Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Semi Final 1 – Mcleans Pentre – 17/05/2019

00 Event Poster

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Semi Final 1
Mcleans Pentre – 17/05/2019
Review by Beth Jones

It doesn’t seem like two minutes since the first heat of this year’s M2TM North Wales competition, and yet all of a sudden, here we are at the business end of proceedings!

The first semi-final promised a definite step up in standards, and we were very much looking forward to it. Sadly, again, one competing band, Mindriot 15, had to pull out due to a family emergency, so we were left with four really good bands to battle for just two places in the final; Favela, Lullaby For A Unicorn, Bad Earth and Scarfoot.

When we arrived at Mcleans, it was great to see a really good turnout, despite road closures and all sorts of other things happening that weekend. The running order was drawn live, and Favela were picked to go on first.

Favela
After seeing these guys in the heat, we knew what they were all about. They are heavy, 90’s inspired, shouty and tight. They certainly put on a performance here, with front man Tom Harrison covering every inch of available stage space in a performance full of energy and vigour. This might make me unpopular, but I actually think I preferred their performance in their initial heat. I don’t even know why! I think maybe they were almost trying too hard here, and it didn’t feel as real as in the heat. Rick however totally disagrees with me! He thought they were really good. Maybe I was just in a bad mood! Hard day at work and all that!!

01 Favelahttps://www.facebook.com/FavelaUK/

Lullaby For A Unicorn
I don’t need to say much about these guys, apart from it is always a pleasure to be in their company and watch them play, and they were on fire for this performance. Even though it was shorter than their usual craziness, they still managed to make a huge mess! Guitarist Dan Alexander also looked like a man possessed. Usually very reserved whilst playing, he was jumping round like a complete nutter and really going for it with his presence and witty banter, which was great to see. They were super good, as always, and super tight. I have a real soft spot for these guys. Luckily, I’m not a judge, so it doesn’t matter if I am biased!

02 Lullaby For A Unicornhttps://www.facebook.com/rockmyunicorn/

Bad Earth
Here is a band who have been through the mill a bit recently, but they have had good news, just this week, with the appointment of new bass player, Tim Nicholls. Having not heard him play before and knowing that he had had just 5 days to learn the set, we were nervous for them, but we needn’t have been. Oh my word, what a show! Big, big kudos to Tim, who did an outstanding job, and seems to have just slotted right in to the band perfectly. Drummer Ren Stefan and Guitarist/Vocalist Stephen Coxon looked so much more relaxed on stage, and their performance was spot on. I spoke to Stephen afterwards and he said that was the best he has felt on stage for a while – that it felt comfortable. We could really tell from out front! A great performance. And, just for Stephen’s benefit, I would like to point out that the lighting was perfect, and they all had the correct number of clothes on 😉.

03 Bad Earthhttps://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH/

Scarfoot
They were definitely up for this performance and put on a pretty good show on the whole. They are very passionate and are great lads, but for me they were lacking in something here, and I can never quite put my finger on what it is. Don’t get me wrong, they have come on a long way from when we first saw them, but I think that they still have more locked up potential that they need to find the key for. Their songs are creative, quite proggy in places, and they perform them well, but it just doesn’t gel quite right sometimes. That being said, they did work their socks off and the crowd were appreciative. They are really lovely guys too.

04 Scarfoothttps://www.facebook.com/thescarfootband/

That was the final competing band, and after a swift round of voting, and a trip to the bar, and while the judges went off to deliberate on their choice, we had the pleasure of discovering an interesting bunch from South Wales!

Apathy Avenue
On their Facebook page, these guys say they are Alternative/Hard Rock. The lead singer certainly had a hefty does of alternative flare, a bit like if Dr Who went to Glastonbury stoned out of his tree! They were very tight and well-rehearsed, and had a quirky style. Sections of rap peppered their songs, along with clean vocals and some nice guitar work. Whilst they were not what I was expecting, they were good, and I quite liked them. They weren’t particularly heavy, and I think some of the crowd were in need of something a bit more growly, but the ones that did stay to watch them seemed to enjoy it too.

05 Guest Headliner Apathy Avenuehttps://www.facebook.com/Apathyavenue/

And so, the results were in. It was going to be a really hard one to call, as every band had upped their game. I knew who I thought it should be, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Progressing to the final were (drum roll please)…………. Bad Earth and Lullaby For A Unicorn! I was very happy with this. It was, in my humble opinion, the right choice. Favela missed out by the narrowest of margins, but it is all about what happens on the night, and Lullaby and Bad Earth just had that edge. Well done to all the competing bands for getting this far, and we shall look forward to seeing all of you, in some capacity, very soon.

Thanks again to all the bands for a great night, and of course to Ian ‘Fozzy’ Paul Forrester and Ian ‘Beany’ North for their constant hard work and dedication to the scene here in North Wales. See you at Semi Final 2, which is going to be even tougher than this one!

