Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018: The Grand Final

Eight first round heats, three quarter-finals and four semi-finals finally led us to this – the Grand Final of the Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses competition 2018.

The King is Dead

2nd | Round 1, Heat 1
Bye | Quarter-Final 2 (event cancelled, all bands progressed to Semi-Finals)
1st | Semi-Final 4

Kicking off this year’s final were Leeds / Sheffield five piece The King is Dead.

Being first on can be a double-edged sword, but these guys came out swinging. Tight, high energy riffery was a staple of their set, and they certainly set the standard for the bands that followed. I really dig TKID’s general sound, which evokes garage rock, punk rock and alternative rock / metal, without really falling into any of those categories.

Stand out song: Papa Lazzaroach

This State of Ours

4th | Round 1, Heat 2
1st | Quarter-Final 1
1st | Semi-Final 3

Second on were Rotherham based alternative metal five piece This State of Ours.

These guys have come a long way from their first round performance; I don’t know of a band that has improved so much over such a short space of time. They were well supported last night, and deservedly got one of the best reactions of the evening (and the competition). The heavy metal conga was an epic visual too!

Stand out song: Another Light


1st | Round 1, Heat 7
1st | Semi-Final 1

Next on were one of the returning finalists from last year, post-hardcore/alternative metal quintet Sobriquet.

Some technical gremlins delayed their start a little, and I think it took them a couple of songs to truly settle down and get into their rhythm. That being said, their trio of songs to close (Auto de Fe, Golgotha and a new one) were brilliant – up there with any other trio of songs played last night. I also thought it was ballsy / showed supreme confidence to close with not just a new song, but to have it be its live debut… and that’s before we get into the tricky timing signature. It was the right decision though, as it is monstrously good!

Stand out song: the new one (it seems to have different names depending on who you ask, haha).


2nd | Round 1, Heat 4
2nd | Quarter-Final 1
2nd | Semi-Final 2 (Wildcard Winners)

Our penultimate band last night were our semi-final wildcard entrants, Psython.

A quality thrash band that’s not afraid to incorporate elements of others genres, these purveyors of ‘Reyt Metal’ have been one of the tightest bands throughout the competition. Smashing through their half hour in no time at all, their high octane shreddery won over a lot of fans, and the band seem generally take aback by the reaction they (rightly) received.

Stand out song: H.A.T.E.


1st | Round 1, Heat 5
1st | Semi-Final 2

Rounding out the competition bands were symphonic metal veterans Aonia.

Despite being a guitarist down, this was an excellent showing from the six of them. Their set time absolutely flew by as they put on one of the most well rounded and professional sets of the competition this year. There were the odd technical gremlins with one of the mics (I think!) but, for me, it didn’t detract from their quality performance.

Special Guest Headliner:

Providing the soundtrack to the final deliberations were last year’s Sheffield (and overall) winners Ba’al. Recent line-up changes meant that this was a rare instrumental show, featuring tracks from their EP, as well as their latest release, Thy Sorrow.

This was a mesmerising set, one that totally captivated the audience. Tasty riffs littered the set, and they left the crowd baying for more.

My thoughts

Firstly, I am glad that I didn’t have to pick a winner from that group, because the standard of bands on the night was insane!

If you really twisted my arm, I would have said either Psython or Aonia. However, I would have been happy with any of the five bands being chosen, as they all put on sets deserving of victory and each band having a unique selling point.

The result

Massive congratulations to Aonia, who were declared the winners! They will go on to play Bloodstock this year, and have the chance to win a bunch of goodies along the way.

Commiserations to Psython, Sobriquet, This State of Ours and The King is Dead – you all did the region proud and can hold your heads up high. I really hope all four of you enter again next year.

A few final words

Thank you to everyone that has been following the blog, especially those who shared it along. I’ve really enjoyed documenting the (vast majority) of our tournament this year.

Thanks to:

  • Jake – Sheffield wouldn’t have had this tournament without you. And thanks for letting me pretty much design the layout / voting system. I got to play with spreadsheets! Yay!
  • The Mulberry – for hosting all the nights, allowing us to have some premium nights for the later rounds too.
  • All the staff, particularly the sound techs – Alex, Pete, Dan, Steve et al, this couldn’t have been done without you guys
  • Tez for working the doors, helping bands set up
  • The judges – Steff, Jake, Stich, Dario, Joe – you all did a cracking, objective job.
  • And, of course, the bands and the audience. This is all for you guys and works because of you guys.

