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10th-14th JULY 2014




It’s that time of year again! Tech Fest returned for its 3rd year in the rather spacious Newark Showground, the words “step up” would be seen as a major understatement. The first major perk of this year was showers, and pretty decent ones at that. Trust me when I say that this was an absolute god send. As for the music, 2 stages were placed in one of the many extinct hangers of the former RAF base, with a 3rd added for after show parties and workshops. Spread over 4 days, the line up was a combo of bands coming up in the tech metal scene, as well as titans like Vildhjarta, Monuments and returning from a 7 year hiatus, the ever innovative SikTh. If you like our metal with that techy, groovy tang, then I guess you were there. If not, why not?


Being the first band on at a festival is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. But Bristol’s VALIS ABLAZE took the bull by the horns and did a pretty bang up job all things considered. The quintet were loaded to the brim with enthusiasm and entertainment value, especially singer Adam Leonard, who is armed to the teeth with all the facial expressions and mannerisms of a grizzled old troll living under a bridge (It’s a sight to behold). The guy who stood in for guitars last minute deserves a pie, as up until this was mentioned, no one was aware of this fact what so ever, as Adam’s trusted minstrels were as solid as a rock. The sky’s the limit for Valis Ablaze as they continue to go from strength to strength, and after a performance like that, they deserved to be higher on the bill. (4/5)

THE COLOUR PINK IS GAY were intense enough, yet it was the acoustics of the second stage that proved to be their undoing. Their super sludgy, uber heavy sound was in a constant battle with the prefab construction of the former hanger, and alas, it was a losing battle. That being said though, when you could decipher wants going on, there was a certain charm to their sound, and the all or nothing approach to their set was their saving grace. They’ll be dammed if any sound problems were going to ruin their day. (3/5)

THE SUN EXPLODES, who rely more on catchy choruses and swooping melodies, rather than brute force, were plagued by the same sound problems, but not on the monumental scale as TCPIG . With a guitarist painted up like one of William Wallace’s battle brethren, they were an absolute delight to watch, and listen to. But if I could fault them at all, it’s that their choruses have been stuck in my head for days. A true sign of a job well done, although seeing singer, Dave Maclachlan’s bare ass, did add a sour note on their performance . (4/5)

Turin natives NOISE TRAIL IMMERSION, were that blend of tech and insanity which melts your brain, and leave you cowering on the floor in the foetal position, dribbling uncontrollably. I still have no idea what happened, but it defiantly gets two quivering thumbs up. A chaotic maelstrom of super techy riffs, complex drum patterns and crushing low ends resulted in a distorted colossus laying waste to the ancient Greek village that was the audience. (4/5)

Devon’s own IDIOM had little to no crowd, but that didn’t stop them from absolutely smashing it. People who didn’t attend dropped the ball there. There were top drawer in their execution, and despite being a bit more “poppy” than everyone else at the festival, they were well received by the 10’s in attendance. Idiom were a tour de force in every sense of the phrase, it was just a shame with the poor turnout, as this had the potential to be something special. (4/5)

DISPERSE were an odd one. At first, I remember complaining to myself that I could barely hear anything. Then it was as if the planets aligned, and everything was the epitome of perfection, even the risky move of adding a prodigy cover paid dividends. Guitarist Jakub Zyteci, was a machine as always, and it’s easy to see why he’s one of Europe’s best up and coming guitarists. Hard to believe he’s only 21, it’s disgusting, but in a good way. Their final song “Message From Atlantis” nearly left me in tears, and everyone else demanding one more song. A truly sterling effort. (5/5)

Liverpool heroes CARCER CITY brought the pain, despite not being “tech” by any stretch of the imagination, but they already knew that. It didn’t stop them from stirring up a frenzy like a swarm of wasps, and the crowd loved them for it. Carcer City themselves were like children with ADHD, never staying in one spot too long, and playing point blank in people’s faces. I admittedly hadn’t really heard much of Carcer City heading into this, but left saying to myself “touché Carcer City, touché”. (4/5)

The ever monstrous MARTYR DEFILED had the same destructive power as the Hiroshima bomb, as you were greeted by crushing breakdown after crushing breakdown. Their stage presence was mighty, and the crowd were out for blood. Well, most of them, as it soon became clear that some of the more “tech inclined” began to lose interest. The decision to walk off to Bump ‘n’ Grind by R Kelly, was a master stroke however. Imagine a room full of people throwing down in the pit, yet grinding up against each other. It was just as funny as it sounds. (4/5)

