Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: The Grand Final

Eight first round heats, three quarter-finals and four semi-finals finally led us to this – the Grand Final of the Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses competition 2018.


The King is Dead

https://www.facebook.com/thekingisdeaduk/

2nd | Round 1, Heat 1
Bye | Quarter-Final 2 (event cancelled, all bands progressed to Semi-Finals)
1st | Semi-Final 4

Kicking off this year’s final were Leeds / Sheffield five piece The King is Dead.

Being first on can be a double-edged sword, but these guys came out swinging. Tight, high energy riffery was a staple of their set, and they certainly set the standard for the bands that followed. I really dig TKID’s general sound, which evokes garage rock, punk rock and alternative rock / metal, without really falling into any of those categories.

Stand out song: Papa Lazzaroach


This State of Ours

https://www.facebook.com/thisstateofours/

4th | Round 1, Heat 2
1st | Quarter-Final 1
1st | Semi-Final 3

Second on were Rotherham based alternative metal five piece This State of Ours.

These guys have come a long way from their first round performance; I don’t know of a band that has improved so much over such a short space of time. They were well supported last night, and deservedly got one of the best reactions of the evening (and the competition). The heavy metal conga was an epic visual too!

Stand out song: Another Light


Sobriquet

https://www.facebook.com/sobriquetband/

1st | Round 1, Heat 7
1st | Semi-Final 1

Next on were one of the returning finalists from last year, post-hardcore/alternative metal quintet Sobriquet.

Some technical gremlins delayed their start a little, and I think it took them a couple of songs to truly settle down and get into their rhythm. That being said, their trio of songs to close (Auto de Fe, Golgotha and a new one) were brilliant – up there with any other trio of songs played last night. I also thought it was ballsy / showed supreme confidence to close with not just a new song, but to have it be its live debut… and that’s before we get into the tricky timing signature. It was the right decision though, as it is monstrously good!

Stand out song: the new one (it seems to have different names depending on who you ask, haha).


Psython

https://www.facebook.com/psythonofficial/

2nd | Round 1, Heat 4
2nd | Quarter-Final 1
2nd | Semi-Final 2 (Wildcard Winners)

Our penultimate band last night were our semi-final wildcard entrants, Psython.

A quality thrash band that’s not afraid to incorporate elements of others genres, these purveyors of ‘Reyt Metal’ have been one of the tightest bands throughout the competition. Smashing through their half hour in no time at all, their high octane shreddery won over a lot of fans, and the band seem generally take aback by the reaction they (rightly) received.

Stand out song: H.A.T.E.


Aonia

https://www.facebook.com/aoniauk/

1st | Round 1, Heat 5
1st | Semi-Final 2

Rounding out the competition bands were symphonic metal veterans Aonia.

Despite being a guitarist down, this was an excellent showing from the six of them. Their set time absolutely flew by as they put on one of the most well rounded and professional sets of the competition this year. There were the odd technical gremlins with one of the mics (I think!) but, for me, it didn’t detract from their quality performance.


Special Guest Headliner:
Ba’al

Providing the soundtrack to the final deliberations were last year’s Sheffield (and overall) winners Ba’al. Recent line-up changes meant that this was a rare instrumental show, featuring tracks from their EP, as well as their latest release, Thy Sorrow.

This was a mesmerising set, one that totally captivated the audience. Tasty riffs littered the set, and they left the crowd baying for more.


My thoughts

Firstly, I am glad that I didn’t have to pick a winner from that group, because the standard of bands on the night was insane!

If you really twisted my arm, I would have said either Psython or Aonia. However, I would have been happy with any of the five bands being chosen, as they all put on sets deserving of victory and each band having a unique selling point.


The result

Massive congratulations to Aonia, who were declared the winners! They will go on to play Bloodstock this year, and have the chance to win a bunch of goodies along the way.

Commiserations to Psython, Sobriquet, This State of Ours and The King is Dead – you all did the region proud and can hold your heads up high. I really hope all four of you enter again next year.


A few final words

Thank you to everyone that has been following the blog, especially those who shared it along. I’ve really enjoyed documenting the (vast majority) of our tournament this year.

