M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 4

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 4 poster

M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 4
The Rebellion,
Review by Rob Sutton

OK, so last weeks heat was not to my taste so much and this weeks one seemed to have been cursed with 2 bands pulling out in the run up with only one of those slots being replaced by a competing band and the other with a guest. I will say hats off to the 0161 for managing to get 2 bands in on such short notice!

First up for the night was thrash 4 piece Viral Strain who have entered before and I had seen on a few occasions. They start off well with some good riffs on display as well as instantly hyping the crowd. So far this is looking pretty good. We have a unique style of vocals which is quite squealy compared to some thrash but strangely fits these guys well. In fact these guys fit the thrash genre very well as I mentioned the riffs are pretty tasty, the group vocals thrown in work fantastically and the bass lines are pretty fucking sweet. Throw that with a few cheeky effects pedals and yeah, its good. For me though the drums were sometimes a bit minimalist and I felt that there could have been a few more technical patterns or fills used to spice the riffs up further and make things a little more interesting but again they did fit so it was OK. I guess that’s what I can say about Viral Strain, it does exactly what it says on the tin… its Thrash, I guess it didn’t excite me as much as I would have liked but it was a good performance.


A new band for me was Apparitia, now these guys (and girl) are more of a rocky style band but certainly have a following and the energy to warrant a place on the bill. The first song was a little slow to get started but once the second song hit then we start to see what these guys are about. There is an awful lot of bouncing on stage, mostly from the bassist which is good to see and the whole band do look like they are enjoying themselves which in turn the crowd do the same even ending up with a full crowd sway, a first for me at one of these events. I also love the guitar work from the riffs to the breakdowns and the tapping to the soloing. These guitarists have some serious talent and personally, I love it! There were a few things however which I did pick up on. Firstly the bassist didn’t seem to know the set list and could be heard asking ‘is it this one’ the band all looked a little confused so if this was a joke it didn’t really work but if not then perhaps write him a set list out. Secondly (I feel like I’m picking on the bassist a bit here, sorry) but while playing his picking was fantastic and worked really well but when he started fingering, the technique was just a bit wrong and didn’t sound right. (Nothing worse than sloppy fingering -Ed) It was like he was very tense and thus left him not able to utilise the sound which fingering would give. I really can’t believe how that has come out there but oh well I’m leaving it in. Finally the vocal range wasn’t great until the last song. For the majority of the set there was very little change in pitch or range and it ended up sounding like talking singing which got a bit boring. Now I know she can sing well as she proved that with her actually doing all of the above in the final song so why not do it throughout the set? I’ve picked a bit at these guys but really this was a solid show and did have the biggest crowd engagement and participation out of the 3 competing bands. Again it was a solid set.


Finally another returning competitor in Asylum City Zoo and these guys don’t lack experience and it shows with probably the tightest set of the competing bands and their presence on stage, there is no lack of confidence here. Now they bring a bit of an odd mix of genres but I liked their term of Dad Metal so we will use that. The solos are pretty good cutting through nicely with again some lovely riffs to get the heads nodding along with some incredible double kick work, this really caught my attention and I think the drums are an absolute highlight of these guys. ACZ did exactly what I expected of them, were tight, engaging and full of character Although there were a few awkward pauses but nothing alarming. Yes some of the singing wasn’t the best but compared to where they were last year, they have massively improved and they were enjoyable to watch although this didn’t blow me away like I would have hoped for, I guess I was just wanting a bit more from them. Still though another solid set.


3 Competition bands done so onto our guest headliners in the shape of Akkadian from Cambridge. Straight off the bat these guys prove why they have been given this slot, an epic intro leads into an absolute barrage of riffs, heavy ass drums and thumping bass. The musical talent here is next level! Their mix of Gojira and Lamb of God for me is brilliant. I actually have my head banging! More solid solos and ambient sounding guitars are used throughout and perfectly break the songs up but my god this drummer is a machine! I know their triggers but the speed is just immense and I love it. These guys really were in a different league compared to the other bands tonight, their level of tightness, professionalism and stage show were on point. This however doesn’t mean there weren’t faults, vocally while a good tone and range lacked power, seriously lacked power. To the point where sometimes he wasn’t heard at all, especially during the spoken bits and on the moments he put power in he cupped the mic meaning it either fed back or became overly loud. For me there needs to be a fair bit of work on projection here as even during the last 15 minutes when the sound guy had clearly boosted him up there were some very strange and not a good strange sounds coming from him. Aside from this, a brutal, pit inducing 40 minutes left the crowd begging for more and that’s what a guest headliner is all about.


So after last week this was a step up in terms of the competition, I didn’t hate any of the bands though nothing blew me away. Apparitia went through on crowd and Asylum City Zoo on judges and I actually agree with this. Onwards to heat 5!




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.

