Lucky number seven so they say. Now in its seventh year as Britain’s premiere summer home for all things mathcore, progressive, explorative, post-anything, whatever off kilter subsection of music you desire, ArcTanGent has not only lived up to the audience’s lofty expectations, but it’s fair to say shattered them into slack-jawed disbelief. Having hosted a plethora of the most respected, forward thinking bands on the planet in its previous incarnations, from Converge, Explosions In The Sky and SikTh to Mono, The Dillinger Escape Plan or And So I Watch You From Afar, it’s fair to say that the festival has been the diamond standard of outdoor events. And so for 2019 to be as mind meltingly excellent looking as it is speaks wonders to how beloved the occasion is by both fans and artists, not to mention how meticulously crafted the line up is. Let’s take a look at ArcTanGent 2019 in some more depth.
Perhaps the most important question for any prospective festival attendee: Who’s headlining? In this case three bands that stand out in the respective musical fields, and are adored the world over. Thursday night will see New York born, histrionic Prog rockers, Coheed and Cambria take to the Arc stage for their headlining set. With the release of their latest album Vaxis – Act I: The Unheavenly Creatures, we can expect a slew of new material from the quartet, as well as established classics from their seminal Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness, as well as the rest of their mostly glittering career.
Friday sees experimental rock outfit, Battles headline the festival. With three full length albums of stellar material to pull from, as well as a veritable smorgasbord of EPs, their ArcTanGent performance is set to be dynamic and transformative, with focus on cyclical electronic phrasing making up the base layer of their infectious tunes. If material from Gloss Drop makes its way into the setlist, even those who have never heard of Battles before Friday 16th August 2019 will come away newly converted fans.
The final day of ArcTanGent sees Swedish legends and accidental Djent progenitors, Meshuggah bring their seismic sound to Fernhill Farm. Now that it has been three years since The Violent Sleep of Reason, and given the prestige of headlining such a festival, we may well be treated to new material from the monoliths of heavy music. What we will almost assuredly get however is a brain busting explosion of back-lit brutality, complex time signatures and frantic roaring as Meshuggah likely smash through an absolute greatest hits set. With songs like Future Breed Machine and Demiurge in their arsenal, bodies will be left bruised come the performance’s end.
It’s not only a strong headlining trio that makes a festival. You need a seriously beefy undercard to make a large amount of attendees care enough to fork out for a ticket. And, as you can expect given the glee with which this is written, ArcTanGent does not disappoint. Post rock legends, Russian Circles will be bringing their instrumental grandeur to the festival on the Friday, with all the nous and professionalism you would expect given the pedigree of their members. With a new album due out shortly before the festival, fans are likely to hear some brand new material debuted on site, as well as classics like Death Rides A Horse, 309 and Afrika.
Further post-rock royalty comes from 65daysofstatic and Cult of Luna, appearing on Friday and Saturday respectively. Both of these bands command an unrivalled legacy of respect through their constant boundary pushing music. In previous years they have been headliners, and as such we can only expect sets of monolithic gravitas worthy of such a position. With new music on the horizon from Cult of Luna and 65dos, the sets are both likely to be intimate, dark and otherworldly featuring special delights for the festival attendees. Who knows what devilishly enrapturing delights we may be party to?
Synthwave artistes du jour, Carpenter Brut and painful noise merchants, Daughters will both be appearing on Thursday. Bringing significantly different flavours of electronica, Brut’s set is likely to be a jubilant and celebratory time to the tune of their smashing last album, Leather Teeth, while Daughters’ raison d’être is altogether more sinister. A sanguine descent into the horrors of the human psyche, their latest, incredible album, You Won’t Get What You Want, is likely to make up the majority of the set, and leave all suitably unsettled and perturbed.
Bringing another flavour of synthesized music to ArcTanGent is The Black Queen. The now full time project of Greg Puciato, formerly of The Dillinger Escape Plan, is a swirling, psychedelic mix of Massive Attack and Depeche Mode, that bounces from moody atmospherics to heartfelt sing a longs. Ice To Never promises to be the most groovy moment of a weekend featuring Meshuggah, while The End Is Where We Start will prove their nous at creating glimmering soundscapes.
If there is one band that stand out as utterly unique on the line up, it’s Zeal & Ardor. Never before has a band so beautifully combined roots blues and black metal, and it’s safe to say no-one else can ever do it without sounding like a carbon copy. The material from Stranger Fruit is some of 2018’s finest and will no doubt be a highlight of the weekend, whether it’s the lumbering croon of the title track or the ferocity of Row, Row. The band’s appearance on the line up speaks to a festival that cares about quality above all else, and they are easily one of the most anticipated acts performing.
Thursday has one hell of an undercard, featuring the likes of Polyphia and Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs, Pigs. Those more inclined to stunning technicality have to give Polyphia a visit, and for those looking for something rather indescribable, Pigsx7 is the way to go. In addition there’s Bossk, whose debut album, Audio Noir, is one of the finest post metal releases of the decade. Seriously, if you are going to ATG and don’t know Bossk, you need to sort that right out. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard and Cocaine Piss may be sonically diametrically opposed, but they have a similar no holds barred ethos to creating music that is rather enchanting.
Friday at ArcTanGent 2019 sees progressive music courtesy of The Ocean, Toska, and Brutus. All three are distinctly brilliant bands in their own right, and all demand your attention and grace. For those looking for a heavier dose of technical music, there’s Frontierer and Palm Reader, whose metallic soundscapes will leave limbs torn asunder. Enchantingly mysterious and enigmatic are Sleep Token. A band who seldom perform live, those who have seen them attest to their grandeur, so it is absolutely one of our picks, if not out of curiosity rather than certainty.
Saturday sees the arrival of Employed to Serve. Perhaps the most straight ahead band appearing at the festival, the hardcore bruisers have gone from strength to strength with their latest album, Eternal Forward Motion, and promise a gut punch of a show. Also appearing will be the equally mighty, Three Trapped Tigers, Car Bomb and The Physics House Band. Three disparate performances all of which promise to be mind bending experiences, and not to be missed for any reason. And for those looking for something a tad more digestible, there’s The St Pierre Snake Invasion. By no means an easy band to wrap your head around, they are somewhat more palatable to the average listener than many other bands on the bill, and promise to be a riotous proposition.
Finally, the weekend sees a healthy showing from the UK’s best record label, Holy Roar Records. There really are too many bands to mention, so the highlights are the ever crushing Conjurer, the diabolically great Møl, the nascent hardcore of Ithaca, the stunning post hardcore of We Never Learned To Live and the collaboration between Conjurer and Pijn, Curse These Metal Hands. All stunning bands that show the breadth and scope of the UK’s finest label, if you have the chance to see any on them, take it. Especially Møl, they will tear your face off. #FanBoy
So there we have it, Rock Sins’ picks for perhaps the best looking slightly smaller festival on the planet. In a nutshell there are too many bands to name, so if you’d like to see more, check out ArcTanGent’s socials for more info. Who are you excited to see? See you in the pit! And of course, if you haven’t yet got your tickets for this amazing festival – head to the official festival website to grab tickets for ArcTanGent now!