Posted by christophermammal
This year has brought forth a veritable deluge of good albums in numerous genres and styles. I had a hell of a job cutting my lists down to my Top 30 Metal, Top 40 Prog and Top 20 Jazz albums. If I seem to have missed some really good stuff, please feel welcome to tell me. Please don’t berate me. Your top album may be lower down on my list, or maybe I simply haven’t heard it. Hundreds of albums are released every month in the online universe of music.
Kodeks – More bands should write lyrics in their own language, it’s something I really appreciate. Especially if they, like this Norwegian band, have a vocalist with a forceful and intriguing voice, infusing the music with powerful energy and mysterious words. His singing often reminded me of Vintersorg’s dark, emotional voice. During their set, all the members in Kodeks performs with confidence and joy and it’s highly entertaining to watch them play their hard-hitting, melodic style of progressive metal with big smiles on their faces. I’ve never heard anything quite like it before. The electronic noises in the background is a fun contrast to the catchy riffs and harsh vocals, it’s clear that this is a band with huge potential and I hope they continue to write music of the same style. Debut EP is downloaded and paid for, the gloriously infectious chorus from the first track now stuck in my head forever!
Aeolist – I’ve had this proggy jazz-core band recommended to me before and I’ve heard only good things about them. Unfortunately the songs on their EP failed to catch my interest. Despite this, I still wanted to hear them live, and much to my surprise I became completely and utterly absorbed by their music. It made a huge difference to actually see the band members lose themselves to the passion and dynamics in the flowing songs, to feel the sincere atmosphere created by stellar musicians and an exceptionally good vocalist who wasn’t afraid to dance, with the help of a big, appreciative crowd. The sound mix and the acoustics of the building wasn’t the best, but it didn’t matter much. I love that they played their songs without breaks, as the experience becomes so much more powerful. After the last song had ended I left the place with tears in my eyes. So. Damn. Beautiful.
Alaya – My cheering didn’t know any limits when I saw that Alaya had been added to the line up! I fell hopelessly in love while reviewing their thrilling debut album earlier this year, but had no idea I would get to see them live so soon, considering they are from far away (Chicago). A large number of Tech Fest-goers mentioned Alaya as the band they were most looking forward to this year and the crowd during their set grew to an impressive size. The songs sounded notably heavier and more beefy live than on album, with the same irresistibly energetic and emotional vibe. It was an incredibly tight performance, if there’s anything to complain about it was the vocals being a bit too low in the mix during most of the set, which is a shame when you have a singer with such an outstanding voice belting out soaring melodies and spine-chilling screams over the wonderfully complex drums and intricate riffing. They played through their material with great ease and enthusiasm, the crowd giving them excessive amounts of love throughout the show. I was standing in the front row smiling from ear to ear; to see these three handsome guys play my favourite tracks “White Noise”, “Day Of The Dead” (that scream!) and “Haunted Pt. III” was just amazing. “I haven’t seen you this happy since Skyharbor last year”, said my friend. I think he might be right about that! Alaya ended up in my top 3 of Tech Fest 2014, together with SikTh and Jon Gomm. It was a “transdimensional space goat”- moment for me and now I appreciate their album even more.
The Ocean – Last time, and also my first, seeing The Ocean was at Euroblast last year. That night it didn’t matter how much I love and adore their albums, their performance failed to impress me. Which I think was mainly due to them playing directly after the happy-crazy band Twelve Foot Ninja and the transition between the styles didn’t work for me, so I was excited to get another chance to see The Ocean live this summer. Their album Pelagial placed itself in my top 5 albums of 2013 and I consider it one of the most interesting concept albums ever made. It pleased me greatly that the band chose to play Pelagial from beginning to end, despite it being on a small festival stage with the sun still shining through the roof. It didn’t take many minutes until I was completely immersed in the hypnotizing and majestic listening experience provided by five very skilled and passionate musicians. It makes it difficult to write about, I felt like I was in a trance and didn’t pay attention to anything but the drummer’s dazzling movements enveloped in waves of blue light. Everything feels incredibly beautiful, unlike anything I’ve felt before. Towards the end of the set the songs become increasingly darker, slower, heavier.. it’s quiet, the crowd mesmerized… slower… on the floor… even slower… crushing my mind into pieces… deeper down into the dark… the last beat of the drum… and I start to cry. Unforgettable.
SikTh – The front row spot I secured before The Ocean’s set was still mine for SikTh, who came in fashionably late to take the stage (after a reprise of the famous, huge group hug from last year). The crowd was chanting, the excitement was through the roof, never have I felt an atmosphere so thick of anticipation and joy before a concert!
No one expected anything less, this was the mighty SikTh – the uncrowned kings and founders of tech metal in the UK, very recently reunited after seven year long break. They have certainly been missed and during their inactive years the tech metal scene has grown with incredible force, now being the home of many of the most impressive, upcoming bands in the world of metal. As the vocalist Mikee Goodman said, they had not expected such a development and were humbly blown away by this and the festival as a whole, bringing so many extremely devoted bands and fans together. This was the perfect audience for them to play for, this is where they belong and have their most passionate fans. Which was proven many times during the show; the venue was packed out, happy faces everywhere, friendly moshing, surfing, dancing… we were having the time of our lives. This was us saying “Thank you for all the inspiration and welcome back!”
Fucking hell, it was insane. I had so much fun, I can’t even describe it in words. It was my first time seeing them live, but certainly not the last, and SikTh sounded like they haven’t been away for more than a couple of months, engaging the lively crowd in highlights like “Bland Street Bloom”, the spoken words in “When Will The Forest Speak”, the brilliant “Pussyfoot” and “Skies Of Millennium Night”. I can’t wait to see them again at Euroblast later this year. Such a great band, giving an unbelievably fun show.
The best ending to the best festival.
And I haven’t even mentioned the after parties, the tech metal karaoke, the many workshops held by different musicians from the bands who were playing, the fact that they served lots of vegetarian food and Strongbow cider… I will save up money and book my tickets for next year as soon as they are released, without even knowing the line-up. I already know it will have fun bands, be well organized and overall absolutely fantastic.
Concert Review: UK Tech Metal Fest 2014, part 1. Valis Ablaze, The Sun Explodes, DispersE, Mountains Under Oceans
The event I was looking forward to the most this year is already over. Time goes fast when having fun! And during four days unlimited amounts of fun and hugs was had by all: bands, fans and festival crew alike. This was the third time running for UK Tech Metal Fest and once again it proved to be a festival like no other, as it felt more like a relaxed holiday together with some of your best friends and favourite musicians. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer weekend.