UK Tech-Fest 2017 at Newark Showground, Newark - live review
Venue: Newark Showground, Newark
Textures and Northlane head up a feast of fret-warriors
Legend has it that three months of rain fell within 60 minutes just hours earlier, but by some weird meteorological sleight of hand, today the hallowed Showground turf is bone dry and positively baking in the molten sunshine. It’s been four years since death metallers DYSCARNATE  unleashed their blitzkrieg live show upon the Tech-Fest masses, and the trio waste no time in annihilating the thrashing bodies beneath them to reaffirm their status as luminaries of precise death metal brutality. The intricate ambience that prog-instrumentalists TOSKA  bring to the stage couldn’t be any more dissimilar, but the Brighton three-piece quickly engage onlookers with a beautifully disparate blend of hulking riffs and rich melodies. Any resounding calm is mercilessly shattered during MARTYR DEFILED’s  seething onslaught, in which talisman Matt Jones paces back and forth roaring like an untamed beast; the thunderous breakdowns that accompany his primal vocal hooks positively teem with virulent, contagious filth. Visceral carnage is the name of the game for Slovenian slammers WITHIN DESTRUCTION , whose sublime technicality and prolapse-inducing squeals almost force genre-benders ROLO TOMASSI  into the proverbial shade. Almost. A mesmerising mix of perplexing riffs and brooding soundscapes combined with hellcat-in-angel-form Eva Spence’s snarling fervour is enough to convince a depleted crowd to immerse themselves in the violent rhythms.
You don’t need to read between the lines to recognise the obscene exuberance powering grime-djents HACKTIVIST  tonight. New co-vocalist Jot Maxi spits and swaggers as anthems like Elevate and Taken get the writhing pits lit amongst devastating grooves. Unsurprisingly, most of the perspiring horde head for the exit afterwards, so OCEANS ATE ALASKA  end up playing to a half-empty hangar – it’s unfortunate as the Brum natives’ infectious blend of prog and classic metalcore is nothing to be sneered at. ABORTED’s  gory and punchy death metal works well after a load of beers, and they take to the stage as one of the more revered bands in their scene. Not only do they prove that they’re at the top of their game, but their experience really makes them stand out tonight. Collective “Oh Jeremy Cor-byn!” chants precede Friday’s late-running headliner before everyone’s devastated by THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER , who rip ferociously through a set bursting with uber-tight precision and blackened blastbeats. Miasma is no longer just a song, it’s an event.
Combining old-school classic rock with ultramodern prog makes conceptual three-piece THE PARALLAX METHOD  a genuinely interesting proposition; melodic overtones provide rich depth and an impromptu in-crowd Macarena further celebrates the instrumentalists’ diversity. EXIST IMMORTAL  are stunning today. Meyrick de la Fuente’s searing cleans have the emotional propensity to reduce grown men to tears whilst the undulating riffage of In Hindsight and that last drop during a beautifully belligerent Follow Alone legitimately stirs the soul. When a band describes their sound as metal-meets-fusion-meets-post-rock, it automatically prompts curiosity, but Dutch quartet EXIVIOUS  extinguish such scepticism, weaving an organic and coherent sound unified by energetic rhythms, melancholic noodling and fearless experimentation. Mathcore innovators THE COLOUR LINE  waste no time in ripping the place apart. Spinning circlepits erupt as Sam Rudderforth immediately chucks himself into the sea of outstretched arms. Pummelling drums never miss a beat as Remi Gallego, aka THE ALGORITHM , flits seamlessly between instruments. Stampeding riffs give way to hypnotic synthwave while djent-laden breakdowns sit alongside dub-spliced beats. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of melodic lunacy and brute force. On the strength of their performance, it’s unlikely that RED SEAS FIRE  will stay unsigned. The elements of technical prowess are present, but it’s the gargantuan riffs and earworm hooks that get bodies moving. The elaborate, brutal assault of UNEVEN STRUCTURE  harnesses the complex and foreboding with mindbendingpolyrhythms that veer wildly from haunting atmospherics to enamel-peeling bellows.
PERSEFONE  bring a more melodic edge to the weekend’s popular tech-death sound. Sound gremlins make for a stop/start set, but they’re lucky in having an extremely charismatic frontman in Marc Martins, who does a top job of getting a decent-sized crowd into the party spirit. German prog-death titans OBSCURA  clearly returned to these shores to command and conquer as they quickly demonstrate a sonic knack for merging refined fury and virtuosic musicianship. Not even a mid-set T-Rex vs Flamingo inflatable duel can eclipse TEXTURES’  bittersweet farewell tonight. Dizzying, djent-fuelled solos and ambient interludes reverberate around the packed-out house as Daniel de Jongh’s voracious screams metamorphose into plaintive cleans during an emotive Awake.
The back-to-back blistering grooves of A TRUST UNCLEAN  and BORDERS  are the ideal way to blow the cobwebs away, and if that doesn’t work, the sight of a bloke smashing a xylophone-cum-synth with unadulterated vigour during ONI’s  multi-faceted set certainly will. Dissonant lead lines and atmospheric passages transport those watching GHOST IRIS  to a euphoric state, but CARCER CITY’s  intensity and humility prove they’re truly a force to be reckoned with. A heartfelt rendition of call-to-arms anthem Sovereign sends fists flying skywards. The barrage of triplets and low-fret noodling coursing through the black heart of HUMANITY’S LAST BREATH  ensures pulses gallop until PANZERBALLET’s  eight-string action and jazz-metal funk takes centre stage. Splitting opinions firmly down the middle with an (un)holy union of spliced death metal, opera and Venetian Snares-esque breakcore, IGORRR  easily secure the title of the weekend’s most batshit band, making the tech-death innovation of BEYOND CREATION  sound understated by comparison. INGESTED  might not be the most intellectual of the bands playing this weekend, but they’re one of the heaviest. They just sound meaner and heavier than almost anyone else playing all weekend, and the crowd reaction reflects that with a constant pit throughout their modest 35-minute set. Their new album can’t come quickly enough. With massive tracks like Paragon and Quantum Flux in an arsenal already overflowing with mesmerising grooves, soaring vocals and prog exuberance, NORTHLANE  can bask in the celestial glow; tonight’s outing will serve as a giant middle finger to any disbelievers, closing another thrilling Tech-Fest in absolute triumph.