With Tech-Fest 2016 now a distant summer memory, this smaller, two-day offshoot satisfies cravings for the nerdy stuff, while pulling from all corners of the heavy spectrum. Perhaps it’s the early stage time or a sparse crowd, but JONESTOWN’s  bleak humour and devastating riffs aren’t hitting their mark on the opening Saturday. Regardless, they smash out the colossal grooves of Aokigahara with monstrous intent.
PRAVITAS’s  drummer quit last week and their bassist hasn’t turned-up, but face-roasting fretwork from guitarists Joseph Taylor and Richard Barnes ensure the trio are a weekend highlight. Sunderland tech-death mob OSIAH  are without frontman Ricky Lee Roper (Monasteries’ Jack Kinsey does a formidable job as stand-in) but with a crushingly violent Perennial Agony oozing brutish evil, they’re still the heaviest band on the bill. FROM SORROW TO SERENITY  incite the first moshpits today with huge riffs that peak with the harrowing The Way Back and a bludgeoning Antithesis before MARTYR DEFILED  bring the day to a satisfyingly sordid end. Their blistering deathcore, especially an abrasive Lvcifer, merges soiled doom with crushing technical prowess.
HIEROGLYPH  are launching their debut album Ouroboros and their hypnotic brew of crystalline female vocals, harsh roars and immaculate precision is a bewitching prospect on the Sunday. London techies HARBINGER  smash out furious high-tech deathcore from EP Paroxysm with wrecking-ball force. The aggression is maintained by NO SIN EVADES HIS GAZE , who’ve dropped the impassioned monologues that littered debut Age Of Sedation. Instead, combining LOG-influenced grooves and chugging djent rhythms, their set delights with riff after weighty riff. Prog metallers EXIST IMMORTAL  sound glorious, a maelstrom of huge, expansive hooks and mesmerising polyrhythms. Sadly, headliners ALIASES  are battling massive sound problems tonight and it’s heartbreaking because their anthemic, tongue-twisting tech-metal is genius. You can see guitarists Leah Woodward and Graham ‘Sikth’ Pinney’s fingers working at breakneck speed but the intricacies of Smile All You Like and frontman Joe Rosser’s bonkers delivery on Exasperated and Face For Lust are lost. The batshit-isms of an album like Derangeable require clarity to be fully appreciated, otherwise we only get a glimpse of what this band is capable of.