Metal 2 the Masses Sheffied | The Grand Final

After six first round heats and three semi-finals, last night was The Grand Final of the Sheffield branch of the Metal 2 the Masses competition at the Mulberry Tavern.

It had been a fantastic tournament up to this point, and the final did not disappoint.


Aonia

https://www.facebook.com/aoniauk/
Symphonic / Power / Operatic Metal
Winners of Heat 1
Runner-up in Semi-Final 3

Being first on can be a bit of a curse, but the extended sound check allowed for the septet to have their strongest sounding performance in the competition. It was nice to see uniformity in the stage apparel across the band too, and the light up corsets were a neat touch. This was a great start to the evening, from a band that’s now pretty much the complete package.

Delirium

https://www.facebook.com/DeliriumOfficialbandpage/
Rock
Winners of Heat 3
Winners of Semi-Final 2

I’ve seen these guys a number of times in the past eighteen months or so and they rarely disappoint. Whilst tonight they don’t quite reach the heady heights of their earlier round performances, this phenomenally talented trio still impress on-lookers with their funky brand of rock’n’roll.

Sobriquet

https://www.facebook.com/sobriquetband/
Alternative Metal
Winners of Heat 2
Runners-up in Semi-Final 1

It’s worth remembering that this entertaining alt. metal outfit were a last minute stand-in in the second week of the comptition. They took the opportunity by the horns and rode it all the way to the final. Performance wise, after a bit of a shaky start they nailed the last three tracks and put on a very enjoyable, energetic show. I can’t wait to see how these guys progress from here.

Archelon

https://www.facebook.com/Archelonband/
Post-Metal / Sludge / Doom
Runner-up in Heat 5
Winners of Semi-Final 3

Archelon were the first part of a sludgey hypnotic double header of doom. These guys have been consistently one of the better bands in the tournament, and they continued that trend with a monstrously heavy set. Their consistency is all the more impressive to say they were performing without their bass player!

Ba’al

https://www.facebook.com/baalsheff/
Post-Metal / Sludge / Doom
Winners of Heat 6
Runners-up in Semi-Final 2

Ba’al had a tough act to follow, but they saved their best performance of the tournament for the final. Their mid-tempo brand of sludgey doom got many heads banging, including my own, as they knocked it out of the ballpark.

Arkdown 

https://www.facebook.com/ArkdownOfficial/
Metalcore / Contemporary Metal
Winners of Heat 5
Winners of Semi-Final 1

One of the most popular bands of the tournament, these energetic contemporary metallers drew the closing slot of the evening. Unphased by the excellent bands playing immediately before them, they proceed to slam through their pitworthy setlist with great confidence.

Guest Headliner:
Regulus

https://www.facebook.com/regulus.band/
Stoner Rock / Hard Rock / Heavy Psych
Winner of Metal 2 the Masses Lincolnshire 2016

It’s always a pleasure to watch one of the more talented bands from our area, and they were a perfect choice for guest headliner. If you’ve not seen them live, you’re truly missing out on a cracking stoner rock act.


The Result


I thought it was a tough choice for the judge to make, but I agree with the decision to name Ba’al the winners. They saved their best performance for the final, and were the best band on the night. Congratulations chaps!

For the record, I had it being between them and Archelon, but there could have been argument made for other bands too.

It was also noted that two other bands on the evening (not named) are being put forward as potential acts to fulfill other slots on the Bloodstock bill.


A Few Final Words


Thank you to everyone that’s been reading and sharing my blogs on the tournament. It’s been a pleasure doing them, and I’m sure I’ll do the same again next year. Before I sign off, I just wanted to congratulations Jake, Craig and the Mulberry staff for putting on a very enjoyable, fair, and diverse tournament.

A quick shout out to all the finalists: Aonia, Delirium, Sobriquet, Archelon, Ba’al, Arkdown. You guys all put on a heck of a evening and I wish you all the best.

There were also some cracking bands that didn’t quite make it all the way, and I just wanna give a quick shout out to a few that I was particularly impressed with:

Bovidae
https://www.facebook.com/bovidaeband/
Probably the band with the most pure talent in the tournament. They were ever so unlucky to not make the final (lost a tie-breaker to Ba’al for second place in the semi-final – oh how different the final would have been!). I’m glad they got as far as they did and I really hope they enter again next year.

Gorilla Warfare
https://www.facebook.com/GorillaWarfare/
One of the most fun bands of the tournament. I had the pleasure of seeing their last show of their current incarnation recently, and I look forward to seeing what arises from their ashes.

