Live Review: Radar Festival 2022 Day #2 (Saturday)!
The second of three at the Casino Night Club in Guildford for Radar Festival is a big one with bigger crowds and slush puppy style pints of frozen Pimm’s on offer as well as a plethora of bands bringing riffs in plentiful supply from 13:00 to the midnight hour to keep us entertained. We predict the cold beers to run out before the end of the night and in the heat of the venue there is nothing quite like a warm one, but hey there are worse things in the World right now eh?
Opening the main stage this afternoon are Brighton’s El Moono [8/10] who hit the ground running with cuts from their critically acclaimed EP “Temple Corrupted“. Their blend of Metal and Post-Hardcore finds them in a place of off kilter time signatures and mind bending riffs and with a wealth of European touring experience it seems odd they’re on this early. It’s also a little warm for the Elizabethan Wedding dress their frontman is wearing but we appreciate the effort. We’re not entirely sure if Windsor Post Hardcore quintet You Win Again Gravity [8/10] are still a Post Hardcore band these days but one thing is certain, they are majestic. With a new album on the horizon they take the bold decision to cram four new songs into a six song set on the Boiler Room second stage and range from the dreamy and nuanced to bursting with heavier moments that appear from nowhere, giving everything a vibrant feel. On this afternoon’s evidence the new album just got shuffled into the highly anticipated category. Copenhagen Denmark natives Cold Night For Alligators [8/10] might call themselves an Alternative Metal act but the genre tag doesn’t do their sound anywhere near enough justice. They deliver the set that their reputation would have them do with a blend of Progressive Metal, soulful and heartfelt vocals and DJent overtones. John Woods-Eley from The Five Hundred lends his throat for an unclean vocal guest appearance while new songs like “Water” shine and shimmer with funky bass tones that get bodies swaying. “No Connection” is particularly good and while the band overrun their set time it’s worth every moment to witness their stunning performance.
Describing themselves as sounding like The Dillinger Escape Plan if they were a Deftones covers band, Manchester Grunge Punks Forager [9/10] are a high energy assault on the senses. It’s a schizophrenic adrenaline rush from start to finish with riffs flying in all directions. During “Roach” they offer out the Forager sword of destiny, the holder of which will win a prize at the end of the cut. Their frontman spends a fair part of their set I. The pit encouraging moshers around him before stage diving into their awaiting arms during the final song. Oh and the prize? Piece of hand drawn artwork by the band signed not only by them but by tonight’s headliners Haken. Stepping up their game since we saw them at Tech-Fest with more energy and zip to their performance The Five Hundred [7/10] bring the mosh after the raw and personal “Smoke & Mirrors“. Their downtuned eight string guitars bring an ocean of technical groove as they release their pent up aggression with some huge breakdowns but perhaps they could use taking their incessant calling for circle pits and energy down a notch. They have the tunes and the power so the go down well even if they look and feel like they belong on bigger stages than this. Having unveiled former Solarshift vocalist Ben Mars to replace Lizzie Parry prior to us witnessing their set at Tech-Fest Sertraline [9/10] feel sharper despite being tragically hungover and play out their set in style, including a high class rendition of “Inside Out“. It’s intriguing to hear how the vocals have been tweeted with the switch from female to male vocalists and in Mars they have found someone capable of filling Parry’s big boots as he has the range to make it happen. What they are lacking is a bass player as a twin guitar attack but the backing track that also provides some icy keys handles the job behind their DJent fuelled aggression.