Thanks to:

  • Jake – Sheffield wouldn’t have had this tournament without you. And thanks for letting me pretty much design the layout / voting system. I got to play with spreadsheets! Yay!
  • The Mulberry – for hosting all the nights, allowing us to have some premium nights for the later rounds too.
  • All the staff, particularly the sound techs – Alex, Pete, Dan, Steve et al, this couldn’t have been done without you guys
  • Tez for working the doors, helping bands set up
  • The judges – Steff, Jake, Stich, Dario, Joe – you all did a cracking, objective job.
  • And, of course, the bands and the audience. This is all for you guys and works because of you guys.

In addition to the finalists, there were some cracking bands that didn’t quite get there that I just want to give quick shout outs too:

  • Arkdown – man these guys came back tighter than ever, and were very unfortunate to not quite make the final.
  • Lowdrive – I don’t think I’ve seen such a band so ready made for success. It was a shame they had to withdraw from the semi-finals, but these things happen. I suspect these guys are gonna explode into the stratosphere, but we hope they return next year.
  • Bleating Apocalypse – stepped up during the toughest of the nights (nothing like a dying soundboard to get the stress levels up). These guys took it upon themselves to keep the crowd entertained. It was very much appreciated. They are also bloody good, haha.
  • Spiteful Embrace – I love that these guys rocked up all the way from Hull to play in our comp. Some of the loveliest bunch of guys you’ll meet, and they are really sodding good live too.

I’ll probably stop there, before I end up just naming everyone haha.

I really hope to see all the bands from this year return in 2019 – I think we’ve got a nice thing going here, with plenty of quality bands, all capable of representing Sheffield / South Yorkshire / the nearby region.

Actually, on that note, if bands are interested in entering next year, let Jake / myself know – we’re keeping a list of bands to tag / let know when entries open next year.

That’s about it, I think. Congrats one more time to Aonia. See you at Bloodstock!

Advertisements

April Playlist


For anyone unawares, some good friends and I put together monthly playlists where highlight ten songs that have caught our ear-ttention over the previous four-ish weeks.

There are only a couple of rules – the playlist is to be exactly ten songs long, and only one track per artist (excluding obvious ‘intro’ tracks).


It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time to publish the April playlist!

This month saw me shortlist 27 songs. Cutting them down to 10 wasn’t as difficult as previous months, though the last few cuts are always somewhat challenging.

Have at it!

Preview | Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018 Grand Final


We are just five days away from finding out who will be representing Sheffield / South Yorkshire on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage at this year’s Bloodstock festival.

The 2018 tournament began in late January. 15 nights spread over the past three months has whittled down 40 odd bands to just five.  

Aonia, The King is Dead, This State of Ours, Psython and Sobriquet are the fantastic five that will be performing on Friday evening. A wonderfully eclectic and talented mix, and every one of them deserving of their spot.

If you are thinking of attending the final, but have missed any of the above in earlier heats, I have put together this little preview piece. Below, you will find a little info on each of the finalists, as well as some tunes sourced on the Tube of You.


Aonia

https://www.facebook.com/aoniauk/

1st | Round 1, Heat 5
1st | Semi-Final 2

One of two returning finalists from last year, Aonia are a melodic metal seven-piece that mix elements of heavy, power, symphonic, and prog metal.


The King is Dead

https://www.facebook.com/thekingisdeaduk/

2nd | Round 1, Heat 1
Bye | Quarter-Final 2 (event cancelled, all bands progressed to Semi-Finals)
1st | Semi-Final 4

 

The King is Dead are a Leeds-based quintet whose sound straddles an array of genres including punk rock, garage rock and alternative metal.


This State of Ours

https://www.facebook.com/thisstateofours/

4th | Round 1, Heat 2
1st | Quarter-Final 1
1st | Semi-Final 3

Another quintet in the final are Rotherham’s This State of Ours. Imagine mixing elements of Incubus, Deftones and (the more melodic end of) Killswitch Engage into grungey alternative metal casing and the result would sound something like TSoO.


