Nile, with Krisiun, In Element, and Decrepid – ‘The Garage’, London – 06/11/2022

Nile, with Krisiun, In Element, and Decrepid
‘The Garage’, London
06/11/2022
Live Review & Photos by Chris Galea

DECREPID

Decrepid are a local Brutal Death Metal band – as far as I can remember this was my first foray into their music. They sounded tight and intense … jeez, if this was only the first band, I dread to imagine how flayed my body and mind will be by the end of the event. Anyway, the vocals sounded particularly fierce and occasionally I heard some cool guitar licks amongst a ferocious barrage of riffs.

https://www.facebook.com/decrepid

IN ELEMENT

In Element stood out from the rest of the bill but not necessarily for the right reasons. The band does a sort of Industrial / Nu-Metal cross-bred with Crematory-type sonorities. They sounded a bit lost to me to be honest and definitely weren’t my cup of tea. At times their singer kept babbling incoherently for more than my patience could endure. As in the case of Decrepid, In Element had very little stage space to move about. Consequentially their singer performed standing on the pit barrier, and it was weird avoiding any collisions when I skirted from one side of the pit to the other to take my photos. Brownie points to the band for their efforts in providing a visually impactful show despite stage restrictions.

https://www.facebook.com/inelement/

KRISIUN

Krisiun’s confidence in delivering the goods was clear as the band steam-rolled through their set with fearsome tightness. In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past thirty years, Krisiun, from Brazil, infuse the aural menace of Thrash and Death Metal. The Kolesne brothers that make up the band performed a sort of greatest hits from their vast repertoire with an understandable leaning towards their new album “Mortem Solis”.

The Garage happily lapped everything up and the band members seemed quite pleased at the audience’s reaction. Highlights for me included some guitar shredding from Moyses Kolesne that I hadn’t always picked up from the band’s recordings. Set closer ‘Hatred Inherit’ was particularly impressive too but was delivered with the same passion that the trio showed for the whole set. Quite a good live band.

https://www.facebook.com/krisiun.official/

NILE

Nile upped the ante in terms of brutality and the crowd responded to that with some serious moshing. Sounding immensely tight, the U.S.A. quartet delivered its own brand of Death Metal inspired by Ancient Egypt and its grim mythology.

Behind the drum kit, George Kollias was particularly impressive … tight, precise and relentless. I remember meeting him when he was playing with Greek band Nightfall … he has built up quite a name for himself since then. Similarly, guitarist, band founder and riff-meister Karl Sanders was excellent as he flew through one intricate series of riffs to another without getting entangled.

Despite the fact that the band members seem to work well together, this line-up is actually quite new. Brian Kingsland, on guitar and lead vocals, joined just as the band started working on “Vile Nilotic Rites”, Nile’s most recent album, from which the band played a couple of numbers tonight. Bass player and lead growler Julian David Guillen has only been with Nile for a few weeks, and this is in fact his very first tour with the band. 

Thankfully I exited The Garage relatively unscathed but pleased as it had been a while since I attended such a good Death Metal gig.

https://www.facebook.com/nilecatacombs

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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. Photography property of Chris Galea 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.

Beyond Your Design, Hellfekted, Reaper, Born Pariah – The Hairy Dog, Derby – 22/10/22

Beyond Your Design, Hellfekted, Reaper, Born Pariah
The Hairy Dog, Derby
22/10/22
Review by Rob Sutton 
Photos by Klare Sherwood

Derby isn’t a place I go to often for gigs, this in fact being only my second time in the city but when an offer comes to review an EP launch at the Hairy Dog, I can’t really refuse. Now the venue itself is one of my personal favourites, we have a covered smoking area with a food van at the front, a main bar room with really good toilets, a main event room with a huge stage, plenty of space and a bar. Although the toilets in here are not to the same standard as in the pub. Oh and a games room as well, honestly what more do you want from a venue? Oh, cheap beer, check. £4 a pint… Winner! 

So, moving on from the venue and to our opening band for the evening Born Pariah, who start things off as they mean to go on – Thrashy. Now as we know, Thrash really isn’t my first choice when it comes to Metal subgenres, but these guys describe themselves as more Groove than Thrash. To me they do still have an awful lot of Thrash elements to them, but certainly  the riffs on display here really highlight a more groovy side and I do really dig this, as they really get the crowd’s heads bobbing along. This is amplified by the heavy hitter behind the drums. He really is hammering that kit and provides a real thud to the grooves. Another special mention has to be to the bassist, who actually gets time to shine on multiple occasions, yes boys and girls we have bass solos!!! Joking aside these fitted beautifully within their songs and was a really nice change from the usual guitar intros. 

