Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 6


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

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
https://www.facebook.com/stealthecityuk/

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.

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

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.


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

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.


My Thoughts

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.


The Result

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.


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Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 5


The Story So Far…
Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk, Bleating Apocalypse, Lowdrive
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Fear Lies, Exemption, Deltanaut, Grave UK, Psython, Gorilla Warfare
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day, This State of Ours, Black Moon Rising, Thrashsquatch


Round 1, Heat 5

Last night’s fifth heat was a six band affair. Despite it snowing, and being on a Sunday, this was a pretty well attended event, with attendance numbers somewhere in the high 40s/low 50s range.

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

First up was the very youthful quartet, Rancidium. The chaps have been around in one form or another for getting on for four years now, and I’ve heard they have modified their sound a bit over that time. To me, they sounded like a blackened Trivium, with a hint of Carcass.

Performance wise they put on a solid show. Musically they were fairly tight, and the tunes were enjoyable. They went down really well with the crowd too.

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

Anyone who read my blog on last year’s tournament should know Aonia, who were worthy finalists in the 2017 competition. For those who didn’t, they are a seven member band that mixes operatic vocals with a mixture of Power, Prog and New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

I’ve seen Aonia probably five or six times over the last 18 months or so and they have come on leaps and bounds in my eyes. Whilst last night wasn’t quite to the heights of the set I saw last year (when they supporting Xandria at Corporation) this was still a flipping good show. There was an ever so slight issue in the opening track where the keyboards were very low in the mix, but that was mostly rectified in that song. Despite this, it was still one of the strongest sets in the competition so far.

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

Next up were a very interesting band. As I’ve mentioned in write ups for earlier heats, hardcore doesn’t do much for me (and metalcore is very hit-and-miss). What makes these guys interesting to me is that, whilst they describe themselves as metalcore, it wasn’t of a style that I would have automatically thought of (to me, metalcore conjures up images of bands like Killswitch Engage, 36Crazyfits, etc). To my ears, Burn Down the District sounded a lot closer to groove metal (think the most up tempo Pantera and Machine Head) with added hardcore vocals. It was… refreshing!

Performance wise, they were really tight and they seemed to be having a blast on stage. They seemed to win over the crowd too, on a night of very different genres being represented.

Death of Man
https://www.facebook.com/deathofmanband/

This Barnsley-based trio were a late addition to the bill, giving us an ever more diverse lineup than there already was.

Stylistically, they mostly seem like a doom / heavy metal hybrid, though their opening number was almost death’n’roll. I enjoyed the old school simplicity of the tunes – just heavy as all hell doom.

Air Drawn Dagger
https://www.facebook.com/airdrawndaggerband/

Talk about a change of pace and style, next up were the up-tempo pop punk / alternative rock musings of Sheffield quartet Air Drawn Dagger.

In a genre with little scope for originality, bands stand and fall on their live performance. Air Drawn Dagger are damned good at what they do. They have an engaging frontwoman, and they play a fun, tight live set. They are certainly the first band to have a crowd surfing lead singer this year too. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Sinners Sermon
https://www.facebook.com/Sinners-Sermon-930549033631783/

Last up was Sheffield trio Sinners Sermon. I’d seen them once before (opening for Cybernetic Witch Cult), and this set was more of the same. They play a groovy type of heavy metal, with nods to sludge and doom along the way.

Performance wise, they weren’t bad (though having to follow Air Drawn Dagger’s excellent showing was a little unfortunate, but that’s how random drawing goes). It was a struggle to hear the vocals at times, but otherwise an enjoyable performance, worthy of the tournament.


My Thoughts

Aonia were the standouts for me. The other five bands were relatively quite close together, with Burn Down the District just edging ahead of Air Drawn Dagger and Death of Man. A cracking collection of bands from top-to-bottom to be honest.


The Result

Aonia were victorious, and head straight to the Semi-Finals. Air Drawn Dagger and Burn Down the District were second and third respectively, so quality for the Quarter-Finals. Rancidium finished in 4th place, so now await to see if they finish in the top half of the 4th place bands.


Next up is Heat 6 on Thursday 15th February , and contains the likes of Soul Shredder, Spiteful Embrace, Steal the City, Them Sardines and Zero Point Zero.

