What a night! On Friday, 15th June 2018, METAL finally returned to the iconic Central Station! What used to be a great place for live metal was brought kicking and screaming back to life with the return of Bloodstock's Metal To The Masses competition. Up until now, all the heats and semi-finals were held in the much smaller Atomic venue just down the road, so it was a bit of a gamble to move to a venue that was several orders of magnitude larger- but it worked well.
Promoter Fozzy did a great job keeping the night running smoothly over the two stages, the metal didn’t let up for a minute as it went back and forward between the larger main stage and the smaller showcase stage. For the final, we were joined by Bloodstock royalty, Rob Bannister himself. Taking turns with our own unique compare Beanie, Rob introduced bands, sold raffle tickets (a lucky winner won the top prize of a ticket to Bloodstock and a runner up got a case of delicious Hobgoblin ale) and handed out freebies as the slavering crowd screamed below.
Starting the night on the main stage was the instrumental progressive 3-piece ARCHETYPE, who captured the attention of the entering metalheads. A solid start whilst the second stage was being prepared. Loud and aggressive stuff. As soon as they played their last note, Coventry’s M2TM champions PELUGION took to the second stage, belting out some awesome tunes and drawing the fans in closer with their freshly poured beers. They played a tight set and showed just why they’ve been picked already for Bloodstock!
As soon as Pelugion finished their set, tonight’s competition got under way, and the first band to be pulled out of the hat was the crushing IMPAVIDUS! The crowd swelled and front woman Michelle delivered her trademark growling vocals over some superb groove-laden riffs. They were superb and a strong contender for the M2TM victory. Whilst the stage was reset for the next band, IN DEPTHS took to the second stage to play their brand of Deathcore. It was nice to have a local band in (they’re from Wrexham/Chester, I believe), but the scene sure has changed since I started attending local shows in my early teens!
Back to the main stage and CADENCE NOIR took their turn. This would be the third time I had seen them and they simply got better every time. Although it wasn’t traditional metal, (a violin and an electric double bass were used for a start, perfect for POWERZONE!) the folky, rocky tunes were engaging and once again I spent a full 30 minutes smiling my way through a set that was full of energy, they really gave it their all.
The crowd was buzzing now, so when REDWOOD AVENUE took to the stage, they got a mosh pit going with ease. They brought a strong contingent of fans with them, who really seemed to enjoy the show. Not bad considering they made their way across from Pwllheli! But this is my review so I’m allowed to be honest. Whilst I’m sure they are good at what they do, I just didn’t like it. I’m not close-minded, I just don’t like the style of ‘modern’ metal. What I will say though is that they are thoroughly nice lads and they’re likely to go far if they carry on the way they do- the metal scene loves this stuff at the moment – I’m just out of touch, it seems.
So it was time for our last band on the showcase stage- LIFER. Now that’s more like it! I’m not quite sure I can do justice to describing these guys but they had elements of southern metal, doom, thrash- they were just heavy and uncompromising, far more my sort of thing, and the now half-cut crowd appreciated it too! Back to the main stage for the last of our competitors OMV. Again, I’m going to be honest- I’m not a fan. OMV have a bit of a ‘tough guy’ gimmick, wearing masks and trying to force the brutal. And having met these guys off stage, its just a persona, thankfully. Musically they describe themselves as ‘hardcore street metal’ which immediately set my warning sirens off, and having seen them before in the heats I wasn’t expecting much. Again though, they brought their loyal fans, who are the reason for them getting so far in the competition, consistently winning them the fan vote. After a few minutes of frontman Richie calling me and everyone else a “motherfucker”, a “pussy”, a “motherfucking pussy”, a “pussyfucking mother” and a “motherpussy fucker”, I decided to go to the bar next door for 15 mins for a pint of proper beer and a quick go on the karaoke (my warbling version of Kingston town is up on Facebook, but I don’t recommend looking it up).
The night almost over, the lull during changeover was a great chance to catch up with friends old and new. Myself and the Lady of Metal had a good old chat with a few band members, Rob Bannister and his wife, the organisers of the competition Fozzy and of course the one and only Beanie, plus our new favourite couple Rick & Beth from Ever Metal (check out their facebook page HERE, it’s great!). We’ve enjoyed the competition all the way through and it’s always nice to meet new people and make some great new friends. It’s been brilliant to be a judge for M2TM but this time I thankfully didn’t have to decide, the honour was up to Rob Bannister alone. So whilst he contemplated, the headline act took to the stage. SOLITARY are a superb thrash band and normally would be well supported, but they suffered a little by being on so late (it was well after midnight at this point) and we’d had all had 5 straight hours of metal without a break, I think we were all a bit beaten, bruised and probably a bit worse for wear after a lot of beer. Despite there not being too much movement in the reduced crowd by this point, they delivered a decent performance. I did try and get a mosh pit going along with a couple of the hardcore moshers, but it was in vain.
So here we are, at the end of the show. Just one thing left before a dirty burger on the way home and it was the thing we’d all been waiting for, the winner of this years competition was…………. CADENCE NOIR! Well deserved, these guys are going to be heading to Bloodstock New Blood stage to represent all of us here in North Wales. Well done to them, and commiserations to the other bands that took part in the competition from beginning to end. We’ve had some laughs, met some real characters (I’m looking at YOU, Lullaby for a Unicorn) and had many hours of BRUTAL metal along the way, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Fozzy and North East Wales Metal Productions, so thank you guys.
Same time next year?