Psython

2nd | Round 1, Heat 4
2nd | Quarter-Final 1
2nd | Semi-Final 2 (Wildcard Winners)

Recipients of the wildcard from the Semi-Finals, local five-piece Psython are a thrash bands that occasioanally also incorporates elements of speed metal, a smidge of extreme metal and a touch of stoner rock.



Sobriquet

1st | Round 1, Heat 7
1st | Semi-Final 1

The other returning finalist from last year, Sobriquet are a five man group that mixes elements of alternative rock into their anthemic post-hardcore sound.


And that isn’t all!

Winners of the local and overall competition last year Ba’al will be playing a special guest headlining performance whilst the Bloodstock representative mulls over his decision.


Hopefully this has helped prepared you all for what is sure to be an epic final.  See you all on Friday – Doors are 6.30pm, first band at 6.45 sharp!

M2MSheffield2018GRANDFINAL.png

Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Semi-Final 4


Unfortunately, this was the one evening of the entire tournament that I couldn’t make it down early enough to see all the bands.  Fret not though! My good pal Dario agreed to go in my stead and send me some copy.  Please read on below to see what he thought of the evening.


The following words by Dario Napodano:

Gareth kindly asked me to write a review of last night’s semi-final, and I was more than happy to accept his offer.

Yesterday was a four-band semi-final, after Lowdrive have had to pull out due to an emergency. It was also my first time as one of the judges.

Firegarden
https://www.facebook.com/firegardensheffield/

Kicking things off was Sheffield quartet Firegarden.

Firegarden won Heat 8 back in February, and this was my second time seeing them in their current form, with Adele Smith on vocals.

This was a set that showcased different musical styles, with songs ranging from the funky opener “Lilith”, towards alternative rock, hard rock and heavy metal (as well as prog, of course, in the form of instrumental “Pigeons”). The musicianship of the band was great, and all four members beautifully expressed their talent.

Guitarist Jake Mann was also nice in taking his time to thank one of the other band members for lending him his amp.


Exemption
https://www.facebook.com/ExemptionUK/

The second band of the evening was Huddersfield hardcore quintet Exemption.

Exemption came third in Heat 2, and was due to play the quarterfinal that was cancelled due to snow, hence being amongst the bands that advanced to the semi-finals.

During their set, the band showcased their riff-laden melodic hardcore prowess. I was particularly fascinated by how the guitarists were able to bust out some great guitar solos amidst all the breakdowns, something which I haven’t heard much of in the genre. As such, I found them stylistically remarkable, with “Fear Tactics” a favourite of mine from the set. The crowd reacted well to them, with some sweet moshing, head banging and slam dancing throughout.

The King Is Dead
https://www.facebook.com/thekingisdeaduk/

The penultimate band was another quintet in the form of Leeds-based The King Is Dead.

TKID came second in Heat 1 and like Exemption qualified to the semi-final having been drawn in their same quarter-final that was cancelled. Their set was a colourful display of eclecticism, and it was the first time hearing so many different styles of music coming from a single band: I could hear elements of pop punk, garage rock, blues rock, post-hardcore and noise rock throughout. The band was impressive and visibly played their hearts out, but shout-out goes to vocalist Omar, who more than once screamed for prolonged seconds into the mic, and came out of it unscathed, as embodied by standout track “Trust No Witch”. It had me thinking “damn” often while they played.

Their set was entertaining and kept my eyes glued to the stage throughout, and I particularly enjoyed the stage presence of the band. At times it felt like the band were in a music video, both in terms of how well they played and how the vocalist moved about the stage.


Burn Down the District
https://www.facebook.com/burndownthedistrict/

The final band of the evening was Chesterfield quintet Burn Down the District.

Having won third place in Heat 5 and winning Quarter-Final 3, BDtD were able to once again pull off an excellent, tight performance. Their sound falls somewhere between metalcore and groove metal, with hints of Pantera and Lamb of God prevalent throughout.

The band once again proved to be a wonderfully tight unit. Sound-wise, they are groovy, sonically crushing, and they performed a great set throughout. “This Is Not The End” was a favourite of mine, along with “Burn”. The vocalist was excellent throughout, pulling off a consistent and convincing performance, but the band as a whole was nothing short of impressive.

