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 1

It’s getting towards the business end of the competition now, with the first Semi-Final being held last night.

Unfortunately, due to cancelled flights, Regulus’ drummers was stranded in Spain, so there was no guest headliner last night. Still, this was a remarkably well attended show, with the eventual vote count reaching a staggering 74!

As usual, the bands drew random slots to kick things off.


Opening the event were Chesterfield/Sheffield heavy as hell quintet, Empusa.

They had impressed me greatly with second place finishes in both their First Round and Quarter-Final appearances.

Just like in the Quarter-Finals, drawing the opening slot didn’t seem to phase them on iota, and, armed with their array of death metal / metalcore / melodeth hybrid tunes, they bulldozed their way through their half an hour. Once again, frontman Danny’s vocals were a standout – his command of a variety of a styles is always impressive.

As for the set, I enjoyed it, and I thought it was a step up on their Quarter-Final performance.


Next on were local space rock heroes Deltanaut.

Their route to the final was an interesting one (finishing second by a single point to Bleating Apocalypse in Round 1, then being a part of the snowed off third Quarter-Final), and I was looking forward to seeing what they conjured up.

As for their set, whilst they didn’t perform the 30 minute improvised jam Niall had threatened to do after their First Round heat, they did break out a couple of excellent examples of from their back catalogue. Their opening track was a tasty 12-ish minute piece, followed by an epic rendition of The Sorceress to close.

My only issue with the set was that I found the bass to be too low in the mix for my liking. You could hear it, but I felt it should have been clearer. On the flipside, Luke’s guitar sounded gorgeous.


Two of the finalists from 2017 were playing in last night’s Semi-Final. The first of them was Metalcore / Contemporary Heavy Metallers Arkdown.

It’s seems an absolute age since I last saw these guys (they won Heat 1 in the First Round and have been waiting patiently for the Semis ever since). One thing I noted last time out was how much tighter their performance was this year in comparison to their run to the final last year. I was asking myself if they could match / top that opening round performance – the short answer was “yes”.

There was plenty of crowd action as they slammed their way through their 30 minutes. This was as professional and tight as a show gets, and was definitely going to be a tough one to beat.


The penultimate band of the evening was our other 2017 finalist that was performing last night, Post-Hardcore / Alternative Metal five piece Sobriquet.

Whilst not musically the same, for me there are some similarities between these guys and Arkdown. They have buckets of potential and, on their night, can absolutely decimate an audience.  They are also both bands that I had the same minor criticism of last year – they could be tighter.

Well, the comparisons continue here because, like Arkdown, Sobriquet have evidently busting their arses to rectify that (as shown by their First Round performance).

Tonight they followed it up with an absolutely raucous show, including one of the largest pits we have seen in the tournament to date. Everything was on point – they absolutely nailed it. One of the many highlights of the set was their cracking rendition of single Auto-De-Fe.

Spiteful Embrace

Hull finest groovesters were back and, once again, were closing out the evening for us.

These talented chaps narrowly missed out on winning their first round heat, before returning to win their Quarter-Final outright with an exemplary show.

Last night was another strong performance that fused aspects of Killswitch Engage and Pantera, with add dashes of standard heavy metal thrown in for good measure.

Their half an hour flew by in no time at all (always a good sign), with a number of standout tunes (particularly Shallow and Journey Backwards).

I had no idea where this set would place on the night, but it would have been certainly good enough to win a number of the previous evenings in the tournament. This was a damned tight show, where everyone brought it.

My Thoughts

Damn! When the line-ups were set for the Semi-Finals, a number of people remarked how this could have been the final – such was a the quality and reputation of the bands.

I was on judging duty last night, and I think this is legitimately one of the toughest things I’ve had to do. Without getting too far into the nitty gritty, there are six categories that are scored out of ten (so a max of 60 points). Last night, on my final tallies, only 7 points separated 1st and 5th.

I had Sobriquet first, one point ahead of Deltanaut, one point ahead of Arkdown.

The Result

Sobriquet won, finishing first on all three judge scorecards, as well as narrowly winning the fan vote. They become the first band in the 2018 final.

Arkdown came second, which means they still have a chance of making the final. At the end of the four Semi-Finals, the four second placed bands will have their total judge scores compared. The band with the best overall score will progress to the final as a wildcard entrant.