Sour Tusk
https://www.facebook.com/Sourtusk/
Loud, brash and talented two piece stoner rockers that were unfortunate to have been drawn in what was probably the toughest opening heat. I hope they try again next year, as I’m fairly sure they’d have made the semi-finals had they been in a different heat.

I also think NormaliserElecorn, Grandmother Suplex and The Mechanist have loads of potential, and I hope they’ll all consider entering again next year.

Whilst we’re doing awards/lists, I may as well list my favourite sets of the whole tournament – because who doesn’t love a good list?

My favourite sets of the tournament – in no particular order:
Delirium – Heat 3
Bovidae – Semi-Final 2
Ba’al – Final
Archelon – Semi-Final 3
Aonia – Semi-Final 3

There’s been some quality performances / shows, and credit where it’s due, Jake, Craig and that gang have put on a great tournament.  I hear plans are already underway for next year’s offering!

Speaking of next year, I can’t wait to see which bands enter. Selfishly speaking, I hope some of the other kick arse bands from our region – such as Skyligers, Deltanaut, Firegarden and Deadblondestars – put themselves forward for it.

And that’s about it, I think. Congratulations once more to Ba’al, and thanks to everyone for entertaining me for the past couple of months! Cheers!

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Semi-Final 3

Last night saw the Mulberry Tavern play host to the last remaining semi-final in Sheffield’s branch of the Metal 2 the Masses tournament.

There were no withdrawals this time around, so we had a full slate of six bands vying for the two remaining places in the final.

As before, fan vote counted for 25% of the final score, with the judges making up the remainder.


Grandmother Suplex

Opening up proceedings were the punk metal quartet from the Peak District. They’d qualified second from Heat 3 and were one of my dark horse picks.

Being first on in a competition such as this is always abut  bit of a tough ask, but they put on a solid set, with a fair few catchy riffs in their high energy performance.

As an aside, I think these guys would go down great a ‘party starting’ opener (alongisde someone like Gorilla Warfare).

Aonia

There’ve been surprisingly few melodic / ‘true’ / classic metal bands in the competition so far, but these talented midlanders made up for it.

It had been all the way back in Heat 1 when we last heard the from Aonia, but the wait was worth it. Their riffy style of operatic metal brings Iron Maiden jamming with Nightwish to mind, and I think the description does them justice.

A small point worth noting about their set – they had to re-jig it to accomodate for them being down a guitarist for the evening. Thankfully, they worked their wizardry and, unless you knew better, I don’t think anyone would have been the wiser. It was an assured performance.

Archelon

The first round performance from these post-Conan sludgesters was a candidate for my favourite to date.

They went and topped it last night.

A slight re-jigging of their set meant that a couple of tracks (where one of the guitarist doubles up as a second drummer) were moved to the end of the set (they’d opened with it last time) and it worked a treat.

There’s a fantastic brooding malevolence to their set, with heavy minimalistic riffery in each ten minute epic. If the end of the world has a sountrack, Archelon would curate it.

Crucifixiation 

The runners up from Heat 2 has the unenviable task of being next on.

In all honesty, I had thought their performance in the heats could have been tighter, but they upped their game last night. The set was tight and energetic, and a few small pits were more than deserved.

Key to their populairty was frontman Danny. He has an infectious and amiable personality that, combined with his seemingly boundless energy, helps generate a great presence. Despite brutal death metal not totally being my bag, he was a big reason I actually really enjoyed thier set.

IMRD

We’d last seen In My Restless Dreams’ hard rock, nu metal, hardcore, post-hardcore hybrid attack in the 4th Heat, after which I had them down as ones to watch.

Like Aonia earlier, these guys were also playing minus a guitarist. Again, like Aonia, they managed to transition their songs to a single guitar exceptionally well.

This was a good, assured set, and I can definitely see bigger things in the future for these guys.

Suffer in Anguish

Deathcore isn’t really my thing, but this West Yorkshire quintet won me over with their great performance in Heat 6.

They rounded off the evening with a similarly strong performance, ending once more with the heaviest cover of Sepultura’s Roots that you’re likely to hear live any time soon.

Guest Headliner: Master Charger 

Whilst the judges were totting up the score, Nottinghamshire based stoner trio Master Charger played a very entertaining set. Despite knowing little of them beforehand, I found myself headbanging to pretty much every song. Sound wise, they played a sort of dirtier riffy Clutch-style stoner rock/metal, with a hint of Sabbathian doom sprinkled in places.


