M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 2 – Divinitas, The Machinist, Visitor and Archetype The Rebellion, Manchester 22/01/2023 Live Review by Rob Sutton
After the incredibly tough Heat 1, I was excited to see what Heat 2 had to offer, especially as 3 of the 4 bands were new to me. So I am not going to blabber on and I’ll dive straight into it.
First up was newcomers Divinitas who I had tried to research beforehand but drew a blank. I then found out that these guys actually don’t have a Facebook so my efforts were pointless. In fact, this was only their second gig and from the awkward start to their set where it felt like they had no idea who was taking the lead to kick things off and a very long intro, it felt like their second gig. But, as the set went on things really did start to pick up, the riffs really did shine and then the lead sections cut through beautifully adding a fantastic layer to their metalcore sound. Heck, they even threw in a breakdown or 2 which absolutely hit the spot. Everything became tight and well oiled after the first song and was an absolute pleasure to watch. Now with these guys being instrumental there was minimal crowd engagement from them which to me didn’t matter, I would have cut it out completely and let the music shine through. This is where the question lies, do Divinitas need a vocalist? Well yes and no, yes as it will really work in the metalcore scene but you would need a really stunning vocalist to match them, and they would risk becoming ‘yet another metalcore band’ and no because they actually work really well as an instrumental group. To summarise, this was an impressive set once it kicked in and it’s well worth keeping an eye on these guys!
Things take a darker turn as industrial black/death outfit The Machinist hit the stage and right off these guys kick in with their Anaal Nathrakh style. Now straight off these guys don’t have a drummer but this actually doesn’t matter too much as the style does lean towards a more electric sound and fits perfectly. The only issue is that the drum track doesn’t seem to be of the best quality, most notably when it came to the snare rolls which just sounded messy and distorted. The backing tracks in general didn’t seem to have been mixed very well on the night and thus lost a lot of their impact and it did kill their ambience. Luckily the guitars are where The Machinist shine as the lead tremolo picking is absolutely sublime and the sheer speed these guys are playing at is just mesmerising. There is also a lot of energy on stage with plenty of movement from both the vocalists. I do love the styles used by both vocalists but I’m not sure the sound they’re going for needs 2 vocalists as they were very similar in style. The fact the band went seamlessly from one song to another really did keep the energy throughout the set, but for me was let down by trying to engage with the crowd. In this case I think less is more when it comes to engagement. Now, I was really looking forward to these guys as they are a unique sound in the underground scene right now but with the sound issues and the meh backing track it actually fell a bit flat.
For the first time tonight we have a full band in the shape of Visitor, straight away you can tell these guys have brought a crowd and whip them into a thrashy craze. Their presence on stage is something that is unmatched this evening and they really do dominate the stage. I really dig the thrashy parts in their set, the shouts work, the pacing is brilliant and the drums are blistering. There are also some cheeky breakdowns thrown in the mix which are perfect for waking up the next day with whiplash. Now sadly when the thrash side stops we get a metalcore side with lots of clean singing… Now, I have to be honest, the singing really isn’t great. Yes, it’s cool that it’s the drummer using a Britney Spears mic but God it’s flat, lacks power and is just whiney. Saying that the frontman’s singing isn’t much better and suffers with similar issues. Being honest because of the singing I couldn’t enjoy this set as much as I wanted to, saying that I’m 100% loving the thrashy breakdowns and the stage show they did put on.
Finally we go back to an instrumental band in the shape of Archetype, who I had actually seen the night before in Rhyl, so I had a good idea what to expect. What can you expect from Archetype? Well tonight’s set was fairly tight but still had the odd missed note or two but I wouldn’t say it was anything too alarming and they did utilise the whole stage really well. Archetype are showmen and this shows tonight as their professionalism really shines through. Honestly their music is very interesting and chops and changes throughout the show, though I did ask myself, is this just trying to be clever for clever sake or is this actually something I would enjoy? Erm for me this is maybe just a bit clever and show offish which kind of works, but I can’t help but feel that this is just Zebedy without vocals. That’s no bad thing as I enjoy Zebedy a lot, and I sort of enjoy Archetype too and this set was good and did tick all the boxes so in terms of this competition and this was probably the strongest on the night.
