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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Arkdown, Sobriquet, Delirium and Ba’al in what is an insanely talented 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.