Live Review: Tech-Fest 10th Anniversary (Sunday)

It might be the final day of the final Tech-Fest or Simon Garrod and the team may simply be taking a break but today is one for making the most out of and leaving every ounce of energy in the pit. For that you need fuel so a can of Monster and a Firehouse burger with that signature combination of sriracha mayo and jalapeno peppers is just the ticket. Let the riffening commence!

Opening the Pins & Knuckles sponsored second stage are Tech-Fest favourites and Derby residents From Her Ashes [8/10] who bring Metalcore to the masses with vocalist Joseph Gunn in impressive form. Their set comes to a crushing end with a particularly brutal rendition of 2022 single “Nemesis“, one of those songs, a vicious little ditty, that clearly has the name of an enemy associated to it. Birmingham based Pulse [8/10] open up the main stage with their Gloom Metal inspired Nu-Metalcore blend and former Harbinger vocalist Tom Gardner goes feral on cuts like “Flies“. They use a backing track of ambient music to give themselves tune up moments and give us new song “Desire” which sounds like it has has Loathe inspirations as well as two step moments to showcase a bright future. It manages to push both extremes of the bands sound out, being both heavier and more melodic than their older material. Akkadian [8/10] are a band we’ve waited a long time to witness, their waterfall release of singles has been a Groove Metal odyssey inspired by the ancient Mesopotamian Empire and they don’t disappoint. New song “The Devil Has Evolved” graces their set with a trance inducing headbangable main riff that is to be worshipped, a slight departure from their usual groove heavy offer. The banter between songs is amusing, helping to break up the flow of the material. A song about seeing snakes in the desert while on acid (we’ve all done it) is the stand out and “Serpentine” even has traditional accompaniment of a tambourine. Alternative Metal five piece Defences [7/10] also have a new song in their set with some meaty DJent riffage and with clean vocalist Cherry Duesbury (who incidentally breaks out into a nose bleed mid set) they have an element that sets them apart from the pack. Songs like “Gravity” have been huge for them and they give an immaculate performance. Swedish Progressive Metal act Karmanjakah [6/10] have some wonderful melodic meanderings alongside some DJent crunch that remind of instrumental acts like Navian but sadly suffer from some pitching and timing issues with their vocals (and vocal harmonies). That’s probably down to nerves but fortunately for them the audience simply sweat and sway, bathed in their brightness.

Mid afternoon on the main stage and Graphic Nature [8/10] are sweating their socks off to maintain their look, wearing big coats with hoods while ripping the place up with wave after wave of Nu-Metalcore. The mix is a little muddy but vocalist Harvey Freeman is in a fierce and firey mood, so from “Headstone” to “Killing Floor” the place is bouncing. There is little doubt that the five piece are only going to grow from here. They may have lost some momentum with an album in “Blood Is Blood” released just before lockdown but On Hollow Ground [9/10] haven’t let that distract them and will have something fresh out later this year. Heavy and catchy with flavours of Tech-Metal, DJent and Heavy Metalcore they keep things flowing at an energetic pace and feel like you’ve grabbed onto an electric fence you can’t let go of. The backing vocals are a nice touch as are the electronics and with cuts like “Shut Down” they impress. There is a lot of hype around Lansing Michigan based Of Virtue [7/10] who were once simply a Metalcore act but have evolved to create songs in a Heavy-Soft style, pushing out the extremes with some anthemic Hard Rock anthems. Perhaps Tech-Fest isn’t the right place for them but there are a few Five Finger Death Punch tees on show during their set. Japanese Nu-Metalcore meets EDM monsters Paledusk [9/10] are complete and utter audio bedlam in front of a packed main stage, throwing themselves around like they’ve got rocket skates on while playing mid air solos. It maybe their first time in the United Kingdom but it won’t be their last with “Slay” and “I’m ready to die for my friends” getting the full karaoke treatment. Oh and there is a circle pit with a couple of dinosaurs in it…

Mancunian Metalcore in the vein of the current Australian giants, Where Oceans Burn [8/10] bathe their audience in endless waves of chugging riffs interwoven with melodic clean and cathartic unclean vocal parts. While they aren’t necessarily doing anything you haven’t heard before, what they do they do is very well executed. They just feel like they need one song with a point of difference to elevate them. The rise of York DJentlemen InVisions [9/10] has been an absolute pleasure as they have gone from playing an after show party we witnessed in 2018 to touring the European mainland with Ice Nine Kills over a three album run. As a main stage presence the quartet hold their own getting mosh pits and even a wall of death with little or no encouragement, despite this being day four. The band breakout cuts like “Deadlock” and “Parasite” and go down a storm, the breakdowns and Death growls from Ben Ville ensuring that their heavier side isn’t lost in the sea of programming that surrounds them. Kingston upon Hull Sludge fueled Death Metal horde Mastiff [7/10] go off like a cluster bomb on the second stage with cuts like “Midnight Creeper” reaching into the void to Deathgrind. Their dry humour is fills the gaps due to the odd technical issue (“we’ve under teched Tech-Fest“) but that doesn’t stop their Iron Monkey inspired rage pummelling us to death. The return of Birmingham Technical Metalcore merchants Oceans Ate Alaska [8/10] with original vocalist James Harrison after five long years with last year’s “Disparity“, an album two years in the making, was a huge surprise but their dogged determination has been impressive. Tonight they are on fire on the main stage with all the hallmarks of their original sound including Technical riffs and tapping sections alongside off kilter off kilter odd time signatures are present, correct and expertly executed. Curiosity enough the Jake Noakes era of the band is not ignored with “Hansha” from 2017’s “Hikari” given a skull crushing rendition but “New Dawn” is the highlight. Second stage headliners She Must Burn [10/10] are a lethal dose of Extreme Metal, somewhere between Symphonic Deathcore and Gothic tinged Black Metal. Their heaven and hell vocal combinations with the stunning clean sung moments from keyboard player Valis Volkova contrasted against the vicious tongue of Kyle Lamb are awe inspiring with cuts like “Incantation” opening a wormhole to another realm of existence.

Before the final headliners take to the stage their are a couple of emotional speeches with mastermind Simon Garrod seemingly caught off guard by an outpouring of love from a full house in front of the main stage. It’s a touching moment we’ll never forget with ten incredible festivals a huge success. Chicago polyrhythmic riff specialists Born Of Osiris [9/10] couldn’t be a better choice of a headliner and they bring with them a set that is only missing some pyrotechnics. Instead we are treated to a selection of their finest cuts from albums “Angel or Alien“, “The Eternal Reign” and “The Simulation“, each one executed to perfection. The light show is impressive and the security team have to work overtime with the sheer volume of crowd surfers taking the opportunity for one last thrill. The tenth anniversary of Tech-Fest has been nothing short of a triumph and so we hope that this is simply a hiatus rather than the end…

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