In the past we’ve been hard on London Modern Metalcore merchants TheCityIsOurs [7/10] for playing in and out of a backing track during their set to give them a couple of extra moments to breathe between cuts as well as giving the audience a bigger sound but that’s only because live music is where it’s at and they’re a talented bunch who don’t actually need to augment their sound with it. They blast through a high energy set that includes cuts from their Arising Empire debut “Coma” as well as it’s predecessor “Low“, the title tracks of both as well as “Dangerous” going down particularly well. It will be interesting to see where the band go from here as the extremes push out because there is the sneaking suspicion that heavier things await. By the time Black Orchid Empire [7/10] take to the stage it’s getting claustrophobic and sweaty but the band waste no time and play out a set that includes classy renditions of “Death From Above” and “Natural Selection“. The Metallic edges to their Rock orientated sound give them something over the others in the genre and as a well oiled live machine they have plenty of swagger about them, including encouraging the audience to sing back the whoas. As their new album “Pathos” reaches the one month anniversary, a triumphant return four years after their critically acclaimed “Mire“, it has to be said that Conjurer [9/10] are one of the main draws of the day. The throw everything and the kitchen sink at the crowd on the main stage, effortlessly playing their instruments and snapping their necks at the same time as masters of the low end with a dark mix of Sludge infused with Death and Doom Metal to keep us entertained. A wireless pack may give up the ghost before the end but they still play out the final cut while commanding a wall of death.
A long way from home, Scottish Progressive Metallers Tiberius [8/10] bring “A Peaceful Annihilation” to Radar Festival with all those early Iron Maiden influences shinning through. Their tongue in cheek lyrics abut both the personal and the wider struggles of the World maybe lost on some of the audiences they play to as in the live arena its all about their endless supply of high quality riffage but they are a memorable experience, the likes of whom should be held a loft as shining lights of Progressive Metal as a genre. The DJent is still there, but the tones have lessened and sound more like staccato riff breaks these days, their bright clean soulful vocals offering a different dimension. Having followed up the ambitious and critically acclaimed “Audio Noir” with a colossus in its own right in “Migration“, Post Sludge Doom Metallers Bossk [7/10] are all monolithic riffs with stark geometry and claustrophobia inducing moments as they continue to develop their sound into something that paints post apocalyptic soundscapes of the darkest order. In the darkness at the mainstage all they require is a flood of dry ice and fitting light show to create the oppressive atmosphere to match the music they create. Cabal [9/10] encourage the girls to get in the pit during their set as the Copenhagen conquers crush all opposition with the biggest crowd the Boiler Room has probably ever seen. It’s not even standing room for their set as they drawn inspiration from Black, Death, DJent and Hardcore to bring us a lethal dose of breakdown heavy Metal from Denmark that is dangerously close to Deathcore. The bass drops are huge, the drum sound is Earth shattering and they are so in the zone that their frontman Andreas Bjulver announces their last song with two to go so the final cut actually feels like a well deserved encore.
Swedish Progressive Metal supergroup Soen [8/10] start their set late but having the melodic, heavy and intricate band here is like having Tool on stage, so highly regarded are they in this World. Drummer Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth, Amon Amarth) is a commanding figure behind the kit, driving the songs forward with some huge rhythms to counteract the melodies of vocalist Joel Ekelöf. Their set is full of powerhouse cuts like “Lotus” that are greeted by swaying adoration and warm applause, they are a band that is a real experience to witness and in front of this so painfully close to sold out crowd they get respect they deserve. Liam Neeson enthusiasts Haken [8/10] are summoned to the stage by chants of their name as the London Progressive Metal act who are currently working on album number seven take a break from the studio for the show. To that end we get treated to the now three month old single “Nightingale“, perhaps the first of those as they deliver a set of bouncing DJent, odd time signatures, Jazzy moments and some Hard Rock sensibilities all thrown into the mix. Eclectic cuts like “Cockroach King” are hilariously good fun live while “Falling Back To Earth” and “Carousel” bring the house down. It maybe half past late but on the Boiler Room stage Geeza core supergroup Pintglass [9/10] who are fronted by Ben Mason from Bound In Fear are waiting for an after party like no other. Having missed out on seeing them no less than four times with rescheduled and cancelled shows, our determination to see them before we die is finally rewarded and with now former second vocalist Barney Warner of Replacer in the crowd, the party sees him taking the microphone from both vocalists at various points throughout the set. “GTCH“, “Head of the Firm” and “Bear, Gear & Fear” go down a storm as arms swing in the mosh pit, their endless supply of beatdown Deathcore brutality mixed with the humour of the Geeza being the kind of fun that everyone can enjoy…