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.

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 2

M2TM Manchester 2023 Heat 2 poster

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 2 – Divinitas, The Machinist, Visitor and Archetype 
The Rebellion, Manchester 
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!

(No Facebook)

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.

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 1

M2TM Manchester 2023 Heat 1 Poster

M2TM Manchester 2023, Heat 1 – Dekaytah, The Island, Wrath of Man & Blacklist
The Rebellion , Manchester
Review by Rob Sutton

It feels like only yesterday that Manchester’s final was won by Portrayal Of Ruinn but here we are back for another year and with what looks like the toughest competition to date. 


Dekaytah are a fairly new band on the scene, but one which I personally shared the stage with at the tail end of 2022 and they really impressed me then – so I was excited to see what a couple of months had done for them. Firstly, I did miss a song due to well traffic and bloody road works, but they did kick the competition off in fine style, bags of energy on stage and a cracking mix of different subgenres. Everything from Hatebreed to Lamb of God and hints of Metalcore in there as well. This all blended perfectly together, and the crowd absolutely loved it firing off into pits throughout the set. Their musicianship was pretty spot on as well, with the only niggle I could find was the actual singing. It wasn’t great in fairness, but the screams and shouts did make up for this. Honestly Dekaytah set the bar really high not only for the night but for the whole competition. A really impressive start.


The Island 

A complete change of pace in The Island was up next and they took things down a more Hard Rock route. For me the first song took way too long to kick in and when it did really lacked punch, which was a shame as in terms of performance it was really tight and had a good blend of influences which reminded me off Tool crossed with Placebo. Once the set kicked in, they really did turn up the energy most notably when the front man got rid of the guitar and gave it some beans, and then more so with the solos cutting through beautifully. Now his voice again didn’t quite work. The shouts were good and fitted the genre well, but the singing was off key and dare I say it, a bit drab. He did however make up for this with the ‘nice guy’ persona on stage, which I really liked as it was a complete change to the aggressive hyper front men in Metal. Although The Island weren’t my cup of tea, they were good and I really did enjoy the last song, but I think nerves got the better of them.


Wrath of Man 

Another band that have been well and truly on my radar for the past few years is Wrath of Man. Now these guys have been about for a while and with two members also in All Consumed, you would expect a certain level of professionalism. This is exactly what we got, after the slight delay with the backing track they bounce on stage hyping the crowd and kick straight in with a heavy as fuck Death Metal tune. Again, the crowd instantly start pitting, headbanging and well the usual Metal things. The riffs on display here are absolutely brutal, a good cross between Groove and Death, with a slight hint of Thrash. Couple this with some blistering drums and a snare that echoes in your ears for the next few days, and you get the idea just how intense these guys were. The vocal ranges used were also pretty damn sweet with the lows being gut wrenching and the highs and shouts slotting in just the right places, but again the singing did nothing to me. I’d prefer just the growls and screaming if I’m honest. Nevertheless, this was an incredibly slick and professional performance and raised the bar even higher.



Last up was Blackpool thrashers Blacklist, another band that have been on my radar for a fair few years. These guys also aren’t short of experience, and it shows. Despite another issue with what I think was an intro track they bounced on stage hyping the crowd and immediately kicked into… well Thrash. To me this is what Blacklist are, ticking every box when it comes to Thrash Metal and their performance. It was tight, energetic, epic solos, thundering bass and a crowd going mental. Yes, pits throughout once again with a huge wall of death and even a slow dance pit. I honestly loved this set and that’s coming from someone who isn’t into Thrash, but it did everything that you would want from a show. I really couldn’t find any fault with them.


For me three bands deserved to go through and it was a tough one to call, but Dekaytah went through on crowd vote – which didn’t surprise me as they seemingly brought most of the crowd but still had done enough to warrant a judges vote too. Wrath of Man went through on the judges views, which I can also agree on. Blacklist definitely should be in the hunt for a wildcard if there is one though.

OK now I have to rant. Lighting… for Dekaytah there was basically nothing going on just a pre-set, The Island got some fancy bits throughout, and Wrath of Man got the same treatment but then Blacklist had nothing until the last song. This is a competition and lighting places a huge part in how an audience looks at a band. In the interest of fairness either put a pre-set and leave it for every band or go nuts for every band, not as and when you feel like it. Also please check levels for backing tracks. Speaking to the bands using them for intro’s, it transpired that these weren’t checked during their line check and left a band stood side of stage in silence waiting, I wouldn’t mind but these were thirty-minute changeovers, so there really is no excuse.

Aside from that this was a well attended and promoted show and has set the standard for the rest of the heats.




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.

M2TM 2022 – Manchester – Semi-Final 1

M2TM 2022 – Manchester – Semi-Final 1
Asleep at the Helm (Guest Headliner)
Dead Retinas, Technologist, Vlka Fenryka, Portrayal Of Ruinn
Rebellion, Manchester
Live Review by Rob Sutton
Photos by Callum Burgoyne 

Metal to the Masses is a great place to go to find new bands and also watch bands progress through a competition for the ultimate prize, a place on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock. This year I have been following Manchester’s M2TM but felt like it wouldn’t be right to review until we got to the Semi finals. So after 8 heats and 4 quarter finals we arrive at the first semi final and to a massive 250+ turn out!

