Despite being a brand new band about to release their full debut, Good Tiger actually have quite the pedigree in their ranks. With a lineup which contains former TesseracT singer Elliot Coleman, ex-Safety Fire guitarists Joaquin Ardiles and Derya Nagle and ex- The Faceless drummer Alex Rüdinger, as well as previous touring Architects bassist Morgan Sinclair, you have a collection with exemplary experience in technical and progressive metal. So it comes as no surprise that A Head Full Of Moonlight (Blacklight Media/Metal Blade) should fit into this bracket once more, but with some signs of its own character coming through.
As album opener begins with an almost bluesy guitar passage, its clear that this won’t just fit into the same stock as much of their alumni suggests and instead offers a subtle but wide palette of styles throughout. That’s not to say this isn’t still fundamentally a tech metal album, as such tones and structures are still its very fabric and its familiarity should ease fans of their former bands, but there is just a bit more elsewhere going on.
The most notable aspect of diversity comes with Coleman’s vocals which range from harsh growls and softer singing, but also manages to adapt to the band’s more pop passages. In fact its these pop sensibilities that actually prove the album’s most exciting and interesting moments, otherwise when it picks up pace and technicality is where it doesn’t stand out much from its peers; competent and even strong and catchy but far from innovating.
Even if they comprise of established tech-metal alumni, Good Tiger have still given a confident and worthwhile debut with plenty of potential at play, and some signs of carving a niche for their own. Sadly, this does also veer into much of the same territory in a scene that is already very crowded. With plenty to build on however, these could still prove an exciting force in progressive metal circles, but they need to really let their own voice be heard.
A change towards psychedelic rock is a solid choice for the Sunday, as those that have dragged themselves back seem to have dramatically thinned. Opening the main stage, Kent band Ohhms are a relatively new band on the scene, but quickly prove they deserve every drop of respect they have earned with their brand of progressive doom while the frontman’s hazy vocals are coupled with looking like he is having a perpetually awkward orgasm but somehow they complement each other perfectly and the unusual but endearing performance is a talking point long after the band have finished.
Venom Prison, by Rich Price Photography
First band of the Sunday second stage are Venom Prison, at 4pm owing to an hours delay after Sunn O))) nearly levelled the entire building the night before. These were another band I checked out on a whim and proved to be one of the more pleasant highlights of the weekend. Given the number of people raving about them on my FB I wasn’t alone in discovering these. Formed by ex-members of Wolf Down, Brutality Will Prevail and Desolated. They wasted absolutely no time in tearing the second stage a new one. Playing a thoroughly impressive set of hardcore and death metal, this is impressive stuff which manages to get the crowd going with seeming ease. Musically these are absolutely fantastic to hear, fast and heavy but with plenty of groove. Special mention must go to singer Larissa who has way too much stage presence for such a small stage. I’ll definitely be checking these out again next time they tour.
The King Is Blind, by Rich Price Photography
The addition of New Model Army bassist Ceri Monger has elevated Essex maulers The King Is Blind to another level. Unencumbered by an instrument, frontman Steve Tovey stalks the stage, giving punters a taste of his vicious snarl. Their bubbling cauldron of death, doom and black metal is a potent mix which is steadily gaining momentum and growing a devoted fanbase in the process.
Monarch’s female vocalist may be tiny in stature, but don’t let that cause you to underestimate her. From calm, creepy whispers and slow droning notes we are lulled into a false sense of security but that doesn’t last long before harrowing screams shatter the calm creating a dramatic yet captivating performance. Swan Song play to an energetic and appreciative crowd. The front man has a huge amount of energy and is all over the stage with the energy of ten. The rest of the band aren’t quite as energetic or are trying to stay out of the way I can’t quite decide. Unfortunately despite their considerable energies they are simply not my cup of tea. It’s obvious though that the crowd disagree with that assessment and have a good time.
Year of No Light, by Rich Price Photography
This seems to be a particular talent of the French acts on that day, with Year of No Light following on with their largely instrumental atmospheric post-metal. With two drummers and three guitarist this band carries with them a huge sound that flickers between light moments before crashing down to become crushingly heavy.
A bizarre choice for the 3rd stage considering their rising stock. Tribulation bring their Nosferatu inspired blackened occultism with a sense of true rock showmanship. Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hulten trade off licks while strutting around with the cocksure swagger of an act that knows this is their time.
Tribulation, by Rich Price Photography
For anyone surprised to see Ghold heading up the main stage above the previous two bands, you wouldn’t have been the only one as the pair are more used to hitting Brixton’s minuscule Windmill or Camden’s Black Heart than a major festival main-stage. While the duo may have looked a little swallowed up in the space, there was little doubt they could pull it off with ease and their appearance as a major billing at the festival is no less than this band deserve. Their self-described “weight & grunt power” music is realised as they pummelled the audience with their monolithic sound.