While the music is solid and performed to a high standard, the stage show, not so much. I like a band that engages with the crowd and Born Pariah barely even announce a song. Not only that, but for the most part they are just stood on stage with a slight Bob, aside from the drummer who was actually going full beans and completely stole my attention. Born Pariah looked like they were bored on stage and sadly that left me a little bored too, luckily the music was good though.

https://www.facebook.com/BornPariahUK

Reaper are a band that Ever Metal are all too familiar with and are one of Editor Beth’s personal favourites, though this is the first time I have actually reviewed them. So where do I stand? Well first off there is way more stage presence, in fact Reaper don’t stand still and this is made more impressive by the speed they are playing at. Now the quote from Dan (vocals / guitar) used for tonight was ‘Thrash, Rock and Prog, 3 dead genres for the price of one’ now I’ll be honest Reaper are way more Thrash than Rock or Prog, but those influences are clear to see and do give them a nice USP, but I wouldn’t stray too far from the Thrash side as they do it bloody well. I mean the solos are frankly mind-blowing, the drumbeats are blisteringly good, the bass holds the low end to perfection and just everything fits together so beautifully. Not to mention the great interactions with the crowd and the excellent use of the masses of space on stage (although the merch plug was really cringy) but for me Reaper highlight what Thrash is all about, fantastic showmanship, fast music, a lot of energy and really good fun. Dare I say it… one of the top Thrash bands in the underground scene right now.

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialReaperUK

Hellfekted are up next filling the main support slot on this tour with Beyond Your Design. Now last time there were a few things I wasn’t that keen on from Hellfekted, but since then they have had some mega shows and an appearance at Bloodstock. All this seems to have given the band a real boost, which means tonight’s performance is on another level of good. As with Reaper, these guys use every inch of the stage to their advantage which makes for very entertaining watching as well as sheer admiration as once again, the speed these guys play at is just mind boggling. All this on display really does get the crowd nodding away happily but the cries for circle pits are a little off putting. OK attempt one got a solitary participant and attempt 2 got another, but for me after the first go, maybe shout for a pit instead. To be fair to Hellfekted, their take on Blackened Thrash really is a sight to behold and I haven’t seen a band like these perform with such precision and speed. Honestly, if you haven’t watched them or heard them… do it!

https://www.facebook.com/Hellfekted

Although the support bands have been absolutely on point tonight there really is only one reason this gig is taking place and that is the release of Beyond Your Design’s latest EP. First off, they have a stand-in drummer for this show from Reaper and this is a very welcome addition, even if it is only for this show as the last few shows have been without and while the backing tracks are good, nothing beats the real thing. While the rest of the bands this evening have sounded predominantly Thrash, Beyond Your Design are way more Metalcore sounding, though I won’t mention the band they sound like (please see my roast of these guys)(Wasn’t TRIVIUM by any chance was it, Hyperactive Metal Pixie ™? – Dark Juan). This has meant that there are way more parts that you can happily sing along to and boy is their material catchy! Seriously ‘United we Fall’ was stuck in my head for days after this gig! This is really helped by the quality of the clean singing being crisp and very understandable. 

Now as before, BYD really do own the stage filling every space they can and couple this with a very commanding front man, the crowd are in the palm of their hand, and yes, this time we do get pits, we get shouts back and we get headbanging. There were a couple of guests throughout the set, firstly Liam from Hellfekted comes back on and adds a very nice level of Thrash to their sound but had to mention the dreaded phrase ‘circle pit’ at least this was third time lucky. Also joining on stage was Dan from Reaper taking over from Rob on guitar, while Dan did a mighty job on the guitar, releasing Rob to be just a vocalist was fucking amazing! The man is like a caged animal! He just flipped and completely dominated the stage, got right into the crowds faces and just put on an almighty show. I wish he would do this more as I loved it! BYD played a phenomenally engaging, stupidly tight and just an all-round incredible set, I honestly can’t fault this show… Best set of the year? Maybe so…

https://www.facebook.com/bydbanduk

This may have been a fair way to travel and with a lot of thrash on the bill, I didn’t expect to enjoy the gig this much but my god the bands smashed it. I would highly recommend any of the bands as well as the venue! What a night!

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Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dark Juan and Ever Metal. All photographs property of Klare Sherwood – KS Photography. 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.

The Bunny, The Bear, w/Cabin Boy Jumped Ship, Rosen Bridge, In Depths, Aleya

The Bunny the Bear Poster

The Bunny, The Bear, w/Cabin Boy Jumped Ship, Rosen Bridge, In Depths, Aleya
Penny Black, Wrexham
16/9/2022
Review by Rob Sutton

Wrexham really is starting to feel like a home away from home, so when a gig with bands I used to listen to in college and bands from the local scene I’ve been following for a few years are all on the same bill then its a no brainer! Now The Penny Black has had a good makeover recently and actually feels and looks like a proper venue, but it falls short on a few things, firstly, the toilets are horrific! No locks, no seats, no bog roll and look like they haven’t seen a mop in years. Also, the beer prices are ridiculous, £4.50 for a bottle of beer and the taps being turned off again is frankly daylight robbery! Though if you’re sober like I was then the prices aren’t a huge issue but still… wow!

