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.

Advertisements

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.

Discography Review | System of a Down

Continuing on from last year, my new year’s resolution once again is to expand the breadth of my musical knowledge and experience. As with last year, I’m listening to the discography of a different band each month.

This is my entry for March 2017.

My previous entry saw me take a look at Californian alt-metallers Tool.

This time around I’ve gone for another alternativel metal band in Armenian-Americans System of a Down.

Background: As with any self-repsecting metal head, I know around four or five tracks really well from a combination of music channels and club nights over the years. Despite this, I’ve rarely listened to anything beyond their singles.


System of a Down – System of  a Down

Suite-Pee has an interesting, stripped down shred to open, before giving way to quite a catchy riff. Track is quite chaotic; not bad. Know has some tasty drums in the intro, but otherwise a more straightforward tune. Sugar didn’t overly do anything for me. It starts off pretty heavy, before dropping into a relatively minimalistic riff. Last thirty seconds are like an entirely different tune. The quieter intro to Suggestions was a pleasant change. The song reminds me of a less refined take on Devin Townsend’s Vampira in places. Spiders is a bit more mainstream,  and has a more thoughtful tone. There’s also a subtle malice the adds a few layers, and this is the best track so far. Despite the somewhat jazzy intro, DDevil seems little more than filler. Soil has a nice riff, but it otherwise didn’t do anything for me. War? has a better riff, and is a bit better as a song (without being special). Mind has some nice build up over the first few minutes, but it’s a track that’s more interesting than good. Peephole starts with some sci-fi sounding samples before morphing into something like a macabre heavy metal circus / theme park. CUBErt is a short and catchy one. It’s also the much better of the two sub 2 minute tracks. Darts starts off catchy enough, but loses it’s way a bit. P.L.U.C.K. rounds things off. It has a nice bass intro, before a riff (that very, very vaguely reminds me of Gojira) kicks in. Not a bad tune.

Overall [3]

At forty minutes, it somehow seems a little long; it’s almost like this was an EP that was expanded to make LP length (or an 8 or 9 track album forced to be 13). That said, there’s nothing overly wrong with the album, and they certainly have plenty of original ideas. However, there’s a distinct lack of actual killer tunes by this point. There’s some tasty riffs here though.

Best tracks: Spiders, Peephole, CUBErt


ToxicityToxicity

A staggered, sort of minimalist intro kicks off Prison Song. Once it kicks in, the track follows a similar pattern to those of the debut album particularly – sporadic timing changes abound. Unlike on the debut, these changes are handled much more smoothly here, and are less jarring. The song itself is a decent enough protest tune. Needles is more of the same, but a bit better. I quite like the little interlude a couple of minutes in. Deer Dance starts off pretty solid, before becoming more interesting by the softer interlude. Pretty good. Jet Pilot has probably one of the speediest intros to date, whih gives way to a relative slow and malevolently sounding verse. The track jumps between these two styles throughout. It’s decent enough, and I could see it being a decent filler track when placed between two more popular tracks. X is a much more straightforward track, and I really enjoyed it. Chop Suey! is the ultimate SOAD track and a heavy metal classic. Bounce is pure silliness! In a way, it’s sort of a breath of fresh air after the super seriousness that’s mostly been up to this point. Forest has a really good opening riff. Another of their more traditionally laid out tracks, and one of their better efforts. I really dug the main, driving riff. Atwa is similar to Jet Pilot in the sense that it flits between two distinct tunes, but this does it much better. Science has a tasty, crisp guitar sound and a cool, driving riff to open up. The rest of the track sounds like a ‘standard’ SOAD track, but with much more memorable guitar work throughout. Shimmy seems to b a collection of short, catchy riffs with a few lyrics thrown over the top. Catchy. Toxicity is another SOAD classic, and one of the better examples of Serj’s more melodic vocal work. Psycho is mostly pretty good, before an excellent thirty second instrumental closes things out nicely. Aerials Arto provides an excellent denoument to their bst album.