Taking to the stage first is Deathcore outfit Portrayal of Ruinn, a band I have reviewed on a number of occasions. Going on first at any point in the competition is daunting but these guys don’t mess around kicking right into their set and commanding the pits to be opened. Normally the way these guys control the crowd is unrivalled in the competition, but I think tonight nerves have got the better of them as we are asked for circle pits during a breakdown (doesn’t work so well) and walls of death are formed by the crowd without a leader to say when to charge. It just felt a bit scripted tonight almost like they had all sat down before the gig and said ‘wall of death here’ or ‘jump in the crowd then.’ Portrayal previously feed off the crowd and go with the flow and normally this sets them apart from other bands in the competition, whether it was scripted I don’t know but it seemed like they were over thinking or trying too hard. Another example of this ‘trying too hard’ was when the vocalist fucked off stage and beyond the crowd to the very back of the venue. Why? Fuck knows. He just seemed to stand around a bit then wander back to the stage. This was completely unnecessary and had the whole crowd facing the wrong way leaving the rest of the band playing to basically a photographer. One of the guitarists also tried this trick of going into the crowd but stayed firmly in the pit, this worked better, though because he decided to stop playing for a moment towards the end of the song, the outro lacked oomph so perhaps this wasn’t the wisest of moves. Having said that, when they are all on stage and head banging or bouncing on stage, they are a real pleasure to watch, the synchronised head banging is so nice to see and having the crowd all banging their heads in unison just adds to the feel. One other thing that seemed slightly off was the guitars, there are twangs in the final song which for some reason were just pained tonight but they weren’t the only band with this issue so this maybe sound related. However the transitions between clean and distorted guitars felt like an afterthought, I feel more of a build up with the drums or the other guitar feeding in would have made this change much smoother. This review really sounds like I am ripping Portrayal and I kind of am. Their performance in the quarter final was by far the best performance of any band this competition but this one felt try-hard and messy. I genuinely love Portrayal and so did the crowd but I know they can do better so, I would take what they did in the quarter final and play that if they progress to the final.


With the stage now littered with Viking shields this can only mean one thing, Vlka Fenryka are next up. Starting off with a Viking chant without a backing track is something a bit different, adding the addition of a few horns (couldn’t hear them, gutted as this would have been cool) and a bit of dancing, yeah this is different! Their whole get up is fantastic and seems to whip the crowd in the Viking party atmosphere. We also have a nice mix of vocal styles as well, from the shouting/chanting to screaming to singing. The singing being a personal highlight as I felt his voice was spot on, not too much on the power metal side to be cheesy and not proggy enough to drone on. The screams I wasn’t so keen on, while the style of screams are done well, I don’t feel they were aggressive enough for the whole Viking style. Without sounding cliché, I would have liked growls instead. This would move them closer to the Amon Amarth style but with the addition of the cleans, I feel they would have enough of a unique selling point to make them stand out. As I said though there wasn’t actually anything wrong with the screams. This being my first time watching Vlka Fenryka I didn’t really know fully what to expect but being a Viking band I felt there would have been a crowd rowboat… there wasn’t. Maybe they are trying to make sure they don’t fall into the trap of copying others and seemed quite happy to stick with the horns in the sky or the chants and I don’t mind that. Very metal! Also harking back to the first set, a couple of the guitar solos here were also a bit everywhere. So much so, in one part I am pretty sure each member was playing a different song; I did wince as it was just so messy I couldn’t find the beat or tell what was going on. For that matter the tone of the guitar really didn’t fit the solos in general, they ended up cutting through and almost piercing the ear drums of the crowd. It was actually painful. Again this could have been a sound issue. Besides all of this Vlka Fenryka were great fun to watch, the whole set up completely changed the feel of the stage and the night. This was a very strong set. Skol guys!


Again with the sound issues but this time a monumental issue where the intro track doesn’t play and there are no vocals whatsoever! Never the less, Technologist start their set but in honesty this was completely pointless as they only got a tiny way through their first song before giving up. I don’t blame them either, nothing was working properly. While this was being sorted they did treat us to a nice jazz interlude so not all was lost. Once their set did start most of the issues were resolved but honestly the sound really fucked these guys both musically and with their confidence. And that unfortunately sets the tone for the rest of their set as they were fighting a losing battle. For me their confidence had been well and truly shaken and while they still showed their usual smiles with the hint of arrogance about their playing ability, you can tell they were not on form. The first half of their set did sound messy and uncoordinated. It was a real shame as throughout the entire competition these guys have been stunning to watch. Don’t get me wrong though, the second half of their 4 song set list was tight and their technical ability did shine through here but the addition of a new song into the set this close to the final was a very brave move. Having seen Technologist the Tuesday prior to this gig and they absolutely smashed it then, I am complete baffled as to why they decided now of all times to add a new song? Yes it was a good song but it didn’t feel like it had the mileage the other songs had already got and it really showed. Luckily they did keep a personal favourite of mine in the set and closed with ‘Reborn’ but even here, vocal queues were missed and it was noticeable with the drummer reminding the vocalist to come in. again this is a band I absolutely love and really wanted this set to be as good as all their others but everyone has off nights and they picked the wrong night to do so and, for me, has cost them going through. 