My Thoughts

This semi-final was my first time having to judge a M2TM event. This was a very diverse evening of live music, and as such I was more than happy to have witnessed it.

Exemption were a wonderful surprise to my ears, and delivered a killer set with some catchy hardcore and great moments throughout their set. What I thought most positively about them was that they clearly have developed their own interpretation of the genre (which is not easy to come by with this particular genre) as well as clearly showing an ear for contemporary heavy metal palates, something that they expressed well, and that the crowd reacted to positively.
The King Is Dead however left me genuinely stunned. Not only did they show how well they played different styles of music, but there was not one time during the entirety of their set where I felt that what they played was not cohesive as a whole. In fact, it was how well all the songs from their set came together (along with their intense stage presence, which called back to the wild hard rock bands of the past) that ultimately made me give them the highest score, with Exemption second.

The Result

As with all prior semis, the judge vote weighed in at 3/4 against the 1/4 of fan votes.

The King Is Dead won the semi-final, with Exemption coming second in the overall vote. The judges’ votes proved to determine the final outcome of the night.

Well done to all four bands for pulling off what was a wonderful evening of heavy music.

Wildcard Winners

It was announced later in the evening that  Psython had won the wildcard and had qualified for the Final as the best second placed band (based on the judges scores). 

The Grand Final line-up will therefore consist of Sobriquet, Aonia, This State of Ours, The King Is Dead and Psython. It will be on Friday, May 4th, and will feature the winners of last year’s M2TM Ba’al as guest headliners.

Best of luck to all bands.

Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Semi-Final 3


Semi-Final 3

The original idea for the Semi-Finals was for each night to contain four bands. However, due to Sheffield being ravaged by snow demons, a quarter-final was cancelled and all bands from that scheduled appearance were advanced. This Semi-Final was not affected by this, hence there being four bands on the bill last night.


Coyote Mad Seeds
https://www.facebook.com/CoyoteMadSeeds/

Opening the evening was Classic / Hard Rockers Coyote Mad Seeds.

Going on first is always tough, but that didn’t seem to phase this talented trio. Brimming with confidence, these chaps put on a really tight set (in my opinion, better than their first round performance). It’s a testament to their writing style that, despite only having listened to their EP once or twice (around the time of their first round night) I recognised a couple of tracks from the riffs alone. For me, the highlight of the set was the epic Shock (The Cure).

Soul Shredder
https://www.facebook.com/soulshredder/

Next on were melodic metal maestros Soul Shredder.

I had little to criticise of their first round performance, and it was much the same here. In fact, aspects were even better. In the first round, singer Marina seemingly shied away from the odd note at the top end, but that wasn’t the case here – she put on a confident performance that helped bring the songs to life.

The only thing that niggled me this time around wasn’t really down to the band, as it related to the sound levels. I found that the lead guitar was generally a bit low in the mix (though I could make it out). Early on, there was a similar situation with the vocals, but this seemed to get cleaned up.

Finally, whilst I singled out the guitar work in their first round showing, I feel it only fair to put the spotlight on the drummer this time around – he was crazy good. That was one of the tightest performances on the sticks that we’ve seen in the competition.

This State of Ours
https://www.facebook.com/thisstateofours/

Our penultimate band last night was alternative metallers This State of Ours.

After unluckily coming 4th in the first round, these guys upped their game and won their Quarter-Final. Based on this, I was very interested to see how they would do here.

One thing I noted about their Quarter-Final show was that they seemed a lot more relaxed than in the previous round. Well, they took it a step further last night, as from that relaxed state had grown a confidence, personified no more strongly than in singer Kirsty’s on stage / between-song banter.

As for the set itself, it was pretty tight (possibly not quite as tight as the Quarter-Final). One improvement – stemming, I think, from the confidence – was the general vibe of the show. It was just the right amount of rock and roll vibe / organised chaos. There were tasty riffs and plenty of pitting going off too. This was loads of fun!

Sour Tusk
https://www.facebook.com/Sourtusk/

Rounding out the competition acts were noisy, talkative rock duo Sour Tusk.