Rounding off a rather eventful Thursday were CHIMP SPANNER, brainchild of one of the “scenes” most influential stringsmen, Paul Ortiz. The lack of bassist did nothing to stop their sound being as beefy as always (the backing track would of helped however). The now temporarily 3 piece put on a clinic, and were just flawless on their timing and execution. Being so far away from the crowd, and not having a singer, may of hindered any other band. But their ace in the hole was an absolute blinder of a light show, kudos to whoever was behind this, as this compensated for the lack of frontman, big time! (4.5/5)



Due to the poor navigational skills of myself, and an unnamed accomplice. Getting lost in and around Newark-On-Trent made me miss Mountains Under Oceans (apologies). But I did catch BEAR, who tried their best to inject some life in to the obviously hung-over crowd, but for the most part, to no avail. The band themselves, although a bit repetitive at times, carried on their audio onslaught regardless. Although, if you had them play during those raucous crowds of the previous night may of been an entirely different story all together. (3/5)

French melodic death metallers ATLANTIS CHRONICLES laid waste to the second stage in their first ever UK show. Attendees were greeted with an awesome wall of delightful heaviness, fiddly riffs and some over stretched lunges. I could keep going on about how heavy and tight they were, but I’ll assume you get the idea. But trust me, they delivered in more ways than one, and the crowd woke up too, which is always a bonus. (4/5)

EUMERIA were a stark contrast to AC, relying more on slick musicianship over brute strength, yet just as rewarding. Also their first UK gig, the Americans were armed with the most traditional prog of the festival so far, that’s not to say they weren’t heavy. They were just heavy without being aggressive, an accomplishment failed by many, and one that everyone can agree, worked in their favour. (4/5)

There was a lot of hype going around on social media about NO SIN EVADES HIS GAZE and rightfully so. Being only their 2nd gig, there were still signs of inexperience, which in some ways may of hindered their performance. But that being said, their brand of tech-metalcore was, for lack of a better word, intense. The potential is most certainly there, and once they get their act together, they’ll be your favourite band for sure. I predict big things. (4/5)

The much more hardcore sounding BLACK DOGS were rock solid in their execution, all with a frantic veneer painted over the top. The security personals denial of them climbing on the equipment stopped the destruction on a widespread level, which leads to the question, ‘If they played with the same crowd as Martyr Defiled, how nuts would this have been?’. Especially at the end, where both guitarists were playing right in the middle of a wall of death, you have to admire the balls to pull off said stunt. (3.5/5)

The first thing that hit me about KADINJA, was that quintessential French sound, vast soundscape ambiance, mixed an almighty sense of groove. Unfortunately, this very young band failed to deliver their full potential. I wasn’t sold on the singer at all, which to me, sounded like he didn’t fit with the band what so ever, although he has a certain guttural prowess. The band had a habit of chucking too many ideas in to the mix. I’m not saying they’re bad musicians, it’s just they have a while to find their true voice. (2/5)

Coming from north of the border, FROM SORROW TO SERENITY took no prisoners, and were so heavy, it would make you want to punch your Nan in the face (please don’t, it’s just an analogy). The addition of new material just shows how far they’ve come as a band, and dare I say it, they may rival Black Tongue as one of Britain’s heaviest bands. They didn’t put a foot wrong in 20 odd minutes of raw primal fury. I had a neck before they played, afterwards, I can only liken its consistency to instant mashed potato. (4.5/5)

RED SEAS FIRE lost a part of their identity when Nolly left for Periphery a couple of years back, with many fans saying they had lost their technical edge because of it. Fast forward to the present day, meaty tones and break neck grooves are the remedy for the loss suffered, and man alive! Does it work. Perhaps the singer Robin Adams wasn’t on par with some of his highs, yet the lows more than made up for it. Sounding like a roaring leviathan from the deep, which held hands with Petey G’s monster tones, and a rock solid rhythm tandem. The end result was widespread devastation! (4/5)

A 14 string guitarist, I’ll let that sink in for a moment, it’s nuts right? This is what happened when FELIX MARTIN hit the stage. Yet once this novelty wore off, it failed to deliver to its full potential. I put this down to the basic fact it was just two guys (guitarist and bassist), and a backing track is no real substitute for a full band line up, which leads to the question, how good could this have been with a full line up? Still though, seeing a guy play so many strings, so well, was sight to see for sure. (3.5/5)