So last week I mentioned the lighting and despite my previous review not being published before the event the lighting was better tonight on the whole. Though it didn’t quite work for the Machinist. So, in terms of the results, this was a slightly weaker heat than the last one in my opinion but Visitor went through on crowd and Archetype on the judges. Both were good enough to go through in my opinion but Divinitas have certainly made a new fan tonight!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton 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.
Pentrefest Summer Session 2018 McLeans Venue – Pentre, North Wales July 14th, 2018 Review by Beth Jones
It had been a few days since our return from Amplified, and a serious case of post festival blues had hit the Jones-Tilley household. The washing was nearly done, the ironing mountain was ever growing, and anything and everything was royally getting on my tits. So, when Fozzy sent us a Facebook invite to the ‘Pentrefest Summer Session – A Day Of Casual Mosh’, we could think of no better way to spend our Saturday and hoped it would be the antidote to the crushing withdrawal from live music and alcohol that we had been suffering, cold turkey, for what felt like an eternity!
Mcleans Pentre is a very unique venue; the space is fantastic, and the acoustics are great, but it seems that its location has a tendency to pull out a serious case of the ‘can’t be arsed’s’ in a lot of local music fans, which is a real shame. We arrived just after lunch, ready to watch a lovely collection of music ranging from local talent, to Italian metal heads Slave Steel.
Our first performance of the day was an acoustic set by Mike West. Based locally, he delivered a great set of southern style blues rock, which was perfect for a sunny afternoon. It was the sort of thing you would expect to hear being played from a porch on a ranch in Texas in a Levi’s advert, and I liked it a lot. There is something very appealing about that style of music for me, and Mike’s gravelly voice worked perfectly. I could quite happily have listened to it all day to be honest – it was just chilled and relaxing and very well executed.
Next up was another local act in the shape of Edd Case, again performing acoustically. He was more edgy than Mike, and delivered a great set, including one song which had, what I shall term as, rhythmic talking sections and a sung chorus. Now usually this sort of thing winds me up, but this particular song was a masterpiece – emotive and powerful, based on the experiences of his friend in the forces, and written as a letter home to family. It got me in the feels big time, to the point that I had to pretend I had something in my eye! I was emotionally teetering before this, due to the aforementioned festi-blues, so had to do a certain amount of internal pulling myself together before heading off to the smoking area for a break before the next act!
Things got a bit noisier next, as the acoustic acts were done, and we got our first full band of the day; a new band to the local scene, Renegades Of Fire. We had seen these guys at the Metal 2 The Masses heats in Wrexham, so kind of knew what to expect. They have only been around since November 2017, and I think need a little more time before we will see the best of them. They have a good sound but look a little tentative on stage at times. As individuals, they are all good musicians, but they need to settle in together and become more of a whole in order to really make their sound gel more and have fun with it; it is a skill in itself to be able to look confident even if you are shitting bricks, but it is things like this that will come with time. I am looking forward to watching their performance techniques grow.
From the nervous to the uber confident next, with Bad Earth. These guys had buckets full of dirty grooves and banging bass riffs, and some pretty fine rhythms to boot! Frontman Steve Coxon’s vocals were great, with a scratchy rugged tone, and excellent rock range, and he cuts an awesome figure on the stage too, he is a giant amongst men, or he certainly looks it from my 5’0” perspective! Both him and bass player Rob Murray performed topless too! I will let them off because it was very warm in that room, but they didn’t really need to – their music spoke for itself without needing to enhance it with sweaty torsos!! They led us through a rip-roaring set, which wouldn’t have been out of place on a bigger stage, and certainly deserved a bigger crowd than those of us interested enough in the local scene who had turned out on the day. They are a must see for anyone who likes bands such as Witch Tripper, Orange Goblin or Clutch.