In addition to the finalists, there were some cracking bands that didn’t quite get there that I just want to give quick shout outs too:

  • Arkdown – man these guys came back tighter than ever, and were very unfortunate to not quite make the final.
  • Lowdrive – I don’t think I’ve seen such a band so ready made for success. It was a shame they had to withdraw from the semi-finals, but these things happen. I suspect these guys are gonna explode into the stratosphere, but we hope they return next year.
  • Bleating Apocalypse – stepped up during the toughest of the nights (nothing like a dying soundboard to get the stress levels up). These guys took it upon themselves to keep the crowd entertained. It was very much appreciated. They are also bloody good, haha.
  • Spiteful Embrace – I love that these guys rocked up all the way from Hull to play in our comp. Some of the loveliest bunch of guys you’ll meet, and they are really sodding good live too.

I’ll probably stop there, before I end up just naming everyone haha.

I really hope to see all the bands from this year return in 2019 – I think we’ve got a nice thing going here, with plenty of quality bands, all capable of representing Sheffield / South Yorkshire / the nearby region.

Actually, on that note, if bands are interested in entering next year, let Jake / myself know – we’re keeping a list of bands to tag / let know when entries open next year.

That’s about it, I think. Congrats one more time to Aonia. See you at Bloodstock!


Preview | Sheffield Metal 2 the Masses 2018 Grand Final

We are just five days away from finding out who will be representing Sheffield / South Yorkshire on the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage at this year’s Bloodstock festival.

The 2018 tournament began in late January. 15 nights spread over the past three months has whittled down 40 odd bands to just five.  

Aonia, The King is Dead, This State of Ours, Psython and Sobriquet are the fantastic five that will be performing on Friday evening. A wonderfully eclectic and talented mix, and every one of them deserving of their spot.

If you are thinking of attending the final, but have missed any of the above in earlier heats, I have put together this little preview piece. Below, you will find a little info on each of the finalists, as well as some tunes sourced on the Tube of You.


1st | Round 1, Heat 5
1st | Semi-Final 2

One of two returning finalists from last year, Aonia are a melodic metal seven-piece that mix elements of heavy, power, symphonic, and prog metal.

The King is Dead

2nd | Round 1, Heat 1
Bye | Quarter-Final 2 (event cancelled, all bands progressed to Semi-Finals)
1st | Semi-Final 4


The King is Dead are a Leeds-based quintet whose sound straddles an array of genres including punk rock, garage rock and alternative metal.

This State of Ours

4th | Round 1, Heat 2
1st | Quarter-Final 1
1st | Semi-Final 3

Another quintet in the final are Rotherham’s This State of Ours. Imagine mixing elements of Incubus, Deftones and (the more melodic end of) Killswitch Engage into grungey alternative metal casing and the result would sound something like TSoO.


2nd | Round 1, Heat 4
2nd | Quarter-Final 1
2nd | Semi-Final 2 (Wildcard Winners)

Recipients of the wildcard from the Semi-Finals, local five-piece Psython are a thrash bands that occasioanally also incorporates elements of speed metal, a smidge of extreme metal and a touch of stoner rock.


1st | Round 1, Heat 7
1st | Semi-Final 1

The other returning finalist from last year, Sobriquet are a five man group that mixes elements of alternative rock into their anthemic post-hardcore sound.

And that isn’t all!

Winners of the local and overall competition last year Ba’al will be playing a special guest headlining performance whilst the Bloodstock representative mulls over his decision.

Hopefully this has helped prepared you all for what is sure to be an epic final.  See you all on Friday – Doors are 6.30pm, first band at 6.45 sharp!


Sheffield Metal to the Masses 2018: Semi-Final 2


Semi-Final 2


Last night was the second of our four Semi-Finals.

Just before we were about to start, disaster struck – the sound desk failed and wouldn’t reconnect to the WiFi. This led to a number of us dashing about to source a replacement, including a jaunt down the Dove & Rainbow.

In the end, a replacement was sourced and we managed to kick things off. All in all, the delay was around an hour and quarter to an hour and a half. To balance things out, bands were asked to shave 5 minutes each of their sets. All the bands were really understanding of the situation, and it helped make a difficult situation move a lot more smoothly that it could have done.