M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 3

M2TM MANCHESTER 2023 Heat 3 Poster

M2TM Manchester 2023 – Heat 3
Auraboros, Feign, Square Wild, Napierdalac
The Rebellion
Review by Rob Sutton

Heat 3 and this one had a difference as all 4 bands were new to me. I won’t say much more and just go straight in.

Now I was a little late this time and did miss half of Auraboros’ set. Walking in there was a huge LGBT flag being held across the stage. The music itself, had numerous different influences from metalcore and hardcore to a bit of groove and it did fit together fairly well, the drumming being a particular highlight and very tight. The guitars were pretty good too with some nice riffs and clean sections. Vocally, the shouts and growls were also pretty good, but the clean singing… it’s really not good. The mic control and projection were atrocious, meaning the voice continually got lost in the mix. The stage show itself was also lacking here, with some movement and some engagement but not enough, which actually left me pretty bored throughout the set. I’ll be honest, it actually sounded and looked amateur and was disappointing. Sorry, this really is not for me.


Second to hit the stage was Manchester hardcore trio Feign and these guys do bring the stage show, instantly kicking in and pumping the crowd, which had my attention straight away. To back that up there were some good riffs and some nice breakdowns to go with it, and the Hatebreed style voice also fit brilliantly. But as the set went on things started to become more and more disjointed with breaks in the songs that were way too long, riffs that didn’t fit together well at all and a random slam influenced riff that didn’t go anywhere. It honestly felt like they had thrown a load of ideas together and hoped it worked… it didn’t. 

Another thing which got really fucking annoying was the constant tuning. Every other song we are left in silence while the guitarist pisses about. What the fuck are you doing to your guitar to be out of tune after 2 songs and why is no one speaking or some samples playing while he does this? Completely killed the energy and this annoyed me, the set annoyed me – again not for me.


By this point I was pretty fed up so when Square Wild came on, I really wasn’t in the mood. Thankfully though Square Wild were actually really fucking good! The dual guitar solos were frankly sublime and the vocal range here was simply beautiful! Finally, someone in this heat who can actually sing! Now, Square Wild are completely different, bringing a more funky sound to the table and it was so much fun. I actually had a smile on my face and was having a little jig to all the cool riffs, bass lines, and drum-beats, which were cool as fuck! 

This honestly was like a happy, party band and with the character the vocalist had on stage it was just so enjoyable to watch, even taking the mick out of metal asking for a wall of death, which did make me laugh. I think that’s the vibe these guys were going for, fun, not too serious and to be entertaining and they achieved all that. My big question though, is this right for Bloodstock? In my honest opinion, no, but they still smashed this set!


The night descended into a dark and frankly evil ambiance when Napierdalec hit the stage. An epic intro track led beautifully into an assault of an opening track! Everything here was just spot on, belting drums, cracking riffs, and insanely good vocals. Just everything screamed black metal and it’s ruthlessly fast and epic. The crowd absolutely lapped this up breaking into pits instantly and then continuing throughout the set. There was a slight issue going into the second song where the backing track didn’t quite play properly leaving them having to restart the song, but these things happen, and the second song again was a belter with an absolutely stunning guitar tone cutting through. 

You may as well stop now as after this song, things take a turn for the worse and don’t get better. We had more issues with the backing tracks leading to yet more restarts. I think after this they need to work on how these flow, as this is clearly a major issue. I’m also not sure if they had more issues on stage as by song 4, I don’t think they had any idea what they were doing. The songs were all over the place, no one in time and then finishing songs early. They also shouldn’t have told the crowd that. By the end of the set, I was so disappointed as they started so well but finished like 5 guys who had never played together before. This could have all been down to sound issues but still left the crowd a little lost. Still, that first song blew me away!


This was by far and away the weakest Metal To The Masses I have ever been to. Three of the bands were poor and one was completely the wrong genre for the competition. Still Feign went through on judges and Square Wild on crowd vote. I’m saying no more other than I hope next week is better.




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.

Metal 2 the Masses Chesterfield 2022 – Grand Final – The County Rock bar Chesterfield – 25/6/22

M2TM Chesterfield Grand Final Poster

Metal 2 the Masses Chesterfield 2022 – Grand Final
The County Rock bar Chesterfield
Live Review by Rob Sutton

Competing bands:
Steal the City
Death Divine
Karma’s Puppet

A beautiful drive from Cheshire over the peak district brought me to Chesterfield, the second largest city in Derbyshire behind Derby. While Derby in itself has a few venues that would also suite a M2TM, The County Bar is a very fitting venue. The Stage, while on the small side, is suitably raised enough so the audience can see the bands, the beer garden is huge with plenty of seating, and there are pool tables and clean toilets! Every box ticked then? Well, the beer’s a little on the pricey side but hey ho! 

