The Story So Far…
Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk, Bleating Apocalypse, Lowdrive, Aonia
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Fear Lies, Exemption, Deltanaut, Grave UK, Psython, Gorilla Warfare, Air Drawn Dagger, Burn Down the District
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day, This State of Ours, Black Moon Rising, Thrashsquatch, Rancidium
Round 1, Heat 6
After the late-ish withdrawal of Them Sardines, last night’s fifth heat was a four band affair. Despite the reduction in bands, this was still a pretty well attended event (45-50ish at a guess).
At the start of the night, it was announced that This State of Ours had qualified for the Quarter-Finals as the highest ranking 4th place band. Well deserved, in my opinion.
Zero Point Zero
First up was Chesterfield quintet, Zero Point Zero. They play a sort of contemporary heavy metal / metalcore hybrid (if you start with Killswitch Engage, add in a little Lamb of God and a touch of Arch Enemy then you would be in the ballpark).
A couple of technical gremlins meant a delayed start, plus a further delay between their penultimate and final songs (the in the case of a latter, an amp suddenly died – fair play to the chaps from Spiteful Embrace, who were very quick to offer theirs as a replacement).
Set wise, I thought ZPZ were decent. An interesting choice of cover (Backstreet’s Back) was followed by their best songs of the evening (I didn’t recall the names, but I think the best one was called My Life in Grey).
Steal the City
Next up were popular Sheffield quartet Steal the City. More technical issues (relating to the bass this time) meant a small delay, thought nothing overly serious.
STC reminded me of a number of bands that you would associate with pro-wrestling – the likes of Papa Roach, Nickelback, Alter Bridge and Rev Theory all sprung to mind. This was an enjoyable, well-played set of anthemic hard rock and melodic heavy metal numbers that wouldn’t feel out of place on the radio.
STC certainly got the best crowd reaction on the evening too, and their set had a ‘big show’ feel to them. I’d never seen them before tonight, but I could imagine them and Fear Lies would work wonderfully well together.
Last year, Soul Shredder qualified for the semi-finals, but agonisingly were unavailable for any of the dates. Pleasingly they have returned to give it another go this year.
For anyone new to the band, their sound is sort of what you’d get if you took Iron Maiden, added a dash of Megadeth, a sprinkling of guitar virtuoso (Malmsteen etc) and a touch of someone more contemporary, like Iced Earth. Layered over the top are melodious, and occasionally soulful, female vocals. I heard one first timer last night describe them as ‘symphonic thrash’ – whilst I’m not sure that’s bang on, it’s probably not a million miles away either.
The band have been around the Sheffield scene for around a decade now, and you can tell – this is one flipping tight unit. Frontwoman Marina only joined in 2017, but she already looks like she fits in nicely with the band.
Regarding their performance, I really really enjoyed it. They have the best lead guitarist we have seen in the competition, and Marina has brought a fresh take to some of their songs. I don’t really have a criticism to make – my only bit of feedback would be to wonder if the singer has inner ear monitors, as it seems like she shied away from a couple of notes (she hit some belters at times though).
Great set; I have a feeling they will do well.
Finally, we had Spiteful Embrace. This bruising five piece journey all the way over from Hull to have a go at the competition.
Musically, they definitely come from the Pantera / Throwdown side of the heavy / groove metal tracks. They are loud, brash and in-your-face (to paraphrase one punter – the angriest band ever).
Performance wise, they were excellent! They were one of the tighter bands in the competition and their set flew by in no time at all. I was surprised to discover that they only formed last year – these guys act and sound like a well oiled unit that have years under their belts. If the dominoes fall their way, they could be huge.
I had it a close call between Spiteful Embrace and Soul Shredder, with the former just nicking it. I had STC third, though I did enjoy ZPZ’z set.
Soul Shredder won by around four points, meaning they repeat last year’s success by qualifying for the Semi-Finals. Spiteful Embrace came 2nd and Steal the City came third.
Next up is Heat 7 on Thursday 22nd February, and contains the likes of Coyote Mad Seeds, Discordian, Empusa, Kxntinuum and one of last year’s finalists in Sobriquet.