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.
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.
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).
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.
Another five band heat.
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)
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).
Another five band heat.
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