Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
Bloodstock M2TM 2020 – North Wales, Heat 2
Mcleans, Pentre 07/03/2020
Review & Pictures by Beth Jones
We were still dusting ourselves down from the first heat of this year’s Metal 2 The Masses North Wales, when suddenly, quicker than you could say ‘get me on the New Blood stage’, it was time for heat 2! Originally this heat was going to be taking place in Bangor, on the North West Wales coast, but sadly the venue is now an ex-venue. However, because this is North Wales, and the NEW Metal Productions team can handle pretty much anything, it was reorganised to our regular haunt, Mcleans, Pentre!
Five bands were set to take to the stage in this heat, and there were rumblings that this was going to be the toughest heat we had ever seen. Our very own Rick Tilley was asked to stand in as a judge on this heat, as one of the regulars, Phoenix Rising’s John Matthews, was unable to attend. It was pretty certain the judges were going to have a hard task. The ‘order of service’, drawn before we arrived, was Winter Hotel, Thrashatouille, Lullaby For A Unicorn, Krank, and Leatherback. This was going to be fun!
Hailing from Bangor, these guys play a hard hitting, modern alternative metal style with a pretty hefty punch. They haven’t been round that long and were using a stand-in bass player. While they had done a fair bit of prep for this, bringing with them printed lyric sheets for the judges, their relative infancy showed in their stage craft, which this year is one of the main things the judges are looking at. Musically they were great, and the charisma of front man, Warren Porter, did shine through. But, in my opinion, they weren’t quite ready, performance wise. However, this is something that will come with practice, and more gigging. They definitely have something exciting to give; they just need to work out how to present it.
We’ve seen these guys a good few times now, including last year’s M2TM North Wales, where they narrowly missed getting a spot in the final. Not to be downtrodden, they decided to return this year to give it another go. It was instantly noticeable that they had a new toy on stage – front man Rob Sutton had a synth that goes boom (not a technical term, but good enough to describe it – I’m old and all this synth trickery goes over my head)! I love the effect that you get out of them, so was looking forward to seeing how he used it, and to seeing how they’d come on since last year. I was not disappointed! From the first chord, to the final boooom, they were bloody brilliant! By far the best we have ever seen them perform. Their madcap food-based death/thrash metal, complete with inflatables, energetic movement on and off the stage from Rob, and a healthy dose of booooooom, was totally something I could imagine going down a storm on the New Blood stage. Epic performance!
Lullaby For A Unicorn
After being within touching distance of the New Blood stage, as one of last years’ runners-up in the M2TM North Wales final, it was no surprise to see these guys coming to give it another go. I’ve lost count how many times we’ve watched them play but was still as eager to see them again. They are quirky and have an endearing band personality that makes you feel happy, despite the manic and slightly psychotic look in front man Justin Williams’ eyes! They seem to have a bit of a curse on them in this competition though, and they do have a nasty habit of over thinking it. In this performance, a gremlin had got into the sound, and they were plagued with feedback, which I feel threw them off their game a bit. There was none of the usual party popper madness either, which was possibly like taking away their comfort blanket. I still really enjoyed their set though, as I always do, and I was very hopeful that the audience would see past the gremlins, because I know what their ‘A game’ is like.
We last saw Krank in the M2TM heats two years ago, and back then they just weren’t ready, so I was interested to see how they’d come on. Musically they have definitely come a long way, and they make a very good sound together. Carrying on the theme of the evening, it was quirky, humorous, and heavy. They’d obviously spent a bit of time thinking about their stage show, as they had a projector playing a random video in the background, and they also had a large ‘Doomsday clock’ displayed on a laptop for the audience, and the front man to see, as apparently they have a tendency to run over time! They’d brought a lot of fans with them, so they went down well with the crowd. They threw a load of miniature squeaky rubber chickens in to crowd at the start of the set too, which caused a bit of a gigglesome fracas. Unfortunately, even though I think they’re really good musically, something about the front man’s over the top, bullishness really irks me. I find it irritating. Yes, I’m a grumpy old woman, but I just think he needs to tone it down a bit. Let the music do some of the talking, and please, for the love of god, put your tits away! Oh, and another thing – my daughter has now stolen the squeaky rubber chicken we brought home and will not stop squeaking it! Goddamn you!!
