And so, the time has come once more for ArcTanGent to take over Fernhill Farm and deliver yet another astonishing line-up of some of the finest Post-Rock, Progressive Metal and Experimental music on the planet. Now in its ninth year, ArcTanGent has established itself as one of the must-attend festivals of the summer, winning both awards and critical acclaim.

It’s easy to see why this is the case as over 100 bands take to the five stages over four days, providing an eclectic selection of bands covering a wide gamut of genres. As such I feel it’s more apt to present my highlights of the whole weekend rather than attempt a full play by play account. On the first day of the event, only one of the stages is open for the early bird and VIP ticket holders to ease them into the weekend. Out of the line-up on the Wednesday, Five The Heirophant were a standout act for me fusing Jazz, Metal and Psychedelia to create a unique sound. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a band with a saxophone. 

Later in the day, Edinburgh based post-metal outfit, DVNE took to the stage with a selection of tracks from their 2021 album, Etemen Ænka. Nearby Bristol Techno-Metallers Scalping closed out the first night of the event. Well… Almost. One thing ArcTanGent is renowned for is its Silent Disco that runs from 11pm to 3am each night. Even on this first night with only a couple of hundred people taking part, there is something very unique about lying in your tent and hearing hundreds of voices screaming along without accompaniment to classic tunes such as Chop Suey and Break Stuff.

The festival proper kicked off on Thursday morning with Swedish trio Barrens playing a selection of tunes from their debut Penumbra on the main stage and easing us into the day with their brand of melodic, ambient tunes. The setup of the festival has two acts at a time playing on stages at different sides of the site and then swapping to the other two stages so that there is a near seamless transition from one band to another with only a short walk for the punters between stages. Additionally there is the Elephant at the Bar stage which runs acts alongside the two other smaller stages. 

One act that may not be for everyone, but certainly deserves a mention are The Guru Guru. This Belgian based band defy a succinct description but could be categorised as eclectic experimental musical performance art In a possible Marmite-like situation, I find vocalist Tom Adriaenssens’ pyjama clad stage persona becomes a tad grating after a while and actually detracts from a band that delivers a very unique sound. Fellow Belgians Brutus put in an outstanding performance later in the day, with ultimate respect going to Stefanie Mannaerts for effortlessly pulling off what I believe to be one of the most difficult combinations in a band, that of Lead Vocals and Drums.

One ATG tradition that I seem to have developed is that of laying on my back and staring up at the sky as the sun sets by the main stage. Last year it was MONO that provided the soundtrack for that moment. This year, that honour fell to Chicago post-rockers Russian Circles, whose intricate music took us through the transition into evening where the mighty Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs headlined the Yokhai stage and Salem metalcore band, Converge closed out the main stage.

Friday morning felt like waking up in the middle of a ritual as the soundcheck for Heilung rang out across the campsite at some ungodly hour, bringing everyone out of their tents and into the misty morning in search of the source of the noise, or more likely, coffee. An early set from collaborative project Curse These Metal Hands got the crowd’s blood pumping before Aussie progressive metallers Caligula’s Horse took the stage for the last show of their tour, setting it off in style with the ATG crowd providing the band with what was officially the World’s Loudest “G’Day Mate” to see them off. Ever popular Irish post-rock outfit And So I Watch You From Afar gave us an excellent early evening set with a diverse selection of tunes taken from their vast discography.

Over on the Elephant at the Bar stage, another unique act headlined the evening in the form of Clt Drp. This Brighton and Hove based electropunk trio are one of the most exciting bands I’ve seen in a while, with a highly energetic performance and music that brings to mind echoes of bands like Senser. Their latest album, Nothing Clever, Just Feelings hits the shelves on September 7th and is well worth a listen.

Speaking of unique acts, Friday’s main stage headliners came in the incredible form of Heilung. In a stunning example of music as ritual, Heilung turned in an epic theatrical performance that really does need to be seen to be appreciated fully. Lavish stage decoration, lines of armed vikings, gorgeous costumes and a dazzling light show all came together in what was an amazing headline set for the experimental folk musicians.

A Burial At Sea opened up the Yokhai stage on the last day of the festival once again proving that I have a soft spot for bands with brass instruments as they turned in an excellent performance to start the day. Another excellent, unique act graced the Elephant at the Bar stage in the afternoon in the form of Brighton based Electronic Post-Hardcore duo, fakeyourdeath. Definitely one to watch out for and well worth seeing if they are playing in your area.

An epic afternoon of performances from Rolo Tomassi, The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die and Deafheaven kept the audience’s spirits high as the weather took a slight turn for the worse. But it was the legendary Devin Townsend that would round off the weekend with a selection of hits taken from across his expansive career as the festival drew to a close, leaving just enough time for one more round of Silent Disco and a final refrain of Chop Suey to waft across the campsite.

The tenth anniversary ArcTanGent will be taking place at Fernhill Farm on 16th – 19th August 2024 and tickets are on sale now at 

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