That was an absolutely amazing show. I think it says something that, after the result was read out, members of all five bands just congratulated the winners and all remarked how stunning the quality level was. It was a really good vibe to end the night on.

Next up, Semi-Final 2 which is TONIGHT!

Doors are 6.30pm. First band on at 6.45pm. Competing bands: Aonia, Bleating Apocalypse, Psython, Rancidium and Zero Point Zero. We also have a guest headliner in Forgotten Remains.


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 7

A Small Update

Due to scheduling conflicts, anthemic rockers Fear Lies and melodic metallers Steal the City have withdrawn from the competition.

Combining this with the respective availabilities of the bands that have finished 4th so far, this meant that Rancidium, Zero Point Zero and Thrashsquatch have all qualified for the Quarter-Finals. Additionally, in the two remaining heats, the bands that come 4th will definitely qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

The Story So Far…

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

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

Round 1, Heat 7

The penultimate heat in the First Round saw five bands battle it out for one Semi-Final and three Quarter-Final spots.


Kicking things off were young upstarts Kxntinuum. Of all the genres we have had represented so far this year, deathcore is probably one that appeals to me the least. Saying that, these guys did okay and those down the front partook in some rhythmic headbanging in time to the downtempo chuggy riffs. I only had a couple of issues with the set – namely that Charles’ guitar was too quiet in the overall mix (some of the technicality was lost) and the other being that they weren’t the tightest unit around. Both of these things can be resolved with experience.


Next up was Chesterfield/Sheffield quintet Empusa. Those that read my blog last year will know that I was impressed with Crucifixiation frontman Danny. Well, this is where he is now, and, man, has this enabled him to show off his skillset more! His low death grunts are excellent (with good diction!), and he can transition to high end metalcore/black metal shrieks at the drop of a hat. Musically, the band are sort of death metal / melodeath, with smatterings of metalcore here and there. The set was excellent and I was blown away by some of the riffs/tunes.


Next up was the latest out-of-town band to enter the competition, Huddersfield’s Discordian. These guys were quite interesting – musically, they were dancing the borderline between modern heavy metal and metalcore. However, the musicality and melodious tones of the clean vocals from frontman Will would not have sounded out of place on a 30 Seconds to Mars track. Additionally, there were times when he had a more shouty delivery usually found in acts such as Rise Against. To me, this made them more of an intriguing prospect than a lot of run-of-the-mill metalcore bands around at the moment.

Coyote Mad Seeds

Trio Coyote Mad Seeds were the penultimate band of the evening, and their brand of southern / hard rock brought a definite stylistic change on what had come so far. They remind me of quite a few bands I’ve seen over recent years – a dash of Trucker Diablo, a pinch of Scorpion Child, a handful of The Treatment – though not quite like any of them either, and with their own flavour too.

I had managed to check out a couple of tracks from an EP of theirs that’s available on Spotify currently (apparently they played the whole thing tonight, plus a new one) and I recognised and enjoyed hearing them live (particularly Get Outta My Way).

Live, these guys are tight. Definitely one of the tightest bands we have seen so far this year.


One of returning finalists from last year, Sobriquet drew the closing slot for the evening.

For those that haven’t seen them before, Sobriquet are a high energy band that mixes aspects of Incubus, Placebo and Tool with a general post-hardcore sound. Its uptempo and brash, but not without plenty of melody. It’s infectious.

As with any of the returning bands, I was looking forward to seeing how they had improved since then. A small criticism I had of theirs at times last year was (like Heat 1’s Arkdown) that they could be a little tighter live. Well, (again, like Arkdown) they certainly showed me! I had heard that they had tighten up greatly by the time their EP launch happened last year, and that certainly played out last night. This was a really strong set, easily matching their best from last year’s tournament.

My Thoughts

For me personally, it was very close between Empusa, Coyote Mad Seeds and Sobriquet. In the end, Danny’s vocal range and delivery sufficiently blew me away for me to give them the nod. I genuinely can’t remember who I voted second, but it was one of the the other two, followed by the other.

The Result

In what turned out to be a close heat, Sobriquet won and advanced to the Semi-Finals. Empusa were second, narrowly ahead of Coyote Mad Seeds and a little more ahead of Discordian. Those three will all progress to the Quarter-Finals.

The eighth and final First Round Heat takes place on Sunday 25th February. It features: Dislocator, Dissenssion, Epitaph, Firegarden, InFall and Strange Bru.

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!