 

Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 4


The Story So Far…

Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk, Bleating Apocalypse
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Fear Lies, Exemption, Deltanaut, Grave UK
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day, This State of Ours, Black Moon Rising


Round 1, Heat 4

With Starve to Survive withdrawing from the competition, Heat 4 became a four band affair. As before, this meant even the band coming in last position will have a 50:50 chance of progression. 

Gorilla Warfare
https://www.facebook.com/GorillaWarfare/

Semi-finalists last year, Gorilla Warfare have returned after a sort of hiatus (I believe there is only one original member in this iteration, and all that songs have been written from scratch). 

Fans of their funky bass driven tunes from last year won’t be disappointed. What they have changed is mostly lyrical – gone are the jokes about bananas – with an almost sleaze rock vibe coming through in the compositions.

Tonight, I thought they put on a solid show and one or two of their songs (particularly towards the 2/3 mark in their set) stood out for me.

Thrashsquatch
https://www.facebook.com/ThrashsquatchBand/

Hailing from Chesterfield, Thrashsquatch definitely won the battle of the band names before a note was played. These young whippersnappersthrashers were apparently playing their first gig in Sheffield and only their second or third gig ever.

Musically, they were a fun mix that consisted of mixing aspects of crossover thrash with riffs that wouldn’t be out of place in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Whilst a bit rough around the edges, I really dug quite a few songs in their set. The whole band give off an amiable vibe, and they just looked like they were having an absolute blast playing on stage. I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on them. 

Lowdrive
https://www.facebook.com/Lowdrivemusic/

Up next were local rockers Lowdrive. Featuring former members of Warrior Soul, Goat Leaf, Flip the Pyramid and Indra, this quartet play a sort of a riff driven hybrid of stoner/desert and hard rock. To me, they sound sort of like if you mixed aspects of Kyuss with Black Spiders.

I’ve seen them once before (supporting All Them Witches at Corporation last year) and thought they were pretty decent then. Now? Flipping heck, they do this well. This was a slick and professional performance – one that would befit any stage. One of the best sets of the tournament to date.

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

Self-proclaimed bringers of ‘Reyt Metal’, local thrashers Psython brought the evening to a close. Slamming through their half an hour set at breakneck speed, they were impressively tight as hell (particularly the drummer – damn!).

If you’re all for the high octane end of thrash (with a dash of contemporary heavy metal and just a hint of extreme metal) then these guys will float your boat. Frontman Bing has a cracking voice, keeping up with the high tempo when needed, but also afforded the time to open his pipes occasionally to hit some Dio-esque notes.

This was also one of the best sets of the tournament so far.



My Thoughts

For me, it was too close to call between Lowdrive and Psython, but I slightly preferred the former over the latter.



The Result

In the smallest winning margin to date, Lowdrive were victorious, with Psython just a point behind in second place. In a very good, fun heat, Gorilla Warfare weren’t far behind in third, pipping Thrashsquatch by just a couple of points.

This means that Lowdrive head straight to the Semi-Finals, with Psython and Gorilla Warfare making the Quarter Finals. Thrashsquatch will need to wait and see if they are one of the top four 4th placed bands.

Next up is Heat 5 on Sunday 11th February , and contains the likes of Air Drawn Dagger, Aonia, Burn Down the District, Death of Man, Rancidium, and Sinners Sermon. 


 

Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 3


The Story So Far…

Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Fear Lies, Exemption
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day, This State of Ours


Round 1, Heat 3

It what was probably the most eclectic night so far, Heat 3 saw five acts competing for spots in the next round(s) of the Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield competition.

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

Opening proceedings were one of my favourite local bands, the psychedelic space rock supergroup that is Deltanaut. For those unaware, this trio plays long jam-style instrumental heavy tunes that aims to take you on a journey to the stars.

Tonight was one of their sharper performances, with the drumming particularly on point. I did wonder how they would go down with the audience on a bill with such a variety of genres/sub-genres, but it they got a pretty darn good reception.

 

Le Menhir
https://www.facebook.com/lemenhirband/

This was the debut show for one man band Le Menhir. The project aims to mix international influences such as Mastodon and Insomnium with post metal stylings from the local scene, such as Gilmore Trail and Archelon.