Tonight would see 5 competing bands with no guest headliner but still they managed to sell the show out and the venue was suitably packed for the first band, and wildcard entry, Steal the City. These guys wasted no time kicking into their Emo/Metal infused Rock with vocal duties split between 3 members, all of whom hit the notes consistently, which was very pleasing. These guys bounced around the stage and properly showed off throughout their set, getting right to the front to do solos or climb on top of amps, or even kneels on the floor while riffing away. This immediately caught my attention, as a good show can make you enjoy a set much more, regardless of whether the genre is to your liking. Having said that, I actually quite like this genre, it’s upbeat and you could quite happily sing along (if I knew the words). The whole set in itself was solid; I particularly enjoyed their new song which verged slightly more into a metalcore style (metalcore being a theme of tonight). My only real criticisms would be that there were a few too many ‘thank yous’ throughout the set and perhaps the genre would lend itself a little more to download as opposed to Bloodstock. Realistically though this was a very enjoyable set and I can completely see why these guys were put forward as a wildcard.


Death Divine were next – a 1 man act, which instantly got me questioning how on earth he would be able to pull it off on the New Blood Stage? Jager Stage maybe, but there are limited slots left there. Having said that he’s not short on energy on stage, consistently head banging or getting onto the barriers and generally engaging the crowd beautifully which led to the first pits of the evening. For the first half of the set there were a few little niggles for me. Firstly, I really wish more of the lead guitar lines were played live, the solos were, which was nice, but some of the lead melodies would have been fantastic to watch. Also his voice was ok, nothing that blows you away, but I would have liked a bit more variation. But, the second half of the set was where Death Divine came alive! A guest female voice on stage really added a whole new dimension to his set, moving it more into the Melodic Death Metal realm, and from here he continued this trend giving me massive Wintersun vibes. Honestly I loved this, for the first time in a while my hairs were standing on end while listening to a band. If this becomes a full band and he utilises the guest more in his songs, this could be unbelievably good and in my opinion, and would have stolen this show. Oh one more thing, I’m still not a fan of bands wearing their own t-shirts… 


Metalcore seems to be one of those genres that everyone is aiming for these days and I have honestly lost count of how many Metalcore bands I have reviewed this year alone. Reanimate are band that have been well and truly on my radar this year, but this was the first time I had actually seen them. Their take on the ‘new age’ of Metalcore was performed very well, they were tight, and all the songs fit the genre down to a tee… And here lies my slight problem with them. There isn’t anything new on display here, just another Metalcore band playing the same stuff I have heard a million times this year. This is not me saying they are bad, as they are far from it – the breakdowns are on point, the growls are brilliant, and the drums and bass really drive this band. My only real criticism with their music in terms of performance would be the clean singing – was a little flat, but otherwise there isn’t anything to pick at, it’s just nothing new. Something that can stand a band out however is their stage show, and the fact that these guys got pits going pretty consistently throughout their set, along with chants for the band, really showed that they have a following. This was echoed once again by the fact numerous members of the audience could be seen singing along to their songs. In terms of controlling the crowd and owning the stage, Reanimate had this base well and truly covered. Well, until yet another comment pissed me off. Dedicating songs is all very well and good and I’m sure this was meant in the best possible way, but dedicating a song to Sophie Lancaster at a M2TM event just felt really cringy, and almost pandering to the judge. I wasn’t the only one who picked up on this as numerous people around me face palmed or sighed. This for me was a stupid move that didn’t achieve anything other than piss off a fair few members of the crowd. For me there is a lot of work to be done with Reanimate to make them really stand out, but never-the-less this was another solid set.


From one Metalcore band to another, this time in the shape of Kaparilion. These guys actually bring something slightly different, and that is a very odd clean singing voice. I’m not quite sure what style it fits into, it’s almost Rock but then Metalcore too! It really is unique and I love it! The riffs again add a lot more groove into the mix, and with thumping drums the whole crowd again began to bang their heads and start pitting. Each band so far had brought an element of engaging the crowd, and this set was absolutely no exception – again, perfect controlling of the crowd, and climbing the barrier to be with the crowd. This whole set just struck the right chords with me and I found myself in the pits for the first time of the evening, mainly due to a certain judge but I won’t mention names. Also this was the first time I felt my head properly banging. As a reviewer I know I am supposed to pick up on what the band was doing on stage, but I just got completely lost in the moment for these guys and I think that is the perfect compliment. For me, these guys were the band to beat so far.


Last up was the only band I had actually seen and reviewed before, Karma’s Puppet. Now these guys seemed like they were going to be the band to beat, with a lot of buzz about them before the show, and the fact that most people in the venue were covered head to toe in KP merch. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that they would instantly go through just because everyone has their merch, or everyone keeps shouting their name. They actually needed to perform and live up to the hype. This is something Karma’s Puppet do, and boy did they grab this night and own it! Where previously there was the odd pit or two, here it was constant. The crowd were even commanded into walls of death and circle pits – instructions which they duly obeyed! Everything Karma’s Puppet asked of the crowd, they got! Heck, even when they started bouncing on stage, the crowd copied. This simply was a master class on how to control the crowd. Musically (we are going to use the key word from tonight…) Metalcore again, but this time it was more along the lines of if Metallica did Metalcore. This also sets them apart from the sheer amount of bands in this genre and they pull off this mash up perfectly. Vocally, the first time I heard the cleans they did nothing for me, but over the last 8 or so months I’ve begun to love the style. The screams also fit brilliantly within their sound. Couple that with probably the tightest music of the night and I think we have a winner. These guys came in as favourites and for me the absolutely wiped the floor with the competition!


