform competently, one might be taken aback by the sheer magnitude of the musicianship on display. Aside from a vocalist who was perhaps far too into his performance for this hour of the afternoon, one could level very few complaints against the performance. It’s evident that everyone who congregated in that stuffy aircraft hangar to witness the Californian invasion will be waiting with bated breath until AENIMUS return to our shores.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Henry Jones

HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH – Carillion Guitars Stage

Humanity's Last Breath live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Humanity’s Last Breath live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

This year’s UK Tech-Fest lineup held a good variety of bands that we were intrigued to check out, and bands that fans were heavily anticipating; HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH certainly represented the latter category, being one of the emerging giants in the djent scene, and one of the main proprietors of what’s become known as ‘thall’. In any case, people knew to expect pure, unadulterated brutality from this band, and that’s exactly what they got. Whilst there’s not a huge amount of variety in the band’s sound, it came across exactly as entertaining as we wanted it to: powering through 30 minutes of crushing, chuggy breakdowns with immaculate tone, guttural growls, blast beats, and soul-destroying sub-drops, these guys were able keep the crowd alive for the entire thing, boasting an unmistakable confidence and comfortability every step of the way. In terms of sound and presence, it’s difficult to find fault, however HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH were unfortunately let down repeatedly by technical difficulties: the sound engineers were repeatedly having to switch between using the live rhythm guitars, and playing them through the PA using a backing track, as a result of consistent battery problems in the guitars. This aside, HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH brought every ounce of the brutality and mercilessness that should always be expected of them.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Sam Alberti

PANZERBALLET – Gigantic Stage

A band that many were simply intrigued to check out at this year’s festival were the German jazz-fusion quintet PANZERBALLET. In short, their sound represents one big mashup of jazz and metal, performed by a standard two guitar, bass, and drum setup, but with the pleasant addition of a live saxophonist. Unsurprisingly gathering a crowd of music fans that were simply interested to watch, PANZERBALLET breezed through their set with relative ease, boasting an almost perfect live mix, minimal mistakes, and and groovy energy that was clearly welcomed by the crowd. When watching this band, two things strike you pretty much instantly: craftsmanship and musicianship. The sheer technicality and talent that has gone into writing their songs is glaringly apparent, and this was thoroughly enjoyable to watch on stage. It has to be said that sometimes, these technical elements can be seen to obstruct the general concept of performance and song-writing, which is certainly something that would not sit well with certain people; however this is of course a question of taste, and it goes without saying that their musical capability is a wholly objective matter. In summary, it was very enjoyable not only to watch this band’s performance, but also to see an ever-growing sense of diversity within the sphere of UK Tech-Fest.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Sam Alberti

IGORRR – Carillion Guitars Stage

Igorrr live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Igorrr live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

After the world was shook to its very foundations proceeding the release of Savage Sinusoid there were many questions and curiosities as to how Gautier Serre better known as IGORRR was even going to attempt to execute and translate the sheer amount of insanity provided on the album into a live format but what followed left the entirety of the crowd in a state of utter amazement. The collaboration between vocalists Laure Le Prunenec and Laurent Lunoir was simply masterful as they complimented each other perfectly, you became entwined in a real sense of theatrical narrative. The emotions conveyed were palpable and the accompanying choreography was unbelievably captivating. Sylvain Bouvier provided the perfect backbone to the orchestration with his ferocious blast beats and technical prowess. The pits that had culminated in a whirlwind of carnage for the majority of the weekend suddenly became very sophisticated as bouts of waltzing commenced throughout providing the perfect accompaniment to the mind bending performance unravelling on stage. Judging by the sheer adoration emanating from the crowd this will certainly not be the last time we witness IGORRR at a UK festival.

