ArcTanGent Festival 2023 – Friday

It’s always good to start the Friday at ArcTanGent with a nice shot of traditional doom from Witchsorrow but also with the slowest circle pit I’ve ever seen; it was even funnier in real life than in the videos that were posted on social media. You could see Nick Ruskell (vox/guitar) smiling from ear to ear during the entire set.

ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Derek Bremner
ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Derek Bremner

The Hampshire-based trio were absolutely giving it, they were loud, they are brutal and insanely catchy. It was really pleasant to see them getting cheers and love from the audience because they thoroughly deserved it. And as the coffee jingle says: the best way to wake up is Witchsorrow in your cup!

Witchsorrow @ ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Jonathan Dadds
Witchsorrow @ ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Jonathan Dadds

It was obvious that Curse These Metal Hands were one of the most anticipated sets of the festival as their colourful merch were seen everywhere in Compton Martin. A good third of the people in attendance were wearing their parody t-shirts and long sleeves. The main stage was packed to the max for ‘Baroness’ even though their uniforms stated ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Baroness’. I must admit, it was hard to believe it too. They sounded just like them, it was eerily similar to Baroness, but for some reason, these guys looked more like the members of Conjurer and Pijn.

I know, shocker! But jokes aside, the set was phenomenal. You wanted heavy riffs? They’ve got ‘em. You wanted loud drums? They’ve got ‘em. You wanted sludgy anthems? They’ve got ‘em. If the ArcTanGent crowd needed an extra oomph to get the party started, then Curse These Metal Hands was the perfect set for it. I’m honestly looking forward to a new collaboration with both bands. Especially with the terrible weather we’ve had the day and night before.

Curse These Metal Hands @ ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Jonathan Dadds
Curse These Metal Hands @ ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Jonathan Dadds

The Mexican four-piece Joliette gave a high-energy fun set, with songs mostly sung in Spanish and a hardcore attitude, which is perfect for festivals like this one. It was a great surprise to see them after having lots of my friends hyping them up. Sure, their set was a little short, but it was still really good as they kept chugging and delivering fun breakdowns in a clever way. It had elements of post-rock, math-rock, jazz-rock and traditional hardcore melodies and made plenty of space for their excellent new EP, Luz de Bengala, which was released in late August. Joliette is definitely a band worth checking as they are as talented as they are cool to chat with.

'68 @ ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Carl Battams
’68 @ ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Carl Battams

If you came to ’68‘s set at the Yohkai Stage for a redux of The Chariot, well you entered the wrong tent as the only thing that ties this band to ‘68 is their frontman, Josh Scogin (guitar/vocals), who created the latter after leaving the former in 2013. Other than that, the swag coming from the duo was insane, just like their band of heavy noise ’n’ roll.

Scogin and his sidekick Nikko Yamada clearly had a lot of fun playing on that day, despite having guitar string issues at the beginning, as they later stated that everybody should start a new band to have the opportunity to play one day at ArcTanGent (if any Brightonian wants to start a sludge band with me, I can provide the poom-chacks and the occasional screams). They played a lot of material from their newest album, Yes, And…, and everyone was super excited about it. Still giggling at that moment at the end of their set when Yamada kept playing drums as Scogin took away his kit one by one.

Holy Fawn @ ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Joe Singh
Holy Fawn @ ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Joe Singh

Holy Fawn, a post-rock blackgaze four-piece, were also highly anticipated today and their set did not disappoint one bit. Sure, it felt a little less hectic than usual, but I blame ‘68 for it, and it would be really disingenuous on my part to compare the two. You could definitely hear their influences on their music (Deftones, Deafhaven and a twinge of Slowdive sprinkled on top). Overall, having them playing on the Arc Stage was justified as the tent got packed very quickly, and rightfully so. After gracing us with an impeccable set, I can only see the Arizonans going further and further in hype within the next few years, mainly thanks to their amazing latest album, Dimensional Bleed, released last year.

Bell Witch played the fucking heaviest performance I ever saw at ArcTanGent. This set will be forever ingrained in my soul. Goosebumps from start to finish, unbelievably beautiful. They might have become the best fucking band in the world because it was that incredible. They might have played a trimmed version of The Clandestine Gate, but it was impossible not to be spellbound by the Seattle duo. I’ll fight anyone who won’t wholeheartedly agree with me on that one. Bell Witch gave us THE best set of the year, of the decade and possibly of the century.

Enslaved @ ArcTanGent 2023 - Photo by Jonathan Dadds
Enslaved @ ArcTanGent 2023 – Photo by Jonathan Dadds

For those who decided to give Heilung a miss, like myself, Enslaved was a really good alternative as the Norwegian legends played old classics from Below The Lights (namely The Dead Stare and Havenless) and new classics from Heimdal (Heimdal, Forest Dweller and Kingdom).

Fifty minutes of Enslaved is almost criminal at this point and sure, they belonged on a bigger stage than the Bixler, but it was such a fantastic set that overall, me and everyone else in attendance left happy and ready to party some more at the silent disco or at the campsite where several Creed songs were played ironically, or unironically, I think the judges are still debating on this one.

It was an interesting and satisfying third day of ArcTanGent and there was still one last day to go through and experience all the good things this festival has to offer.

Scribed by: Nessie Spencer