The final performance of the evening was a one-man techno/industrial/metal crossover. My first thought was, ‘I hope they’re going to put the stage lights back on, because the photos won’t be much good otherwise!’ I asked the all-knowing Fozzy, and his response was ‘Just wait and see’. Hmmm, I’m not good with surprises! When the performance started, it became clear what Fozzy meant! Strobe… Lots and lots of strobe! It was like being in a 90s rave! Musically, there were samples, synths and pedals being controlled like clockwork by Matt, aka Leatherback. At the same time, he was playing some pretty tight rhythm guitar. Combined with the strobing and colour changing lights, also controlled by the music, it made for a pretty hallucinogenic experience! I had issues with this performance though, both as a lover of old-school, and as a photographer. He does what he does very well, and with a lot of skill, however what he does, and what I like musically are two very different things. My second issue was the lights. I spent so long looking directly at a strobe, trying to actually capture some useable photos, that my eye and the side of my face went completely numb. That was my cue to leave. I’m going to leave it at that. Clever, but not my cup of tea! It did get the audience going, but on a performance level, I don’t think that it would transpose to a big stage like the New Blood.
So, with all the bands done, it was time to vote. For me, there was one clear winner, who stood head and shoulders above the rest – Thrashatouille. After a short break, for the judges to deliberate and the audience to cast their votes, master of ceremonies, Beany, returned to the stage to announce the results. I totally couldn’t call it, so can imagine how tough it was for the judges.
First to be announced, and winners of the public vote were Krank, which is a good bit of statistical evidence that other bands should take notice of – the more people you bring with you to your heat, the more likely it is that you’ll win the public vote (unless you really suck and all the people you brought secretly hate you!). The band taking the judges vote, because of their musical ability, professionalism, stage craft and preparation (and rightfully so, if you ask me) were Thrashatouille!
This heat had definitely been a tough one, and it was sad that there had to be winners and losers, but, by definition, that’s what competition is. Onwards and upwards my friends, onwards and upwards! Next up! Heat 3, which takes place on 4th April
Disclaimer: This review and photographs are solely the property of 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.
Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Semi Final 1
Atomic, Wrexham – 04/05/2018
Review by Beth Jones
Following four great heats, Friday 4th May saw the first semi-final of the North Wales leg of the hotly contested Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses. With the ultimate prize of a spot on the New Blood stage at this year’s Bloodstock Festival, the competition was going to be fierce. The standard thus far in the heats had been excellent, so it was also going to be a very close contest, and I, for one, was glad that it wasn’t me having to stand in the judges’ shoes, as the evening did not disappoint.
The weather on Friday had been pretty nice and it was still quite warm outside. Now, for those of you who haven’t been to Atomic in Wrexham, which was the venue hosting the event, it is a cracking little venue – with little being the operative word! Let’s just say that it is a venue where you get very friendly with people very quickly, and it is a little on the warm side once you get any more than ten people in the room!
The first band of the night, Lullaby For A Unicorn, decided to embrace the heat, by dressing their bass player in a pink fluffy unicorn onesie! It was a sight to behold! You know it is going to be proper metal when you have a unicorn light, a cowboy hat, light up shoes, a seagull suspended from a smoke alarm, and a large gentleman with a light up bass, in a unicorn onesie and shades!! And this eclectic gathering of lunatics did not disappoint. The ethos of the band was fun, crazy and madcap; however their all-round musicianship was superb. The singer was incredibly animated, sometimes looking a little unhinged, but this just added to the overall presentation. The drummer impressed me most and I found myself drawn to watching him, purely for the force at which he played with! The whole room was bouncing along with them, embracing the crazy juxtaposition of pink and fluffy with chunky riffs, growly vocals and general metal mentalness. They took us through 30 minutes of hilarious awesomeness and started the night off with a bang! They truly are the originators of the genre they classify themselves in – ‘Turbo Metal Unicorn Sexy Horn Time’.
