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.

Torchbearer

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. 

Excursia 

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.

N A S H

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. 

Eulogy

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. 

thuum

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. 

LINKS:

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

03/06/22
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.

https://www.facebook.com/Mufunta

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!

https://www.facebook.com/WarlocKA.D.bandUK

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!

https://www.facebook.com/Mercia.uk.official

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!

https://www.facebook.com/headpress

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!

https://www.facebook.com/LeaveNoWitnessOfficial

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!

https://www.facebook.com/Hellfekted

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… !

LINKS:

Venue:

Promoter:

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

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

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M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – Apollyon

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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. 

https://www.facebook.com/ifightbearsband

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. 

https://www.facebook.com/torchbearerlondon

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. 

https://www.facebook.com/ATLAStheory

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. 

https://www.facebook.com/paintedasmonsters

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.

https://www.facebook.com/thatwhichatethemoon

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. 

https://www.facebook.com/IncursionMetal

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.

https://www.facebook.com/Eulogyrocks

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. 

https://www.facebook.com/FinleyNashUK/

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.

LINKS:

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.

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – Wrath Of Man

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M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2 – In Depths

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M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2
McLean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside
03/06/22

Review and Photography by Beth Jones

Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses is always a hugely fun but nerve-wracking marathon, and this year has been no exception. But now we’re reaching the business end, with the last of the Semi Finals. This second semi would be do or die for the four competing bands (sadly Leatherback had to drop out due to illness), and as a judge, I knew that it was going to be the toughest call we’d made yet, because of the calibre of all the competing bands. So, what was in store for us? Well, let’s find out.

In Depths

In Depths are a Metalcore band from Chester, who are a stalwart on the stages of our local scene, and have been for some time. Here, they sounded great. They were really heavy, and technically on point, which is what we’ve come to expect from them. They use samples both in the songs, and during the gaps between songs, to keep the atmosphere up, which worked really well. Front man Callum was really into it for this performance too, throwing himself around the stage, and the area in front of it. But there was, by the end of the set, a huge elephant in the room. They overran by 7 minutes. This not only irritated the other bands, but also put pressure on the already tight schedule for the night. This was, unfortunately, unacceptable, which is a real shame as, musically, I couldn’t fault them. Speaking to Beany during the judging process, he said “Unfortunately, no matter how good In Depths were, when they announced at 29 minutes into their set, that they had two songs left, they forced the team into a decision – do we cut them off, or let them carry on and discount them from the vote? The decision was made to discount them from the judges’ vote, due to lack of professionalism. However, it was decided that, if they won the crowd vote, we would let them go through. Their timing issues created bad feeling with the other competing bands, and as N.E.W Metal Production we are massively disappointed that a band we put through on a wild card, giving them a second chance, would throw it away in this fashion and pile the pressure on us for the rest of the night, to get back on track.”

https://www.facebook.com/InDepths

Wrath Of Man

These guys are brutal Death Metal from Preston. And boy are they brutal. They smacked us in the face straight off the bat. Hard, heavy as fuck, and LOOOUUUDDDDD!!!!! They have a real aggressiveness that told the audience exactly who Wrath Of Man were from the get go. But they’re also masters of intricate guitar riffs and rythms, and have a good sense of stagecraft. Their frontman is a man mountain, who commanded the entire place really well, and believe me , when he roars, you sit up and listen! The drums were possibly a little too high in the mix, and the bass was a bit muddy. But this didn’t take away from what was a brilliant performance, and is only me nit-picking. You could see how seriously they were taking it, it was a step up from their performance in the heats, and it was totally worthy of a spot on the New Blood stage. My one word of advice would be to get a little slicker between song changes. Keep the momentum going. Other than that, absolutely spot on. Well done fellas. 

https://www.facebook.com/wrathofman

Bad Earth

Y Bois Bach! Hailing one third from Denbigh and two thirds from Wrexham, these chaps are our real home guys. Every time I see them, I don’t think they can get any better, yet somehow, every time, they do! They play their own brand of Rock, mixed with Thrash, and a spoonful of Modern Metal, and this performance was, for me, very frikkin’ special. It was on point and faultless, and every one of the trio gave everything they had to bring the show to the crowd. It was hi-octane from start to finish and I bloody loved it!!! They really have something magical going on now they’ve found the sweet spot with line-up – it’s a proper bromance, which comes together epically when the lights go up on them. This was my performance of the night. They absolutely deserve to go a very long way, and it would please me no end if they did. I feel like a proud mum! Bendigedig cariads!!!

https://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH

Apollyon

Apollyon are a long-standing Wrexham band, who took a breather for a bit, but have come back full force. They’re a good solid UK Thrash trio whose experience does show in their stage presentation. They bring powerful riffs, angry vocals, and thundering drums, as you would expect from a quality Thrash band. But I have to say that while they are musically and technically very proficient and well-rehearsed, they don’t really float my boat. Old school Thrash has never really been my thing, and still isn’t. I just can’t get excited about it. You can’t like everything can you? But if you like that sort of thing, you’ll love them, so please do check them out!

https://www.facebook.com/apollyonsteel

Solitary

Our first guest headline of the evening was more UK Thrash – Solitary. They’re kicking it with the bigger boys now, and their performance showed off their next level status and experience. They have a huge amount of stage presences, and everything is in your face with bells on (not literally, it’s another few months until Christmas yet. That said, bells being played in a Thrash style could be fun…) Vocally, they were on point, too. Crystal clear and angry as fuck! The bass player also has a huge stage presence, and pulls many bass-faces, which is great to watch. They managed to work the somewhat knackered crowd really well, too, which again shows off their calibre. Like with Apollyon, it’s not my cup of tea, but I did enjoy the pace and flow of the set. 

https://www.facebook.com/Official.Solitary

Democratus

Now, here are a gang of lads from South Wales who I absolutely love, and when they were announced as guest headliners for this gig, I did a little happy dance. Having seen them a few times before, I knew what was in store for the remaining crowd, and as usual Democratus did not disappoint! They play pacey Melodic Death Metal, and man do they do it well. They also love a bit of audience participation, with a couple of singalongs that went down a treat with us die hard late nighters! Now, at this point I want to mention something. The amazing talent of the bass player. He was absolutely steaming drunk by the time they got on stage, to the point of almost not being able to stand, but he didn’t miss a note of his uber intricate basslines! That takes real talent! Hats off to you sir! I absolutely loved Democratus’ set, and could have listened to them all night.

https://www.facebook.com/democratusband

However, sadly, it did have to come to an end so the final announcement made of who would progress to the final could be made. Before Democratus played, Beany had announced that Bad Earth took the crowd vote – a fact I was very pleased about, as they gave the best performance on the night by a country mile. Taking the judges vote, and for the first time this year, NOT by unanimous verdict, were Apollyon. Personally, I went for Wrath Of Man, for the aforementioned reasons, but it was a very close-run thing. Wrath Of Man, please come back next year! Your performance was epic.

And that was another great night at an end. I have to say I’m mighty glad I’m not judging in the final.  It’s going to be a very difficult task for Bloodstock’s very own Simon Hall! Bring it on!!

LINKS:
M2TM North Wales:

N.E.W Metal Productions:

Mclean’s Pentre:

Bloodstock:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. All photographic images are the property of Beth Jones. 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.