Having seen these guys a few times now over the past year or so, I’m off the opinion that these guys live or die by the sound mix. Thankfully, it was pretty good for them yesterday, and it enabled them to showcase their booze’n’roll heavy rock antics.

As always, their on stage banter (of which, there’s a lot!) will divide people, but I loved it and I got the feeling it went down well with more than not. There’s a time or two where it maybe goes on a smidge longer than you’d expect, but they do have the tunes to back themselves up.

As with their First Round showing, their stand out tracks were Drinking Man and Rolling with the Punches.

Special Guest Headliner:
Raised By Owls
https://www.facebook.com/RaisedByOwls/ 

I’m not sure any description of these guys will do them justice. The comedy grindcore gang were, stylistically, a little at odds with the genres of the bands playing tonight. However, that did not stop them putting on a hilarious, killer show. Stand out track for me included You’ve Been Mary Buried, Scary Spice Has a Gangrenous Arm, Harry Potter and the Curse of the Student Loan and, of course, Ainsley Harriott Advised You To Give Your Meat A Gool Ol’ Rub.


My Thoughts

From a judge’s point of view, this was demonstrably the closest-in-quality night of the whole competition, with three bands tying and a further band finishing just one point behind.


The Result

Congratulations to This State of Ours, who ended up winning the fan vote, as well as the overall judge vote. They will head to the Grand Final to play alongside Sobriquet, Aonia and two others.

The other three bands finished within a few points of each other, with Soul Shredder pipping Coyote Mad Seeds into 2nd place. They will now wait until the end of the Semi-Finals to see if they have earned the wildcard spot.

Finally, a well done to all four bands – I enjoyed all of them immensely.

Tonight we have the last Semi-Final. Due to a family emergency, Lowdrive have sadly had to withdraw. This means that we have The King Is Dead, Exemption, Firegarden and Burn Down the District vying for that final winners spot. Guest headliners are Hoofknuckle.

I will not be able to attend the whole evening, so my pal Dario will be supplying me with the wording for the bands for the purposes of the blog! Thanks mate!

Sheffield Metal to the Masses 2018: Semi-Final 2

 


Semi-Final 2

 

Last night was the second of our four Semi-Finals.

Just before we were about to start, disaster struck – the sound desk failed and wouldn’t reconnect to the WiFi. This led to a number of us dashing about to source a replacement, including a jaunt down the Dove & Rainbow.

In the end, a replacement was sourced and we managed to kick things off. All in all, the delay was around an hour and quarter to an hour and a half. To balance things out, bands were asked to shave 5 minutes each of their sets. All the bands were really understanding of the situation, and it helped make a difficult situation move a lot more smoothly that it could have done.

Before we get into my thoughts on the sets, I want to give a specific shout out to Bleating Apocalypse. They offered (and did perform) re-worked acoustic versions of their material for a large part of the time the replacement soundboard was being sought out. It was very much appreciated, and the crowd really dug it.


Bleating Apocalypse
https://www.facebook.com/BleatingApocalypse/

Kicking us off a little after eight (instead of a quarter to seven!), the blackened lounge music quintet Bleating Apocalypse started their proper set.

By the very nature of their style / image / content, they are going to be a bit of a marmite band. Thankfully, they are actually a really tight outfit and they played really damned well last night. The sound mix was better for them here than in the first round show, so I could actually make out the vocals much better this time out.

I doubt that you’ll see many other metal sets featuring a 1982 Casio DG-10 Synth Guitar, nor an otamatone – nor songs told from the perspective of billboard! Haha. This was loads of fun, as it was meant to be.

Psython
https://www.facebook.com/psythonofficial/

Next up were serial vloggers and all round ‘reyt metal’ enthusiasts Psython.

In their first two performances they put in performances that were never less than solid, with flourishes of excellence. Last night felt like the culmination and evolution from theses shows, with them playing the tightest set I have seen them play.

Singling out any one of them ou too much would be as bit unfair, as they all brought their ‘A’ game and left it all out there on the stage, but I do want to just throw their drummer a little love – he was flat out phenomenal last night!  

A cracking, high octane set.