So first up was Chester / North Wales based Aleya, a band I have put on at gigs before and probably will again. Judging by the amount of fans with their merch on, they also have a good following in Wrexham, this is impressive as they have a fairly sizeable crowd despite being the openers. Now Metalcore is something I seem to come across at nearly every gig I go to, and it can get a bit samey, but Aleya seem to have a bit of a spark about them. Firstly they are stupidly catchy, ‘Losing Sleep’ being one that is still stuck in my head, and secondly because they don’t sound like they’re aiming for the new age Architects style of Metalcore. The riffs are sounding much more melodic and tonight are played fantastically, not to mention both clean and screamed vocals being on point for the most part. Though towards the end of the set the cleans really started to suffer and there were a lot of missed notes and he did sound out of breath. Saying that, their energy tonight was stunning, they were a fantastic opener and hopefully should get a fair few more gigs with performances like this. Oh, I would recommend a wireless mic as he does like to wander.

https://www.facebook.com/aleyaofficial

In Depths are a band I don’t think I have reviewed before, though I have seen and played with these guys many times. First up these guys do stand out on this bill, with the focus being on Metalcore and Electronic In Depths bring pure brutality by the bucket load! Their cross between Beat Down and Deathcore is quite a mix and leads to a sound that is so ungodly heavy it makes thunder sound like a knock on the door. Now the last few times I have seen them, technical issues have really let them down but there is nothing of the sort tonight apart from the odd bit of feedback, instead the crowd are met with a well-oiled machine that just flicks from one song to another effortlessly, the use of backing tracks really work a treat for this! Honestly, I have never seen these guys perform to such a high standard, the aggression and precision is just to die for and the whole set I’m just stood in awe! Honestly this was brutal on another level!

https://www.facebook.com/InDepths

Third up on this monster bill is another one of my personal favourites Rosen Bridge and after the onslaught before them it was back to the Metalcore theme of the night but with a bit more of a Djenty twist. Now I can bang on about how much I love what these guys do and the fact that I was singing along to a good half the set probably is a big giveaway to how much I enjoyed them. Though I’ll try and put my biased aside, to start the vocals were a little quiet, which really hampers these guys as they are a massive focal point of the band but by the second track the levels are much better. 

As with In Depths, Rosen Bridge performed absolutely on point, tight as a drum, tons of energy and fantastic crowd engagement. This time I find myself more drawn to the drums, they are absolutely ballistic tonight, so much power and speed all in the right places, he is honestly top of his game tonight! Now it also wouldn’t be a Rosen Bridge review without a comment on the singer Alex’s dance moves, if you haven’t seen them, they are quite a sight during a Metal performance. All in all Rosen Bridge did what they always do, put a massive smile on my face so nothing else matters. Oh and extra points for dedicating ‘Watchers’ to me and giving a shout out to Thrashatouille! That’s one way to butter up a reviewer!

https://www.facebook.com/RosenBridgeUK/

Filling the roll of main support this evening is Cabin Boy Jumped ship, a band that have been around a fair while now and before this tour hadn’t gigs prior to the world ending. Their sound had initially started out as proper Electronic Metalcore, but has evolved to a slightly more modern sound while still retaining their roots. This I am a fan of as I have said prior, I’ve seen a lot of Metalcore bands recently and this means CBJS stand out to me. 

These guys hit the stage and unleash carnage on the crowd of Wrexham and truly raise the standard to a new level. The whole performance is slick, tight and just a pleasure to watch! Now normally I would say there is way too much reliance on the backing tracks during the set as a lot of vocals and guitars are also thrown in as well as the Dance beat, but in this rare circumstance, it works and that is primarily down to the genre they play. It is supposed to sound over mixed and the fact the whole band remain beautifully in time throughout makes this all the better. Again, I find myself drawn to the drummer as this time he is the one providing the clean backing vocals and does so perfectly. The fact that CBJS blend so many genres, from Metal to Rap to Dance truly sets these guys apart and dare I say this… this was one of my top performances of the year so far so naturally, that’s another T-shirt to my collection!

https://www.facebook.com/CabinBoyJumpedShip

Back in the good old days a very young Rob stumbled across a band called The Bunny, The Bear and immediately fell in love with their unique crossover sound and catchy choruses. So, when he found out they were playing Wrexham he instantly messaged the main lady of Ever Metal asking if he could review this (thank you Beth). So, as you can tell I was excited! Starting off TBTB let their backing band showcase their normal music which was a really nice touch, albeit a tad off-genre for the night but still I like this! 

What I wasn’t much of a fan of was the bassist wandering around asking everyone if they could hear him, mate, speak to the sound tech! Though this would have been pointless as I shall explain later. Kicking off TBTB set was my personal favourite ‘Aisle’ this song really took me back and the voices matched exactly what I envisioned them to sound like live so, of course I was singing along. After this though is where, and there is no other way of putting this, it all goes to shit! That bassist I mentioned decided again to spend his time in the crowd and thus hit the deck and broke his bass leaving us with no bass for the rest of the set. I later find out that he had twisted his ankle at a previous show and had spent most of the evening downstairs getting drunk. Honestly, I hope they weren’t paying him as this frankly was the single least professional thing I have ever seen from a band especially a touring one of this calibre. 

