ArcTanGent 7: Saturday
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Carl Battams, Joe Singh
With better weather today and a depleting can collection, we jump headfirst into the festival’s final day…
From Puebla City, Mexico, the bright, bouncy and spangly math rock of DJ Perro is a world away from the music of A.A Williams, who was also tasked with opening the main stage the day before, and together the two acts stand as testament to the immense diversification of music at ArcTanGent. Where Williams kicked the Friday off with pained melodies and minor keys, DJ Perro eschew bright, positivity pocked music you can dance to, with major keys aplenty. Their set is a gloriously fun success that helps us forget about the rain of the previous day.
Midas Fall, in the more cosy settings of the PX3 stage, follow up with an ethereal performance, decorated by reverb drenched, droning Fender guitars and Elizabeth Heaton’s hazy, purring vocals. Perhaps a band that would benefit from a live keyboard player due to the amount of backing tracks the band leans upon, you feel that addition could help them better ride the waves of their gathering momentum. An enjoyable set nonetheless.
One of the most anticipated sets of the weekend, coming immediately after their debut four track release dropped, Curse These Metal Hands, the collaborative union of Conjurer and Pijn sees the tent packed out. And what a performance it is. Entwining the heavy, down-tuned and down-trodden oomph of Conjurer with the more melodious, cinematic qualities of Pijn, complete with three way gutiar harmonies and grunting riffs reminiscent of Remission era Mastodon and both the earlier, rawer era of Baroness and their modern, gentler sound, High Spirits makes for a thumping opener while The Pall may just be the finest riff of 2019.
Brighton's The Physics House Band, another instrumental act, took over the main stage for a spellbinding set of algebraic riffs, Morse Code drumming a blistering sax lines. For anyone that says instrumental music is boring, this is the band that proves them wrong; multi-faceted, perpetually shifting between ideas and melodies without ever feeling lost or convoluted, it's a faultless performance. Azusa, who quickly follow, are described on ArcTanGents ingenious 'for fans of' section of their lanyard as a cross between Faith No More and Dillinger Escape Plan, is not far off the mark. Yet there's something lacking from their set, their quirkiness never really seems to let fly like you'd imagine, but The Contortionist more than make up for that. Vocalist Michael Lessard may sometimes sing at a volume close to a whisper, leaving him low in the mix, but when he ups the volume, such as on the hook infested new single Early Grave, he really impresses. Instrumentally the band are the right amount of djenty without them becoming too one dimensional, and the spiralling, maze like passages that conclude Return To Earth make for an emphatic finale.
Cult Of Luna thump out their set with enshrouding mysticism. The weight of their riffs, which intelligently interhange with spacious atmospheric passages throughtout, seem to pull the sun down over the distant hills; a set that started in the warm evening sunshine ends in near darkness. The sparse gothic grunge sounds of Ghost Trail crawls uncomfortably towards its mountainous peak, where their melodies breathe with pride and confidence whilst the more immediate aggression of Nightwalkers crowns a captivating performance.
Hailing from Leeds, Voronoi’s proggy set was sadly missed due to being totally captivated by Cult Of Luna; afterwards, at the other end of the arena are Caspian and the tent is predictably rammed as the crowd absorbs their stunning instrumental post-rock. With a set littered with tastey tracks from a new album that is set for release in the new year, a return to ArcTanGent on the bigger stage is an inevitability for them.
It takes quite some time for Meshuggah to set up and just one glimpse at their stage and it's abundantly clear why. Bringing all their bells and whistles, they transform the stage into their own little nightmarish world in which their insanely tight, mechanical velocity unfurls, each soldier within their army of lights set ardently about its task, flashing and beaming like lasers along to Tomas Haake's octopus like drumming. The djent godfathers leave nothing behind - bar their mercy which never made it across the Atlantic Ocean - opening with the blistering Pravus and the suitably dissonant chaos of Born In Dissonance. Despite that dissonance, guitarists Fredrik Thordendal and Per Nilsson squeeze out soaring guitar solos with a liquid fluency, slicing through the overflowing main stage, whilst Future Breed Machine is regurgitated with a monumental heaviness. The incalculable drum patterns of Bleed and the wrecking ball grooves of Demiurge close out the night, and the festival, in the most bludgeoning way, leaving nexy year's headliners with some enormous boots to fill.
And yet, those in charge of bookings at ArcTanGent are some of the best around; ArcTanGent 7 is an immensely diverse and calculated, methodically rounded line-up that seems to span every realm of possibility within the rock, metal and indie worlds which the festival works so wondrously to promote and celebrate. There is no doubt that every punter will have left the site on Sunday morning having discovered a host of new bands as well as singing along and dancing to the bands that brought them here in the first place and that's what makes this festival so special; come with an open mind and you'll leave with it expanded and buzzing. Roll on next year.