Once in a blue moon, we’ll get an opportunity to put our name to a show. Very rarely – in the case of last August’s The Monolith Curates – we’ll get to pick the entire lineup, but in many cases, we’re just happy to have an excuse to push a particularly good gig or tour.
We’re particularly thrilled to have our banner behind the concert on the poster at the top of this article, because each of the four bands are absolutely exemplary. Nights like this don’t come along too often, so we thought it was appropriate – as we did for The Monolith Curates – to present a curator’s guide, because even though we didn’t pick all of the bands ourselves, we would have picked the very same ones given the chance.
So! Rather than try to convince you to come based on current opinions alone, we’ve included a bunch of quotes from ourselves from past run-ins with each in our quasi-curator’s guide!
Although the lineup fluctuates in some areas – as above, with The Sun Explodes‘ Dave Maclachlan filling in place of regular singer Ross Jennings at UK Tech Fest 2017 in July – Novena are consistently a Lot Of Fun. The price of entry is worth it alone for the faces pulled by the band’s main composer Harrison White, who alternates between guitar and keys whilst gurning away irrepressibly
They’re also a bit good at what they do. Musicians like No Sin Evades His Gaze‘s Dan Thornton and Moat Lowe, on guitar and bass respectively, mean there’s a base level of proficiency beyond what many can achieve, allowing the music’s complexity to really breathe.
Here’s what we’ve said in the past about them:
“Novena have appeared practically out of nowhere to drop a damn near perfectly formed 30 minute prog odyssey on us before 1:00pm, to a packed out Main Stage. Opethy riffs, four part harmonies, keyboard solos and that dude from Haken. Also, for taking to the stage and saying, immediately, “Hello, we are Novena. This is our last song.” Brilliant.”
Simon, August 2016
“Culminating a thoroughly triumphant outro, Novena’s set is met by a huge response from the sizeable early crowd – and again, rightly so. Having quietly worked away, virtually in secret, Novena have emerged practically fully formed and confidently marked out their spot on the prog-metal landscape.”
Simon, August 2016
The West Country’s own Valis Ablaze have had a tumultuous couple of years, with lineup changes and a scrapped album of songs. Such tribulations are enough to floor lesser bands, but Valis have come back even stronger, and we’re so glad that their reworked, revamped style and lineup is worth the trouble they’ve taken to refine themselves.
Their set at UK Tech Fest 2017 very recently was quite a triumph, and so we’re delighted to be able to see them again so soon. Here’s what we’ve said about Valis 2.0 over the last year:
“..showing they have managed to find a real consistency in the tone of their new work. It’s remarkably assured, and although is sonically touches on the likes of TesseracT, Skyharbor and Circles, it retains its own ideas.”
Chris, September 2016
“…with the likes of TesseracT and Skyharbor leaving their metal roots further and further behind, there’s a gap in the market emerging for songs that marry the dreamy atmospherics and melodies with chunkier riffs, and Valis Ablaze are clearly stepping up to fill it with poise and confidence.”
Simon, January 2017
“Delicate and wistful melodies, memorable, powerful choruses, a couple of inspired chord progressions, and some deceptively chunky riffs that translate very well indeed to the stage. On this showing, Valis Ablaze deserve a spot near the front of the pack of the new wave of British progressive metal bands.”
UK Tech Fest 2017 live review
Simon, July 2017
Photo credit: Luke Bateman
We haven’t written about this evening’s main support Sumer in over a year now – partly because they’ve been sequestered away writing a new album, and partly because we’ve probably seen them, collectively, more than any other band plying their trade today.
In all honesty, we probably needed a break, but we couldn’t be happier to have the chance to see them once again. Here are just a few of the many things we’ve said about them in the past:
“Over the course of its nine tracks, The Animal You Are firmly establishes Sumer as a force to be reckoned with. Along with bands like Porshyne, they are skirting along the boundaries between post-rock and progressive metal. Sumer strike a balance which draws the listener in immediately, and steadfastly refuses to let them go for the duration of what is potentially one of the most accomplished debut releases of 2014. Certainly, people looking for this year’s answer to Karnivool’s Asymmetry should consider The Animal You Are to be essential listening.”
Simon, December 2014
“Perhaps the other key to the longevity of these tracks for me can be found in the three layers of guitars – providing armfuls of textural and dynamic opportunities, without the safety net of a backing track. Using the full weight of those guitars sparingly only adds to their impact”
Simon, August 2015
“If there is a single fixed item in the Sumer set, then it is the grand finale of “End of Sense“. In around eight minutes, it draws in all the elements that have made me such a big fan so quickly – the harmonies, the hooky riffs, the dynamics – and culminates in a truly masterful crescendo, which manages to leave you both perfectly satisfied and hungry for more simultaneously.”
Simon, December 2015
“Sumer have made an effort to bring their songs to as many people as possible, and they are clearly starting to reap the benefits. Throughout the set, the audience’s reaction is both warm and definitely louder than the last time I saw them grace this very stage. One chap bouncing around in front of the stage damn near snaps himself in half at the peak of one of the many finely honed dynamic crescendos that are sprinkled throughout the set, which is a sure sign they’re doing something right.”
Simon, March 2016
Thanks to their almost complete absence from British shores thus far – bar a run opening for Karnivool with Agent Fresco last year – that headliners Vola are finally over here under their own steam is very exciting. As part of an effort that will also see them play ArcTanGent a few days later, as well as a date at Sanctuary in Basingstoke, the Danes’ visit London to finally show us what they can do.
From a personal perspective, at Euroblast 2016, Vola played a very special set, lifting my mood massively after a family funeral only a few days prior. Here’s to the power of music.
As for what we’ve said about them in the past? Well, with a dearth of chances to see them in the flesh, it falls to other articles in which we’ve praised them – but still more than deserved:
“…a mature collection of atmospheric, progressive metal songs, with other stand out tracks like “Starburn“, “Your Mind Is A Helpless Dreamer” and “A Stare Without Eyes” striking a delicate balance between anthemic and plaintively heartsick. Throughout the album, a gut-churning riff or a memorable vocal hook is never far away.”
Simon, March 2015
“Blending thoroughly agreeable polyrhythmic progressive metal – complete with some absolutely massive, mildly dissonant big riffs – with stunning vocal work and catchy, pop-like melodies, we’re absolutely raring to finally get to see the Inmazes material”
Chris, September 2016
If that weren’t enough, each of the bands has generously contributed to a prize package we’ll be raffling off on the night in support of the mental health charity Mind. This charity is very important to everyone involved, so we hope you’ll come and try your luck!
If this sounds like your pint of prog, you can buy a ticket from here, and hopefully we’ll see you there!