LINKS:
Semi-Final 2 Event Page
https://www.facebook.com/events/2350996518296726/
Grand Final Event Page
https://www.facebook.com/events/172760083629491/
https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/m2tmofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/GoodforaudioEntertainment/
https://www.facebook.com/McleansPubLive/
https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/
https://www.facebook.com/TheImpactZoneOnRadioDeeside/
https://www.facebook.com/evermetal2017/

 

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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Heat 2 – McLeans Pentre – 12/04/2019

00 M2TM Heat2 Poster Top

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.

Scarfoot
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.

01 Scarfoothttps://www.facebook.com/thescarfootband/

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!

02 Second Time Roundhttps://www.facebook.com/secondTround/

Zanda Stone
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!

03 Zanda Stonehttps://www.facebook.com/zandastonemusic

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!

04 Cry For Mercyhttps://www.facebook.com/cryformercyofficial/

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!

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!

05 Guest Headliner Lock Hornshttps://www.facebook.com/LockHornsOfficial/

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!

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/m2tmofficial/
https://www.facebook.com/GoodforaudioEntertainment/
https://www.facebook.com/McleansPubLive/
https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/
https://www.facebook.com/TheImpactZoneOnRadioDeeside/
https://www.facebook.com/evermetal2017/

 

 

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.

N.E.W Metal Productions All Dayer – 20/10/2018

N.E.W. Metal Productions All-Dayer
The Live Rooms, Wrexham
20/10/2018
Review by Beth Jones

If there is one thing that I will say about Wrexham, it is that it has always had a good live music scene, however, in recent years that has been heavily dominated by the Indie scene, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that, it just isn’t quite metal enough for me! In recent months however, Ian ‘Beany’ North and Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester have been trying to change that, by putting on as many gigs as possible in genre, via their promotion company, N.E.W. Metal Productions, the ‘N.E.W.’ being North East Wales. We were super pleased when they told us that they were taking it one step further and proposing to put on a metal all dayer, not only because this is what has been missing round here, but also because it meant we got to check out the newly refurbished Central Station, which is now called The Live Rooms Wrexham. To add to our excitement, we also had a visitor with us – none other than Rick’s partner in crime on the website, Dawn, who had managed to navigate the rail network from London to get up and see us!

We arrived at the venue a little before kick-off, so that we could check out the adjustments. First impressions were good. The rooms which before had been open plan, were now split, and a small ‘green room’ had been added – and it was quite literally green, complete with astro turf flooring and a woodland scene on the wall! The main stage area was essentially the same and the roof still, in my opinion, requires lagging to get the most out of the acoustics, but it certainly had a more thought out feel about it. In the second area, there was a huge, table shaped, elephant in the room. Now, a table is always a good idea in a venue where it is pretty much all standing, as you need somewhere to put your drinks, but when said table takes up almost a third of the available space, and is pretty much un-movable, it becomes less of a useful thing and more of a thing of mind-blowing annoyance! However, a team of 15 strong gents managed to push it 3 feet to the side, so at least there was a little more room for watching the bands!

So, without further ado, to the bands! Opening the day for us were a new to the scene local band, Scarfoot. They were a good way to start the day, and it was a refreshing change to see a drummer taking on lead vocals too. They are a little bit proggy and a little bit whacky, and a small crowd had already gathered to watch them, which is never a given for all day gigs at the moment! They certainly had a good sound, but for me the songs sounded a little samey. I wanted them to take it a little further and explore a bit more. This will come though I am sure, as they get more experience under their belt. On occasion some of the harmonies were not quite there, and the rhythms were a little shaky, but with more practice and live experiences like this, they will develop that sixth sense that you get from spending a lot of time with the same people!

01 Scarfoothttps://www.facebook.com/thescarfootband/

Next, over on the second stage, Bad Earth were ready to do their thing. Last time we saw them was at the Pentrefest Summer Sessions. Thankfully this time, they had a lot more clothes on than they did that day!! They are damn good! They are three guys who really know how to make a song groove. The power of Stephen Coxon’s vocals is excellent, and the sound on the day made them crystal clear. They always put on a brilliant show too, with the whole band being totally in to it. They are just great, solid, ‘meat and two veg’ hard rock, and had the whole room grooving with them. Enough said.

02 Bad Earthhttps://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH/

We went back to the main stage next, to be in the presence of the aptly named Mad Spanner. In a total contrast to Bad Earth, these guys serve up a huge does of crazy! Their fast paced, heavy as hell, schizophrenic songs are all full of humour and observations on life which completely endeared them to the gathered crowd. They really do look like they have been plugged into the mains, especially front man Michael Randall, who has more energy than all the Duracell bunnies! Ok, they might not be the most technically rehearsed musicians you will ever see, but they are fun, they are mad, and they are a great bunch of guys, who make you feel happy, and I love this.