The Results


Semi-Final 2 had been ridiculously tight, even requiring a tie breaker to decide second place. There was no such controversy here, thankfully.

Archelon were unanimous victors, scoring first place on both fan and the judges vote. Deservedly joining them in the final are Aonia, who came second, ahead of Suffer in Anguish and IMRD. If I recall correctly, whilst the gaps between the final band scores wasn’t huge, there was no room for doubt on the final placings.

So, once again, congratulations to Archelon and Aonia. They will join ArkdownSobriquetDelirium and Ba’al in what is an insanely talented final.


The Final


The final is set for Saturday 29th April, with an early start (I think doors may een be as early as 5pm, but I’ll have to double check).

Six amazingly diverse and talented bands will take to the stage and one of them will be chosen by Bloodstock’s representative to fill Sheffield’s place on the Hobgoblin New Blood stage at the festival’s next iteration, this August.

(I’m actually hoping that a second band might get chosen to play the Jagermiester stage, but I have no idea how Bloodstock determines which qualifying zones they give the additional spots to).

Once the six finalists have rocked everyone silly, the always excellent Regulus will play a guest headliner slot. After that, we’ll get the announcement of the winner, followed by an afterparty DJ’d by Metalsammlung. What more could one ask for on a late April weekend?


I just wanted to say a quick thanks to those people who have been reading and sharing this blog.

I’ve only really been doing it as something to keep a track of how things are going and to help describe how the events have gone to friends who couldn’t make the shows.

Thank you.

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Semi-Final 2

Last night saw the Mulberry Tavern play host to the second of three semi-finals in this year’s Metal 2 the Masses tournament.

With Mothcob’s last minute withdrawal we were left with five interesting and diverse acts.

Just a reminder on the scoring system – punters were given sheets of paper with the bands’ names on and, upon the conclusion of the final set, we had to rank the bands from 1st to 5th. This would be average out and would account for 25% of the final grade (with the remaining 75% coming from the judging panel).


 

Horizontal Faults

Soul Shredder’s unfortunate withdrawal meant that this Doncaster-based metalcore quartet got another bite at the cherry.

Whilst I still think these guys are a little raw, they did put in a performance in keeping with the theme of the semi-finals – that is, they upped their game from the first round. There’s definitely some potential here.

 

Ba’al

These post-metal/sludge/doomsters were the winners of Heat 6 and one of the bands I’d touted to do well in the semi-final.

I was not left disappointed, with the band putting in one of the performances of the tournament to date. They also debuted a new track, and it fit into the set perfectly.

My neck still hasn’t recovered from this set!

 

Bovidae

One of the bands that made it through the very first heat, this super talented trio brought their brand of avante-garde instrumental jazz metal back to the Metal 2 the Masses.

I wasn’t sure if it was possible for them to up their game from the previous round, but they somehow managed it. A fantasic, technically difficult performance certainly raised the eyebrows of those that had yet to see them.

By this point it was evident we were going to be in for a close finish at the end of the night.

 

Outta Peak

I have to be in the right mood for pop punk, and it’s not usually my go to thing. Whilst Outta Peak aren’t strictly and squarely in that genre, it certainly makes up the backbone to their ‘Pop Mosh’ sound.

As for their performance last night, it was pretty good – probably on a par with their pretty tight Heat 6 set and the crowd received them warmly. I think that, on a different night, they’d have probably gone down a bit better. It probably didn’t help them that they had to follow two of the best sets of the competition to date.

 

Delirium

After comfortably winning Heat 3 (coming first with both the judges and the crowd), I was interested to see how these fresh faced rockers would do against a different selection of bands (some with very healthy followings).

By the time they took to the stage, they must’ve realised just how insanely tough this semi-final had been. This didn’t phase the youngsters at all thouh, and they put in another assured ahead-of-their-years performance.

Their brash confidence was highlighted with their decision to drop a Taylor Swift cover into their set. Somehow, someway… it worked. The crowd loved it, and them.

 

Guest Headliner: Infall 

I’m not the biggest metalcore fan, but this tech / metalcore quartet put on a good show for the crowd whilst the votes were tallied.


The Results


 

I have it on good authority that this one was tightDelirium came first, booking a place in the final in a couple of weeks.

Second place actually results in a straight tie between two of the acts. After tie-breaking procedures were enacted (I believe the scores were recounted after removing the lowest scores given), Ba’al triumphed over Bovidae by a single point.