Another band I watched last Tuesday, and frankly they pissed me right off at that gig by openly admitting that they were performing at 80%. This means that I have come to this gig expecting to be blown away and with a bit of a cloud over my head. So Dead Retinas at 100% then… Musically again their blend of Punk and Hardcore is just brilliant, I really love the mash up of these 2 genres and tonight is no exception. They are playing with full ferocity and sound amazing. Vocally again he sounds on point, with the punk shouts and metal growls sounding pretty damn good. Not only do these guys sound on point tonight but they also have the energy on stage. Much like Portrayal earlier there is a lot of head banging, a lot of movement and a great deal of crowd engagement. This includes a number of pits which are again present throughout their set. From this point these guys seem to be taking this competition by the balls and making it theirs. As with the previous bands having a few niggles or things that just didn’t work for me, Dead Retinas also have a few. I will start with the lack of a wireless microphone. The vocalist also makes a habit of spending more time in the crowd than on stage, again this doesn’t always work and with a wired mic less so. Because of this he has to have half the crowd holding the cable in the air so anyone moshing doesn’t trip over. I could make a joke about health and safety but in all seriousness just get a wireless and make everyone’s lives a little easier. Also climbing all around the venue is all fun and games but this is just overkill. As I have said before, there is a balance between being on stage and in the crowd and while they have found the balance in the music, they haven’t with this. Also, mentioning the voting tokens for me is a massive no, especially when it’s to vote for your own band, it makes you look arrogant in a bad way. Dead Retinas played a solid set but were again let down by little things/comments and it really is a shame.


Finally onto our guest headliners Asleep at the Helm, now if you have read any of my reviews of these guys before you will know how much I rave about them. Tonight was no exception, they were absolutely on it and that is even without a bassist! (Though the sound was a bit thin but this couldn’t be helped). Their whole set felt like they had made this specifically for me with a good mix of old and new songs, each of which having been played on my spotify countless times. AATH boast a mix of screamed and clean vocals and are performed by multiple members as well, each of the screams and growls are nailed to perfection and the clean vocal harmonies just tug at your heartstrings. Drums are absolutely on point as well, pretty sure there wasn’t a beat missed here which is impressive! AATH seemed to do away with the wandering around off stage and instead let their music and on stage performance do the talking and it works so well. Couple this with a charismatic front man and an engaging guitarist shouting at the crowd, they have the audience in the palm of their hands. It goes to show you don’t need to be constantly in the crowd to engage with the crowd. Everything these guys played tonight was just head and shoulders above the other bands and just shows that AATH are on a different level in terms of quality and professionalism by comparison. For me this was by far one of my favourite sets of the year, I just wish the promoter had let them finish with their cover of ‘Lady.’


So before I go into the results I would actually like to say that I am being overly critical on the bands but this is the semi final of M2TM so really these bands should be on top form. Don’t get me wrong, I did really enjoy each set but this being a semi final for Bloodstock and the final being only a matter of weeks away, I felt a lot of the bands needed to step their game up from the previous rounds and that just didn’t happen tonight. It really shows when the guest band completely owns the competing bands as they were on another level. Also the crowd voting system really showed its flaws that night; everyone who paid was given a token to vote. This meant people were walking in 1 song from the end and voting for a band that had already played! How is that remotely fair? I would love to see this voting system changed for next year where you get a token if you turn up before the first band starts and then open the voting when the last band finishes. This would stop people only turning up for the band they want and at least watching the other bands before making a decision. I’ll be honest the vote felt like a mockery of the system and extremely unfair to all bands. 

Anyway going through was Vlka Fenryka and Portrayal of Ruinn, Vlka certainly deserved to go through and I would say so did Portrayal if I forget about this set and remember their quarter final set. Commiserations to Dead Retinas and Technologist, again I have seen both bands play a lot better than tonight but there is always next time. 

On another note I will be back next week with the second semi final where hopefully I can be a bit more positive.



Bloodstock M2TM Manchester:

Callum Burgoyne Photography:

Drew Scott Photographic:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images are the property of Callum Burgoyne. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM 2022 North Wales – Heat 1: Zebedy

Live shots of North Wales-based Progressive Metal band, Zebedy, at Central Live Music Venue, on 25th March 2022, competing in the 2022 Bloodstock M2TM North Wales heats. Photos by Jason Samuels.

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Jason samuels. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Virus

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Mad Spanner

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Severenth

Disclaimer: This photo album is solely the property of Beth Jones. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of these images, unless you have the strict permission of said party. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Bloodstock M2TM North Wales, Grand Final 2020 (!) – Central Station, Wrexham 03/07/2021 – Scarfoot

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.