Overall [4]

Without counting the trio of heavy metal classics that Toxicity contains – the title track, Chop Seuy!, Aerials – SOAD’s second album was already a step up on their debut. The more manic tracks have smoother timing changes, and there are some pretty flipping catchy tracks.

Best Tracks: Chop Suey!, Aerials, Toxicity, Atwa, Forest


Steal This Album!– Steal This Album!

Chic ‘N’ Stu is a silly, yet catchy opener. Innervision and Bubbles are both easy on the ear and somewhat catchy. Decent. Boom! and Nüguns are a little better, without being anything special. A.D.D.  is the first track on the album to really show some of their trademark aggression more prevelant on earlier work. Mr. Jack is the only track on the album over four minutes, and it uses the time fairly well to give some build up. Unfortunately, the lyrics are forgettable. I-E-A-I-A-I-O is the only track off this album they’ve been playing of late, after as an opener. It’s a little nonesensical, but it’s an entertaining tongue-twister. 36 is short (46 seconds) track. Pointless. Pictures has a nice bass intro, and is otherwise fine. Highway Song is a track I enjoyed as something to listen to in the background whilst doing other things. Fuck the System is somewhat catchy, but otherwise nothing special. Ego Brain has a nice acoustic intro (and maybe a melotron?). It theatens to be a great tune, but never really nails it. Thetawaves is forgettable, but Roulette is a really good, simple acoustic track. Streamline has a tasty riff or two and a decent closer.

Overall [3]

Apparently there is some conjecture as to whether this should be included, due to it being considered something of a polished up outtakes and b-sides collection. However, most official reviews/record sites list is as official, so I’m counting it. As for the album itself, take away the best three or so songs, and it’d struggle to be more than above average. I think there’s enough here to just call this a good album, but it’s far from a great one.

Best tracks: I-E-A-I-A-I-O, Highway Song, Roulette


MezmerizeMezmerize

Solider Side (Intro) is a one minute long moody and melancholy acoustic piece. It’s a scene setter, and runs into the start of B.Y.O.B. The latter is a modern classic that blends heavy shredding with an almost pop-like chorus. It’s their best post-Toxicity era song. Revenga has a tasty galloping riff that dips in and out of the duration. Song itself is not bad, enhhanced by said riffage. Cigaro is a bit odd. Radio/Video is a quite enjoyable example of SOAD’s passion of juxtaposing heavy and soft verses/choruses. This Cocaine Makes Me Like I’m On This Song is decent enough, but doesn’t stand out. Violent Pornography is a cracking tune, and a favourite in nightclubs around the time of it’s release. Question! was one of the singles. It’s not on a par with the ‘big’ tunes, but it’s good enough. Sad Statue‘s opening riff is a sweet callback to the main B.Y.O.B. riff. A good album track. Old School Hollywood is a little different, employing some synthy keyboards and vocal distortions. Kind of sounds a bit cheesy. Lost in Hollywood is a quiet, more refelctive tune and I quite enjoyed it.

Overall [3.5]

A very easy to listen to album, with a handful of cracking tracks peppered across its 36 minute run time. Not quite up to the sustained quality of Toxicity, but certainly their second best album up to this point.

Best tracks: B.Y.O.B., Violent Pornography, Revenga


Hypnotize– Hypnotize

Attack has a heavy, intense opening. As per SOAD, it gives way to a softer verse that they keep coming back to. It’s fine. Dreaming is mostly chaotic, but is actually at it’s most appealing in during is calmer middle section. Kill Rock ‘n’ Roll is somewhat forgettable. Hypnotize, for some reason, to me sounds like a twisted heavy metal lullaby. I enjoyed it, and I think it’s comfortably the best track on the album by this point. I don’t think much of the next couple of tracks, though Stealing Society is better than TentativeU-Fig is a bit more interesting than the two of them. Holy Mountains is one of their moodier and more reflective tracks. It’s also, comfortably, one of the better tracks on this album (though that isn’t saying much). Vicinity of Obscenity is silly filler, and She’s Like Heroin is worse. Lonely Mountain isn’t bad, and Solider Side is fine.