So onto the result and personally I don’t think this was a tough one. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed every band that played and will definitely see them again but for me Karma’s Puppet were just on another level, and Simon Hall agreed, as they were announced as the winners. Reanimate have also been added to the reserve list which I can’t argue with, as their set was solid enough to warrant that. All in all this was a cracking final in a cracking venue. I hope to return!



Bloodstock M2TM Chesterfield:

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.

Metal to the Masses South Wales – Semi Final 1 and 2 – Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff – 24 – 25/06/2022

Metal to the Masses South Wales – Semi Final 1 and 2
Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff
24 – 25/06/2022

Live Review and Photos by Paul Hutchings

And so, it came to pass. After many heats, calamities, and more challenges than any event organisers should have to face in one hit, we arrived at the business end of the South Wales M2TM 2022 competition with the first semi-final. Four bands, bristling with energy and passion and a real determination to progress to the grand final a week later. 

Semi-Final One

It’s fair to say this event had enough quality to have been the final. A wide range of genres, some sublime musicianship and after all those heats and quarter finals, reassurance that the metal scene in South Wales is as vibrant and healthy as it was prior to the pandemic. 

Torchbearer took the opening slot this time around. Requiring a stand-in guitarist who learnt everything within the past week or so, you’d never have guessed that the band were playing with a temporary member, for he nailed everything superbly. The early slot always suffers from a smaller crowd but those that gathered at the front saw their ranks quickly swelled by other fans as Torchbearer’s solid Groove Metal caught them in its gravitational pull. Thick, vicious riffs, pummelling rhythm and aggressive yet compelling vocals, it’s all part of the package that Torchbearer bring, and having managed to set the bar high a couple of weeks earlier, they succeeded in elevating the target a couple of rungs higher. It was a ferociously intoxicating set that was going to be hard to beat.


Karmen Field have consistently brought the largest support to every round they have participated in. This was no different as their army of fans pushed forward, danced, moshed, head banged and generally threw their all in support of their favourite band. The band’s progressive and soulful metal brings a new dynamic, which is refreshing as well as confident and assured. With variation in their songs, switching atmosphere and tempo in a well-balanced set, there is real clarity in their songs, with each one bringing something different to the table. Good humoured and thoroughly entertaining, Karmen Field were ever so slightly off the pace in comparison to their quarter-final mind stomp, with a little of the overall driving energy that was so evident in their run absent. They still brought a huge effort. 

Karmen Field 

In their quarter-final, Excursia had been forced to halt their set midpoint due the medical emergency in the main room. No such distractions tonight as the Thrash quartet ripped a new hole in Fuel’s roof, with a controlled yet explosive 30 minutes of Extreme metal. One of my few complaints with Excurisa is that their sound can become muddied and merged, making it difficult to establish the switches and subtleties that they possess on record. My only other criticism is the overly aggressive engagement with the crowd. Inserting swear words into every sentence may be “so metal” but it does become a bit tedious after the fourth time of asking the crowd “are you fucking enjoying yourself?” The use of swear words in every sentence doesn’t enhance your performance and suggests a challenge with wider vocabulary. A point to address for future shows. Minor niggles aside, this was a fine performance from Excursia, and the intensity of the pits confirmed as much. The sight of sweaty torsos throwing each other around in a boiling hot room was something that seemed alien only six months or so ago, so kudos to Excursia for bringing their A game. 


On the day that their fine EP ‘Liberosis’ dropped, what better way to mark its arrival than by sucking out the final drops of energy from the assembled throng in front of them? This was another bruising performance from I Fight Bears, whose muscular approach simply bulldozed its way through their allotted half hour. This band has been the most consistent in the competition for me, and their sheer desire to progress screamed out in a controlled yet still wild show. I’ve said before that their brand of Metalcore stands out as one of the few in the genre that ticks my boxes, but even if you don’t like the music that much, the sheer velocity of the performance was outstanding. 

I Fight Bears

Who’d be a judge on nights like these? A huge fan vote helped but ultimately the judges of the competition have the final decisions on which three bands progressed to the final. Before that, guest headliners Mother Vulture decided that we’d not had enough and proceeded to deliver another high octane, vibrant and crazy show. Having seen these guys several times, I can attest for the effort that they put into each show, regardless of size. Thankfully, Fuel responded with a wild crowd who lapped up every second of the West Country outfit’s antics. It’s highly likely these guys will be huge in the very near future. They are at numerous festivals this summer including Steelhouse and Bloodstock and if you get a chance, check ‘em out. You won’t regret it. 