For a debut performance, this was pretty solid. There were obviously a few nerves, but they were overcome in the back half of the set. From my perspective, the songs sounded like a hybridisation of Alcest and Insomnium for the most part – ie melancholy post metal with aspects of melodic doom. There was a slight issue with the vocals (somewhat whispered in delivery) being a bit too low in the mix for my liking, but otherwise I found this an enjoyable experience. With gigs under the belt this could become something pretty special. The last track was a cracker too.

 

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

The juxtaposition of the randomly drawn running order was brilliant; from the super serious Le Menhir we went straight to the super silly!

Attempting to describe Bleating Apocalypse will probably do them a disservice, but I shall try:  Imagine a band that mixes lounge music jingles with extreme metal (particularly black metal). Now imagine they sang songs about caravans, Countdown and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen. Oh, and one guitarist eschews the usual forearm spiked vambraces associated by black metal in favour of… Christmas lights.

My only real criticism on the night was, from where I was stood near the front of the stage, I couldn’t make out the lead vocals very well. Still, they guys looked like they were having a whale of a time, and they played really well too. Closing number Black Metal Interior Design was a standout.

Grave UK
https://www.facebook.com/graveuk/

I’ve mentioned previously that hardcore isn’t my favourite genre. That being said, I actually quite enjoyed this show. Grave UK play a sort of metallica hardcore that gives them this melodic edge over their contemporaries. I was surprised there wasn’t a bit more pitting tonight, as they had some nice riffs and well placed breakdowns. I could see these guys doing quite well.

My only real gripe was that their set was very short – whilst I didn’t strictly count along, it must have been close to twentyish mins tops in a thirty minute slot (they finished five minutes before their allotted end time, and the evening was running something like five minutes late by this point).

Black Moon Rising
https://www.facebook.com/BlackMoonRisingUK/

Closing out the evening was local heavy metal worshippers Black Moon Rising. Whilst they have been around a little while, this was my first live exposure to them and I quite enjoyed it. Apparently they are usually a four or five piece but were having to perform as a trio on this night. To me, their sound reminded me most of Metallica, with aspects of Trivium, early Bullet For My Valentine and definitely a dollop of Avenged Sevenfold.

They played an interesting Metallica-medley in the middle of their set (Sanitarium was the stand out bit) that seemed to go down pretty well. It was clear that these guys love playing live and were having a cracking time. I was particularly impressed with the shredding lead guitar work on their closing number.



My Thoughts

For me, two bands stood out over everyone else, Deltanaut and Bleating Apocalypse, and I had them ranked in that order. The other three all had very different sounds and styles, and their own unique selling points and flaws.



The Result

In the tightest finish to date, Bleating Apocalypse just pipped Deltanaut to the post. Then, in an almost as close battle, Grave UK just took third spot ahead of Black Moon Rising. In both cases, a handful of votes in another direction would have flipped both pairings.

Next up is Heat 4 on Thursday 8th February, and contains the likes of Gorilla Warfare, Lowdrive, Psython and the brilliantly named Thrashsquatch.


 

January Playlist

It’s that time of the month again! This was probably the most challenging playlist to date, as I had a shortlist of no less than 35 tracks!

This month seems to have been a mix of stoner, psych and jazz, with a bit of prog/post-metal in there. Oh, and there’s a total curveball one in there too.

As with previous months, some tracks are from this month, some last year and I think one (maybe two) a little earlier.

Have at it!

Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 2

The dust had barely settled on Heat 1 before Heat 2 of the Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield competition was upon us!


The Story So Far…

Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day


Round 1, Heat 2

Unlike in Heat 1, we had a full complement of bands performing last night.  

Bleeding Tooth
https://www.facebook.com/bleedingtoothband

Kicking things off we had a local avante-garde duo (bass/effects/vocals and drums). I have caught these guys once before, and they are super interesting and have a heap of potential. Describing themselves as ‘Alternative Metal / Lounge Noise’, I have a feeling they might be a little too ‘out there’ for a the casual punter, but that shouldn’t take away from just how original they are and how tight they perform. A solid start to the evening for me.