 

Rancidium
https://www.facebook.com/Rancidium/

Next up were Rancidium, a band who had one of the best crowd’s reactions of the tournament in their quarter-final.

Whilst the crowd reaction didn’t reach the heady heights of that earlier show, the band themselves did play their tightest set so far in the competition. The lads still need to work a little on their between song banter / smoothness of changeover between songs, but I was heartened by the improvement in their actual playing. Also, frontman Damon has a very unique (and good!) vocal sound that I think could be a genuine unique selling point that they could build their songs / set around.

Aonia
https://www.facebook.com/aoniauk/

A returning finalist from last year, Aonia were our penultimate competition band last night.

I have seen the seven-piece operatic metallers a few times over the past few years, and this was certainly the best they have sounded in the Mulberry. With so many components / layers to their sound, I imagine they are a trickier band to get the levels spot on for, but sound guy Alex absolutely nailed it.

Performance wise, they were excellent. This was a confident, professional show that wouldn’t have been out of place on a full academy-sized tour or larger. I did like some of the extra touches they put into their aesthetic too – their own backdrops, stereo smoke jet machines, etc. Some may see it as a little gimmicky, but I see it as a band going the extra miles to make themselves memorable / giving the audience a more rounded package. This was top class stuff.

Zero Point Zero
https://www.facebook.com/zeropointzerouk/

Finishing off the evening were Chesterfield’s Zero Point Zero.

Their first round performance was marred with technical issues, so I was glad to see them get another shot that was relatively issue-free.

Whilst the crowd had thinned down from its peak, due to the late running of the show, those that stayed were treat to a very enjoyable 25 minutes. Musically, they are sort of like if you took a metalcore band (towards the melodic end of the spectrum), and added in flourishes and licks that wouldn’t sound out of place in standard heavy metal (or even hard rock), you would be in the ballpark. This makes for a very accessible sounded, aided by an amiable and engaging frontman who knows how to work a crowd.

I enjoyed this set much more than their first round show, and I’d love to see them back in Sheff soon.


Special Guest Headliner:

Forgotten Remains
https://www.facebook.com/forgottenremainsband/

Another Chesterfield band were our guest headliners last night. Forgotten Remains are a death / thrash hybrid band with a really good live reputation. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck in the box office counting all the votes with Joe. However, through the door it sounded pretty sweet, and the crowd seemed to be into it. I did manage to catch a bit of a cracking Iron Maiden cover towards the end.


My Thoughts

Personally, I thought it was very close between Aonia, Psython and Bleating Apocalypse, with the other two not a long way behind. I was a judge again last night, and those three were my top three.


The Result

Congratulations to Aonia, who were fairly comfortably the winners on the night.

Psython narrowly pipped Bleating Apocalypse to second place and so, now wait with Arkdown to see if they are the best ranked second place side.

Thanks go out to all five bands, not just for the quality of their sets but for their patience and understanding with all the issues that went off at the beginning of the night.

Next up is SEMI FINAL 3 on Friday 13th. It features Coyote Mad Seeds, Soul Shredder, Sour Tusk and This State of Ours. Guest headliner is the hilarious comedy grindcore act Raised By Owls.


Sheffield Metal to the Masses 2018: Semi-Final 1


It’s getting towards the business end of the competition now, with the first Semi-Final being held last night.

Unfortunately, due to cancelled flights, Regulus’ drummers was stranded in Spain, so there was no guest headliner last night. Still, this was a remarkably well attended show, with the eventual vote count reaching a staggering 74!

As usual, the bands drew random slots to kick things off.


Empusa
https://www.facebook.com/EmpusaUK/

Opening the event were Chesterfield/Sheffield heavy as hell quintet, Empusa.

They had impressed me greatly with second place finishes in both their First Round and Quarter-Final appearances.

Just like in the Quarter-Finals, drawing the opening slot didn’t seem to phase them on iota, and, armed with their array of death metal / metalcore / melodeth hybrid tunes, they bulldozed their way through their half an hour. Once again, frontman Danny’s vocals were a standout – his command of a variety of a styles is always impressive.

