18 Bands To See At ArcTanGent 2018
When a festival’s lineup includes an insane number of inevitably epic sets, it’s hard to know where to start – and ArcTanGent 2018 is packed with intriguing prospects. Hopefully, this list will help prog-math-post-whatever fans overcome option paralysis, and start you off on the path to the perfect ATG experience…
And So I Watch You From Afar
Given ASIWYFA’s status as first-day headliners, this is something of a no-brainer. These guys are long-running festival veterans, accustomed to engaging Beast Mode on big stages – and only a few weeks ago, they completely owned the Main Stage at ArcTanGent’s sister festival, 2000 Trees.
With a back catalogue that carefully blends balls-to-the-wall instrumental shredding with melodic passages and painstakingly balanced dynamics, And So I Watch You From Afar are pretty much the definitive ArcTanGent band at this point. Last year’s long-player The Endless Shimmering proves it – and coincidentally, it’s being played in full in less than two weeks. Get on it.
Another 2000 Trees Main Stage highlight, Arcane Roots are planning not one, but two sets for ArcTanGent. The first will be fully electronic, designed in conjunction with upcoming EP Landslide, while the second will see Arcane Roots power up for another military-grade, rock-fuelled stunner. Expect heavier versions of already-classic tracks from latest album Melancholia Hymns, a few older tunes, and a fuckload of badass riffage.
Given a year or two, Black Peaks are going to be fucking massive. Their 2000 Trees set was by far the best of the weekend, beating out some ridiculous competition. Every song these guys have put out so far is tangled, catchy, and perfect – and live, they’re even better.
Having expanded their sonic palette on the recently released Melted On The Inch, Boss Keloid are fast becoming a progressive force of nature. If a certain live album playthrough is anything to go by, their ArcTanGent set will be an absolutely filthy start to the whole weekend.
Recovering from one Conjurer set takes time. Yet another 2000 Trees highlight, their frantically brutal Neu Stage set was one to remember. When Conjurer play, it feels like the end of the world, so witnessing two sets in two days (the first a collaboration with labelmates Pijn called Curse These Metal Hands, the second a chaotic, annihilative whirlwind) will be even more of a headfuck than usual.
While the average real-world Friday night gets soundtracked by cheesy pop bollocks and EDM, the ArcTanGent faithful will be busy losing their shit to songs like Tip Your Bartender, Ape Dos Mil, and of course Cosmopolitan Blood Loss. I know where I’d rather be. Naturally, there’s no forgetting last year’s surprise album Material Control, or the fact that ArcTanGent will be the only British festival to host what looks to be a blisteringly intense post-hardcore showcase.
After experiencing the best music video of all time (see below), you have to ask: If Ilenkus don’t mind doing that in public, what the fuck will it be like in more accepting surroundings?
If you’ve heard of ArcTanGent, you’ve almost certainly heard of Jamie Lenman, and know that he’s been an underground British rock legend for a good decade and a half. You’ll have heard of Reuben, know that Lenman’s been back as a solo artist for some time now, and possibly even seen his sardine-packed acoustic set at 2000 Trees. In preparation for ArcTanGent 2018, you’d best brush up on the heavier end of Jamie Lenman’s back catalogue, especially the Muscle half of his double album Muscle Memory and the entirety of 2017’s Devolver, and make sure you check out some old Reuben songs (which may be introduced as “covers”) just for good measure.
Although Leprous’ name sounds pretty grim, their music is far from it. Joyous, cinematic, and consistently thrilling, albums like last year’s Malina and previous epic The Congregation are rammed with tracks you need to experience live. ArcTanGent 2018 will be the ultimate place to do it; expect a proggy celebration par excellence.
Blackgaze has become a notable niche in recent times, and Danish quintet Møl are powering toward the front of the pack. I ranted about them at length in an Underground Greats feature just over a month ago, and you can check it out here.
If the phrase “one-woman black metal band” doesn’t at least intrigue you, you must be crazy. In just a few short years, Myrkur has transcended the blinkered preconceptions attached to gender and genre, and now occupies a niche of her own. It looks like Denmark will be well-represented at ArcTanGent, and more than a handful of punters will walk away as newly inducted fans.
Although comparing any rock band with a female vocalist to a certain band from Tennessee has been the lazy default option since the mid-2000s, describing Orchards as a “post-rock Paramore” fits for immediately obvious reasons. Nonetheless, Orchards’ twist on a massively influential sound has been pulled off perfectly – and perhaps they’ll manage to catapult something both poppy and post-rock-related into the big leagues in the future. Here’s hoping.
2018 has been, is, and will continue to be insanely busy for this Australian guitar wizard. His near-peerless playing and finely structured compositions have won him kind words from Steve Vai; he became Download Festival’s first-ever instrumental guitar act less than two months back; and his live schedule will see him not only play London straight after ArcTanGent ends, but also return to Europe to tour with Tesseract and Between The Buried And Me.
Oh, and he also dropped his new EP Sunhead at the end of July. You can check out the full review here.
A fully-instrumental double concept album about the Siege of Baghdad in 1258 is plainly prog as fuck, and Poly-Math pulled it off on House Of Wisdom / We Are The Devil. Live, these guys are as intense as their creative ambitions are grandiose. Brains will implode, faces will be fried, and the end result will feel akin to being on all the drugs.
Another gender-negating long-player delivered by a band of Musicians with a capital M, Rolo Tomassi’s Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It saw them throw The Dillinger Escape Plan and Between The Buried And Me into a blender alongside a heaped helping of pure originality. The result was their second masterpiece in a row – the former being 2015’s ferocious Grievances – and there are so many sick songs scattered throughout both that just one festival set will not be enough to contain all of them. Still, the cuts that do make the cut will be completely insane.
Legendary recording engineer Steve Albini has a Serious Reputation among fans of fucked-up music. Prolific beyond belief, famously unafraid to make a controversial statement or two, and widely worshipped as a cult hero, Albini and his raw-rock outfit Shellac are the most obvious choice for ultimate final-night ArcTanGent headliners this year. Extra bragging points should also be awarded to ATG for securing Shellac as a British exclusive.
Last year, Toska were officially voted ArcTanGent’s top Main Stage band, their victory backed by twice as many ATG punters as the second- and third-place bands combined. For ArcTanGent 2018, they will be found near the top of the bill on the final day of the festival. It’s a fitting spot, fully deserved and guaranteed to go down in ArcTanGent history as part of Toska’s continued rise toward progressive metal prominence.
If you search the word “Toska” on this site, you’ll find plenty of evangelical words dating back to their initial emergence – and you can also check out my latest Underground Greats feature here for news about their current plans for world domination. They’re also touring the UK and Europe in November, so watch out for that.
Mike Vennart’s prog pedigree lies far outside the realms of reasonable doubt. Ex-frontman of both Oceansize and British Theatre, ongoing Biffy Clyro live guitarist, and formidable solo artist in his own right, Vennart just keeps building and building – and plenty of fans respect him for it. With new album To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea due next month, expect some new tunes to surface at ArcTanGent 2018.
Don’t forget – this list has merely scratched the surface of what ArcTanGent has to offer this year. See you there!
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