From its humble beginnings five years ago as a one day event to its current form as a four-day, international event across multiple stages, UK Tech-Metal Fest (or simply Tech-Fest) celebrates the best of the UK and beyond’s diverse underground metal scene. Held at Newark Showground, the festival hosts a wide variety of bands, ranging from the muso-friendly tech metal you’d expect, as well a host of other subgenres ranging from instrumental post rock to full on death metal.
While small in size, its accompanying community is as dedicated as it is welcoming. Whether you’re coming alone or with a group, Tech-Fest is a haven for those who want to immerse themselves in up and coming bands as well as established touring acts, while workshops run throughout the weekend with focuses ranging from working in the industry to guitar tips and tricks.
This year marks Tech-Fest’s heaviest bill yet, with squiggly logos making more than a few appearances in its higher echelons. Below, we’ve assembled a list of some of the essential acts to check out across what is guaranteed to be a fantastic weekend.
Having been a Tech-Fest staple for some time, it’s bittersweet that Dutch tech-veterans Textures’ first headline slot here will also be their last. Coming as a shock of the metal community, the band announced earlier this year their intention to split following a farewell tour. As such, it is very unlikely that we will hear their latest record Phenotype’s sister release, but that won’t stop the six-piece from delivering a knockout set. With 16 years of premium riffage behind them, expect their final Tech-Fest appearance to be a celebratory greatest hits extravaganza.
Where & When: Saturday – 9:30pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
One of the heaviest bands on the entire bill, Belgian death stars Aborted are very much in step with this year’s extreme thrust. Formed around vocalist and sole founding member Sven De Caluwe, the band have become one of death metal’s most consistent despite a revolving door of members. Currently riding a crest of acclaim from fans and critics alike for 2016’s ‘Retrogore’, it’s hard to imagine there being a more brutal set all weekend.
Where & When: Friday – 8:00pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
If stereotypes are to be believed, tech metal isn’t exactly known for its party bands. However, if you’ve kept your ear to the ground in recent years, you’ll know that Milton Keynes mob Hacktivist are exactly that. Comprised of Meshuggah grooves and fronted by two fiery MCs, whether it’s the Reading and Leeds main stage or a tiny club, few bands know how to get people bouncing like them. While the band confidently explore sociopolitical issues in bangers ‘Deceive And Defy’ and ‘Elevate’, but the killing blow is their phenomenal Ni**as In Paris cover.
Where & When: Friday – 6:00pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
This year’s bill may be stacked in favour of tech’s heaviest bands, but there remains no one quite like The Algorithm. The brainchild of French composer and multi-instrumentalist Remi Gallego, his abrasive mix of electronic music and progressive metal has been a fixture of the UK’s progressive metal scene for some time. While this may be a one man project, their live show features real drums and guitars, further increasing the potency of this molotov cocktail of influences. Start your journey with this unique project with 2014 single ‘Trojans.
Where & When: Saturday – 4:30pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
Exactly as wacky as you’d expect a band with three consonants in a row to be, Igorrr is the project of another French artiste named Gautier Serre. Somehow managing to be even less conventional in sound than The Algorithm, Igorrr’s modus operandi is to have “total musical freedom”, incorporating elements of baroque, extreme metal and a slew of electronic sub genres. On record, Igorrr feels like the ultimate acquired taste, as he skips blithely through incredibly disparate soundscapes several times in each song. However, in a live setting (and on the festival’s final day) you might find yourself to be just the right amount of drunk and weary for Igorrr to make sense. Watch at your own risk.
Where & When: Sunday – 6:00pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
The Black Dahlia Murder
One of melodic death metal’s most celebrated acts, TBDM will lead this year’s heaviest bands into battle with a Friday headline set. An consistent force for over a decade now, their ear for instrumental melody combined with vocalist Trevor Stnrad’s distinct shrieking have secured their place at the genre’s top table. While many in attendance will be disappointed that their set will not be a ‘Nocturnal’ 10th anniversary celebration as per their subsequent US tour dates, those in attendance will no doubt be treated to staples ‘What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse’ and ‘Deathmask Divine’, as well as some brand new jams as hinted by the band themselves.
Where & When: Friday – 9:30pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
The final headliner to be announced, Northlane represent the festival’s more metalcore influenced wing. Following the surprise release of their stunning new LP ‘Mesmer’ earlier in the year, cuts such as ‘Citizen’ and ‘Heartmachine’ are sure to establish themselves as instant live favourites here. Additionally, those in attendance will be able to witness firsthand vocalist Marcus Bridge’s incredible range as he breathes new life into the likes of ‘Quantum Flux’ and ‘Dream Awake’.
Where & When: Sunday – 9:30pm – Carillion Guitars Stage
Hailing from Denmark, progressive metalcore five-piece Ghost Iris were one of highlights of last year’s festival. Instrumentally and vocally spectacular, the band’s frenetic energy makes them an essential band this weekend. While it’s true, this year’s lineup is stylistically pretty different from, if you crave lush Periphery-esque chord progressions and chunky, fun breakdowns, Ghost Iris are exactly what you’re looking for.
Where & When: Sunday – 3:00pm – Gigantic Stage
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)