Overall [2.5]

A handful of pretty good tunes can’t help disguise that this is their weakest album to date. There’s too much filler (or worse) to be able to recommend it. Play the recommended tracks and leave it at that.

Best tracks: Hypnotize, Holy Mountains, Lonely Mountain



 

That rounds up my tour through System of a Down’s discography. For the most part, things are fine to good, with the much better Toxicity an obvious standout.

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Heat 6


Originally posted on the Bloodstock forums here.


One band had to drop out due to an emergency, meaning we have five bands for this sixth and final heat.

Elecorn

First up is an interesting quintet. They play a sort of post-metal, with aspects of more mainstread prog rock and a touch of math/tech about them too. Vocalist divided his time between clean and growling vox about 50/50. The lead guitarist was the standout of the bunch – pretty damned tight, and was particularly swish at finger-tapping solos.

Ba’al

The only band I’d seen from this heat before, and one I was looking forward to seeing again. They are a Doom/Sludge/Post-Metal act. And they are heavy. They start off well, and are tight throughout the set. I didn’t catch the name of the track, but they finished with a 12+ minute epic that nearly destroyed my neck.

Outta Peak

Describe themselves as ‘pop mosh’. Basically, they are pop punk but with heavier bits and some flourishes of tech thrown in every now and then. I can take pop punk in smallish doses or if I’m in the right mood, otherwise it’s no usually my bag. Trying to be objective, these guys did what they did well and – despite fearing my overuse of the word so far – they were another fantastically tight act. They got the crowd going a bit too.

Suffer in Anguish

Describe themselves as Deathcore/Metal. To me, in the live mix, this basically meant that at times they sounded deathcore and at another times death metal. Deathcore isn’t really my thing, but these guys were really good at what they did and totally won me over. They finished with a brilliant cover of Sepultura’s ‘Roots’ that sounded crushingly heavy. They also might have the most polite frontman I’ve come across in a long while – he was the first in the entire tournament that I recall thanked not just the booker of the tournament, but the sound guy, bar staff etc. It might sound like a small thing, but it went a long way.

Cain

Mancunian sort of trad / heavy metal. These guys seemed to divide opinion, but I quite enjoyed them. Front man reminded me of a sort of punkier Blaze Bayley, and he had an air of showmanship about him (at one point, he got the crowd to kneel down to take a ‘Viking prayer’ with him). There were some nice riffs, though I’m not sure exactly how memorable the actual songs are (I got a free CD, so I guess I’ll find that out when I play it).

Results: Ba’al won, Outta Peak came second and Suffer in Anguish came third.

I agree with Ba’al and SiA going through – I had them as the two best, in that order, ahead of the others by a decent chunk. Outta Peak were good at what they did, and they might do it better than Cain/Elecorn do their own genres, so I guess I can’t argue too much.

News:
It turns out we won’t have a 7th heat after all – the logistics of fitting it in before the semis just doesn’t work out.

The official semi-final line-up is yet to be announced, but I spoke to the event organiser and the tentative line-up (pending band availability) is:

Semi final 1 – Sat 8th April : Sobriquet, Gorgeous Morgue, Gorilla Warfare, One Year Dead, Arkdown, Outta Peak

Semi final 2 – Fri 14th April: Bovidae, Horizontal Faults, Delirium, Mothcob, Normaliser, Ba’al

Semi final 3 – Sat 15th April: Aonia, Crucifixiation, Grandmother Suplex, In My Restless Dreams, Archelon, Suffer in Anguish

The venue are also looking into getting guest headliners for all three semi finals too.

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Heat 5

Here’s my thoughts on the latest Heat from the Metal 2 the Masses competition, being hosted by Mulberry Underground at the Mulberry Tavern.


Originally posted on the Bloodstock forums here.


 

Sheffield
Heat 5

A couple of late cancellations mean that this was a four band heat. On another day, that might be a poorer quality band going through, but not tonight.