The standard so far today had been excellent, and up next were one of our most favourite discoveries from Metal 2 The Masses – Lullaby For A Unicorn. A psychedelic bunch of chaps who like to harness their inner nutter and splurge it out for all to see!! When is a Unicorn not a Unicorn? When it’s a large man in a onesie strapped to a light up bass guitar! They are certainly an interesting sight to behold, but when they start playing you realise that their music is not as mental as their appearance – well maybe lyrically it is, but on an actual composition level, they are an extremely tight, solid and well-rehearsed band of talented players, and their timing both musically and comedically is spot on. It is always nice to see their seagull mascot, Steven, swinging above the stage, and they perform a very lovely song in his honour towards the end of their set, which is always a crowd pleaser and actively encourages audience participation. Very good, very funny and well worth a watch!
After a good dose of psychedelic craziness, it was time for a bit of instrumental prog just to focus the mind – pass the mushrooms will you! Again, we had seen Archetype as one of the guest acts at the Metal 2 The Masses final and had really enjoyed them. They are pretty unique in the sense that there isn’t a lot of completely instrumental bands around currently, and they do serve up a hefty heap of prog for starters, followed by prog, with prog and prog, and a nice glass of prog on the side! But flipping heck they do it well! Intricate chord sequences, tapping, cross rhythms and perfectly timed pauses are enhanced by sections of pure indulgent groove that fill you up – if this set had a calorie count I would be checking in at my local Weightwatchers to shift the added pounds right now! However, in the same way as I would be with a very rich pudding, I can only handle a certain amount of these guys in one go; my brain gets into a bit of an overstimulated mush and can’t cope! But they are superb – go see them!
Our penultimate band of the day were I Assassin, a four-piece hard rock outfit from Shrewsbury. They had great energy on stage and a brilliant sound, and vocalist Adrian Turner’s voice was superb, with a real metal core twang. However, as a band, they were a mix of lots of styles and I wouldn’t like to try and genre them – they certainly weren’t metalcore, but they were heavier than the hard rock we had seen during the rest of the day. They were full of energy and gave everything in their performance, creating a massive sound that was mightily impressive. I love it when a band puts everything into a performance – it grabs hold of you, and I couldn’t resist a bit of a boogie! They were very, very good, and we will definitely be checking them out again.
Bringing proceedings to a close were a band originally from Rome but now based in London – Slave Steel. One word. WOW! Heavy, loud, intricate, fast, growly, energetic and polished, and if that wasn’t enough, they were four guys with Pantene hair and smouldering Italian looks too! I’m sold!! As with Bad Earth earlier, these guys wouldn’t have looked out of place on a much larger stage and would have had the same impact on a much larger crowd. The energy they brought, especially the bass player and vocalist, was superb, and pretty amazing considering it was now heading quickly towards midnight. There was so much movement and vibrance in their performance that it was difficult not to move along with them, and thankfully the select gathering took the opportunity to rock out before bed! I was pretty much on my knees by this point so retreated to old farts corner to nod along approvingly and watch the young uns lose their shit down the front!! (Disclaimer – yes I know I am only 39 but I’ve had a hard life, leave me be!) It was a cracking way to finish! We will definitely be look them up again soon.
After a hard day’s rocking out, it was time to make the short 20 minute drive home again and digest the varied talent we had seen today. We are so lucky to have bands, venues and promoters willing to put on gigs that are, essentially, on our doorstep. Long may it continue! It is a tough time for smaller venues and local music at the moment, with apathy for anything that involves getting off the sofa seemingly at an all-time high. But I am sure that, with persistence, the local scene round here, and elsewhere in the country will thrive again, and I for one will be at the front of the queue with a smile on my face ready and waiting for the next band. With that in mind, I would like to say a huge thanks to Ian ‘Fozzy’ Forrester and Ian ‘Beany’ North for their hard work, dedication and persistence putting on these shows. They do an amazing job. GET OFF YOUR SOFAS PEOPLE AND COME AND FIND OUT WHAT YOU ARE MISSING!!!
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 all 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
Bloodstock ‘Metal 2 The Masses’ North Wales Final Central Station, Wrexham 15/06/2018 Review by Beth Jones with pointless bits from Rick Tilley!