Mother Vulture

The moment arrived and the organisers Alyn and Tim climbed the stage to make the announcements. These guys are the beating heart of the whole M2TM event in Cardiff, and they deserved a round of applause. With anticipation high, the three finalists were revealed. Torchbearer, I Fight Bears and Karmen Field took the vote but there was no disgrace in defeat for Excursia this time round. 

Semi-Final Two

A total change in the weather brought torrential thunderstorms in the hours before the second semi-final. It may have dampened the temperature on the streets but with four more bands vying for the three coveted final places, there was no shortage of heat in Fuel as the evening unfolded. 

Collapse the Void have been mightily impressive throughout the competition. Having formed during lockdown, this was only their 10th gig as a unit, and they are showing strong signs of becoming a formidable outfit. Having drawn the opening slot, they suffered from a rather hesitant crowd, with the room relatively slow to fill up. Kudos to all the other bands though, for they were present throughout, bolstering the support and demonstrating the true meaning of M2TM. This support provided the impetus that Collapse the Void needed, and they improved throughout their set after a subdued opening. My only complaint was the lack of movement from most of the band, with frontman Eli the exception. Whilst there isn’t a huge amount of room on the Fuel stage, N A S H would later show how to exploit all the space in a way that was beyond Collapse the Void on this occasion. There is plenty to come from the Newport based outfit.

Collapse The Void 

Fired up by a huge showing in the quarter-finals, State of Deceit roared into gear quickly, fired up their smoke machine and delivered another piledriver of a set, which saw more than a few neck muscles being given a workout. SoD truly bring the noise, but also have the craft and guile to push their sound into other areas, letting the groove lead, but not dominate. Their set was impressive, with lights and smoke machines adding to the atmosphere. Working hard, planning cleverly, this was a slightly inferior showing to their quarter-final, nerves and tension probably contributing. But there was much to enjoy and the band’s relentless devotion to the battering aural assault continues to impress. 

State of Deceit

If Karmen Field bring the biggest numbers of supporters, N A S H are very close behind. Roared on by a solid number of fans, this was an absorbing performance, bold, confident without the arrogance that can change viewpoints quickly. Full of vibrant movement, N A S H grabbed their opportunity with both hands and refused to let go. Full of smiles, the band looked like they were having more fun than the audience at times and it’s hard to fail to be impressed by them. Another band whose performances have caught the eye over the past few months.


No band has upped their game more in this competition that Eulogy. The Cardiff outfit have ticked every box on the judges’ cards, from their professionalism when loading and line checking through to their relentless use of socials to encourage support. They have also have hugely impressed with their sound, massively beefing up the riff quota and bringing the thunder with heaviness in their songs which works so well live. They certainly tick my boxes, for I do like some straight-up heads down Heavy Metal, which they do so well. Buoyed by a decent support, Eulogy hit the ground running and proceeded to turn in an assured performance which earned much praise. Like other bands on the night, the tension eked into their show slightly, but their finishing song, together with a demand that everyone moved forward blew any nerves into next week. 


The pressure built but before the results were announced, the guest headliners Thuum took to the stage for 40 minutes of pulsating Metal which drained the evening of all remaining riffs. The Bournemouth-based outfit have only recently reformed, but on this showing, they’d be welcome in Cardiff again. Huge, thunderously sludgy riffs rained down, the band demonstrating their quality and splitting the sky with the sheer weight of their sound. If you’ve not checked them out, do so immediately. They sustained a bit of percussion damage when a drum leg collapsed. Step forward the superhero, Sean, bassist with Collapse the Void who spent around 25 minutes standing in for said damaged leg. A stellar job Sean, and the day was saved. 


Another tightly run evening with the judges once more having to apply every ounce of reasoning to make their decisions. Ultimately, it was Collapse the Void who just missed out on the final, but I reckon these guys will be knocking on the door in a year’s time. So, down to the final six. The final kicks off in Fuel on 2nd July with tickets available in advance. It would be folly to miss an evening that promises not only the best metal in South Wales, but also headline sets from 2019 and 2021 Bloodstock Alumni Bind Divide and Pearler. 


Fuel Cardiff:

M2TM South Wales:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. Photography by Paul Hutchings. 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.

Metal 2 The Masses Stoke-On-Trent Final

M2TM 2022 Stoke-On-Trent Final Poster

Metal 2 The Masses Stoke-On-Trent Final
Mufunta, Warlock A.D., Mercia, Headpress, Leave No Witness, Hellfekted
The Underground, Stoke-On-Trent

Live Review by Rob Sutton

It’s been almost a year since I last ventured to the Underground in Stoke-On-Trent and previously it was a bit of a dive, however the toilets while not amazing are better and more usable than before. Also, I will point out that soft drinks are extremely cheap here, which is fantastic considering I’ve driven and didn’t fancy taking out a mortgage for a pint of lemonade – which I have had to do at other venues.