Sadly, from there the rest of the set just ended up messy and all over the place, nothing seemed to fit together properly, no one looked like they wanted to perform on the night and most of the crowd had buggered off. It just looked so amateur, like a group of mates had got together, never practiced and decided to do a gig. Don’t get me wrong the sound was far from ideal for them and they did have numerous issues with the mics but this does not hide the fact that this was an absolute joke of a set. I really like this band and will still listen to them online but I can’t justify spending money to watch people prat around on stage and be too pissed to even play. No thanks!

https://www.facebook.com/thebunnythebear

Aside from my disappointment with the headliners, this was a really good show, the rest of the bands brought their ‘A’ game and I truly loved all of them, the venue does need work and also a centre monitor (many vocalists mentioned this) but that is a small issue in what can only be described as a fantastic evening!

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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.

Beermageddon Festival 2022

Beermageddon Festival 2022 Poster

Beermageddon Festival 2022
Stoke Prior Sports & Social Club, Bromsgrove
26 – 28/08/2022
Review and Photography by Beth Jones

Beermageddon has been a mainstay in the UK Metal scene for a decade! It’s only a small indoor festival, but that makes it one of my favourites, as you truly experience the ‘Metal family’. Everyone knows everyone, and it’s more like a reunion party than a festival. It’s close knit and intimate, and my new favourite festival, after attending for the first time last year. For this 10th anniversary event, all the bands performing were selected from bands who have performed at previous years, which made it even more of a reunion event. 

We arrived on the Thursday this year and had time to catch the Thursday night disco. Which was awesome. There is nothing more perfect in the world than us bunch of ‘misfits’ (as society would make us) dancing to the Cha-Cha Slide! Copious ale was quaffed and a great night was had by all! And after a night in the tent, and a morning and afternoon to recover from said quaffing, it was time for the music to begin properly! 

Day 1

Melted Messiah

This unintentional one-man Black Metal band played at Beermageddon 2021. I say unintentional, because they’re usually a 2 piece, but this year the drummer got Covid the day before the festival. Last year I think I said something along the lines of ‘it would be better with a full band’. I wanted to be able to say something different this time, but with the drummer missing, I can’t. He’s got some good riffs, but it needed drums at the very least and would still work better as a full band. What I will say though is hats off to him for getting up and doing it, rather than cancelling the gig. That takes courage. I just really hope that next time I see Melted Messiah, it’s as a full band. 

https://www.facebook.com/MeltedMessiah

Sorceress Of Sin

Again, these guys played last year. They’re fast and furious, and their frontwoman, Lisa Skinner, has one hell of a voice. They seemed a lot more punchy this year, and got the crowd going straight away. After a few songs they slowed it down with a ballad, that showed their softer side really well. I liked these guys last year, and I still do! 

https://www.facebook.com/Sorceressofsin

After our first two bands, it was time for the annual fancy dress show! This year’s theme was The Wild West, and there were some very… very interesting twists on this! There are certain things that I just will never be able to unsee… And the less said about that, the better! But the eventual winner was a gorgeous little cowboy of about 6 months old, with his panto horse dad. Very cute, although I think the cheering was a bit much for him… And the baby didn’t look too impressed either, boom boom! 

Wired THC

What better way to follow some crazy fancy dress nonsense than with some Hardcore Thrash? And Wired never disappoint or fail to bring the party and the crowd! It was awesome to see so many kids absolutely loving it down the front, and we were joined in the photo pit by a budding young photographer, who looked chuffed to bits and scared to death in equal measures! This is what we need! More of this. More of the next generation living their dreams! 

https://www.facebook.com/WIREDTHC

Ashen Crown

Our first night headliners were the ever heavy Ashen Crown. They went down a storm here last year and won the public vote to headline the Friday night this year. And they did just that in style. Ultimate powerhouses in every department, their performance was tight, professional, and thunderous. The perfect way to round off day 1. 

https://www.facebook.com/ashencrown.uk

Day 2

Day 2 started with a sponsored head shave, with all proceeds going to RACPA (Rock Against Child Pornography and Abuse) who are the charity mainstay at Beermageddon. The soon to be shaven lady was our very own queen of North East Wales Metal Productions, Beany’s good lady – Kelly Hatton! She looked terrified and a little hung over, but they raised £215 in the charity bucket and more still on the just giving page! The final total by the end of the weekend was nearly £700. Fair play to Kelly – a great sport, and for a brilliant charity.

 

http://www.racpauk.org/

Bloodyard

After a brief pause to grab another beer and roll a fag, it was time for our first music of the day. Another favourite of NEW Metal Productions, and us at Ever Metal, Bloodyard provided the perfect way to shake of the remaining hangovers and aching heads. They’ve got more punch than a Title belt fight, and boy did they bring it to this show! Donna Hurd is such an amazing front woman, and her presence on stage is both aggressive and mesmerising in equal measures, and the rest of the band are just as punishing and brutal. Metronomic drums, killer riffs, and pure power from the bass make the whole thing an epic sound. LOVE them! One of my sets of the weekend! 

https://www.facebook.com/bloodyard666

Ruadh

From a brutal Death Metal fist in the kisser, to Atmospheric Black Metal! Scottish band Ruadh brought the dark and tortured forest into Stoke Prior Sports and Social Club. No easy achievement, but they did it gloriously! I’d never come across them before, but our roving reported Rob recommended them, and he wasn’t wrong. With a great mix of really beautiful clean vocals and growls, and some expansive samples fitting into the burning riffs and rumbling bass, they had the room in the palm of their hands. Great job!