Reeking of grief and filth Vallenfyre are relentless. Gregor Macintosh is a masterful frontman and ex My Dying Bride man Hamish Glencross churns out ugly slabs of brutality like ‘Scabs’ with ease. Quips about playing a cow shed aside this is northern cynicism distilled to a foul brew all lap up. ‘Cathedrals Of Dread’ sees the audience lose their shit. ‘Desecration’ concludes a mercurial performance from these purveyors of crust addled death.
Goatwhore, by Rich Price Photography
Goatwhore are a band I’ve been wanting to see live for a very long time. They play straight up old school heavy/death metal, but there’s no denying they do it better than most. One of the bands I was most looking forward to at Temples and they really don’t disappoint.
Playing to an absolutely rammed 3rd stage, in fact it was only thanks to the excellent Temples/Motion security letting us in the back door that I could even get into the building at all. Both the band and crowd are electric, with pits, fist pumping, devil horns and crowd surfers a plenty. This is a phenomenal performance.
Canadian noiseinks Ken Mode are truly unhinged but suffer from a muddy sound mix. New stomper ‘Blessed’ is raucous and angular with Jesse Matthewson snarling about ‘handfuls of shit tossed at a proverbial wall’ in a manner which recalls a more feral take on the kind of dirty art rock 90s underground label Amphetamine Reptile specialise in. Despite battling with the mix this is a passionate and intense performance that doesn’t go unnoticed.
Pallbearer, by Rich Price Photography
Sorrowful and passionate Pallbearer impress with their enchantingly morose take on doom. Recent opus The Foundations Of Burden is unquestionably the finest release in this genre of the last five years and the band’s gut-wrenching performance more than justifies their place on the bill. ‘Devoid Of Redemption’ and ‘The Ghost I Used To Be’ are achingly beautiful slabs of epic melancholia charged with elephantine riffage and bags of soul. Putting in a truly memorable shift on the main stage, the Arkansas outfit look destined to ascend to the very pinnacle of extreme music if they can maintain such breath-taking form.
Between The Buried And Me, by Rich Price Photography
Things get technical as progressive death metal band Between the Buried and Me close up the second stage for the weekend. One of the more usual booking of the weekend, they don’t seem to slot in with any of the running themes of the festival. Not put off by this, the room is suitably packed with people forcing their way through into the room as the quintet bounce their way through the set mixing up impossibly complex riff combinations with powerful clean vocals and gutturals. While this band may not have been for everyone, there certainly aren’t many bands that can pull off this kind of sound at a festival like Temples and still keep the crowd enraptured. I can’t say I enjoy the set, but I do leave with absolute respect for the band as both musicians and performers.
Earth, by Rich Price Photography
Americana drone rockers Earth deliver expansive desert soundscapes that should make for an enthralling experience but that is promptly derailed when Dylan Carlson’s guitar malfunctions leaving the band to improvise while a replacement instrument is located. Once this technical hitch is rectified the band launch into ‘The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull’ which seduces with its psychedelic textures. Carlson himself is reminiscent of a young Charles Manson and remains an enthralling character to behold as he coaxes transcendent notes from his instrument. The spaghetti westerns of Ennio Morricone are often recalled not least in the sorrowful ‘Old Black’ which draws tonight’s performance to a close. A fantastic example of an event curated by true music lovers, Temples looks to remain a Mecca for underground music fans for many years to come.
I’m not quite sure if this was Blackfield’s last show or last show with this lineup, it remains unclear to me. Tonight’s show had a feeling of closure and finality. Having newly discovered this group I can say I was regretting not finding them sooner. The night started off with fellow Porcupine Tree alumni John Wesley. Not at all what I was expecting when I heard who was in his band. Wesley and his solo band put on a massively mellow and grooving set. Fellow guitarist and vocalist Ian Medhurst won me over very quickly. I was even more impressed with his rhythm section: former Iced Earth drummer Mark Prator and Sean Malone of Cynic. Their musicianship was uncanny. They powered through eight songs of new and old tunes with little or no effort
Before Blackfield took the stage the crowd was already starting with chants of “Please don’t stop” and “We love you”. I met a guy named David who came all the way San Francisco to see the end of the show. That’s a true fan right there. He was even gracious enough to fill me in on the band history.
When they took the stage the crowd was hungry for their music. Blackfield headed up by Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Storm Corrosion, Opeth) they launched into a massive 20 song set. There was a wide range of emotions in this music. I was blown away, but the connection the crowd had with the band made every song was a sing along. From ‘Miss U’ to ‘Jupiter’ they showed this was more than just prog rock, it was just great music period. The closest thing they reminded me in terms of style was Pink Floyd with ‘Where is My Love?’. From the acoustic sounds to the ballad-tinged parts, it was one of the memorable songs for me. To help bring the night to a close Dream Theater’sJordan Rudess came out for the extended last song, ‘Cloudy Now’. Jordan rocked on a keyboard and then an iPad. It was as hard rockin as this group gets, and the perfect ending to an eye-opening night.