The Mechanist

These guys brought their own lighting rig and smoke machine. Sound wise, they were very close to Killswitch style metalcore, with an ever so slight tech metal flourish every now and then. Musically, they were very tight. Frontman did mostly growls, and one of the guitarists did the clean vox. I’m not sure if the lead singer was ill or tired but, by the last track or so, his voice was going a bit when talking to the crowd (didn’t seem to affect his singing much). Basically, if you wanted a slightly techy Killswitch, these guys are your band.

Arkdown

Their frontman was purely a growler, with no clean vox in site, and they reminded me a bit of October File’s heavier side. Whilst they described themselves as metalcore, if you removed the breakdowns from their set they would sound much closer to (contemporary or straight up) heavy metal, just with some outside influences that can’t quite be pigeon holed. As a band, they were probably a step below the openers for ‘tightness’, but above them on originality and sound.

Archelon

Oh my word. These guys instantly go into my top three. A sort of post-metal/doom/sludge hybrid, kind of like if you mixed Conan with someone like SubRosa. One of the guitarists doubles up as a sort of secondary drummer (single drum brought out onto the dancefloor area for a couple of tracks). They managed to squeeze four tracks into their 30 minute slot, including a hypnotic 10 minute opener. These guys also brought a smoke machine, and it worked so well with their style/sound. This was just straight up excellent.

Normaliser

Prog band. Sounded a bit like if you stripped back the combined sound of Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Threshold, and made it a bit heavier about half the time. I thought they were solid, but not mindblowing, though my opinion could have suffered a little from them playing after Archelon’s amazing set. On another night, I’d have probably had them in contention to win a heat.

Results:
Arkdown won the evening, partially down to the great support they brought (3/5 of tickets went to their fans). Archelon were second and Normaliser third. I’m fine with the result, though I agreed with the judges scoring more (they had the top two the other way around) and I wasn’t fussed/thought it was very close between Normaliser and The Mechanist.

Other news:
Apparently we are 90%+ likely to be having a 7th heat, formed of bands that came 4th (it sound like one band will go through and they will extended one of the semi-finals by a band as a sort of wildcard). I’m happy with this, as there’s been some heats where the gap between 2nd and 4th was tiny.

Also, I’ve been informed that the 50/50 fan and judge split ends with the heat stage an that the semi-finals will be a 75/25 split in favour of the judges. I’m fine with this, as I’ve tended to agree with the judge vote, plus it stops bands simply getting through because they brought a lot of people.

Metal 2 the Masses Sheffield | Heats 1-4

As anyone who knows me will be aware, I’m a regular attendee at Bloodstock Open Air festival.

Each year, the festival runs a competition called Metal 2 the Masses. In it, venues around the country host regional battles, with the winners being offered spots on eithrer Hobgoblin or Jagermeister stages at the festival.

Sheffield has only occasionally played host to such qualifiers, though not since 2014 when Goat Leaf won the tournament hosted by the South Sea at Broomhill.

From 2017, the event is being hosted by The Mulberry Tavern, under their Mulberry Unerground moniker. Prior to the tournament, I’d visited once or twice for the Metalsammlung evenings.

I started posting general thoughts over on the Bloodstock forums (and I’ll continue to do so), but I thought it made sense to use this blog in the first instance.

There is a week off this week, but there have been heats in the previous four Wednesdays, which I will summarise below.

Just before the summary, I’ll briefly go over the qualifying system. There are six heats of six bands. Attendees vote for their favourites and these votes make up 50% of the score (the other 50% made up by the voting panel). The top three bands from each heat progress to one of the three semi-finals. The same principle applies for the semis, except only the top two from each qualify for the final. The final will be judged solely by a representative from Bloodstock thmeselves.


