Gig Review: UK Tech Fest 2023 – Sunday

To see some of your favourite people get to join such events is always a privilege. The last day of UKTF started off with the hum of people quietly recovering from the previous days with the warm and sleepy feeling of a casual Sunday…

So let me tell you, the sheer force of first band of the day, Derbyshire’s hugely underrated but equally outstanding From Her Ashes saw to it that Tech Fest had woken the fuck up.

Drawing a good sized crowd, vocalist Joe addresses the crowd “What the fuck is up Tech Fest? It’s the last day, let’s make it count.” before launching the band into a stunning merger of melodic groove and tech fuelled sonic assault.

Though there are hardcore elements present in Joe’s vocal delivery, in a live setting, he takes on a suitably much more metalcore style that rumbled the entire room. High end screams and depth of absolutely disgusting gutturals entwined with Ashley’s imposing blastbeating kitwork catapulted “The Swan And The Serpent” into a stunning progressive offering. Ethereal and melodic djent elements encase this track, we’re greeted with bludgeoning riffs and grinding basswork underlining, that powers through the stunning melodic solo that shimmers into the track. Mark and Dave back up the part of guitaringm offering beautiful clean singing and occasional roars to solidify additional elements of diversity that are present.

“Blinded by Hindsight” offers blistering djent skilled chords against Joe’s barking vocals that create a melodic undertone and cathartic yet chuggy offering that folds into a few dark and beautiful melodic moments that display the emotionally charged and solemn side of From Her Ashes.

I love when you can be completely encapsulated by music and it takes you into it’s core and consumes your mood, your thoughts and the way you see things around you.

Launching into last song, “Nemesis”, the crowd is already creating the first mosh pit of the day as Ashley’s intricate technical pedal work carves its way through the euphoric melodies of the guitars. Here, Joe’s lovely wife is at the front with their baby, armed with ear defenders, and he goes to them whilst churning out some of his best vocals, embracing them both.

I almost blubbed watching that – beautiful moments deserve to be told and as the finale of their set unfolds, the first band of the last day of the last Tech Fest as we know it has set the bar high and mighty. I’ve loved these guys for years and I will continue to watch and support their growth. A mighty addition to the Unearthed Music family.

Speaking of which, Unearthed also had another band on the line up whom I have followed since their second ever gig back in 2019. Cambridge lads Akkadian have always left a huge impression on me since that day I just happened upon them at a small gig in Norwich. Their energy is ethereal as f*ck and seeing them go from strength to strength as a newer band, even through the lockdowns, has been nothing short of marvellous.

Akkadian bring something a little bit extra to the table… their ethos addresses ancient Egyptian civilisations, mythology and inter-dimensional cosmic energies. This creates the space they use to craft some beautiful elements together and should not go unnoticed. “Second Sight” blends an atmospheric storm of combined technical guitar riffs and melodic rhythms to introduce the mood of the song. Danny’s vocal range emits striking rasping screams and deep unhinged growls amongst the crashing instrumentals that conjures intense energy amongst the band. 

This is the first time I’ve seen Akkadian since the addition of guitarist Max came about and I have to say, these guys were tight and delivered precision  beforehand, though Max brings an ambience to the table that wasn’t there as much before.  His offering brings a Deftones air to the mix, using progressive chords that bleeds into Harry’s beautifully structured technical melodies during their showcase of new track, “The Devil Has Evolved”.

Danny picks up a tambourine and addresses the crowd. “You’re thinking that tambourines aren’t metal. But I’m here to change your mind.”

His ruffling of the tambourine for “Serpentine” creates an effect that envisions a rattlesnake in a sandy desert under dark starlit skies before Harry and Max wind in with tempo layers of strings and rushing melodics to notch things into gear. Aaron’s work behind the kit is astounding. His ability to command the pace of such a combination of beautiful, winding melodics and grinding frequencies with his technical double pedal rhythms allow for tempo changes that encase the track into a frenzied but atmospheric delivery. The end is near with subtle rattles of tambourines and a deep progressive instrumental moment that is underlined by Chris’s mesmerising bass tones.

Akkadian are going places. Watch them and listen.

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Over to main stage for the first time today and it’s the first time I’m experiencing Hertfordshire offering Defences and lawdy where have these guys been all my life? A band that combines clean melodic singing and deep core hitting growls with anthemic elements surrounding their initial sound makes way for metalcore edges.

