Photos by Anne-Laure Marie
Progfest: the one
day of the year in Australia where you can truly get your influx of prog, djent
and absolute madness. This year, Progfest has developed into one of the biggest
heavy tours in Australia, and consistently keeps getting better, originally
sporting acts such as Leprous, Caligula’s
Horse and Voyager, festival
organizers took a big leap in 2019, bringing down the inaugural The Ocean, djent overlords Monuments and the first Australian appearance
of the legendary Skyharbor. Although
it was an incredibly long, intense festival (which resulted in missing a few
bands due to hunger), we recap on the bands we did see:
The first band that I managed to catch on the night were Mushroom Giant, an incredibly unique instrumental project hailing from Melbourne, who were able to aptly demonstrate to the crowd that they were there for a reason: at that reason is mind-boggling, intense prog. Playing tracks from their latest release Chrystalis, the band succeeded in warming up the crowd for what was going to be a beautifully technical night.
Next up, we got Toehider,
and trust me when I say, this is THE band that will blow up in the very
near future. Blending influences from Caligula’s
Horse and Haken, with just a
little hint of Stratovarius (Mike Mills has the power metal highs in
the bag), the band just completely blew me away, and threw the crowd into a frenzy
of unimaginable shock, with backing members Nick Delaney and Thom Mann holding
down the fort for some of the most impressive progressive metal to come out of
Ebonivory had travelled from Ballarat, and I’ve seen them around on lineups in the past but never ended up actually checking them out, and I’ve never felt so disappointed in my life. The djent influence was heavily strong, relying on gorgeous polyrhythms and melodies that blend together in a unique, interesting manner. Definitely go and check this band out immediately.
If I could summarise the next act in one word, it’s Ivanyi. This is literally all that needs to be said about one of the key acts of Progfest. Ivanyi. If you haven’t heard of James Norbert Ivanyi, he’s currently building himself up to be one of the next famous progressive writers and players of our generation, and this is all for a reason. His backing band are some of the tightest musicians, with drummer Liam Weedal and bassist Liam Horgan holding down the rhythm with such precision and technicality that it just leaves you incredibly confused as to how a trio of musicians can be THAT talented.
The most incredible thing about Chaos Divine is the fact that they covered ‘Africa’ by Toto, and for this reason alone, you should be incredibly upset that you missed the show. Filled with smooth rhythms, pleasantly interesting guitar lines and vocals that are enough to cause anyone to be starstruck, the band proved to the crowd as to why they deserve to be at this festival the moment they walked on stage.
Circles are a band that has greatly improved since the last time I was able to catch them. Last time I was able to catch them, they had opened for the Kings of Djent Periphery, and honestly, it didn’t grab my attention the way I hoped; especially due to the fact that Polaris had opened the show at the time (and I missed them at Euroblast in Germany). This time around however, with a much more refined sound, a lineup change which included vocal replacing, Circles have pushed themselves to the top of their game and had completely thrown me in the deep end. I mean like seriously, Dream Sequence is one of the most insane song’s I’ve ever heard and seen live, and honestly, if you weren’t a fan before, you definitely will be now.
Let’s talk about Skyharbor for a second. Hailing from India/USA, the band had finally made their way down to Australia, and with their power, complexity and emotion behind their music, lyricism and vibe, who wouldn’t be excited? Ex-Monuments drummer Anup Sastry had come down with the band, making me all the more excited to see the progressive 5 piece, and it was love at first sight with Skyharbor. Performing tracks such as Evolution, Dim and Blind Side, everyone in the crowd was participating and embracing the gorgeous technicality and unique, dreamy melodies.
My personal most anticipated act of the night – Monuments – absolutely brilliant. Having been able to catch them back at Euroblast and their own headline show in Poland, I was already lucky enough to have had that first taste of their comeback, and their new album ‘Phronesis’, but honestly, after this performance especially, I was in absolute standstill (bar the djent head-bops). Playing almost an identical setlist to their first two shows, I knew what to expect, but seriously, Chris Baretto, John Browne, Olly Steele, Adam Swan and Lango all have some of the most mind-boggling, impressive chemistry I’ve ever seen within a band. Flawless performance from a flawless band.
Next up were Glass Ocean, who I’ve been dying to see ever since the release of their debut self-titled EP, held up their game to the very end, especially with such a difficult time slot to be put in (After Monuments and before The Ocean), and it was insanely awe-inspiring. Tobias Atkins’ vocals mixed with the band’s dreamy, intelligent musicianship blended in such a manner that makes them unique and original to the progressive genre, which is immensely hard to achieve.
I’ve been longing to see The Ocean for a while now, and my heart was let down, due to the fact the room was almost ¼ empty by the time the band had jumped on stage. Travelling from Germany, the sextet held themselves to such an high standard and pushed their artistry to amazing, almost unachievable limits, with lightwork, musicianship, stage mix and presence just all being so perfectly thought out and interesting. Playing a range of tracks from their discography, including Cambrian II: Eternal Recurrence, Firmament and Benthic: The Origin Of Our Wishes, if you didn’t stay for this band; you’ve done yourself a huge, huge disservice.
Due to the flawless nature of the acts on this huge festival, I will be on my way to check out all the band’s I’ve missed in due time. Check out all the band’s social media’s below!
City of Souls
James Norbert Ivanyi
Opus of a Machine
Bear the Mammoth
The Valley Ends
City Of Souls
Opus Of A Machine
The Valley Ends
James Norbit Yvanyi
Bear The Mammoth