So the M2TM final, the first one I’ve been to in Stoke and there is a monster 6 bands competing with no guest. First up was Mufunta – a band I have never listened to prior to this show. They bring a Sludgy Groove Metal vibe to the proceedings and I must say the riffs are fantastic; there is certainly a Pantera feel to their sound. Sadly, the guitars are barely audible throughout their set, meaning the crowd are unable to fully appreciate just how good these riffs are. Having said that the bass is bloody brilliant and manages to drive the songs enough to get the crowds heads bobbing. Sadly, all they seemed to get from the crowd was some cheers and a little head-bobbing, despite the vocalist trying to pump the audience. For me while the slower songs did have plenty of punch, after the first three songs I did begin to get a little bored of the set, so began to consider a cheeky smoke, this was until they upped the pace towards the end of the set. This is where Mufunta came alive for me. Picking the pace up completely changed the dynamic of their set and suddenly I found myself really enjoying them. So, I think that pretty much sums Mufunta up; solid riffs and engagement but had they mixed the faster and slower songs up a little more it would have worked better for me.


Warlock A.D. next and these guys bring something very different to the table – medieval / Power Metal. Straight off, their stage set up is impressive – with the fantasy style get up and the flags adorning the stage (mainly covering where a drummer would be) and there lies my first problem. They all look fantasy / medieval on stage and then there is a pirate?! Maybe this is from some nerdy shit I don’t understand, but he stood out like a sore thumb! Well until he had a swift costume change to a king which fitted better, it was strange but hey, moving on. 

Being without a drummer is a difficult task as it requires the full band to be in time and play to a backing track throughout, which they do for the most part of their set. Only the first song sounded really messy where nothing seemed to be as audible as it should be, but this I will put down to the sound mix. Musically these guys play Power Metal brilliantly – the voice is tremendous, the guitars and bass fit the genre perfectly and their interaction and crowd participation are professional and well choreographed. I honestly cannot fault their music at all but… 

Here is what really pissed me off. I love the whole fantasy / medieval style, but we get comments throughout the set such as ‘don’t leave me, I’ll buy you a maccies’ and ‘a dragon filled with candy and condoms’ what part of this theme would mention fast food or condoms? Are they trying to be funny, because if so, it really wasn’t. In fact, it was cringy beyond what Power Metal usually is. It’s actually completely unnecessary and against everything the songs and stage show had set up. These comments were something Footprints in the Custard would make, not a fantasy themed Power Metal band. This isn’t the first time I have written a review where a bloody good set was ruined by really stupid comments. Ahhh!


So, onto some more themed Metal and this time from Mercia. There is a big difference between Mercia and Warlock A.D., and that is that Mercia have kept the theme to a minimum, a splash of face paint and away they go. Now, I will give you a few reasons as to why you shouldn’t like these guys, but then tell you that for all these reasons you will still actually love these guys! Firstly, they are more on the rockier side of Metal (that’s no bad thing), which means the solos and vocals are front and centre. The solos are played in such a way it makes you envious of them, not to mention they cut through the sound absolutely perfectly. 

Vocally, well I’m a vocalist and I cannot sing, if I could then I would want this voice. They also play looking arrogant, like they know they are good at what they do and also a tad cheeky, judging by the way the vocalist looks at the crowd. So, for all those reasons you should hate them because of jealousy and well looking like they are up their own arses, but in seriousness the whole arrogance and cheeky image they portray just fits perfectly with the way they play, the vocals are simply stunning and send shivers down your spine, just like the guitars! I really am trying to find some fault with this set, but I’m struggling. Perhaps some would say ‘it isn’t Bloodstock’ but dya know what? I’d watch this at Bloodstock! I was left in awe of this set, Mercia absolutely blew me away!


From here the night seemed to take a heavier turn. Headpress, a band I used to play with many years ago, have remerged onto the scene and with a point to prove! When we were against them in the Crewe M2TM final, these boys absolutely smashed it and really should have won. Now this meant that I was expecting great things from the now three piece band. They did not disappoint! 

Firstly the banners on stage worked well and the odd few samples used to fill the set worked an absolute treat. As for the music side, well not much has changed. Headpress are still the same Hatebreed-style Hardcore and there is nothing wrong with that. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t much new or different here, but just good old Hardcore how it should be. One note which did stand out was the fact that all three members joined in on the vocal duties and while this is difficult to pull off, they were perfectly in sync with each other. It’s an absolute pleasure to watch when this is pulled off to this level, I guess that’s where Headpress excelled tonight – they are unbelievably tight and don’t try anything to extravagant. Though the constant calls for pits did seem to fall on deaf ears until the fourth time of asking… three no’s and a yes still means yes (it was a good pit as well). And there were some slight spats of silence between songs but for the most part, the energy these guys brought to the stage was unrivalled so far tonight! More of these please!