Commiserations to the latter, who put on a stellar performance, and I really hope they give it another go next year (I think they’d have probably qualied from Semi Final 1, but that’s the way these things go sometimes).

So, congratulations to Delirium and Ba’al who get to strut their stuff before the Bloodstock representative in two weeks time.


Semi Final 3


 

Our last semi-final takes place tonight, and features: AoniaCrucifixiation, Grandmother SuplexIMRDArchelon and Suffer in Anguish. 

All of them are quite unique, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they respectively bring to the table. I’ll be back with my thoughts on that soon.

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Semi-Final 1

This was the first of three semi-finals that the Mulberry Tavern will be hosting. Each semi-final contains six bands, with two from each progressing to the six-way final at the end of the month.

The scoring system has been changed for the semi-finals. Instead of a one wristband = one vote, everyone was handed a sheet of paper with all six bands’ names on, and we were asked to rank them from 1st to 6th. The judges would then use the time allocated to tot up the scores (fan vote accounting for 25% of the final score this time around).

I’ll probably go into individual descriptions a little less from here on out, as a lot of what went before was on the style of the band.

One Year Dead

The post-hardcore group drew the short straw and were up first. They opted for a cover of Killing in the Name this time out and, while some of the crowd go into it, it didn’t do much for me. Something else that I noticed was that, in the heat there a memorable/pretty cool moment where one of the vocalists got everyone to sit down for a particular tune – for some reason they decided not to do it this time out. They also seemed to finish quite early (by my count, they only did around a 23 minute set, when allocated 30). However, despite all the niggles of the above, I did think this was a stronger actual performance than the one they did in the heats.

Arkdown

The general vibe seems to be that these guys are one of the early favourites. In the heats, I mentioned that, whilst they weren’t hugely tight, they were more interesting than your run-of-the-mill metalcore act. Well, I’m pleased to say that this performance was tighter than their first round showing.

The Mechanist

Talk about a band upping their game! These guys were very unlucky not to get through from their heat outright (Normaliser unfortuantely had to pull out, so these guys got another shot). I had enjoyed thier first round showing, and thought this was even better. One notable absense this time around was the slightly elaborate lighting rig they had in the previous round (which was very cool!) – I’m guessing it may have been a rental?

Gorgeous Morgue

A band that polarised our group first time around, and did so again here. These horror punks were, for me at least, a lot better this time around.

Gorilla Warfare

The theme of the evening was that everyone upped their performances from the previous round, and Gorilla Warfare were certainly one of the bands where it was more noticeable. Whilst I’d enjoyed their first round set, there was something inherently better about them in this semi-final – like everything just ‘clicked’.

Sobriquet

Ah yes, the band that turned up at the last minute to fill in in the second heat, and went on the to win that evening’s tournament. Well, it was more of the same from them this time around, with a very energetic performance that got the crowd going. The only slight criticism I had – if any at all – was that the singer’s volume range varied so much and so often that it was difficult for sound production to get the levels right. Still, I enjoyed them massively.

Guest Headliner: Scream Blue Murder

Sort of a contemporary metal / metalcore act, from Coventry. I’ll be honest, I was flagging a bit by this point (and not wholly my thing), but the crowd seemed to enjoy them. They also had some cool lightboxes tht lit up whenever the singer stood on them, so they can have some mad props for that.


The Results


Somewhat to my surprise, Arkdown were announced as the winner, with Sobriquet also progressing. I heard it was quite close between them, The Mechanist and Gorilla Warfare.

For me, I had those four as my top four, but I had it: Sobriquet, Gorilla Warfare, The Mechanist, then Arkdown.

Still, this was a tough and, more importantly, very entertaining semi-final.


The Remaining Semi-Finals


Semi-Final 2 takes place on Good Friday (14th) and features: BovidaeHorizontal FaultsDeliriumMothcobBa’al, and Outta Peak.

This is the one I’ve branded the group of death, and features three of the bands that most impressed me in the first round – namely Bovidae, Delirium and Ba’al. The other three are all different genres to both each other and those previously mentioned, so should make for a very healthy competition.

Semi-Final takes place the following night (Saturday 15th) and features: AoniaCrucifixiation, Grandmother SuplexIMRDArchelon and Suffer in Anguish.

Six very different bands, and an evening’s competition that’s too close to call. Archelon were one of the ‘group of favourites’ from the heats, but literally all six bands impressed me in their own ways last time out.

Both semi-finals should have guest headliners, though their identities have not yet been published.