https://www.facebook.com/ruadhofficial

Agrona

If we thought we’d been heavied earlier, then Agrona were about to make us think again! In full corpse paint and capes (which make for great photos), this 5-piece Symphonic Black Metal band from our homeland of Wales brought heart pounding beats, blood curdling screams and spine-chilling growls, with some epically heavy riffs and rhythms to boot. The sun beating down outside in contrast to the metaphorical lagoon-like blackness on stage was quite a paradox. Music like Agrona needs to be accompanied by fierce, raging tempests! They were a bit too heavy for me, but nevertheless very skilled. Another great set! 

https://www.facebook.com/agronaband

Stahlsarg

Another Black Metal band in full corpse paint! Musically, I think these guys were the tightest all day, purely because they had a lot of changes within their songs, that required careful navigation. Their front man looked every bit as tortured as his screams and growls sounded, pulling some brilliant faces and writhing around as if possessed by some dark force. The bass player however had clearly been possessed by evil Tigger! He was a very bouncy chap! Again, this wasn’t really my cup of tea, but they are very good and the crowd enjoyed it a lot.

https://www.facebook.com/stahlsarguk

Godslave

German Thrash! I’d never heard these guys before because, if you’ve ever read any of my reviews, you’ll know that Thrash isn’t really my thing. But these guys absolutely smashed it out of the park – stage presence, charisma, talent, party spirit, and more importantly GREAT FUCKING MUSIC!!! They’re more Thrashy Heavy Metal, and in my opinion, they should have headlined the night. You have a new fan in me chaps! Danke!!! Another massive highlight of the weekend for me! And the brilliant thing is that they have now been announced as NEXT YEAR’S HEADLINERS!!! Whoop!

https://www.facebook.com/godslaveband

Footprints In The Custard

If I said I’d never seen these bunch of ne’er-do-wells before I’d be lying. I’d also be lying if I said they didn’t hold a special place in my heart. So it was ace to see them as main support here, and they brought their usual brand of madcap, observational comedy Thrash / Death / Whatever The Fuck It Is Metal to the now sizeable crowd. There was chanting and bouncing from the get go, and it was, as always, a pleasure photographing them! I have to confess that I ducked out pretty quickly though, because the room was so full and so hot that I had the choice of ducking out or dropping in a heap, and this camera shit is expensive! But I stayed outside and ate chips while I listened, and they were, as always, super smashing great!

https://www.facebook.com/Footprintsinthecustard

Rannoch

Saturday headliners Rannoch are a very technical Progressive Death Metal 3-piece who haven’t come on my radar before. The first thing that struck me was no drummer. Everything percussive was sampled. They are all obviously very skilled musicians, but I want live music to be at least mostly live, and this took so much away from their set. Call me old fashioned if you wish. I’m not sure whether they have a full-time drummer as the photographs I can find only shows the three of them, but apparently the drummer who was supposed to be with them was ill so couldn’t attend. 

This performance was also blighted with horrific feedback. Not the band’s fault obviously, but it made it impossible for me to stay in there. The crowd had already thinned massively after Footprints (let’s face it they’re a hard act to follow), and this forced a lot more people out of the room. All this combined made them look nervous on stage, and that made it difficult for me to really connect with them as a band. It was a shame to be honest, because their technicality was brilliant, and the rest of the day was absolutely killer!

https://www.facebook.com/rannochband

Day 3

After the first proper sleep since Wednesday, it was time for us to do it all again! First on the bill for day 3 was the traditional group photo, along with a hand fasting ceremony. This was just lovely! Call me girly if you want, but it made me all emotional! The couple being handfasted had their original hand fasting at the first Beermageddon, and this was renewing their vows after ten years, with festival founder and top man Jim Beerman as their minister! After that, it was on to the music.

Cuttin’ Edge

Our first band of the day was some Scottish high octane Heavy Rock in the shape of Cutting Edge. These guys opened last year’s festival and were great. They’re no nonsense and basically just channel their inner Motorhead. The absolute perfect way to start the last day, which always has a ‘fuck it let’s just celebrate the hell out of shit because we’ve all got to go back to normal life tomorrow’ feel about it. Loved them. 

https://www.facebook.com/cuttinedge2018

I Saw The World Burn

I’ve been wanting to catch these guys for a while, because I’ve heard a lot of good things about them, so I was very glad to the chance here. It was their first gig for 3 years too! They pack a punch, and their front woman has a hell of a growl on her! She had a mic issue here, though, which was a shame. She jumps around a lot, but the sound kept cutting out because of what appeared to be a dodgy cable. The sound guy tried to sort it out after the 3rd song, so we could actually hear the sound of the effort she was putting in on stage, but it still didn’t work. Next was a mic swap, but that didn’t work either! It was finally tracked to a DI box issue, leaving the band playing instrumental while the frontwoman had a boogie on stage, so the crew could plug her up a different way. Despite this technical malfunction, they were still awesome! Will look out for them again soon. 

https://www.facebook.com/isawtheworldburn

Kill All The Gentleman

This is another band I’d not come across. They’re a Melodic Death / Groove band from Devon. One word. Tight. No in fact two words! Fucking tight!!!! They were shouty and heavy, but musically absolutely brilliant, and frenetic from the start. The gathered crowd loved it. Great set.