It was business as usual for second stage headliners NO CONSEQUENCE , as they came at you with the same ferocity as a buttered up Charles Bronson. New material suggests a darker direction from the band, who are beginning to carve a nice little niche for themselves, and a direction which was more than well received. They just kept coming and coming, with wave after wave of technical brilliance. The boys from Guildford have a very bright future ahead of them, either in this form, or their one of their other forms. They also performed as a System Of A Down cover band the previous night, and yes, it was just as good! (4.5/5)

DEVIL SOLD HIS SOUL have been together for what seems like an eternity, or perhaps a little over 10 years, which in tech years, is a lot. Never the less, they showed that potential that people were talking about way back when. DSHD showed as to why they’re one of the best post-metal going today, an almighty blend of twiddly post rock ambiance, with a crushing undertone of distorted grooves. The combination of which resulted in an angst riddled performance which was near perfection. (4.5/5)

The contrast of crowds compared to the previous night had never been so evident as it was for GOROD. I put this down to a hung-over dark cloud that had crept its way onto the main stage. The French band were as tight as a gnat’s lady parts, and as heavy as the hammer of Thor, yet there was evidently something missing which I can’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps with the insanity of the previous night, this would of been something spectacular. (3.5/5)



Friday headliners VILDHJARTA however were something completely different. I have to admit it, they were quite possibly the heaviest band I’ve seen to date. Considering I thought the same of Electric Wizard the previous weekend, an accomplishment well deserved. The inventors of “thall” were simply breathtaking, with their unique style of complex drum patterns, and intricate riffs. Coupled with a sense of viciousness, it was enough to break the crowds shackles of last night’s inebriation, and turn the front of the main stage into a mess of broken bodies, lemon faces and flailing hair. (5/5)

ORION had the unenviable task of kicking off the day, and seeing as it was so early, I’m surprised they nailed it as well as they did. Their improvement since the first tech fest has been astronomical, and there truly is no way in telling how far they can potentially go. The small, yet oddly rowdy, crowd showed their love, as the Manchester five piece laid claim as to why they should be playing at this level, and rightfully so. (4/5)

German instrumentalists THE BELLEROPHON PROJECT were a band which I found a bit strange to watch. Every time I began I began to lose interest, they’d throw thrown in something subtle that have my full undivided attention. I also think the odd 9 string bass hybrid might of had something to do with it. That being said though, the performance did lack a certain entertainment value, and without any decent focal point to think of, it took a lot to remain engaged for the whole set. (3/5)

Despite their struggles with the English language, LIES OF NAZCA are honing in on the ancient art of riff, of which there were plenty. The Italians stormed through a set, which although not very entertaining to watch, sounded huge. It’s still early for them, but given time, they can go on to achieve big things, as trust me, some of those riffs alone can carry them all the way. (3.5/5)

ACODA’s set was full to the brim with enthusiasm, and unfazed by the rising temperature of the main stage they proceeded to storm through song after song without breaking a sweat (not literally, just a turn of phrase, as anyone who was there will tell you otherwise). There was certainly a riff fest happening, as Acoda had ample up their sleeves. (4/5)

Next on the second stage, was Belgium’s NOW VOYAGER, who had a habit of lulling you into a false sense of security with gentle ambient parts, then knocking you down with the power of a sledgehammer to the face. But alas, in some aspects, they didn’t fully deliver. It was strange, on the surface they were good, yet I wasn’t really wowed by them, something was definitely missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on what.(3/5)

With the main stage as hot as a sumo wrestler sitting on your face in a sauna, and one of the biggest turnouts of the day so far, DREWSIF STALIN’S MUSICAL ENDEAVORS brought entertainment values to a new high. If only for Drewsif’s million and one groove faces alone. The addition of Nikki Simmons added a new dynamic, not seen when they played last year, who in turn was a ball of energy, despite the punishing heat. In relation to the heat, and feeling the onset of heatstroke, I apologize for missing Stone Circle, who followed on the second stage. (Sorry lads). (4/5)

Standing in for Napoleon at the very last minute, TERRAFORM played to hardly anyone, as that heat became too much for most mortal men. Sounding as meaty as a sirloin, perhaps because of the 3 guitarists. Terraform dazzled the handful in attendance, with their super bouncy grooves, and drum patterns, which I can only liken to Blaine firing Ol’ Painless in the film Predator. (4.5/5)