Heat 1

Bands competing:
Biophony (the radio friendly end of contemporary prog metal)
Aonia (NWOBHM sounding guitars with operatic vocals)
Gorgeous Morgue (Horror Punk)
Sour Tusk (two man stoner metal)
Bovidae (three piece instrumental metal / classical / jazz hybrid)
Path of Subjugation (Slam / Death Metal)

Aonia, Gorgeous Morgue and Bovidae progressed. I agreed with two out of the three. Bovidae were head and shoulders above the others – they sounded like pros and I’m amazed they aren’t signed already. I had Sour Tusk second and Aonia third. GM brought a lot of people with them, and the popular vote seemed to swing them over Sour Tusk, though the latter were definitely better / tighter.


Heat 2

This was a crazier one, with three bands dropping out and one stepping in at the last minute. Still three to go through, which was slightly surprising (thought they might reduce it to two and give a band a wildcard to make up the final semi final spot).

Bands competing:
Horizontal Faults (Metalcore / Hardcore)
– Had a fair few problems with the sound, with all the microphones playing up. Musically they sounded fine, though nothing special. They all seemed quite young, so hopefully they should get better with time.

Shoul Shredder (female fronted Melodic Metal)
– I saw these guys for the first time around ten years ago, and they’ve come along way in that time. Listening to them you can hear bits of Iron Maiden, Helloween, Battle Beast, Unleash the Archers and others (if a little more mid-paced than those). The only potentially negative thing I foundabout them was that the frontwoman didn’t really interact with the crowd at all, but that could just have been an off night in that respect.

Crucifixiation (Death Metal)
– Brilliant name. Quick and heavy band. They had loads of timing changes, that mostly worked well (the drummer seemed to sacrifice precision for speed a bit, but it sort of worked for them). Front man was very chatty and amiable, giving off a good vibe. These were another band that seemed quite young. These guys could be really good down the line.

Sobriquet (sort of Heavy Alternative)
– Fair play to them for stepping in at the last minute. I’m still struggling to describe them, but ‘heavy alternative’ was the best I could come up with. I could hear bits of Placebo, Incubus and others floating around, tohugh Sobriquet are significantly heavier/pacier, and around 1/3 of vocals are growled. Frontman was pretty good.

Sobriquet won on the evening, Crucifixiation came second and Soul Shredder third. I agreed with the three that went through, but had Shredder and Cruci the other way around. Later it would transpire that Soul Shredder have had to pull out, and Horizontal Faults have been put through in their place.


Heat 3

Another five band heat.

2×4 (Hardcore/Beatdown)

Not my thing really, though they were pretty good musicians (drummer was really good). Vocals did nothing for me, and I didn’t find them overly interesting.

Gorilla Warfare (Dirty Rock / Punk / Funk)

Interesting band that had a nice vibe. I actually think that the ‘dirty rock’ description really means ‘stoner’. They were basically the upbeatness (is that a word?) that drew from pop-punk a bit, if overlaid on stoner rock riffs. The funk aspect was sort of the accents to the riffs (I’m making this sound way more pretentious than it was). Without being mindblowing or anything, they were very good at what they did and their style would suitably mesh with a wider selection of bands than most.

Soulphernus (Blackened Death Metal)

Aspects of Immortal and Behemoth here (closer to the latter than the former on most tracks, but their final song was definitely more ‘Immortal with death metal vox’). They had a few sound problems on vocals early on, but nothing too serious. I enjoyed them for what they were. Drummer was exceptional (good drumming was a theme to the evening) and the rest were fine to good. I liked the frontman, even if he was rooted to the spot a bit.

Grandmother Suplex  (Punk Metal)

Winner of the best band name of the evening, these guys were very professional. I enjoy punk / pukn metal without being overly enamoured, and these guys were very good at their flavour of it. At times they reminded me a bit of Rise Against, though that’d probably be an unfair style comparison on the whole. They rotated the vocals through three guys (two guitars and the bass), and that also worked quite well – particularly on tracks where all three sung verses each. Very enjoyable.

Delirium (Classic Rock / Heavy Blues)

Wow.

I’d seen these guys twice before (last year) and had been shilling them to my mates for a while. Last night was the best I’ve seen them. They heavy blues description is sort of in the way that some of Zeppelin’s sound came from rocking up blues numbers, as opposed to just taking standard 4/4 blues numbers and making them heavier.

