The Metal 2 the Masses tournament is back for 2018, and the Mulberry Bar & Venue is once again hosting the Sheffield leg of the competition. Like last year, I will be blogging my thoughts along the way. I will attempt to make every night, but there are a lot more evenings this year, so we shall see!
Just before I get to Heat 1, it probably would make sense to go over the tournament format, as it is a little different from last year.
There are eight first round heats, initially comprising of either five or six bands. The eight overall winners of these heats goes straight into the Semi-Finals. The sixteen bands that come 2nd and 3rd progress to the Quarter-Finals.
The final four spots in the Quarter-Finals will be decided at the end of the final heat. Going entirely on the judges’ technical scoring, the four highest scoring 4th placed bands will be offered a wildcard spot in the Quarter-Finals.
Fan voting makes up 50% of the final score in Round 1.
There will be four Quarter-Finals, with five bands playing on each night. The top two bands from each Quarter-Final progress to the Semi-Finals.
Fan voting makes up 33% of the final score in the Quarter-Finals.
There will be four Semi-Finals, with four bands competing on each night. The overall winner from each Semi-Final progresses to the Grand Final. The best 2nd place band (again, solely on judges’ technical scoring) will also join them.
All four Semi-Final evenings will have special guest headliners.
Fan voting makes up 25% of the final score in the Semi-Finals.
Five bands will compete in the Grand Final on Friday 4th May. A representative from Bloodstock will be on hand to pick the winner.
Last year’s winners Ba’al are confirmed as the Special Guest Headliners for the Grand Final.
Round 1, Heat 1
Unfortunately, due to illness, A Joker Among Thieves had to withdraw, so this became a four band heat (meaning that all bands have an opportunity to progress after tonight). Still, there was plenty to play for, including a bye into the Semi-Finals.
Clawback the Day
Up first was Chesterfield five piece Clawback the Day. They list bands like Lamb of God, Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage and Down amongst their influences, and that comes through well in their general contemporary heavy metal sound.
Whilst no one song stood out above the rest for me, I did really dig the general sound and enjoyed the whole set from start to finish. There was a slight issue with the kick drum (massively loud at points), so it was probably good that their drummer was pretty darn good.
Next up was an alternative rock / metal quintet from the Steel City. Whilst they cite Slash, Alter Bridge and Tremoni amongst their influences, I would say that their overall sound is a little more ‘alt’ and a little less stadium rock-y than that implies, but it was certainly something that I really enjoyed.
With how the stage was set up, it was a little cramped for the five of them – I did think frontwoman Beth was going to get KO’d by the guitarist a couple of times, but thankfully not! As for the performance, I actually really dug it. At times they didn’t look quite fully relaxed, but that will come with experience and time. When things did go their way, it did so in a big way; I didn’t catch the name of the song, but there was an absolutely cracking power ballad towards the back end of their set. Finally, a shout out to their drummer Luke, who was probably the most impressive musician on display last night.
The King is Dead
The penultimate band of the evening was, for me, the most divisive. Their sound straddled the boundaries of punk rock and garage rock, with a little something else thrown in. As you would expect from such a description, the pace was frenetic at times, and a certain amount of chaos ensued.
Musically, I quite liked TKID – particularly some of the shreddier guitar work. However, their frontman (who looked a little worse for wear), took me out of it a bit. Sure, it was humorous to see him fall over a few times when down in with the audience, but it took me out of the songs. That’s just me though, and I know for a fact that the band went down well / others didn’t think this was much of an issue.
A strong finalist last year, Sheffield’s Arkdown have been mentioned as a pre-tournament favourite amongst punters, and will be looking to go one step further than last year.
For those that didn’t catch them last year, these chaps play a sort of hybrid consisting of metalcore and contemporary heavy metal, with splashes of deathcore thrown in.
Last night they put on the best performance I have seen them do to date. It was the same heavy sound from last year, but everything was just turned that notch up. The whole band were tighter than I have heard them before, and the sound was absolutely massive (props to the sound guy on that one too). They had multiple pits going, and even had an Amon Amarth style heavy metal rowing section!
Arkdown were hands down the best band on the night, and that’s no insult to the other three. How they are still unsigned is beyond me. As for the others, it was a tough call between the next two, but I prefered Crimson Tide by a whisker over Clawback the Day.
Arkdown comfortably won, and deservedly so. Their set would have won most heats from last year. The King is Dead came 2nd (I told you they were divisive!) and Crimson Tide came 3rd. It was close between 2nd, 3rd and 4th, particularly between Crimson Tide and Clawback the Day, with pretty much only a couple or so votes deciding it.
Arkdown move straight into the Semi-Finals, TKID and Crimson Tide qualify for the Quarter-Finals, and Clawback the Day wait to see if they are one of the top four 4th place bands (I hope they are!).
Next up is Heat 2, this coming Sunday. It’s our first six band heat of the year, featuring everything from stadium rock to beatdown/hardcore. I’m looking forward to seeing who will progress from: Bleeding Tooth, Broken Down, Exemption, Fear Lies, Sour Tusk and This State of Ours.