After what seemed a very long time, Friday 15th June was the night – The Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses North Wales Final! It was the culmination of months of hard work by both the bands and the organisers, and was set to be a great show, combining competition bands and showcase bands for an evening extravaganza! We, at Ever Metal HQ, were really excited for the event, not least because it was a chance to have a catch up with old friends, but more so because we had been at most of the heats, and the semis, and were excited to see which band would be rewarded for their efforts with the ultimate prize – a spot on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock 2018.
Following the packed nature of the heats, it was good to see a move of venue for the final, from the ‘cosy and bijou’ Atomic, to the much more substantial Central Station Venue. This allowed NEW Metal Productions to have two stages and alternate them – a brave decision, but did it work? We will come to that later!
First up on the main stage, to get us all in the mood, were instrumental trio, Archetype. This was our first experience of them. One word – Proggywoggydoodahh! I don’t think I need to explain any further than that. It was quite funny trying to watch the audience bang their heads to the rhythm, only to be fooled by a random bar of 13/8 instead of a good old 4/4 beat. Watching reasonably sober metal heads collectively trying to look cool when someone steals their solid rhythm is quite amusing! Aside from that, Archetype were clearly very talented musicians and clearly know how to write a good prog tune, but I have to say, after a short while, I found it quite difficult to listen to. It was too much for my brain to take sober, Rick, on the other hand, loved them!
A quick hop over to the second stage followed to catch Pelugion. We love these guys and it is easy to see why they have had success this year in the M2TM final in Coventry – if their performance that evening was half as good as their performance as guests here, then they were very worthy winners. They make one hell of a sound with just the three of them, and their connection is really strong, which gives their performance a confidence beyond their years. They provide you with classic heavy metal, quite Sabbath like in places, and give everything 100% welly! Love them.
Next was the first of the competition bands on the main stage, Impavidus. In my last review, I called them ‘female fronted’ and got a bit of stick for it, so this time I shall refer to them as Michelle and her all male backing band!! Joking aside, these guys are all properly talented musicians, and Michelle’s vocal versatility is astounding. We had been massively impressed with them at the Semi Final and felt certain that they would walk it in the final. Sadly, the sound let them down. Central Station is a notorious venue for problematic acoustics, and Impavidus were not helped by this one little bit. I think that the bad sound quality gave them a bit of a knock, and the spark and chemistry we saw in the semis just wasn’t quite there, which in turn affected their overall performance. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the size of the venue, maybe it was the low – level lighting or the way it sounded on stage, who knows. We were truly gutted for them, but I think it was probably a worthwhile experience – things like that tend to focus your mind on areas that you can improve on.
Moving back to the second stage, we were greeted by local band, IN DEPTHS. Again, another first time for us, but with them hailing from just over the border and having had success recently in the Mammothfest Best Band competition, we were intrigued to check them out. The first thing that caught my attention was the bright white floor lights that they were using on stage. This totally changed the mood of the performance in a very clever way. The effect of it was almost like a bad dream – strange shadows creating distortions in features, which fitted well with their musical style. It was much harsher than I was expecting and quite intricate and complex, a bit Djent, and quite animated. Whilst I’m not a massive fan of the genre, it was really good to see them thinking about the overall look and staging and it was nice to see a bass player, on a six – string bass, actually utilising all the strings – kudos for that!
Returning once again to the main stage, we were ready and waiting for our next competition band, Cadence Noir. Again, we had really enjoyed these guys from their heat and semi and had high hopes for them. They were very different to everything that had been on so far, with much more of a party feel to them. They were lively, rocky, well-rehearsed, and had the best sound of the evening so far. They too had thought about their image, and the fact that they have a violin player and the bass player switches between standard electric bass and upright semi acoustic double bass gave them more of an edge. They gave a great performance and had the whole crowd bouncing and dancing and really partying. It was certainly a hard act to follow and I was pretty confident that we had just seen a winning performance, although the band themselves where not of the same opinion when we had a chat with them in the smoking area afterwards, during what was a well needed break from proceedings.