New boys Leave no Witness on the block next, with some Metalcore to add to the proceedings.  Now straight off, I am a huge Metalcore fan and find a lot of bands fail to hit the mark, especially with the over used backing tracks. Leave no Witness do away with the backing tracks and instead go down the Parkway Drive style of Metalcore, which is refreshing as not many bands seem to opt for this. Leave no Witness have actually only done three gigs, two of which being the M2TM and one of which being with yours truly, so I was expecting parts to look a little amateur or unrefined, but I was wrong, as this was a pretty damn solid set! 

Guitar wise the solos mix between sweeping and tapping fantastically and are split well between both guitarists. Vocally while the growls are on point, some of the cleans don’t quite hit the correct notes and it does kind of kill a few of the songs. Nevertheless, they make up for this by absolutely commanding the crowd and are rewarded by constant pits throughout, plus a serious number of head bangers. Leave no Witness had by far the best reception of the night, which again is impressive considering their lack of experience. Honestly this was solid and sets these guys up for many good things going forward, the only thing is, it does sound very similar to a lot of other bands. Aside from that if there was a vote for a band to go through, wearing a Thrashatouille T-shirt certainly a way to get my vote… And avoid a roast! I joke, I’m much cheaper to bribe than a £12 T-shirt!


One band to go! 

Hellfekted have a massive following behind them and beforehand I saw these guys as the band to beat, but seeing the competition so far, they needed everything they had… Boy did these guys bring it though, their intense Speed / Thrash / Death hybrid was a marvel to listen to and also watch as each member played with such ferocity it was incredible! I am amazed the drummer manages to head bang playing that bloody fast, not to mention the three others in front of him! 

Much like before it seems the crowd are now in the mood for pits, for Hellfeked, they ask and they get. Circle pits? Check! Wall of Death? Check! This was a master class in commanding a crowd and is so slick it’s almost planned without seeming planned. The voice is something very different as it is very high pitched and at first, I didn’t think it fitted with the style, but the more the set went on, the more I began to see exactly the sound they were going for and it slotted in place just like everything else during this performance. What more can I say? I had very high hopes for Hellfekted they delivered above and beyond what I had expected from them. This set was simply incredible!


So six bands, one winner… or is there? In fact two would progress tonight and one would go onto the reserve list. First off Warlock A.D. got through to the Jagermiester Stage. I’m not sure I agreed with this, as I feel another year to find their true calling may have been better for them, but their music was solid enough alone to make them a worthy kind of winner. Headpress went through to play the New Blood Stage. This was well deserved, as their whole show was stunning and will work fantastically on that stage. Hellfekted have been added to the reserve list but I really feel like these guys should have got a slot as well, they seemed to tick all the boxes for me. As for Mercia, Mufunta and Leave No Witness they all also played brilliantly and would have also been a fitting winner so I am hoping I will see each one again. 

This was a long gig… Lucky I don’t have one the next day… oh wait… !




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.

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – (Special Guest Headliners) Democratus

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.

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – Solitary (Special Guests)

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.

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – Apollyon

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 Metal to the Masses South Wales Quarter Finals  1 & 2

Bloodstock M2TM South Wales Logo

Bloodstock Metal to the Masses South Wales 2022
Quarter Finals  1 & 2
Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff 
10 & 11/06/2022
Live Review by Paul Hutchings

South Wales M2TM 2022 Quarter Final 1 Poster

Quarter Final One

It’s been a long journey, but things are hotting up in the South Wales region for this year’s Metal to the Masses.  Although I reported on the first two heats, I’ve not been able to pen reviews of the other rounds. Let’s just say they’ve been interesting, with several bands dropping out, the arrival of the dreaded Ed Sheeran entourage for three nights in the capital causing chaos on the ability of bands to load in, and some other logistical challenges. It’s to the organisers credit that the events have all gone ahead, and the use of a pool of judges has provided respite, fresh eyes and ears, and objectivity. It’s been hell of a ride already and there’s still a way to go. 

Diana Ross was playing across the road at Cardiff Castle as Quarter Final one eased into view, not that the legendary soul diva was likely to cause much of a clash. It was a pleasing turnout, with four bands of differing genres bringing a professional and collegiate approach to the evening. 

Bridgend’s metal core merchants I Fight Bears drew the opening slot. This lot have momentum, with a debut release under their belt, features in the likes of Metal Hammer, and a new EP about to drop (Keep an eye out on Ever Metal for the review in the next couple of weeks). The five-piece brought a solid support, and the band demonstrated their quality with a confident and impressive set. I’m ambivalent about most Metalcore but I Fight Bears add something a little different to their sound, which helps maintain the interest. Visually appealing, with vocalist Dan Blackmore commanding the pit from the start, their blend of growls and cleans (thanks to bassist Drew Hamley) work well. A solid start to the evening and a well appreciated set by those who had made the effort to get in early. 


