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Ten reasons to get psyched about Euroblast 10

Euroblast 2014 (September)

Time flies when you’re having fun. It feels like only a week or so ago that I was trying to re-straighten my head after Tech Fest, and gazing longingly at Euroblast far off on the horizon. But all of a sudden it is just a couple of weeks or so until I do battle with budget airlines and head over to Cologne for the tenth iteration of the festival.

Just as there was with Tech Fest, there are many reasons to be excited about Euroblast – so without further ado, here are ten of mine.

1. Woo, Germany!

I like to travel almost as much as I like watching bands, so it’s just a little surprising – even to me – that I’ve never explicitly paired the two activities together before. Even though there will be a substantial British contingent also making the trip, and I doubt I’m going to have much spare time to sample the broader delights of Cologne itself. The location of the festival does give the whole experience a slight sense of intrepid adventure.

2. Carnival in a club

The more I age, the less appealing I find the prospect of camping at festivals. Even if I will make exceptions for special occasions, I am certainly happier under a solid roof than under canvas. Of course, besides warmth and shelter, the other main benefit to an indoor festival is a club-quality PA for the bands to play through.

I’ve been to other well-run, multi-stage indoor festivals – like Damnation in Leeds or Takedown in Southampton – so I know that these types of events only ever improve with being held repeatedly in the same venue, as the logistics get steadily perfected. This year’s event marks a return to Essigfabrik, so any kinks from last year will be well anticipated this time around.

3. Tech Fest reunion

It’s fair to say there’s a goodly amount of overlap between Euroblast and Tech Fest, both in terms of bands playing and punters attending. It’s equally fair to say that, given how much fun we had in Newark in July, this is no bad thing.

There are a total of 11 bands from this year’s Tech Fest also playing at Euroblast (as well as a host of alumni from previous years), but when that list includes The Algorithm, Chimp Spanner, The Safety Fire and a couple more we will get to in a moment, I’m not going to complain.

Courtesy of MetalWasp Media

4. SikTh

If the festival season of 2014 is remembered for just one thing, it will be SikTh‘s return to the stage. Even amongst those attendees who have already caught one of the reunion shows, anticipation will be stratospheric for another bite at the cherry of the pioneering sextet. I’m certainly excited by the prospect of seeing them again, but this time playing in a room with more favourable acoustics than a cattle shed.

Perhaps, having already had my ‘oh God, they’re BACK’ moment at Tech Fest, perhaps this time round I will really get to enjoy their set as I did, well, back in the old days.

5. Monuments

I try to avoid talking in such terms too early, but The Amanuensis is looking like a strong contender for album of the year for me. Their Tech Fest headlining slot this year was unfortunately beleaguered with a variety of technical issues, which prevented them from building up the full head of steam we know they are capable of.

But since Tech Fest, Monuments have basically done one thing: tour. When the gods smile on Monuments, they can be a genuinely fearsome live proposition, so I fully expect that to have only been strengthened by their summer on the road.

6. Destiny Potato

Everybody knows that last minute changes to festival bills are inevitable, but it was hugely disappointing to see Destiny Potato fall off the Tech Fest 2014 bill – so it was perhaps neatly symmetrical that the Serbians found their way onto the Euroblast bill as a late(ish) replacement for Misery Signals.

After having hopes raised and then dashed of watching what I called in my review of Lun “possibly the sexiest metal you will hear all year” performed live, this is one set I will definitely not be missing.

7. TesseracT with Dan

A couple of months ago, TesseracT made their most surprising announcement since Dan Tompkins left the band in 2011: that Dan had rejoined the band.

The consternation caused by the sudden split was significantly mollified by the output from both parties – Altered State, Skyharbor, White Moth Black Butterfly, In Colour and Piano have all been enjoyable listens (and we have no reason to doubt the continuation of Dan’s other projects at this stage) but nevertheless, the reunion of what many consider the classic TesseracT line-up feels right.

I am sure there will be many listening with an especially keen ear for the almost inevitable moment when Dan starts to sing one of Ashe’s vocals to an Altered State track. There are few vocalists who can raise the hairs on the back of my neck as effectively as Dan, so I will certainly be one of them.

8. Agent Fresco

The fact that Iceland is so small and so isolated, yet still supports such a rich, varied and innovative music scene is a source of pleasing bewilderment for me. Agent Fresco‘s 2010 album A Long Time Listening has acquired something of a cult following, thanks at least in part to Tech Fest supremo Simon Garrod enthusing about them to anyone within earshot. And it doesn’t take long to get as totally smitten as he is with the band.

There is, at long last, the promise of a new album, and Euroblast will be blessed with two sets from the band: a full electric set on the Friday and an acoustic set on Saturday. Truly, we are being spoiled.

9. Dioramic

With near perfect timing, I have just started listening to Dioramic‘s brand new album Supra, with a view to writing a review in the not too distant future. That review is almost certain to be unrelentngly positive.

For extra cred points, Supra has been released on Pelagic Records, run by The Ocean‘s Robin Staps – and Robin has also now co-opted drummer Paul Seidel into The Ocean itself. That’s quite the endorsement.

With a neat line in progressive metal with a technical twist, they seem pretty much ideal for this audience, so I’m sure their early slot on the final day will be worth getting down to the venue promptly to catch.

10. Secret Act

As I said in the run-up to Tech Fest, I like surprises. Euroblast do the secret act thing properly, with no indication whatsoever of who will be filling the vacant main stage slot. Last year that spot was taken by Uneven Structure, but this year it’s sitting a little lower down the running order, so whoever it may be might not have quite the same stature.

There are still plenty of possibilities, though. I’m not going to claim any form of precognition or insider information, but I’m not entirely averse to wild speculation. In ascending order of plausibility, I’d really like to see Alaya, Destrage or a David Maxim Micic Bilo set, but I don’t have my heart absolutely set on any of them, and I’m sure they’ve lined up something special for us.

There is, as they say, only one way to find out. Watch this space.