Rating: 10/10

Words: Dan McHugh

INGESTED – Gigantic Stage

Ingested live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Ingested live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

Just in case anyone was feeling a little weary after the weekends events INGESTED were on hand to blow the cobwebs off with their adept showcase of bludgeoning devastation. Harbouring some of the most crushing riffs and thunderous blast beats you’ll hear anywhere on this year’s lineup they dowsed the crowd in slam fuelled brutality which included the rather comedic inclusion of a silent wall of death. 2017 has proved to be a very productive year for INGESTED and their performance further cemented their stake in the upper eschelons of death metal.

Rating: 8/10

Words: Dan McHugh

BEYOND CREATION – Carillion Guitars Stage

Beyond Creation live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Beyond Creation live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

Sub-headlining the main stage for the final night of the festival, Montreal-based technical death metal giants BEYOND CREATION were clearly one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend. Having exploded onto the technical death metal scene, and soon the metal scene at large, in 2011, the band has set a standard for the genre, emulating their influences in a unique and creative way. Combining the best elements of OBSCURA and a slightly groovier OBSCURA, BEYOND CREATION has come to display their own very singular blend of technicality and rhythm.

Technical death metal just seems to be a thing they mix into Canada’s water supply, along with maple syrup and good manners. Countless incredibly skilled bands have come forth from Quebec and Ontario to display jaw-dropping musical prowess, and it is a testament to BEYOND CREATION’s abilities that they have come riding the forefront of this wave of shred. Taking advantage of the full range of their instruments, the band’s style is one that swings rapidly from technical death metal speed and pitch, to unconscionably low grooves and rhythms in a matter of a few heartbeats, and clearly this suited UK Tech-Fest, home of all things tech, just fine.

And this is to say nothing of the absurdly high standard of musicianship on display. BEYOND CREATION, song after song, performed on a level almost ironically beyond all creation. While the material was already clearly well written, the band’s ability to reproduce the music with such perfection, while also exciting and interacting with a horde of drunken festival-goers, seems a task of unimaginable patience and focus. Through countless solos, which ran the full length of their extended range guitars, through moments of mesmerising bass melodies, through churning blast beats and violent grooves, the band proved time and time again that they are perhaps the apex of technical death metal today. Between the musicianship and the showmanship, and the single best clean guitar tone in the industry, BEYOND CREATION have certainly cemented themselves as one of the finest bookings in UK Tech-Fest history.

Rating: 9/10

Words: Henry Jones

NORTHLANE – Carillion Guitars Stage

Northlane live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography
Northlane live @ UK Tech-Fest 2017. Photo Credit: Serena Hill Photography

Announced as the secret headliner following their performance at Download Festival, the addition of NORTHLANE to close UK Tech-Fest felt like the worst kept secret. That being said though, there was a feeling of excitement proceeding the Australian outfit taking to the stage and what followed was a performance of utter intent, a statement that the band are ready to step up a tier within the alternative realm. Consistently throughout their headlining performance, NORTHLANE performed their collective hearts out and created an enormous wall of sound that was a utter treat. Thick and heavy tones from guitarists Jonathon Deiley and Josh Smith held the explosiveness in the epicentre whilst simultaneously subsiding to allow intricate notes from Josh Smith to take centre stage whilst Alex Milovic and Nic Petterson held the rhythm flowing throughout. Frontman Marcus Bridge‘s vocal deliveries were the cherry on the cake with monstrous growls and soothing cleans interchanging off each other effortlessly whilst displaying the persona of the ultimate frontman.

With a setlist covering a wide range of material and a healthy addition of material from this year’s Mesmer more than holding their own against fan favourites like Rot and The Quantum Flux for example, NORTHLANE showcased absolute professionalism and created an infectious live sound that showcased their musical edge. It was a performance of utter quality, one which more than demonstrated that the Aussie troupe are more than ready to tackle some of the biggest names in heavy music.

Rating: 10/10

Words: James Weaver

And that is it, our coverage of this year’s UK Tech-Fest is done! If you haven’t already read our coverage of the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this year’s festival and check our photo gallery of Sunday’s action from Serena Hill Photography here:

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