https://www.facebook.com/killallthegentlemen

Raised By Owls

The true gods of Comedy Metal! Any band that has a 2 second song about memes and can get the crowd dancing to the Chucklevision theme music, wins points from me. They are essential Extreme Metal Redcoats, and that is totally cool in my book! The audience was large and every single one, from the kids to the older generation was smiling and joining in with the copious audience participation elements. The stage presence of these guys is enough to captivate the audience alone, but then add in some face melting riffs, and crazy but hilarious vocals and you have a complete performance. Every household should own a miniature Raised By Owls band like a pet, which they can pull out for parties so everyone goes ‘Nawwww’. End of.

https://www.facebook.com/RaisedByOwls

SOTEN

This time last year, Sun Of The Endless Night (SOTEN) played their first ever gig here at this festival. This year they came back as a last minute replacement for a band that had to pull out, and I was bloody glad they did! Seeing them a year on was just beautiful. They no longer looked nervous, they looked commanding. Si Cobb is an awesome front man anyway, but the rest of the band matched his level of stage presence, and they all looked like they were having a ball. They’re Thrash, but they’re good Progressive Thrash that’s exciting, and current, and I am excited to see just how far these guys can grow. Along with Godslave, they were my favourites of the weekend! 

https://www.facebook.com/UKThrash

Face Up

When the party needs to get really pumped to the climax then these are your band. Good solid Hardcore / Punk, with Thrashy riffs, charisma seeping out of every pore of their anatomies, and most importantly, damn good tunes! They whipped the crowd up straight away, and the room was packed with excitement. We got an extra-large photo pit, with added security for this one, too, which was ace for us togs! I love watching bands having a great time on stage, and these guys really were. Again, an awesome show, and a highlight of the weekend.

https://www.facebook.com/faceup.uk

Acid Reign

Acid Reign headlined last year, and it was something very special, so to see them back again this year was great. With the addition of new guitarist Matt (Control The Storm), they took to the stage for another hour of madcap tomfoolery and it was again the perfect end to this great festival. H was on form, climbing on speakers, jumping into the crowd, and bouncing about in his usual fashion, and the rest of the band looked happy and relaxed, which was great to see. 

https://www.facebook.com/acid.reign.thrash

And just like that, the festival was done. I had an absolute blast this year, and Steve, who was a metal festival virgin and had been cautious about the weekend, finished the weekend saying “I’m gutted it’s over – I don’t want to go home! It’s been amazing!” That basically sums up everyone’s feelings. Huge thanks to the bands who played killer sets, the crew and security who made everything run smoothly, and of course to the main man, Jim Beerman, for being crazy enough to organize this whole thing in the first place. Here’s to the next ten years!

LINKS: 

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

Esprit D’Air (with support from Nebulesse) – Rebellion, Manchester

Espirit D'air Poster

Esprit D’Air (with support from Nebulesse)
Rebellion, Manchester
03/08/22
Live Review by Laura Barnes

Now, prior to this night I hadn’t been to a gig in what feels like an agonizingly long time, so allow me to self-indugently set the scene here. It is a scorching Tuesday evening in Manchester. The streets are busy with jolly day-drinkers making the most of lingering sun. Outside of the Rebellion bar stands a small queue, in which people of all ages, genders and subcultures mingle excitedly as they wait for the doors to open. Rebellion is exactly the kind of venue I was craving: all wood-chipped and sticky-floored with just a tad of peeling fluorescent paint. It is also an intimate venue: perfect for a night like this one. 

Manchester locals Nebulesse were the first and only support act, and boy-oh-boy do they do their job with gusto. Nebulesse play what can best be described as noughties style alt-rock, but my more creative description is this: emo with a deliciously spicy kick. Being a support act can be challenging, especially when playing to a fanbase as dedicated as Esprit D’Air’s – more on this later – but Nebulesse handled this challenge with ease, winning the crowd over in what felt like an instant. If there were any doubters, they were soon silenced by Nebulesse’s rousing cover of My Chemical Romance’s ‘House of Wolves’. A special mention must be made here to Nebulesse’s absolutely electric frontwoman Pix, who commanded the crowd in an authentic and characteristically Northern way. By the end of their set, people were enthusiastically singing along to the anthemic ‘No More Waiting’. Nebulesse aren’t just a band that give you a good bloody show, but are also one you would happily grab a pint with at the end of the night. I recommend you check them out sooner than later; they are one to watch.

https://www.facebook.com/NEBULESSE

With the band all fired up, it was time for Esprit D’Air themselves. Esprit D’Air, it seems, are suckers for a dramatic entrance – one by one the band members enter the stage to rapturous applause, accompanied by the cinematic ‘Into The Oceans’ intro track. The biggest cheer arose when frontman Kai arrived. Dressed in loose black robes and silver jewelry, he looked like a very joyous grim reaper. And that joy was infectious! Although Esprit D’Air’s music is emotive and has a strong focus on personal struggles, there was something euphoric about the whole night. It is rare for a band to enjoy performing as much as the crowd enjoys watching, but this gig saw the band and the crowd feeding each other’s excitement until it filled the entire room.  Esprit D’Air played a very no-nonsense set; the focus was very clearly on the music, with only brief introductions to their hits. Such a focus really allowed for their musicianship to shine. The killer drum solo in the first half of the set was the perfect way to keep the crowd on their toes, and set the live Esprit D’Air experience apart from the studio album experience. Likewise, within the dark walls of Rebellion, the guitar solos were much larger and more powerful than on the albums. Free from glossy production, Esprit D’Air unleashed their full potential. It was delightful.