It was a shame a few sound problems hit MAXI CURNOW, as at times it was a tad uncomfortable to listen to. Yet when everything was running smoothly, it was a master class, pure and simple, and the added element of Mike Malyan (Monuments/ex Algorithm) added some spice to the already delicious meatball of sound. I really commend this performance, as Maxi himself informed the crowd that they only had 2 days to prepare. My feelings on this can be summed up two words, fair play. (4/5)

Sunderland deathmongers NEXILVA have set up a sort of residency for themselves at Tech Fest, playing all 3 to date, and you can see why. You look up intensity in the dictionary, and I bet you’ll find a picture of vocalist Gaz King staring right back at you, so young, yet so much rage. The rest of the band were as heavy as always, so heavy, that I bet the structural integrity of the hanger had never been tested like that before, even back in its RAF heyday. (4.5/5)

I had been saying all weekend, that the festival had an old school rave vibe to it, never was this truer than when THE ALGORITHM hit the stage. Not only fiddling around with his little box of tricks, Remi Gallego, became Tron’s answer to a Jack of all trades, playing guitar and a modified keytar also. A move which lent itself really well to his brand of metal/EDM/chiptune/any genre ever created style of music. The only thing missing was a 20ft tall inflatable unicorn, with lasers coming out of its eyes, but given the circumstances, this would have to suffice. (4.5/5)

Another band playing to nearly no one were META-STASIS, did they care though? Did they fuck! They still played as if they were playing to thousands, and I take my hat off for them doing so. The structural integrity of the building was tested once again, as they rivalled Nexilva in their sheer power, yet they played to probably one of the smallest crowds of the festival. That part I didn’t get, as someone of their calibre deserved more. (4/5)

Not metal, let alone tech, JON GOMM still won over a massive crowd, and actually had the biggest ovation of anybody who has ever played had Tech Fest in my opinion. My jaw literally dropped the second he started playing, as he was doing things with his guitar that aren’t possible for any normal man, but he’s John Gomm, so anything and everything was possible. The cover of Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ sent goosebumps throughout my body, and ending with the song so many of us love him for, ‘Passionflower’. Having him on the bill goes to show how diverse Tech Fest has become, and he nailed it. Bravo. (5/5)

Coming on to ‘Go the Distance’ from the Disney movie Hercules, MONUMENTS set the tone of where all of us were heading to, and things started out so brightly for them too. But trouble struck when Mike Malyan’s bass drum needed fixing, not once, but twice. Yet cool as you like, singer Chris Barretto wasn’t phased at all, and treated the audience with a rendition of ‘Another one bites the dust’, and a terrible joke, or 9. Technical hitches aside, they were a powerhouse as always, and everything else, was just a statement as to why they’re one of the hottest up and coming bands in the country today. (4.5/5)

Nursing the mother of all hangovers (Honey JD is a cruel mistress), I dragged my carcass in to watch DOOMED FROM DAY ONE, I’d have to admit, I wasn’t prepared for the assault to the senses. But don’t take that as a bad comment, quite the opposite actually. Despite attempts to start circle pits falling on deaf ears, DFDO persevered and made do with the situation, and provided that shot of adrenaline to the arm that everyone needed. (3.5/5)

Opening the main stage were SHIELDS, and it soon became evident that this wasn’t to be their day. I’m sure that if fate had everything going their way, then they would be a force to be reckoned with, but alas, it just wasn’t the case. Granted vocalist Joe Edwards was a mass of energy and frizzy hair, but his vocal interplay with guitarist Sam Kubrick raised a few eyebrows in the crowd. I’ll give them an A* for effort, but fell short from the sheer quality shown by previous acts. (1.5/5)

Norway’s KODEKS were a prime example of a band not living up to their potential. There were the obvious flashes of brilliance, as at times the sounded as beefy as Bovril. But in other aspects, they fell a bit short. The vocals were all over the place, and lacked any form of consistency, but never the less, they weren’t phased, and managed to pull it off by the skin of their teeth. I will say this though, once they get it together, they’ll be a true force to be reckoned with. (2/5)

It was very questionable how AEOLIST were going to pull this off, considering their drummer had fractured his hand just mere days before. To say he, and the band themselves, pulled it off, would be a massive understatement. Their atmospheric elements paint giant soundscapes to transport you to a far away place, yet there’s this deep seeded aggression about them, which will tear your face off when you least expect it. This is one band you need in your life, and I don’t use that term lightly. (4.5/5)

