Last weekend, Everything Is Noise visited Radar Festival in Guildford, UK for the inaugural chapter of this new progressive metal festival. We had a great time, with the shows running really smoothly, people having a great time, and, of course, bands playing lots of brilliant music. For those who missed our preview of the festival last week, Radar Festival formed to offer fans of tech- and prog metal in the UK a chance to explore another festival experience outside of the staple ones hosted in the UK and Europe. The organisers managed to pull together some of the biggest names in the progressive metal, djent, and tech-metal scenes to play, with Animals As Leaders, Agent Fresco, Car Bomb and Rolo Tomassi all showing up to rip the crowd a new one. The variety on offer was really nice, meaning you didn’t have big gaps in your schedule if a genre or band didn’t tickle you, a sign of a well-catered for festival. Let’s break it down further!
I’m admittedly very torn about writing this part of the review. Whilst I want to write more about the positives, the negatives do kind of outweigh them. Location-wise, great. You can hop on a train from London easily, and with the venue in the middle of town it is really easy to walk to. No complaints. Locally around the venue, you could grab food and supplies with no problem, another major plus compared to camping festivals. Door staff were friendly enough, and after a short flight of stairs, you’re in the main stage of the festival. The main stage has plenty of room for a good few hundred people, the small second stage downstairs probably cutting that number in half. Stages are nice and wide, meaning lots of PA, and room for the musicians to put on a stage show. Great sound for all the sets I saw, brilliant sound engineers.
However, somehow this place operates as a nightclub, despite having absolutely no air conditioning. The only air flowing inside the sprawling venue was a vent on mainstage, which blew directly onto the performers (not a bad thing; those stages get hot). With 26°C heat outside on Friday, by the time I arrived at the venue at around 15:30, it had already become a sweatbox; by 17:30, it had become a living swamp, especially in the downstairs stage. That heat drained the life out of you, so it was really unwelcome that both smoking areas had little in the way of seating, and were either located directly next to a busy main road, or in a location that can only be described as a sun trap. Nice for a quick pint, not nice as a reprieve from a stifling room.
It seemed mad not to hire some fans for the second day of the festival, a decision that should have been actioned by the venue or organisers in my opinion. The second day was thankfully cooler outside at least, but the second stage especially was still horrifically hot. Last criticism before we move onto bands – I don’t know if the food suppliers were sampled beforehand, but my ‘chicken shawarma’ was possibly the worst kebab I’ve ever had in my life. Considering the high quality of food vendors in the UK currently, they need to step that up next year.
Despite being a man down, Uneven Structure smashed it out of the park yet again on what I think was my sixth time seeing them live. Their live show is absolutely massive, with the band pulling off very tight sets that sound incredible. New song “Innocent” sounded excellent in their setup, and we eagerly await the new album Paragon.Stay tuned to Everything Is Noise for an interview recorded at the festival, where they speak more about the new album and their live presence.
It was great to see Sumer again after years of missing their shows around the UK. They have definitely gotten tighter live, and their sound has only gotten fatter. These guys channel Intronaut and other heavy prog bands into their sound, resulting in a live show that is trippy and crushing. We caught up with the band at the festival, so stay tuned for an interview with them coming soon!
A band going from strength to strength, Toska put on the best show of the weekend for me. Their sound was exceptional, each instrument and the samples ringing out across the audience, putting the onlookers into a trance. The trio command the audience with their instruments, wowing people with the complex intricacies they weave into their songs, and perform flawlessly live. The conceptual nature of their cinematic post-metal play out brilliantly live too. A must-see band!
I was lucky, because I managed to catch these guys at the beginning and end of their tour in the UK. I was impressed at The Joiners in Southampton, yet at this show, they were far superior. They commanded the stage better, and their furious progressive hardcore blend really got the crowd moving. We’re looking forward to their new record and future tours!
I’m a big fan of Sithu Aye‘s Andromeda and his other earlier work where his lead guitar really shone bright. However, at this show the unfortunate truth was that it was completely drowned out by the over the top djent. After fifteen minutes I was disinterested, and after thirty minutes completely I switched off.
These titans were one of the highlights of the bill, and showed the crowd why, with a set that felt like planets being consumed by a supernova. Utterly catastrophic! Their new material sounds insane live as well. With dates smattered across Europe this year, make sure to catch them before they head back to the US.
Due to obligations regarding a certain feline friend of mine, I had to get back home after Rolo Tomassi, so I missed Animals As Leaders and Agent Fresco, who according to friends both put on stellar shows. On Friday I watched Heart of a Coward from afar, because for me, you simply cannot replace Jamie’s savagery. Kaan has a great stage presence, but HOAC have lost what made them unique in my opinion. Another big miss were Monuments. They have lost it for me, and not even nostalgia was worth being in the sweatbox for their set. Their new singer sounds alright, but with new and original source material lacking (Phronesis is not original), this simply wasn’t a show I was interested in checking out. And heck, who was the secret act in the end? Unfortunately nobody special, a weird psychobilly industrial band who would’ve been much better off at Boomtown festival this weekend.
That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the bands that I was there for, and even had a couple of welcome surprises from bands like Unprocessed. It was an amazing place to meet up with old friends, as the compact nature meant you bumped into everyone from the scene. I’m sure with some improvements this could be a great venue too, as well as doing simple things like increasing the curfew of re-entry back into the venue. Radar Festival‘s first year was definitely a success, and I look forward to the next iteration, which has already sold out of early-bird tickets! Thanks for reading; let us know if you were at the show and what your thoughts were on the bands!