Another special mention here must go out to the fans. Gigs are always places of camaraderie and friendship, but Esprit D’Air have fostered a whole community of fans. People who had only ever spoken on the dedicated fan Discord server met each other for the first time, exchanging gifts and hugs aplenty. Half the crowd already seemed to know each other, and the other half all made friends over the course of the show. Gigs are life-affirming events, and as frontman Kai serenaded the crowd with ‘Guiding Light’ I remembered why I had missed them so much. 

https://www.facebook.com/espritdair

LINKS:
Venue

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes 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 Grand Final

M2TM North Wales 2022 Grand Final
Penny Black, Wrexham
01/07/2022
Review and Photography by Beth Jones

Metal 2 The Masses is always a marathon event, which draws you in and makes you really start feeling something for the local bands who go through the stages of the competition, all vying for that coveted prize, a spot on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock Festival. And, as ever, when you do reach that final lap, nerves are frayed, and everything is left in the lap of the gods. Or at least, God of the New Blood stage, Simon Hall. 

This year would be the first year Simon had attended in person to judge the competition, and it was set to be a great night. Last year’s winners, Severenth were opening the show, then the 4 competing bands, Omega Throne, Apollyon, Bad Earth, and Thrashatouille would take to the stage. And to top off the whole party, Nottinghamshire Pirate Metallers Red Rum where set to headline.

Penny Black’s is a venue that North East Wales Metal Productions have used before, and it’s an interesting place. Laser lights feature heavily, and the bar is over-priced, but that’s the norm these days. I remember when you could go out with a tenner in your pocket, get comfortably wasted, and get a bag of chips, and still have change… Ah the good old days… Anyway, I digress! For this gig, the venue was rammed to the rafters, and we were hit by a wall of sauna – like heat as we made our way into the main room. My little, gothic, and slightly bizarre body does not like heat one bit! But it was great to see such a large crowd. It proves there is still a passion for Metal in our (newly endowed) city.  

So, to the bands! Severenth are one of my favourite local bands and have been since their comeback gig a few years ago. They deservedly won M2TM last year, but sadly lead singer Peet came down with the Rona the day before Bloodstock, so never got a chance to strut his stuff on the New Blood stage, although the rest of the band pushed on without him. Here, they really brought the show to the already sizable audience, and I loved it. The sound was great, with every instrument crystal clear, and Peet’s screams and cleans cutting through everything brilliantly. It got the night off to a flying start and raised the temperature of the room another few degrees! 

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialSeverenth

Omega Throne had drawn the opening slot at their heat, the quarters, the semis, and the final. So far it seemed to have been a lucky slot for them, as they had made it all the way to the last leg. But would tonight be the same? Only time would tell. The Liverpool based band look the part, and really like to give it some welly when they’re on stage, with the frontman, guitarist, and bassist all pulling a myriad of ‘let’s fuck some shit up and melt some faces’ expressions. I do love a good expressive face! And their music is powerful and chunky enough to go along with the expressions, with huge vocals, crunching riffs, and some kick-ass bass work. They put in another impressive performance here, but I think the heat in the room sadly dwindled the audience numbers a little. Me being one of them. I took my photos, then had to remove myself from the room for a bit so that I didn’t end up in a heap on the floor. What I did see of their set though was on point. 

https://www.facebook.com/OmegaThrone-1986460878039288

Now, I’m going to start this section with a disclaimer. I don’t like Classic Thrash. I’ve said this before, I know, but I thought it was worth saying again. It just does nothing for me, regardless of how well it’s played. 

Apollyon are a Classic Thrash band from Wrexham. In my review of the Semi-final, I said they’re good at what they do, if you like that sort of thing, and I will stick by that. In fact, they are extremely good at what they do, and the sound here was better than it was at the semis. The crowd was also a lot more pumped, which helped lift their performance even more. They gave a very confident, assured, and professional performance, which really did show them off at their best, a fact that I think was noted by Simon Hall. It was slick, tight, and punchy. I just don’t like Classic Thrash! 

https://www.facebook.com/apollyonsteel

Bad Earth are, for me, the most improved and most exciting local band I have witnessed round here for a long time. They make me do a lot of smiling with their high-powered, heavy as fuck ‘Rockcore’. And here they had pits and slams breaking out all over the place. Frontman, Jordie, had a bit of a mare at the beginning of the set, with a dodgy plug socket, and I think this threw him off a bit, in an already tense and nervous situation. But he was back in full swing by the end of the first song and was up and down on his flight box like a man possessed! Bassist Karl was also throwing some immense shapes around the stage, and drummer, Ben, was clouting hell out of his kit in true Animal fashion (he wins my drummer of the year award – he’s insanely good). The crowd were lapping it up, and for me, musically, this set was my favourite of the evening, and I could have gone on listening to them all night. They make everything feel alive and lively, and I really do hope that they break into the bigtime, because they truly deserve it for the sheer energy and gusto they put into every performance. 

