ArcTanGent at Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin - live review

Metal groundbreakers brave the Somerset elements

ArcTanGent live at Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin

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It’s pretty much guaranteed to rain in Somerset if you’re planning a festival, but torrential downpours can’t deter the 5,000 attendees at the fifth annual ArcTanGent. In spite of its size, this muddy farm manages to retain a unique sense of remoteness as it provides a platform for an eclectic line-up of genre-bending acts. New Jersey’s HO99O9 [7] storm the stage on Friday. Their experimental yet aggressive sound brings together elements of dub, reggae, hardcore and afro-punk, and along with their captivating stage presence it all adds up to quite the spectacle. The skies open just as CONVERGE [8] take the stage, blasting Dark Horse to the audience’s delight. Despite being packed in like sardines, the main stage tent can’t shelter more than 70% of the crowd, and many are left out in the cold. There’s a waterfall pouring off the side of the gazebo and yet fans stick it out to the bitter end in the utterly atrocious weather, graciously noted by Jacob Bannon. Converge’s raw energy is limitless and calms only once midway through their set with the haunting Eve. They return to their chaotic pace for the remainder of the set, neither band nor audience able to remain still for a single moment before the curtain call of Jane Doe. Saturday’s delights – aside from a break in the wet weather, include TESSERACT [8], playing their final UK show before returning to the studio to record their fourth LP. The Milton Keynes prog metal outfit proceed to weave their way through classics old and new with vocalist Dan Tompkins belting through Ashe O’hara-era songs as effortlessly as his own. London tech-metal sextet SIKTH [9] dip into tracks from all three albums, much to the delight of the audience who can barely contain themselves through opener Suffice, the pit-prompting Pussyfoot and newbie Golden Cufflinks. Texas’s EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY [8] bring another ArcTanGent to an expansive close as their special breed of organically woven post-rock symphonies mesmerises the crowd. Each song melts into the next, until finally Chris hrasky and co end with the soothing The Only Moment We Were Alone, gracefully marking the end of a weekend filled with shining examples of metal at its finest and most far-sighted.