The heaviness continued with band number two. Torchbearer bring a combination of groove-based riffage in a rich crossover of Every Time I Die and Pantera. The band dropped their debut album ‘Solace’ in January, and they demonstrated why they were worthy quarter finalists with a bruising set that ticked many boxes. Riffs a plenty, thunderous passages that saw the audience snapping a few neck muscles and in vocalist Andy Mansell the band have an excellent focal point. That’s not to demean the other band members, but on a small stage like Fuel you need someone to dominate and Mansell does that well. Drawing deep on their pre-pandemic tour experience, this was another fine set. 


One of the judging criteria in M2TM is the professionalism that bands are expected to demonstrate. That’s everything from loading in on time to getting set up in that 15-minute changeover slot. Unfortunately, Atlas Theory didn’t grasp that and lost, by my estimations, five to ten minutes of their set as a result. Being on the back foot is hard enough when you are a gnarly old school musician. When you are a relatively newly formed outfit then it increases the pressure. Atlas Theory bring a different sound to most metal bands, locking their sound as a blend of Architects, BMTH, and My Chemical Romance. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and to be fair, this genre does little for me. Their sound chops and changes just a little too much, but the band’s support lapped up their 20-minute set. A definite learning curve, the fact that Atlas Theory got stuck into their set with passion was admirable. Hopefully they can take some positives from the set and learn for future sets. There is definite potential lurking there. 


This left Painted as Monsters to bring the evening to a close. Having secured the fan vote in their heat, the band who are relatively new, provided probably the most accomplished and positive set of the evening. Their combination of hard rock, metal and progressive styles is certainly pleasing on the ear, and there was a lot of concentration going on around the room as those gathered had to engage their thinking caps a bit more. Complex passages and crushing riffs, Painted by Monsters are a band I’m watching with interest. A great end to the evening’s music. 


As ever, only two bands could proceed to the semi-finals, and it was Torchbearer who stormed the fan vote. Torn between the other bands, the judges’ deliberation concluded with I Fight Bears who moved into the next round, a mere 30 minutes away from the final. Commiserations to Atlas Theory and Painted by Monsters, both of whom I’m sure will be back stronger and better. 

South Wales M2TM 2022 Quarter Final 2 Poster

Quarter Final Two

After a stellar night, Fuel opened its doors to the second quarter final on a balmy night in the Capital. The city was busy, with bars full and the addition of thousands of Wales football fans heading to the Cardiff City Stadium to see our footballing heroes earn a creditable draw with Belgium added to the atmosphere. 

Four more bands were ready to do battle and it was That Which Ate the Moon that drew the opening slot. Having arrived relatively late, the band threw everything into their show. The Newport outfit believe in the riff, especially the BIG riff and their style of stoner thunder works well with me. Plenty of extended instrumental passages might not please everyone,but this is a band whose music works well whether there are vocals or not. When he did sing, bassist Alex proved he could hold his own. This was a thick, heavy start to the evening and one that warmed those that gathered at the front even more than the temperatures outside.


Incursion are probably now classed as veterans of M2TM, having made semi-finals and finals in previous years. Disaster struck just hours before with their drummer falling sick and the band desperately digging out their laptop, teaching it all their drum parts with mere hours to go. Frantic preparations meant that two thirds of the green machine made it to the stage, and they gave it as good a go as they could. Sadly, the reliance on a distant relative of Doktor Avalanche proved a bit of a distraction, meaning the set was a little chaotic and segmented. It was a brave effort and despite the relatively small numbers watching (something picked up by the organisers at the end – support all the bands, not just your favourite FFS!), Incursion will no doubt be back. You can guarantee that. 


If you read the review of the first heats, you’ll have seen that Cardiff quartet Eulogy took the judges vote in their heat with a solid and professional performance. Having picked up a few more gigs along the way since their heat, this was another stellar set with the band ramping up the heaviness even more than in the heat. A combination of tracks from their EP releases sits neatly alongside their newer music and one can only wait with anticipation for their debut album, promised for later this year. Having fun is a requirement with this band and their smiles demonstrated once more that as well as taking this competition seriously, enjoyment is just as key.


The final band of the night drew the biggest audience, helped by the open-door policy that happens towards the end of the evening. NASH blitzed through their heat taking the judges vote due their sheer energetic performance. Going on last can sap the energy, especially if the bar is a temptation, and the band were slightly below the level of their heat. There was still plenty of energy, with singer Finlay Nash and the relentless Karl John Harrigan (bass) both shirtless by the end of the set. Musically the band sit in the Alt-Metal scene, with Nash’s clean vocals a highlight. By the end the band were spent, and the audience had that difficult two choices to make. 


On another night one could have quite easily predicted a different outcome but heading into semi-final two are NASH with the fan vote and Eulogy once more impressing the judges most. Two down, two to go, and those quarter finals are likely to be just as hotly contested.


Fuel, Cardiff:

M2TM South Wales:

Bloodstock Festival:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul hutchings 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.