Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Quarter-Final and Semi-Final Line-ups


The Story So Far…

Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk, Bleating Apocalypse, Lowdrive, Aonia, Soul Shredder, Sobriquet, Firegarden

Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Exemption, Deltanaut, Grave UK, Psython, Gorilla Warfare, Air Drawn Dagger, Burn Down the District, Spiteful Embrace, This State of Ours, Rancidium, Zero Point Zero, Thrashsquatch, Empusa, Discordian, Coyote Mad Seeds, Dissension, Epitaph, Dislocator

With the first round now in the books, it is time to turn our attention to the later rounds of the competition.


A reminder of the format:

The eight First Round winners have progressed directly to the Semi-Finals. They have been split across the four evenings set aside for that round. Each Semi-Final will contain four bands. The two remaining slots in each Semi-Final will be decided by the Quarter-Finals.

The Quarter-Finals are four nights, with five bands per night. Pending availability, bands have been kept as separate as possible from those that qualified from the same First Round heats.

As previously communicated, the weight of the fan vote decreases by the round. In the Quarter-Finals is it ⅓ fan to ⅔ judge. For the Semis it is ¼ fan to ¾ judge.

Now for the exciting bit – finding out who is in which QF / SF! Please see below for the answers:

Thursday 15th March 
Gorilla Warfare*
Grave UK
This State of Ours

* Gorilla Warfare have withdrawn due to logistic issues. This will be a four band Quarter-Final.

Sunday 18th March
Coyote Mad Seeds
The King is Dead
Zero Point Zero

Thursday 22nd March
Burn Down the District
Crimson Tide

Sunday 25th March
Air Drawn Dagger
Spiteful Embrace

Friday 6th April
+2 Quarter Finalists

+ Special Guest Headliner set from: Regulus


Saturday 7th April
Bleating Apocalypse
+2 Quarter Finalists

+Special Guest Headliner set from: Forgotten Remains


Friday 13th April
Soul Shredder
Sour Tusk
+2 Quarter Finalists

+ Special Guest Headliner set from: Raised by Owls


Saturday 14th April
+2 Quarter Finalists

+Special Guest Headliner set from: hoofKnuckle




Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: Round 1, Heat 5

The Story So Far…
Qualified for the Semi-Finals: Arkdown, Sour Tusk, Bleating Apocalypse, Lowdrive
Qualified for the Quarter-Finals: The King is Dead, Crimson Tide, Fear Lies, Exemption, Deltanaut, Grave UK, Psython, Gorilla Warfare
In contention for a wildcard: Clawback the Day, This State of Ours, Black Moon Rising, Thrashsquatch

Round 1, Heat 5

Last night’s fifth heat was a six band affair. Despite it snowing, and being on a Sunday, this was a pretty well attended event, with attendance numbers somewhere in the high 40s/low 50s range.


First up was the very youthful quartet, Rancidium. The chaps have been around in one form or another for getting on for four years now, and I’ve heard they have modified their sound a bit over that time. To me, they sounded like a blackened Trivium, with a hint of Carcass.

Performance wise they put on a solid show. Musically they were fairly tight, and the tunes were enjoyable. They went down really well with the crowd too.


Anyone who read my blog on last year’s tournament should know Aonia, who were worthy finalists in the 2017 competition. For those who didn’t, they are a seven member band that mixes operatic vocals with a mixture of Power, Prog and New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

I’ve seen Aonia probably five or six times over the last 18 months or so and they have come on leaps and bounds in my eyes. Whilst last night wasn’t quite to the heights of the set I saw last year (when they supporting Xandria at Corporation) this was still a flipping good show. There was an ever so slight issue in the opening track where the keyboards were very low in the mix, but that was mostly rectified in that song. Despite this, it was still one of the strongest sets in the competition so far.

Burn Down the District

Next up were a very interesting band. As I’ve mentioned in write ups for earlier heats, hardcore doesn’t do much for me (and metalcore is very hit-and-miss). What makes these guys interesting to me is that, whilst they describe themselves as metalcore, it wasn’t of a style that I would have automatically thought of (to me, metalcore conjures up images of bands like Killswitch Engage, 36Crazyfits, etc). To my ears, Burn Down the District sounded a lot closer to groove metal (think the most up tempo Pantera and Machine Head) with added hardcore vocals. It was… refreshing!

Performance wise, they were really tight and they seemed to be having a blast on stage. They seemed to win over the crowd too, on a night of very different genres being represented.

Death of Man

This Barnsley-based trio were a late addition to the bill, giving us an ever more diverse lineup than there already was.

Stylistically, they mostly seem like a doom / heavy metal hybrid, though their opening number was almost death’n’roll. I enjoyed the old school simplicity of the tunes – just heavy as all hell doom.

Air Drawn Dagger

Talk about a change of pace and style, next up were the up-tempo pop punk / alternative rock musings of Sheffield quartet Air Drawn Dagger.

In a genre with little scope for originality, bands stand and fall on their live performance. Air Drawn Dagger are damned good at what they do. They have an engaging frontwoman, and they play a fun, tight live set. They are certainly the first band to have a crowd surfing lead singer this year too. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Sinners Sermon

Last up was Sheffield trio Sinners Sermon. I’d seen them once before (opening for Cybernetic Witch Cult), and this set was more of the same. They play a groovy type of heavy metal, with nods to sludge and doom along the way.

Performance wise, they weren’t bad (though having to follow Air Drawn Dagger’s excellent showing was a little unfortunate, but that’s how random drawing goes). It was a struggle to hear the vocals at times, but otherwise an enjoyable performance, worthy of the tournament.

My Thoughts

Aonia were the standouts for me. The other five bands were relatively quite close together, with Burn Down the District just edging ahead of Air Drawn Dagger and Death of Man. A cracking collection of bands from top-to-bottom to be honest.

The Result

Aonia were victorious, and head straight to the Semi-Finals. Air Drawn Dagger and Burn Down the District were second and third respectively, so quality for the Quarter-Finals. Rancidium finished in 4th place, so now await to see if they finish in the top half of the 4th place bands.

Next up is Heat 6 on Thursday 15th February , and contains the likes of Soul Shredder, Spiteful Embrace, Steal the City, Them Sardines and Zero Point Zero.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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:
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:

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
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
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!