Following the short interval, the next competition band, Redwood Avenue, took to the main stage. As you all know by now, my opinion of these guys has changed a lot from when I first saw them, however I think this is because they have grown in confidence and finesse, and their performance here was no exception to this rule. They always have a good following too, which helps drive their performance along. Front man Aled is very animated, and the skills of the drummer keep everything very tight throughout their complex songs. With their Djent, Modern Metal sound, it was a huge contrast to the previous two bands we had seen in the competition this evening, which was great – variety is the spice of life, and they do what they do well. I sometimes wish their guitarists would be a little more animated though. I think this is made more noticeable by the fact that the bass player and drummer, along with Aled, are animated, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. To coin a phrase I used in my first review about them, they are only young; it will come with time and experience!
Once more back over to the second stage we headed, for the last band of the night on that stage, the fantastic Welsh nutcases, Lifer! Although I have listened to plenty of their music, this was a first time for me seeing them live. What a diamond bunch of lads they are, and what a chemistry they create on stage. They are thrashy, doomy, and heavy, and generally awesome. Scriv has a great presence as a front man and knows how to hold a tune and an audience in the palm of his hand. I really enjoyed their set and will endeavour to see them again soon. It was nice to have them in the mix with all the young bands that we had seen so far, as they are like the voice of experience for them – the ones who have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, and are still loving it and showing us that they are loving it!
The final Competition band was up next – OMV. Hold on to your hats folks, things are about to get a lot more sweary. One thing is for certain – Richie OMV certainly has a lot of fucks to give! Call me a prude, but there was a bit too much fuckery for my liking if I’m honest, which is a shame, as I really like their music, but the over use of our favourite expletive, as well as a few other choice words, was a big turn off for me. That said, they did put on a good show and it was, as ever, tight and well-rehearsed. I love the fact also that they had more than one generation of their family there to support them – as they have had at each of their performances in the M2TM competition. That was really nice and they did do their family proud with their performance – just please lay off the expletives a little – it doesn’t do you any favours!
And that was it for competition bands. Whilst Rob Bannister deliberated on, what was most definitely, a very tough decision, we were treated to some good solid thrash metal in the form of Solitary. They were our guest headliners and they certainly filled that spot brilliantly, even if quite a few of the audience hadn’t got the stamina to stay until the end…lightweights! The people who did stay were treated to a fantastic performance from them, with huge energy and passion and groove laden tunes back to back throughout their set.
So, to the decision – Rob took to the stage, the room divided into four definite parties! Who would win? I had a feeling I knew but was intrigued to see if Rob would go that way. ‘The winner of this year’s Metal 2 The Masses North Wales Final is ………… CADENCE NOIR!!!!’ Whilst there was obvious disappointment in the room from the fans of the other bands, the general consensus was that it was the correct decision on the night – apart from the Cadence Noir guys, who were completely shocked and thought Redwood Avenue should have won! After obligatory congrats / commiserations / photos, the crowd drifted off, all knowing they had just witnessed a super night of music with a competition of four bands, completely diverse in style, but all equally talented at what they do. It really was anyone’s game. We had an absolute blast, as we have had throughout the competition, and came home happy and content that a good night had most definitely been had. My only criticism was that the night seemed to take a long time to get to the decision. I think the second stage was good, but possibly dragged things out a little too much, however all the bands on there were fantastic. The sound on there was better than the sound on the main stage, which kind of irritated me a bit, but the room which the second stage was in is much easier to set sound in – that is more a fault with the building though – believe me I saw Soulfly in there a good while ago and it was a wall of noise, so even the big bands struggle.
Myself and Rick feel very privileged to have been at all these gigs and would like to express our thanks for the hard work and dedication of all involved, not only the bands, But Fozzy and Beany for having the determination to pull off the events, all of which ran like absolute clockwork. Also, thanks to Rob Bannister for coming all the way to little old Wrexham to judge it, as well as Dani Maguire from ‘Powerzone’ on Calon FM and John Matthews from ‘Totally Tankered’, who cast the judges votes in the heats and semis. Not only have we had a great time at each show, but we have met and become friends with some wonderful people along the way, and that is what music is all about – the universal language that brings people together. It would be lovely to see this as the springboard for more of the same in this town.
Huge congratulations to Cadence Noir – have fun at BOA 2018. LONG LIVE METAL!
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