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

Second on was alternative rock / metal outfit, This State of Ours. They cite a lot of varied influences on their FB page, and it certainly comes through in their sound. One track was sort of like a very melodic take on Killswitch Engage, whilst another was very Deftones. At times, the guitarwork reminded me of Machine Head, and at others they sounded closer to grunge. Frontwoman Kirsty has a cracking voice too, which helped to bridge/merge the songs styles into a coherent set. They impressively fit this all together well and it didn’t feel as patchwork as reading that description back might sound. As for their performance, my only bugbear was that the high notes on one of the guitars early on got drowned out in the overall mix. This was rectified within a song or so.

Broken Down
https://www.facebook.com/brokendownsybd/

Next up is one a local beatdown/hardcore quintet. I’ll be honest, this particular avenue of music isn’t really my bag. Objectively, I can say that they were pretty decent, and they got a pretty good reaction from the live crowd, including some pitting.

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

Another duo this time, though quite different from our openers! Sour Tusk are a brash and noisy band that plays like a hybrid of Motorhead and Clutch (I believe I dubbed them Mini-Clutch after catching them at a show last year).

A verbose couple of chaps (particularly drummer ‘Nic), I imagine they will divide opinion with their crowd interactions. Personally, I really dig them – they are light hearted, silly and honest. They just want to play some rock and roll and get hammered.

From where I was stood, their sound mix was a little off in the first half of the set – both sets of vocals were too quiet for me – but they put on a heck of a performance, and i think they have a couple of winning singles in Rolling with the Punches and Drinking Man.

Fear Lies
https://www.facebook.com/FearLiesUK/

Continuing the trend of this being the most diverse lineup so far, our penultimate band were anthemic rockers Fear Lies. This quartet have been making waves in Sheffield recently, and their recent album launch show at Corporation drew quite a decent crowd, so I was expecting something a little special. They certainly delivered; this was as slick a performance as you are likely to see on a local show, with a tight performance of well carved radio-friendly / anthemic / stadium rock tunes. Fans of Foo Fighters, Trucker Diablo and Monster Truck should definitely get along with these chaps.

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

Completing tonight’s bill were Exemption, an unsigned quintet from Huddersfield. Like Broken Down earlier in the evening, they play a style of music that I struggle with. However, I did enjoy these guys a bit more. They were a bit more of a heavy metal vibe to their sound, which I found a bit more appealing. The crowd was a little divided, but those closer to the stage definitely really dug them and they got a strong reaction there.


My Thoughts

This was a much tougher call for me than Heat 1. I think Sour Tusk edged it for me; I enjoyed everything they played quite a lot, and they had the best on stage banter (I do understand that, for some, they will be the exact opposite in that regard). I had Fear Lies second, This State of Ours third and Bleeding Tooth fourth.


The Result

In a ridiculously tight finish, Sour Tusk won the heat (to a huge reaction), and move straight into the Semi-Finals. Fear Lies and Exemption came 2nd and 3rd respectively, booking themselves spots in the Quarter-Finals. This State of Ours narrowly missed out on the 3rd spot, so will now wait to see if they are one of the four highest scoring 4th placed bands.


Next up is Heat 3 this Thursday, featuring: Black Moon Rising (Heavy Metal), Bleating Apocalypse (Comedy Metal), Deltanaut (Psychedelic Stoner Rock / Space Rock), Grave UK (Beatdown / Hardcore / Metallic Hardcore), and Le Menhir (Post Metal).

The Three Listketeers: Our 2017

In the back-end of 2017, I started creating monthly playlists of tunes that caught my attention that particular month. My pal Joe has been doing this for quite a while, and I finally caved and joined in around August. In turn, we convinced our mate Paul to join us on our monthly musical adventures.

As lovers of all things lists, we have come together to create a 36 song playlist that represents a combined snapshot of our year. We each supplied a song to represent each month, and they are grouped together in chronological order (ie, the first three tracks are what caught our ear in January, the next three for February and so on).

The songs themselves don’t have to be new at the time, but they were often new to us.

Please see below for the final result.  It is effectively a sort of musical diary of our 2017, and one we hope you enjoy.