Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Heat 2
McLeans Pentre – 12/04/2019
Review by Beth Jones & Richard Tilley
Having missed the first heat, due to Rick’s ill health (Sorry – Rick), we were stoked to get back in the game for Heat 2, at our new local, as we seem to have been there more than anywhere else recently, Mcleans Pentre! The line-up on the night had been five competing bands, but one had to pull out at short notice, so we were left with four and special guest headliners, all the way from Northern Ireland, Lock Horns. There will be more about them later, but first on to the competition.
First, on the night, were the incredibly likeable chaps from Scarfoot. We had seen these guys a couple of times before, so kind of knew what to expect. Their performance was a mixed bag. Enthusiastic, but tentative; bursting with confidence in some songs, but looking a little like a rabbit in the headlights in others. They definitely have potential, however they need to find a way to get over nerves, as I think this holds there performance back – their bass player, especially, looks like he would be more comfortable playing via video link, from a nice cosy room with soft lighting. That being said, they did have a collection of songs that were well though out, catchy, and pretty proggy in places which appeals to us a lot. We want to see them grow because they are such genuinely nice guys, and they do have an interesting sound.
STR (Second Time Round)
We saw these guys at NEW Metal Productions ‘The Christmas Carol Mosh’ back in December 2018 and were left slightly unmoved by them. We were hoping that they would have improved for this but sadly that wasn’t the case! Don’t get us wrong, the guitarists/lead vocalists have something. They gel and look right onstage together, although it’s not quite there yet, but we think they are being held back by the drummer, who is a nice enough guy, but can’t really keep time, and the bass player who is adequate, but thinks he’s Steve Harris, and has an uber arrogant attitude towards both the audience and his fellow band mates, which was an instant turn off for both of us (and other people in the audience). Whether it is just nerves, or whether he is actually that arrogant doesn’t really matter – talking over your band mates to slag them, and the audience off, is just unprofessional, and if they think that any big or medium sized festival will look at them twice with that sort of attitude, then they are foolish. There were several occasions when, had we been outside, tumbleweed would have rolled passed the stage! It was kind of embarrassing, especially as Bloodstock’s own, Paul McMonnies, was in attendance that night. Our one ask to bands would be please, when you are starting out, don’t act like you are seasoned pros, who have been touring globally for twenty years, unless you have the musical talent to back that up!
Next up was the former frontman of Ragnarok, Zanda Stone, who had decided to go it alone, and try and be ground breaking with heavy acoustic. One thing we will not take away from him is that he stood up on stage, just him and a guitar, in a M2TM heat, and gave us an acoustic set, which is very, very brave. His job was made a lot harder by the fact that some of the STR members (and their mates) decided to talk and laugh, rather loudly, through the entirety of his set, which is just plain rude and another complete no-no at a gig!
We had really quite enjoyed Ragnarok when we had seen them at Central Station in 2018 as part of the ‘Casual Mosh’ Summer Sessions, so had high hopes that Zanda was going to be good as an acoustic act. Sadly, it didn’t quite work. The songs were good, if a little too political and basic in places, but it kind of fell a bit flat without any crunchy band behind it. There were also some tuning issues, which were pretty stark at his party of one on the stage. If Zanda continues down this acoustic route then we wish him all the luck but we both agreed we much preferred seeing him fronting a big, loud and thumping Heavy Rock/Metal band!
Cry For Mercy
Having not been wowed by anyone so far, we didn’t have massively high hopes for our final competing act, Cry For Mercy. We gathered at the stage, like a good, obedient audience and waited for them to start. Then there it was, WHAM! From the first note! Proper toe tapping, well performed by understated performers MUSIC!!! Lord be praised (if you like that kind of thing [shit, don’t discuss politics or religion, damn, damn, damn])! Here was a band who knew what they were doing, could play really, really well, and were, more than, solid in their performance, but humble in their delivery. They are not metal, they are good, heavy bluesy rock (think Thunder meets Black Country Communion) and we were instantly back in the game watching them. The night hadn’t really got going until this point, but they reminded the audience why we were there. Bassist/Vocalist Kev Plant had one hell of a voice, and Guitarist/Vocalist Andy Cutty could noodle better than an all you can eat Chinese Banquet! Fair play! With Drummer Steven Taylor keeping things rock solid on the skins, this was what we had been waiting for! Everyone in the audience was with them, and for us there was no question of who should progress to the next stage of the competition!
After their cracking performance, it was time to vote. Two bands would be progressing to the Semi Finals, one as the judges vote and one as the audience vote. It had been an odd night, that’s for sure, so it was going to be an interesting result! Whilst the judges deliberated and the audience votes were totted up, we were treated to out first proper ‘metal’ performance of the night, from four lads from Northern Ireland, who have already made it to the 2019 Belfast M2TM finals – Lock Horns!
Wow! Just…Wow! This is what we had been waiting for! They blew the roof off with their performance, which was screamy, fast, proggy, intricate, Djenty, and everything in between. As a pretty below par Bass player myself, the slap and pop skills of Bassist Rhys Fraser positively made me drool and cry simultaneously! Whilst the epic vocal range of Alex Da Costa, from low growls to pitch perfect clean vocals, made everyone smile with pleasure. This was bolstered by the intricate rhythms of drummer Corey Hodges, and some pretty spectacular wizardry from guitarist Junior Afrifa, (who incidentally seemed about 30 foot tall)! We freakin’ loved these guys – so much so that Beth’s trusted ponytail was let down for a little mosh! It was clear to see why they have progressed to the Belfast finals, and we wish them every luck in the world for that, as they thoroughly deserve it. Having chatted to them briefly afterwards, as we bought their album, they seem like thoroughly decent guys too!
And so, it was decision time. It came as no surprise that Cry For Mercy were picked to progress to the next round. They were, by a country mile, the best band on the night. Joining them would be Scarfoot and we think this was the right call. They definitely have something, they just need to sort out their performance skills! Onwards and upwards! The Heat 3 review will be coming up shortly and we will be brutally honest about another bunch of hopefuls!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rick Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.