Gig Review: UK Tech-Fest 2023 – Saturday

Kicking off the Saturday of UK Tech Fest, I’m introduced to a new mash up of genres. Described as progressive trap metal, SWARM6IX provided the start off with intricate riffs and some maddening vocals that took us down a rabbit hole of nu metal and technical elements surrounding the skills they display on stage. 

Stunning guitar work that slams with pure aggressive bass and frenzy provide the djent infusions that pull you in different directions to top with some chaotically energetic vocals that range from urban style clean rapping to some barking shrieks that command full attention. The drumming is exceptional, almost going into the realms of drum and bass with the heavier notes in places, there are some stunning things happening in this corner of the world this morning and I am here for it.

Draconian Reign (c) Red Death Media

Back to the second stage, one of the most prominently rising Nottingham bands that have surfaced within the last 18 months enter the stage. Having been at the first Draconian Reign show and the majority afterwards, I was blown away from the very first time they played. They have always delivered a completely absorbing show and have the make up of their musicianship absolutely down.

Approaching the stage the guys are donned in black and immediately the atmosphere is plunged into darkness. Intro “The Awakeningserves as a dark synthy suspense flowing into heavy technical breakdown riffs to give a taste of what’s to come… Symphonic deathcore at its finest moment here at Tech Fest, “It Came From Hell” serves as one of Draconian Reign’s most popular songs from their first EP Necromantic and is still as striking as ever. Delivering a frenzy of deathcore melted with blackened elements, sticks and pedal lord Kelsey is a pure machine wielding the devastating blows that blastbeat their way through the track with precision, picking up the odd moments of technical tempo changes that give the filthy mood of Draconian Reign to make space for Cal and James’ face melting and beautifully encapsulating riffs.

The huge chords of the guitars and breakdowns inject a stunning mood, which continues when we come to the chorus that glimmers a melodic yet still purely brutal atmospheric tone. Andy pummels in with his low frequency stunning bass work that underlines the pure sickening outpour for this track. This song is one of the best showcases for vocalist James – in my opinion, one of the best vocalists that UK underground deathcore has to offer. Today he told us that he wasn’t up to his best due to a bad throat but this was not a hindrance on his performance – he delivered his vocals all through the set as purely brutal and mesmerising as usual with ranges that encased blackened shrieks around filthy gutturals that flayed your face clean off.

“Necromantic” sees to it that the crowd are submerged into a pure frenzy. The pits are full of bodies flying all over the place and the hard and filthy breakdown halfway through the song saw the room headbang so hard, necks could break. Last track “Infernal Requiem” was taken from the newer offering from Draconian Reign, Tragedy Eternal, released just a couple of months ago and whilst keeps true to the roots of Draconian Reign, displays a step towards a newer sound with more of a nod towards the death metal elements that are a part of the make up of the band.

The tempo still drops towards the brutal core side of these guys, but in it’s live setting, Infernal Requiem has some extremely raw death splinters that root themselves deeply into the song. I always come away from a Draconian Reign set with my head blown clean off and today was no exception.

Monasteries (c) Red Death Media

Over at the main stage, technical deathcore legends Monasteries appear and maaaaaaan, it is so good to see them playing live again. “Force Fed Apathy” drowns us in dense venom, blisteringly visceral as ever, the ambience here of Monasteries is one that includes some maddening technical riff tempos that range in between a hard, slabbing and heavy rainfall of chords and intricate melodies to deliver some hella power alongside deathly threatening drum wielding.

Josh’s vocals hit unbelievable ranges of depths and styles with a blend of brutal mid-range gutturals and high end screams that support the tech-death tempo of stunning basswork. I’ve played “Lilac a few times on my radio slot and in it’s live setting, it is insane. The tempo is a bullet speed pace of technical riffs and blastbeating with some rhythm sections that impose some stunning melo-death elements. The vocals are raw and display the death metal infusions of Monasteries that twist around some Slam pulses that are present here. I love this track and looking around me, the crowd are fully chaotic to the super slow and disgustingly heavy breakdowns.

New track “Alone and Against” was released only a few weeks back, with the impending release of Monasteries’ new album set to be released later in the year. “Alone and Against offers a newer taste of what’s to come with the foundations still laying true to Monasteries, however there are more elements here of hardcore meets experimental deathcore.

After seeing the guys back on stage with the addition of Craig Robertson on guitars, I am hyped to welcome them to Rabidfest later on this year!

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Vexed (c) Red Death Media

Hertfordshire’s answer to progressive metal, Vexed arrived at the main stage with a forceful energy to craft a full scale sonic assault, totally grinding guitar and low frequency bass on Willem Mason-Geraghty’s blaring drums. We’re taken down a rabbit hole of intense extremity, mixing guttural death metal with more complex rhythms in the live setting for Vexed.

Eastern shamanic echoes open up their set, delivering ambient tones to blend into the stunning technicality of the band.  Where prog is used to describe themselves, their riffs are sharper and leaves for the prog elements to provide threatening atmospherics and very little room for any other feeling than aggressive and darkened moods. 

