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.
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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.
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: Bovidae, Horizontal Faults, Delirium, Mothcob, Ba’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 3 takes place the following night (Saturday 15th) and features: Aonia, Crucifixiation, Grandmother Suplex, IMRD, Archelon 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.