A friend of mine was witnessing these for the first time last night. He’d heard both my shilling, as well as praise from others bands that we mutually know. Still, halfway through Delirium’s first track, he turned to me and said “Fuck”.

Some of this was probably the booze talking, but I recall saying that Delirium are the closest thing this generation has to a Zeppelin, T. Rex or any other iconic ‘classic’ band. They were that good. And they are all only 18 years old.

Anywho, onto the results. Delirium annihilated everyone, finishing first on both the judges cards and the public vote – apparently by some way. Grandmother Suplex were second and Gorilla Warfare third. Apparently it was very close between 2nd and 4th (Soulphernus).


Heat 4

Another five band heat.

Amnesia (Thrash)

Apparently these guys had an album out in 1991 and they toured with the likes on Xentrix back in the day. I think the opening track was a newer one (based on how they introduced the tracks after), and was not that thrashy. In fact, it resembles Queensryche, or maybe a stripped down Dream Theater. That said, from the second track onwards, they were most definitely thrash. They were pretty tight, and I enjoyed most of the tracks. Would be more than happy to see them again, maybe as a local opener on a thrash tour.

IMRD (In My Restless Dreams) (Hardcore/Hard Rock/Nu Metal)

Given the above self description on facebook, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What we got was sort of a halfway house between middle of the road / radio friendly metal and the melodic end of Killswitch Engage’s catalogue. They were quite professional looking and sounding, brought a heap of people and got a good reaction.

One Year Dead (Post-Hardcore)

It was like being in the early to mid 00s all over again. Reminded me of earlier Funeral For A Friend. OYD utilise two vocalists – one for clean vocals and one for growls. The growler was front of stage (well, on the dancefloor because they have too many members for the stage). I thought these guys weren’t that original, but did get a solid reaction. There was an interesting bit where they played a ballad, and the entire band sat down for it, and they encouraged the crowd to do it too (front few rows obliged).

Mothcob (Punk / Grind / Heavy Noise)

Grind really isn’t my bag (seriously, I don’t get why you have lyrics if there is a nearly 0% chance of being able to make the vocals out – just seems a bit redundant), but the band were tight (particularly the guitarist). From my limited exposure to Grind, these were (musically) towards the more ‘melodic’ end of the spectrum.

Inertia (Hardcore / Metal)

Apparently they recently changed their name from something else (was chatting to the booker of the event), but don’t recall what they were known by. Apparently they’ve tweaked their sound and made a small line-up change and this was ‘Inertia”s debut gig. Frontman was quite passionate, and the band were fairly tight. Not my usual cup of tea, but would have been fine with them going through.

After Inertia finished, controversy struck! One or two of the staff members became convinced there had been some vote tampering on the public vote side (I can certainly say that one band seemed to have less by the time I cast my vote vs. when I’d looked earlier at how the votes were going).

The resolution to this was that the entire public vote was rendered null/void, and they simply went on the judges votes (which seems fair, all things considered). The judges announces they’d be changing up the voting system so this issue couldn’t happen again.

IMRD, Mothcob and One Year Dead went through (I *think* IMRD were the winners, and Mothcob were definitely second). For me, IMRD should definitely have gone through, as I had them and Amnesia vying for first place. I had Mothcob and Inertia vying for 3rd, though OYD weren’t poor or anything. I’ll be interested to see how these three do against some of the others.



And that brings us up to date! There’s been some cracking bands so far in the comptition, and the semi-finals are already looking too close to call.

In related news, there were rumblings that a 7th heat / reperchage round might be added, potentially with the 4th placed bands being given another shot (the semi-finals being at weekends allows the events to run longer). I’ll keep an eye out for more news, but I would welcome it.

The dates for the remaining shows are as follows:

15th March  – Heat 5
22nd March – Heat 6
8th April – Semi-Final 1
14th April – Semi-Final 2
15th April – Semi-Final 3
29th April – Final