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.


Aonia

https://www.facebook.com/aoniauk/
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.

Delirium

https://www.facebook.com/DeliriumOfficialbandpage/
Rock
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.

Sobriquet

https://www.facebook.com/sobriquetband/
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.

Archelon

https://www.facebook.com/Archelonband/
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!

Ba’al

https://www.facebook.com/baalsheff/
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.

Arkdown 

https://www.facebook.com/ArkdownOfficial/
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:
Regulus

https://www.facebook.com/regulus.band/
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:

Bovidae
https://www.facebook.com/bovidaeband/
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
https://www.facebook.com/GorillaWarfare/
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
https://www.facebook.com/Sourtusk/
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!

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.

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