Vocalist Megan uses venomous growls and soaring beautiful vocals to blend both ranges that delivers a facemelting assault whilst she rages her ambience across the stage, commanding the energy of the crowd. The groove fuelled chorus and djent elements of the guitars blend into shimmering tones and support the backbone of the stunning kit work displaying some of the most intricate technical breakdowns seen today.

Stunning!

Kublai Khan TX (c) Red Death Media

After a queue to get back into the main stage for hardcore legends Kublai Khan TX, the energy is immediately ferocious and raw, there are inflatable hammers in the crowd for first track “The Hammerwhich pulverises the crowd. Vocalist Matt Honeycutt commands the tone with brutal barks over the depth of chugging basstones. 

This is raw hardcore, heavy downtuned and layers of tempos bulldozing its way across the main stage, we’re launched into “Self Destruct“, a visceral and frenzied attack that sees the crowd spilling into neck breaking headbanging and mosh pits that sees chaos at the feet of the Texas heavyweights. Combine the crushing power, pummeling hardcore riffs, and intense vocals that emit brutally honest lyrics addressing some of the serious topics of these days, Kublai Khan TX are a band that continue to use their growth of the last decade to easily resonate with their fans and understand the way of the world.

“We didn’t come here to play games.”

Heading to second stage, I was in awe to find that one of the most underrated bands had been given a slot.

Hundred Year Old Man (c) Red Death Media

I am a huge fan of ambience in metal… and though Leeds outfit Hundred Year Old Man are described as post metal, I am drawn to their hypnotic doomy elements that are shrouded in ambient tones and sludgy melodics that combine with blackened vocals. The emotion and power behind Hundred Year Old Man ranges from melancholic vapours to full blown blackened doom, high frequency chords and heavy infused guitars. But it’s those melodic and truly heart wrenching solos in between those flickers of heavy slabs that catches you off guard.

Feeding your emotions and still displaying the capabilities of keeping that heavy momentum is quite something to behold and here I am… absorbing and getting lost in some of the most wonderful energy found today.

Wanting to see Belgian Death Metal leviathans Aborted for yonks, finally it was here that I got to witness the pure onslaught.

Starting with intro music to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” created a false sense of security as fans behind the barrier belted the lyrics out and then halfway through the song, an evil distortion came over the track and melted into “ManiaCult“‘s frenzy of venomous riffs and Sven’s (Svencho) earsplitting guttural roar echoes out from the stage. The stage bathed in red and yellow light effects, it’s looking sinister as fuck up there!

Bound In Fear (c) Red Death Media

The tightest precision of deathly blastbeating wielded from Ken steers the ship on this track, with the outstanding chugging basswork of Stefano creating the way for the maelstrom ahead of icepick hammering riffs and melodic rhythm strings.

2015’s “Necrotic Manifestosaw the crowd into a mosh pit of chaos. Pure brutal energy was second to none, displaying some death grind elements in this live setting with groove laden guitars and fearful tempo levels that pull you in different directions to run alongside the beautifully crafted guitar solo.

Blew the place to bits.

Headlining the second stage Deathcore rulers from Farnham, Bound In Fear smash straight in with Slam and deathcore elements to give a taste of some of the filthiest, crushing beatdowns and slow tempo riffs. Alex delivers the driving force and power behind the kit straight off the bat with complex blastbeating and churning pedal work. 

Hate Circuit is a bass fuelled groove number that makes way for pulverising riffs and fragmented chords to undertone the grit and rhythm of the basswork. Ben’s vocals wreak chaos with monstrous tones and guttural ranges that has the floor of the second stage trembling.

Aborted (c) Red Death Media

He tells us that he tore his calf a few weeks ago – “I’m gonna need your energy, Tech Fest” and then delivers an utterly blistering screech that commands the entry of fearful breakdowns that has the crowd headbanging the floor.

Utah’s prestigious Deathcore giants Chelsea Grin have been going since around 2007, plastering debauchery wherever they go. Intro “Suffer In Hell, Suffer In Heaven opens up the space for Tom’s underworldly gutturals to churn out toward the crowd with the backing of some sinuous and heavy technical drum battering by Pablo, directing the many twists of tempo and mood.

Stephen’s guitaring exhibits huge chord shredding to blast through the breakdowns, injecting some interesting textures to the heavy canvas about to be splattered. Dead Rose is a favourite – when it’s power is ungated, the first few riffs are devastating and see’s the mosh pit go absolutely feral. Evil as heavy allows, building the atmospheric blasts into the backbone of the track and sickening chuggy bassnotes from David. Tom’s gutturals hit ranges that twist from deep growls to high end shrieks that induce a fearsome duo that gives the downtempo parts of Chelsea Grin a more visceral aggression.

Nostalgic “Crewcabanger “crashed into the crowd with some viciously evil vocals from Tom – taking on some high shrieks that transformed into chuggy gutturals that talks to us of hating love.

“You guys are f*cking animals!”

Pure choice for the Saturday headliner.

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