The question then was ‘how the hell do you follow that?’ The answer was ‘with Impavidus of course’!!! Holy undercrackers! The was our first experience of these guys, as we hadn’t been able to make their heat, and it was, if you will excuse the expression, FUCKING AWESOME! The female fronted fourpiece from Manchester absolutely took the roof off the place with their fast paced, ridiculously funky heaviness. The vocal abilities of lead singer, Michelle Adamson, are just insane! She has the ability to switch between something that sounds like Gollum possessed by many demons, to beautiful, clean vocals in the blink of an eye. They absolutely owned the stage. The musicianship of each individual member was displayed brilliantly, with intricate guitar work, heavy bass, solid rhythms and the amazing vocals. Their tunes are not overly intricate, but have lots of changes and variations on themes, that kept it interesting and enthralling for their entire performance. You could not help but be drawn to them. We were utterly blown away by them. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we got was something really, really great.
Next up, were a group of crazy kids from deepest darkest North Wales, who go by the name of Krank! These guys were a little bonkers and definitely a little erratic, and this came through in their music. They were tight and good as musicians, but a little too schizophrenic for me to keep up with. They did have a good groove though and the vocalist’s energy was insane. He was a tall chap, the ceiling in Atomic is quite low, and at one point I got distracted from the music, worrying that he was going to knock himself out by headbutting the ceiling! I did feel a little underwhelmed by them though unfortunately. This may have been because the two previous bands had been of such a high standard, that it would have to have been a very special band to top them. It is a shame, because they were good, they were funny, they were tight, and they were obviously all good musicians – they just didn’t quite float my boat.
The final band in the competition for the evening was OMV. We had seen these guys at their heat and I was very impressed with them, so was expecting big things at the Semi Final, and again, they delivered. They have a very definite look about them, with all bar the singer wearing some form of mask, and have obviously thought hard about the visual image they want to convey to fit in with their musical style. They are again extremely tight as a band and are all really talented musicians. There style is very definitely Crossover Hardcore, and their music punches you in the face with heavy, angry vocals, complex bass lines, and fast intricate guitars. They have got something to say and they are going to say it whether you like it or not! Thankfully, I liked it! I didn’t think on the night, they were quite as on point as they were in their heat, however they were still very impressive and their performance incredibly energetic. It is clear to see that they put a lot of work into what they do, and hats off to them for that. I really enjoyed them.
So that was the end of the competition bands for the evening, however the entertainment was set to continue, whilst the judges deliberated and counted up the audience vote. That entertainment was brought to us on the night by special guest headliners Outright Resistance. Having seen these guys at Amplified Festival last year, and been mightily impressed with their tightness and stage presence, especially from their singer, and then being shocked by the news they had parted company with her a little later in the year, we weren’t sure what to expect. They were still tight and incredibly well rehearsed, and the new singer was good, but for me, it had lost a bit of the sparkle. It was a shame because they are so good. Maybe it just needs time to gel more. I don’t know.
Then came the important bit of the night, the announcement (drum roll please!) After a very difficult deliberation the judges vote went to Impavidus. I have to say that we were in 100% agreement with this – they were by far the best on the night. The public vote went to OMV-Hardcore /Crossover – again this was definitely deserved. So two of the four bands progressing to the final were decided and we left, having had a great night, and thoroughly looking forward to semi-final 2…..
TO BE CONTINUED……
M2TM North Wales SEMI FINAL 2 – Atomic Wrexham 25/05/2018 Event Page:
M2TM North Wales FINAL – Central Station Wrexham – 15/06/2018 Event Page:
North East Wales Metal Productions:
Metal 2 The Masses Official Public Group Page:
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of 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 do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.
All photographs are the property of Beth Jones and PhotograBee – http://www.facebook.com/PhotograBeeImages