03 Mad Spannerhttps://www.facebook.com/MadSpanner/

Scars Of Remembrance where our fourth act up. We saw these guys the first time at Wrexfest in July. We thought they were ok then, they all looked a bit nervous, especially their new front man Mike Edwards, as that was his first gig. Well, what a difference a few months makes! They were tight and all looked a lot more relaxed and gig ready, and Mike was on fire!!! He was up on the big table; he was bouncing about in front of the monitors, and on the stage itself, and looked like a man on a mission! It was definitely mission accomplished by the end of their set. It is so great to see a Wrexham based Metal / Metalcore band and I can’t wait to see them grow and progress further. Nice work lads!

04 Scars Of Remembrancehttps://www.facebook.com/scarsofremembrance/

Carrying on with the heavy theme over on the main stage were Abominate. They really do hit you in the face with heavy. Lead singer, Dave Ballantyne, looked like he was baying for blood! They didn’t seem quite ‘on point’ on the night, although talking to Dave afterwards, I think a heavy few days may have contributed to this. That said, they were still really good and they do what they do really solidly. Their drummer also pulls some quality drum faces!!

05 Abominatehttps://www.facebook.com/AbominateMetal/

Next up were a band that we hadn’t seen before, Ragnarok. They are a good, old fashioned, dirty hard rock band and they are now definitely on our ‘must see again’ list. Their set was laden with powerful riffs and good solid numbers that everyone was moving too. Guitarist Matthew Foulkes did it all with a very cheeky glint in his eye, and they all have an obvious passion for music. If you like bands such as Witch Tripper or The Senton Bombs, you would love these guys. They left us with a political number which was pretty raw and hard hitting given the current climate, and I was very impressed by them, both in their live performance and their song writing skills.

06 Ragnarokhttps://www.facebook.com/ragnarokUK/

The day so far had been superb, and we were now heading into the final three bands, with main stage support, All Consumed, up next and ready to take the heavy up another notch! Blooming heck they are heavy! They are a mix of death and thrash, but with the odd hint of prog – a random combination – a bit like a cheese and jam sandwich! But they are so tight and so well – rehearsed that everything slots together brilliantly. Their drummer, Dave Kenyon, is also insanely good, pulling off some amazingly fast and powerful beats. They had a good group of crazy moshers going hell for leather down the front too! They were perfect main support material.

07 All Consumedhttps://www.facebook.com/AllConsumed/

The second stage headliners were M2TM North Wales winners, Gothic Folk ‘n’ Rollers, and all – round top people, Cadence Noir. What can we say about these guys that hasn’t already be said! They had a bit of a shaky start, when the electrics blew and they lost all power for a few minutes. But this only made for a brief pause, and didn’t knock them off their stride one little bit. They are totally different and that is why I love them so much. They have a bag of folk elements in there, with Emma Bennett’s violin, but they are still heavy, groovy and super lively, making for a proper party atmosphere. This was sustained throughout their whole set. The atmosphere was absolutely on fire by the time they got to their last song, where they stepped it up one final gear to give us an amazing cover of Iron Maiden’s ‘Fear Of The Dark’! WOW! Superb! A couple of clowns in the crowd got a little over excited during this and became a little vigorous for mine, and a fair few others’ liking. There’s always one isn’t there! Hey ho, that aside, what a set this was. It just reaffirmed that they were totally deserving of their M2TM win, and that I, and Rick, will never get bored of watching them perform!

08 Cadence Noirhttps://www.facebook.com/CadenceNoir/

And so, the end was nigh, and we had reached the final mosh pit! Our headliners for what had been an awesome day were seasoned pros, Hecate Enthroned. I was excited to see these guys for two reasons. Firstly, who can say no to a bit of banshee like screaming backed up by some awesome blackened death metal riffs; and secondly because my old college buddy and fellow member of ‘The Phreax Table’ gang, Pete White, plays keys for them! If you like your death on the Cradle Of Filth side of things, these are the band for you. Powerful rhythms and pumping bass below manic and technical guitars, with a symphonic element of strings and ethereal choirs provided by the keys and the immense screams of lead vocalist Joe Stamps. Now in their 25th year, Hecate have built up a worldwide following, and it is easy to see why. They have the knowledge and professionalism that matures with age, like a fine wine, and it was an absolute privilege for me to be able to see them playing a hometown gig. For Rick and Dawn, there were a little too many blast beats, for me it was brilliant! When you can feel the beat in your ribcage, and you think your ears may bleed, you know you are having a good time!

09 Hecate Enthronedhttps://www.facebook.com/HecateEnthroned/

What a day! All the acts were great, and the passion that every one of them played with was tangible. It is, by far, the best day of metal that has happened in Wrexham for a long time, and it is fabulous to see things starting to happen here again on the metal side. This is down, largely, to Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester and Ian ‘Beany’ North, who have dedicated their time, experience and their own passion of the music to relaunch the scene. Huge thanks must go to them for doing this, and also for the bands who entertained us superbly. Long may it continue! The metal scene in Wrexham is, once again, open for business!

LINKS:
https://www.facebook.com/N.E.WMetalProductions/
https://www.facebook.com/GoodforaudioEntertainment/
https://www.facebook.com/Powerzonemetal/

 

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 adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.