As for the set, I enjoyed it, and I thought it was a step up on their Quarter-Final performance.

Deltanaut
https://www.facebook.com/deltanautband/

Next on were local space rock heroes Deltanaut.

Their route to the final was an interesting one (finishing second by a single point to Bleating Apocalypse in Round 1, then being a part of the snowed off third Quarter-Final), and I was looking forward to seeing what they conjured up.

As for their set, whilst they didn’t perform the 30 minute improvised jam Niall had threatened to do after their First Round heat, they did break out a couple of excellent examples of from their back catalogue. Their opening track was a tasty 12-ish minute piece, followed by an epic rendition of The Sorceress to close.

My only issue with the set was that I found the bass to be too low in the mix for my liking. You could hear it, but I felt it should have been clearer. On the flipside, Luke’s guitar sounded gorgeous.

Arkdown
https://www.facebook.com/ArkdownOfficial/

Two of the finalists from 2017 were playing in last night’s Semi-Final. The first of them was Metalcore / Contemporary Heavy Metallers Arkdown.

It’s seems an absolute age since I last saw these guys (they won Heat 1 in the First Round and have been waiting patiently for the Semis ever since). One thing I noted last time out was how much tighter their performance was this year in comparison to their run to the final last year. I was asking myself if they could match / top that opening round performance – the short answer was “yes”.

There was plenty of crowd action as they slammed their way through their 30 minutes. This was as professional and tight as a show gets, and was definitely going to be a tough one to beat.

Sobriquet
https://www.facebook.com/sobriquetband/

The penultimate band of the evening was our other 2017 finalist that was performing last night, Post-Hardcore / Alternative Metal five piece Sobriquet.

Whilst not musically the same, for me there are some similarities between these guys and Arkdown. They have buckets of potential and, on their night, can absolutely decimate an audience.  They are also both bands that I had the same minor criticism of last year – they could be tighter.

Well, the comparisons continue here because, like Arkdown, Sobriquet have evidently busting their arses to rectify that (as shown by their First Round performance).

Tonight they followed it up with an absolutely raucous show, including one of the largest pits we have seen in the tournament to date. Everything was on point – they absolutely nailed it. One of the many highlights of the set was their cracking rendition of single Auto-De-Fe.

Spiteful Embrace
https://www.facebook.com/spitefulembrace/

Hull finest groovesters were back and, once again, were closing out the evening for us.

These talented chaps narrowly missed out on winning their first round heat, before returning to win their Quarter-Final outright with an exemplary show.

Last night was another strong performance that fused aspects of Killswitch Engage and Pantera, with add dashes of standard heavy metal thrown in for good measure.

Their half an hour flew by in no time at all (always a good sign), with a number of standout tunes (particularly Shallow and Journey Backwards).

I had no idea where this set would place on the night, but it would have been certainly good enough to win a number of the previous evenings in the tournament. This was a damned tight show, where everyone brought it.


My Thoughts

Damn! When the line-ups were set for the Semi-Finals, a number of people remarked how this could have been the final – such was a the quality and reputation of the bands.

I was on judging duty last night, and I think this is legitimately one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. Without getting too far into the nitty gritty, there are six categories that are scored out of ten (so a max of 60 points). Last night, on my final tallies, only 7 points separated 1st and 5th.

I had Sobriquet first, one point ahead of Deltanaut, one point ahead of Arkdown.


The Result

Sobriquet won, finishing first on all three judge scorecards, as well as narrowly winning the fan vote. They become the first band in the 2018 final.

Arkdown came second, which means they still have a chance of making the final. At the end of the four Semi-Finals, the four second placed bands will have their total judge scores compared. The band with the best overall score will progress to the final as a wildcard entrant.

That was an absolutely amazing show. I think it says something that, after the result was read out, members of all five bands just congratulated the winners and all remarked how stunning the quality level was. It was a really good vibe to end the night on.


Next up, Semi-Final 2 which is TONIGHT!

Doors are 6.30pm. First band on at 6.45pm. Competing bands: Aonia, Bleating Apocalypse, Psython, Rancidium and Zero Point Zero. We also have a guest headliner in Forgotten Remains.