“Something More” utilises Cherry and William’s stunning dual vocals to create a merging atmosphere of harsher roaring textures with clean and beautiful singing. The melodic make up of this band is striking, Owen’s subtle djenty bass riffs under the cosmic melodies stringed melodies from Calum give heartfelt feelings that absorb your emotional energy and churn you inside out. Kyle executes precision in his explosive kit work and where there are technical and complex beats, he gives the performance of Defences an epic feel energy that entwines with William’s beautiful synth keys.

Defences bring a fresh input to Tech Fests main stage with their stunning metalcore elements and beautiful proggy notes to entice headbanging and anthemic sides to their performance in perfect balance.

Staying at the main stage to witness Yorkshire’s answer to melodic metalcore… and what are we met with? A flurry of metalheads bouncing around to the intro stage music of BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM! By the Vengaboys. Charisma is a fine thing.

Having just returned from a three week tour In the states with Spiritbox, InVisions pushed the energy in their return to British soil to exhibit why they are one of the freshest bands in UK metalcore today. “DVPE” see’s bodies flying all over the pit and being carried towards the barriers. A slight more speed metal injection flirts with this track and entices Ben’s gutturals that shake the place up. 

“Fall With Me” injects the stunning skills of djent fuelled riffs over a heart shattering synth shimmer that kickstarts a fusion of filthy breakdowns and heartbreaking cinsuming melodies. I’ve been blown away by these guys totally.

Oceans Ate Alaska have been making more waves in the last couple years than ever before. I’ve seen them featured on several line ups this past year as well as saw them at the launch party for the newest (and killer) metal bar in Birmingham, Devils Dog Digbeth earlier in the year. 

“Metamorph” doesn’t open in the conventional way you’d think. There are hints of a start of a hip hop track before the filthy riffs edge in over James’ sickening growls. A tech-death sonic assault, OAA’s proggy signature is inked deep into this track though explores clean vocals with some beautiful subtle backing synths. Explosive breakdowns lay down some threatening deathcore elements and has the crowd’s energy fully engaged.

“Blood Brothers” is a tempest of pure brutality. James’ vocals take on a range of shrieks that build into clean vocals, though the tempo layers in this song is something that blows me away completely. Some of the most intricate drumming that balances speeding blastbeating with changes in texture and directions are regularly displayed here whilst the stunning crunching bass work acts as the glue to hold the jaw dropping skill of pace. One of the most stunning bands of the weekend.

Before we come to the headliner, a moment of unity forms to join Director of Tech Fest, Simon Garrod in a moment of history for the festival. Simon and his team are on stage and address the crowd in a bid to say goodbye.

The atmosphere is heartbreaking but full of so much love, appreciation and reminiscence of the last 10 years that Simon and his team have been putting their energy into, to bring bands and people alike together, to keep music on the map in this small part of the world and to keep the underground scene alive and well. Tech Fest has been and remains an integral part of what holds our music community together and I know people that have made life long friendships, families, memories and made dream line ups happen for both fans and artists.

It’s going to be strange for a lot of people every end of June where a Tech Fest shaped void will be… but there is still hope for the future of a comeback or a stripped down version that carries the same family vibe and torch that the hard work of full scale UKTF have held.

Chicago prog leviathans Born of Osiris end the main event with an explosive performance starting with a stunning ambient introduction to the stage before sledgehammering in with “Bow Down”.

The kit here is bludgeoning. Extremely extensive in double-kick explosions and chugging, colossal sonic assault that relentlessly powers into attack mode.

“Angel or Alien” is full of groove laden riffs and cosmic synthwave elements that channel through keys and strings to bring a nuclear sound and fun anthemic atmosphere into the halls of Tech Fest, Heavy and energetic electronic presences in the kitwork combine impressive djent fuelled hybrid technical guitars that bend shapes alongside the vocal diversity of Ronnie for “Abstract Art”. 

A stellar choice to end one of the best festivals around… we hope that one day there will be a comeback, in the meantime never to be forgotten ❤️

Special shout out to the after party bands that I witnessed over the weekend – Vast Slug, Grief Ritual and Seething Akira had the utmost energy for a late night cheeky show and I will be looking forward to working with these guys at a later date.

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Photos by Red Death Media

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