We were treated to a feast of exciting up-and-coming bands from across the metal spectrum at all-day celebration of fringe metal music ProgMetalMadness at New Cross Inn on Sunday (25 February).
Ten awesome bands took to the stage across nine hours of live music, from the supremely talented instrumental bands through to the heaviest of heavy crushing metal – and needless to say, my ears are still a little fragile.
The day began in fine fashion with the 2.25pm set time of progressive punk quartet Quella, who I’m sure won’t mind me saying were the oldest band on show and featured event organiser Lee Davidson on bass. They opened up with a few quick tracks to get people warmed up, with plenty of fast-paced bass and big riffs supporting the impressive, engaging frontman, who told us: “All the songs are short ‘cos I have dementia and can’t remember middle eights.”
They played a political number called Fatboy With A Punch, which featured the line “Man of the people who hates all the people, all of the time,” so it doesn’t take too many guesses to deduce who the song is about.
Then was the only song I’d heard from these guys, Slow Sabbath, which opens up very Black Sabbbath-esque, then the pace picks up with a blast of vocals that lead into cool riffs and a quick guitar solo before smashing into a heavy ending.
The next song features some awesome guitar chords in tandem with booming bass drum hits, followed by a song about getting hooked on betting machines. Then they rounded out their set with a couple of sea-faring ditties, Worse Things Happen At Sea and Shark Attack, which ended on big cries of “shark attack” and some big guitar chords.
Second up on stage was Croydon-based instrumental prog metallers Crevassian, who opened up with big atmospheric noise that launched into heavier guitar then big bass under floaty guitars in a huge introductory song.
The bass was a particularly impressive element of the Crevassian sound, almost like it was taking the lead over the rhythm and lead guitars.
They then played a recent release Premonition, which opened up with a big jumpy guitar riff then hanging floaty guitars before jumping into heavier riffs. Cool chugging chords then dropped into an atmospheric smash-up.
They closed out with another song opening with big atmospheric noise and booming bass, then dropped into light guitar over chuggy riffs and pounding cymbals, gradually building into more powerful guitar and ridiculously good slappy bass as it built into a huge wall of prog metal goodness. Just as they appeared to be finished, a few crashes of cymbal led into a crescendoing mass of guitars and crushing bass then dove into booming low-tuned guitar and bass with haunting high-pitched guitar over the top. This was a really excellent set by the Croydon boys – and an impressive first ever instrumental set for me!
Next up was London-based, truly international prog rockers Opensight, who came on stage to a backing track then dived straight into a heavy opening led by big rock vocals from Colombian frontman Ivan David. That dropped into a long chillout period of light guitars that gave way to cool bassline then drawn-out guitar chords that gradually built built towards a big smash of the chorus. It was a huge introduction to the band.
Next was Alibi, which saw cool guitars over pounding drums and engaging lead vocals, then the next two songs featured a huge guitar solo then a cool chorus with driving guitars. Then Ulterior Motif started slow but gradually built into something massive, with big guitar chords and driving drums and strings in the backing track giving it a really powerful edge.
They closed out with Antagonist, which combined singalong vocals with cool rhythmic chords before dropping into a fun drawn-out guitar solo. Then a big atmospheric section was followed by bursts of wah-wah guitar over low vocals that led into a huge smash-up to end on a real high.
They were followed on stage by one of our favourites at GR Towers in High Wycombe’s As Everything Unfolds, who had Alex from Greyhaven ably filling in on guitar. They opened up with a synth background for the intro to Golden, featuring huge vocals from lead vocalist Charlie Rolfe.
Then a huge guitar intro led us into Sleep Alone, which shows off the diversity of the band with a big singalong chorus then Charlie leaping into the crowd to deliver her first real batch of devastating screams – certainly giving a bit of a wake-up call to some of the people in the audience.
A synth and guitar intro saw Charlie’s high-pitched vocals supported by a cool guitar riff flowing into a big singalong chorus. Then a huge doomy section saw them bring the song to a heavier ending. And that theme continued with the huge opening to The Astral Project.
After announcing they’d just finished recording a new EP, to my delight band played Futius Vides Vestra, the awesome opening track from their debut EP (which you can download free here). A big guitar intro flowed into an awesome tapped solo by Alex, who followed that up with another big solo mid-way through the song. A big singalong chorus with huge vocals made this the best song of the day so far.
That was followed by latest single Centuries, which saw Charlie again jump down off the stage to deliver some huge vocals, then building guitars led into some booming, stupidly impressive vocal grunts. Then a new track followed, which sounded pretty damn good including hanging guitars, Charlie jumping into the crowd to emit a huge scream that led into a wild smash-up with big synth background.
They closed out with opening track from last year’s Collide EP, Bright Lights, which is probably my favourite AEU song. Booming low-tuned guitars opened up under high synth, then huge screamed vocals followed by massive synth over the top of a wild verse leading into a big singalong chorus. A huge low riff brought in a heavy ending to an impressive set. For an idea of their sound, check out the brief video below:
Tech metallers Core of iO followed, performing an instrumental set as their lead singer had picked up an untimely ear infection but still sounded pretty awesome regardless. We missed most of their set due to interviewing AEU in their car to escape the cold, but caught the end and they more than held their own despite being without their vocalist.