AEON ZEN were another traditional prog sounding band, yet, they sounded disgustingly filthy in parts with some sheer demonic tones. It was the right blend of new and old, but despite being technically sound in their execution, it still didn’t reach that to level as you would expect them to. I don’t know what it was, maybe the cold atmosphere hanging over the second stage, or the handful of sound problems. Whatever it was, it held them back and separated them from being good, to being great. (3.5/5)

On the main stage, EXIST IMMORTAL put on a groove clinic, as the Tech Fest mainstays snapped necks everywhere! They were good at their first Tech Fest outing, but this something else, something I don’t think anyone was expecting, considering they were last minute replacements. This rampaging juggernaut more than exceeded their potential, as all 5 members were in perfect unity, like a Power Rangers Megazord, the only thing lacking was the overuse of pyro and terrible costumes. (4.5/5)

I had never heard of DESTRAGE going into this, it soon became clear that I was a fool for not discovering them sooner. It was truly a contest to see how many genres they could squeeze into a 20 odd minute set, as the Italians were a pretty kaleidoscope of noise, which made you confused as to whether bust shapes, or throw down in the pit. Their high octane performance has led me to this conclusion, easily my favourite discovery of the weekend. (4.5/5)

The UK debut of ALAYA went as well as expected for the Chicago trio, as the threesome performed like a well oiled machine. It’s just it was a little too unmemorable for my liking, nothing really stood out. I’m not saying they were bad, but just being tight and heavy can only get you so far. Maybe this is just me being biased, as I’m not exactly Alaya’s number one fan, and I’m sure if you were a fan, then this would of been perfect for you. (3.5/5)

Featuring a handful of singers, and Ryan Robb of Orion fame, FRIEND FOR A FOE were oozing with sick tones, and a stupidly heavy aura. Fresh off touring the UK, FFAF took it in their stride, and proved themselves at one of the biggest stages of them all (Well, in tech terms anyway). Although not particularly groundbreaking, they were still dominant in every other aspect, and left me feeling like one happy camper.(4/5)

MODERN DAY BABYLON have become somewhat of a favourite of mine the past couple of years, and the lads from The Czech Republic didn’t disappoint. OK, so maybe it wasn’t the most spectacular band to watch, but what they lack aesthetic beauty, they make up for with an extremely vast range of tones and grooves to wet the palette. Although, having Maxi Curnow as a guest on one of the tracks made up for what they were lacking in some respect. (4/5)

At last, a full ALIASES line up at tech fest! Those of you who know the situation from last year, will know that it was a real pain in the ass that they pulled out. But back to this year, and I think everyone can agree, it was worth the wait. It’s always going to be hard to live in the shadow of Pin’s “other band”, but with a set consisting of a fair bit of new material, Aliases have nothing to fear, as it shows they have what it takes to give “said band” a run for its money. The combo of highly techy riffs from the tag team of Leah and pin, as well as the firm, but fair vocal style of Joe Rosser, was enough to make a wolverine purr. (5/5)

I’ll have to hold my hands up, and say I’m not the biggest fan of THE SAFETY FIRE , but I can still appreciate a good band at work. They sounded huge, as the sound was so crisp for their set, although the performance itself wasn’t quite enough to change my opinion of the band, very close though. My own personal feelings aside, I get why a lot of people like them, as they were on top of their game, and if you are a fan, then this would of been the best thing since sliced bread. (4/5)

THE OCEAN took you on a journey like no other, as they were majestic and soul crushing at the same time. Being one of the headliners of last year’s Euroblast, it’s easy to see why they were chosen for the role, as their hypnotising rhythms put you in a trance like state, and they were packed with a lot of power and emotion, all thrown in for good measure. Admittedly, I hadn’t heard much of the German collective before, but with performances like that, I can safely say that The Ocean may become my new favourite band. (5/5)

The moment everybody was waiting for, and 7 years in the making, SIKTH were just as insane as they were way back when. With maybe the exception of Meshuggah, not one band has had the same impact, and inspired so many in this so called scene. For many, this was their first experience of them in a live setting (ahh, to be young again). Playing all the classics like ‘Pussyfoot’, ‘Part Of The Friction’ and ‘Bland Street Bloom’, for me, it was the best nostalgia trip that I could of wished for, Mikee Goodman’s rendition of ‘When Will The Forest Speak’ was the cherry on top of the cake of brilliance. I think I speak for everyone when I say “Welcome back, and long may it continue”. (5/5)

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