The Smashing Skull Sessions

The Smashing Skull Sessions is a podcast, interview and review website, set up to showcase and support the underground rock and metal scenes. Our goal is to promote artists and bands from right across the globe, giving them another voice and another forum in which to get their music out to a greater audience. We also have a new review series, The Review Room, which is another unique way of getting bands and artists some extra coverage and promotion

ARCTANGENT 2023 - Saturday

Aaahh the last day of a 4-day festival. Upon waking, my body feels like my head is a watermelon which has been dropped on the floor from a great height. I make use of the excellent sauna which absolutely does wonders for my state of mind, and also my body in general. After a gorgeous breakfast of a massive hot dog, I'm ready to go.

Copse – What a way to start the day. Ed Gibbs from Devil Sold His Soul fame is on the farm with his other band and oh boy, this blasts away the cobwebs. A complex demonstration of heavy dexterity with poignant quieter segments make sure that the day starts in the best way possible.

Psychonaut – After being forced to cancel last year’s festival, the band return eager to make up for lost time, and wow do they deliver. To continue the theme of the day, this is some heavy progressive music with real heart. The huge crowd lap up the tasty musicianship on display and it seems everyone from the crowd to the band themselves consider this to be a rather grand set, awesome.

Bones of Minerva – Boasting an all female line-up, the heavy doom band from Barcelona set about making new fans with their extraordinary range of styles. I didn't know the band before watching them but will not pay attention a lot more. The lead singer especially was displaying an extraordinary range with her vocals ably backed up by the band behind her, things were going rather well today.

La Bestia De Gevaudan – Coming all the way from Chilli means this band must be up for the title of furthest distance travelled to be here today! With a sound akin to post metal masters Rosetta, the tribal drums and heavy guitars mean I leave this tent a very happy man, excellent show.

Vola – Today is most definitely a day for Progressive music fans. To say Vola's brand of heavy prog goes down well is an understatement. With songs taken mostly from brilliant last album Witness, the crowd are in good voice and it's quite a grand old sing along, with vocal hooks like these guys produce though, there seems to be no ceiling for the band, onwards and upwards.

Domkraft – I most definitely did not expect to be transported to outer space at this festival, and yet during Heavy Psych band Domkraft's set, that's exactly what happened. With its repetitive heavy droning psychedelia and smoke-filled atmosphere, I closed my eyes and let the band whisk me away to the cosmos for an epic set which left me exfiltrated in the best possible way, one of the unexpected highlights of the whole festival.

Rolo Tomassi – Drawing what seems to be one of the biggest crowds of the whole weekend, Rolo Tomassi steps up and absolutely deliver a stand out set. Sounding rather more refined than their earlier crazed mathcore days (but no less brutal) means they have become a touch more accessible, but this does nothing to diminish the prowess of vocalist Eva Spense and her extraordinary ability to switch between guttural roars and beautiful cleans at the drop of a hat. This was a headline performance in everything but name.

The Callous Daoboys – If you've never seen an audience lose it's collective shit before, do yourself a favour and go and watch The Callous Daoboys play a show. In what must be the most spectacularly chaotic show of the weekend, the band from Atlanta play with a gleeful abandon which makes a mockery of just how complex it is. Something this crazy has no right being so fun and entertaining, but everyone in attendance can attest to have watch something really rather special indeed.

Deafheaven – To say I was looking forward to hear blackgaze masterpiece Sunbather in full is an understatement. Unfortunately, every bands worst nightmare, the technical issue gremlin had come out to play and was wreaking havoc with the intricate sound the band should be producing. When the gremlins do get sorted out, the music is a stunning reminder of just how brilliant the album was, a stunning example of something being bloody heavy, but yet at the same time, incredibly fragile.

Igorr – Honestly, I don't quite know what to make of Igorr. The band never allow you to settle into a rhythm, nodding along to Grindcore one minute, then in the blink of an eye, it morphs into grandiose opera. Giddying in it's genre hopping, the crowd seem to be going crazy along with it, it's a bit much for me I must admit. Even by the standards of ATG, this is way out there.

Devin Townsend – Bounding onstage and then saying “wow, what a collection of power nerds” does wonders to set the scene for headliner Devin Townsend and his brand of eclectic heavy prog music. Selecting songs from his entire musical history, this is a set built with laser precision to entertain, and do so he did with the most wonderful aplomb. What a way to finish the day and festival, bravo Sir.