More instrumental metal followed in the brilliantly named Flies Are Spies From Hell. They opened up with a keyboard intro then launched into a cool intro of big guitar chords over a fun keys lead, which build into a big rock-out then dropped into a more relaxed section of light guitar.
They led into the next with slow, gradual built-up to a huge outro, with both guitarists jumping down from the stage to rock out – with the long-haired guy particularly menacing as they smashed to a massive ending.
The next track again began with a cool ambient intro that eventually blasted into a huge smash of chords and keyboard. A big drum roll led into a bass-led heavier section with cool fast-paced keys leading into big smashes of guitar, then a drum solo brought in an outro of higher guitar chords followed by big chugging low guitars.
Their last song started slowly with repeating high-pitched guitar, then built into something huge that again prompted the guitarist into the crowd to bring an enthralling set to an end.
As the sun went down in New Cross, so too the heaviness levels ramped up as Reading’s Arcaeon took to the stage. They opened up with cool floaty guitars that built into atmospheric noise then a big smash of metal and screamed vocals. A huge tap solo led into a hugely heavy outro.
Massive guitar riffs were the order of the day for Arcaeon, with both guitarists getting in on the act supporting frontman William Young’s impressive combination of screams and high-pitched clean vocals.
Next up, Mind’s Eye began with a big guitar solo leading into big singalong vocals. Screamed vocals followed, then a huge smash-up with driving bass and drums over ridiculous flying guitars led to a huge ending and a cheeky bass solo.
Their debut single Fade followed, with the guitarists trading huge solos and going out with a huge ending. Then they closed out with William jumping down from the stage for some massive screamed vocals over a guitar backdrop, then doomy cymbals and guitar followed by flying guitar riffs. More screamed vocals followed as William jumped into the crowd and nearly frightened the life out of the old guy stood next to me!
Next up was the always awesome Defences, who began with my favourite of their tracks Let You In, with vocalist Cherry Duesbury sounding huge with her vocals through the singalong chorus.
Next up was Grow, which opened with big guitar riffs dropping into Cherry’s opening vocals and creating enough sound to force drumsticks up off a drum at the front of the stage. See that for yourself here!
They maintained the heaviness with Two Steps Back, with new bassist Freddie Draper excelling with his big screamed vocals, followed by the awesome Alleviate and album title track With Might And Main.
Then followed the signature Defences move of both guitarists playing drums at the front of the audience led by the excellent Kyle Parke, then smashing into Scared. Check it out below:
Defences closed out by splitting the crowd into two for final song Beneath The Surface, getting one half of the audience shouting “Break through” and the other shouting “Save me” in the big singalong chorus, to bring the most engaging set of the day so far to an end.
Next up was London-based Deadly Circus Fire, who stole the show with whole new levels of awesomeness. Appearing on stage to some very grand choral music, they launched into a huge intro with big driving bass and booming guitars with a series of fast-paced solos thrown in by a ridiculously good guitarist. Check out the opening to their set below:
Opening with Leviathan, they followed it up with a massive song that opened with a light intro to help us recover a little then cries of “Die, die, die” (I think) followed by booming guitar and bass as frontman David Pear disappeared to the side of the stage, climbing over tables then fell to the floor amid absolute carnage.
Then their latest single Ghost opened up with low-tuned opening riffs and ended in a huge metal breakdown with low-tuned chugging riffs feeding into big high-pitched notes with David jumping into the crowd then running all over the stage.
Their final song, having been given a five-minute warning on a set that had flown by, began with big riffs underneath screams of “Lights” while David became the first singer to make use of the huge pole in the middle of the stage. A huge metal solo followed then dropped into a chilled moment of just drums and a little bass solo then a big guitar solo to bring the set to a typically energetic end. This is one of the best live bands I’ve seen, combining loads of energy and dynamism with awesome vocals and guitars.
They were followed by headliners In Search Of Sun who, after a long wait on stage in which they were getting restless, opened up with a huge singalong opening track dominated by the vocals of Adam Leader.
That was followed up with a song that began with a cool prog solo then smashed into a big rockout with huge vocals, followed by a fun fast-paced solo.
Next was their single Say It Like You See It, with its catchy, rocky chorus and In The Garden, which ended on repeats of “Should have known better.”
They took things a bit more proggy with their next track, which saw spacey, atmospheric verses countered by heavy choruses led by big vocals and heavy guitars, countered by a chillout section with floaty guitars. They also tried out some new tracks on the way to bringing a great day of metal to a great ending.
We had a great day out at ProgMetalMadness, and kudos to Lee, New Cross Inn and everyone else involved in putting the gig on. Every single band put on a great show and there was a wide range of ‘flavours’ of metal, from the more progressive instrumental offerings through to the heavy hard-hitting. So go and give them all a listen, buy their merch and give them a follow on their social channels.
You can follow In Search Of Sun on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify. Follow Deadly Circus Fire on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify. And you can follow Defences on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify.
You can follow Arcaeon on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Bandcamp and Spotify. Flies Are Spies From Hell are on Facebook and Twitter, and you can check out their music on Bandcamp and Spotify. Follow Core of iO on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify. And follow As Everything Unfolds on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Bandcamp and Spotify.
Opensight are on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify. Follow Crevassian on Facebook and Instagram, and check out their music on Bandcamp and Spotify. And follow Quella on Facebook and Twitter, and listen to their music on Spotify.