Before we get into my thoughts on the sets, I want to give a specific shout out to Bleating Apocalypse. They offered (and did perform) re-worked acoustic versions of their material for a large part of the time the replacement soundboard was being sought out. It was very much appreciated, and the crowd really dug it.

Bleating Apocalypse

Kicking us off a little after eight (instead of a quarter to seven!), the blackened lounge music quintet Bleating Apocalypse started their proper set.

By the very nature of their style / image / content, they are going to be a bit of a marmite band. Thankfully, they are actually a really tight outfit and they played really damned well last night. The sound mix was better for them here than in the first round show, so I could actually make out the vocals much better this time out.

I doubt that you’ll see many other metal sets featuring a 1982 Casio DG-10 Synth Guitar, nor an otamatone – nor songs told from the perspective of billboard! Haha. This was loads of fun, as it was meant to be.


Next up were serial vloggers and all round ‘reyt metal’ enthusiasts Psython.

In their first two performances they put in performances that were never less than solid, with flourishes of excellence. Last night felt like the culmination and evolution from theses shows, with them playing the tightest set I have seen them play.

Singling out any one of them ou too much would be as bit unfair, as they all brought their ‘A’ game and left it all out there on the stage, but I do want to just throw their drummer a little love – he was flat out phenomenal last night!  

A cracking, high octane set.



Next up were Rancidium, a band who had one of the best crowd’s reactions of the tournament in their quarter-final.

Whilst the crowd reaction didn’t reach the heady heights of that earlier show, the band themselves did play their tightest set so far in the competition. The lads still need to work a little on their between song banter / smoothness of changeover between songs, but I was heartened by the improvement in their actual playing. Also, frontman Damon has a very unique (and good!) vocal sound that I think could be a genuine unique selling point that they could build their songs / set around.


A returning finalist from last year, Aonia were our penultimate competition band last night.

I have seen the seven-piece operatic metallers a few times over the past few years, and this was certainly the best they have sounded in the Mulberry. With so many components / layers to their sound, I imagine they are a trickier band to get the levels spot on for, but sound guy Alex absolutely nailed it.

Performance wise, they were excellent. This was a confident, professional show that wouldn’t have been out of place on a full academy-sized tour or larger. I did like some of the extra touches they put into their aesthetic too – their own backdrops, stereo smoke jet machines, etc. Some may see it as a little gimmicky, but I see it as a band going the extra miles to make themselves memorable / giving the audience a more rounded package. This was top class stuff.

Zero Point Zero

Finishing off the evening were Chesterfield’s Zero Point Zero.

Their first round performance was marred with technical issues, so I was glad to see them get another shot that was relatively issue-free.

Whilst the crowd had thinned down from its peak, due to the late running of the show, those that stayed were treat to a very enjoyable 25 minutes. Musically, they are sort of like if you took a metalcore band (towards the melodic end of the spectrum), and added in flourishes and licks that wouldn’t sound out of place in standard heavy metal (or even hard rock), you would be in the ballpark. This makes for a very accessible sounded, aided by an amiable and engaging frontman who knows how to work a crowd.

I enjoyed this set much more than their first round show, and I’d love to see them back in Sheff soon.

Special Guest Headliner:

Forgotten Remains

Another Chesterfield band were our guest headliners last night. Forgotten Remains are a death / thrash hybrid band with a really good live reputation. Unfortunately for me, I was stuck in the box office counting all the votes with Joe. However, through the door it sounded pretty sweet, and the crowd seemed to be into it. I did manage to catch a bit of a cracking Iron Maiden cover towards the end.

My Thoughts

Personally, I thought it was very close between Aonia, Psython and Bleating Apocalypse, with the other two not a long way behind. I was a judge again last night, and those three were my top three.

The Result

Congratulations to Aonia, who were fairly comfortably the winners on the night.

Psython narrowly pipped Bleating Apocalypse to second place and so, now wait with Arkdown to see if they are the best ranked second place side.

Thanks go out to all five bands, not just for the quality of their sets but for their patience and understanding with all the issues that went off at the beginning of the night.

Next up is SEMI FINAL 3 on Friday 13th. It features Coyote Mad Seeds, Soul Shredder, Sour Tusk and This State of Ours. Guest headliner is the hilarious comedy grindcore act Raised By Owls.

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!