https://www.facebook.com/BADEARTH

Our final competing band of the evening were Thrashatouille – Chef Metallers from Northwich, with our very own roving reporter, Rob Sutton, at the helm. These guys are always great fun, with their food based observational comedy style Modern Death/Thrash/everything but the kitchen sink Metal. Sounds random, and like it shouldn’t work. But, like cheese and jam toasties, it actually does, and should be on your ‘must try’ list. Here, they were really fired up, and had the audience pitting and throwing around enough inflatable ice-creams to lift the roof off the venue. Rob did have a bit of a nightmare at the beginning though, too. His microphone decided it didn’t want to play ball. Cue a slightly panicked expression, and a quick grab of a spare mic, and all was back on track though. Again, another fantastic performance, filled with energy and fun. BUT… and I am going to say it again and keep saying it again and again… the intro eats into their set time, and is only funny for people that actually know what it says, who know the band, and have followed their history. For fresh faces, who don’t know who they are, or what they’re about, it falls flat. 

https://www.facebook.com/Thrashatouille

With the competing bands over, our headliners Red Rum, took to the stage. Now, there’s quite a lot of them, and the stage isn’t that big. So, the ensuing Pirate party was a little cramped. But these swashbuckling seafarers weren’t deterred from bringing their rum-fuel shenanigans to the slightly tiddled audience who were still ready to party! I do love a bit of yo-ho-ho in my Folk Metal, and these guys bring it by the bucket load, complete with Pirate attire, sunglasses, bare chests, and more twiddly-diddly riffs than you can shake a skull and crossbones at. Had I not been dying of heat exhaustion and ridiculously sober, I would have been in the merry mosh-up at the front, linking arms and chugging ales with the rest of them. But my aching body was about to give out, so I chose a comfy chair at the back, and a bit of head bobbing as the preferable option. Honestly, getting old has nothing going for it! This was a very fun set, and a great way to close the night. Although next time I see these guys I intend to be spaffed out of my head on Rum cocktails!

https://www.facebook.com/redrummetal

And so, with the merry madness over, it was time for the result. Unfortunately, Simon had had to duck out early, due to an ongoing back issue that’s been blighting him throughout this epic run of finals that he’s had to attend. I feel your pain Simon and wish you a speedy recovery. But he had left the result with our master of ceremonies, Beany. And without further ado, he announced that the band taking the spot on the New Blood stage would beeeeee…… APOLLYON. To be honest, I had a feeling this was the way it would go. While I’m not a fan of their music, they were the most professional band on the night, with the slickest changeovers and the most prepared and polished performance. Gutted for the other bands. It’s always a hard end, because all the bands become special to you. But it is what it is. It’s been a great competition, and I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

LINKS:

N.E.W Metal Productions

M2TM North Wales

Penny Black

Bloodstock Festival

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. Photography by 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.

South Wales Metal to the Masses Final

SW M2TM Grand Final Poster

South Wales Metal to the Masses Final
Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff
02/07/2022
Live Review and Photography by Paul Hutchings

Another pulsating afternoon and evening saw the climax of 2022’s road to the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air. A full house made for a fabulous atmosphere and despite the intense heat in the venue, the ability to nip out to the beer garden between bands provided enough respite for those who had purchased tickets to return for each of the six competing bands plus the two guest headliners.

I’ve written enough about each of the bands in my reviews of the quarter and semi-finals so delivering another blow-by-blow account seems a little bit of overkill. Instead, let’s just say that the South Wales metal community was the big winner. For me, the introduction to bands like I Fight Bears, Torchbearer, NASH and Karmen Field as well as the huge improvements of State of Deceit and Eulogy (probably the most improved band of the entire series for me) was the best bonus of the whole event. 

Kudos to the crowd, who supported each band in turn, pitted hard and fist pumped and sang with a gusto sadly sometimes lacking. It really was a first-class advert for this music we love and there are bands who will be back next year even hungrier. It’s also worth a nod to those who didn’t make it to the final, for there are some fine outfits impatiently waiting for another chance. A big hand to the musicians from Collapse the Void and Excursia who were there in numbers to support their peers. Chwarae teg, that was immense support. 

And of course, huge gratitude to James Millar for his amazing sound desk work and to organisers Alyn Hunter and Tim Hill who made the final run as smoothly as I’ve ever seen. Good work all!

On the night I think it’s reasonable to say that the favourites lived up to their billing with I Fight Bears triumphant. They impressed Bloodstock’s own Simon Hall who overcame a blindingly painful bought of sciatica (possibly with the help of a medicinal glass or two) to announce their victory to a huge roar. 

It would be remiss not to acknowledge two blistering sets from New Blood Alumni Blind Divide and Pearler. The former won the 2019 competition and were robbed of their headline set in 2020 for obvious reasons. They’ve returned looking hungry, angry, and hopefully ready to push on again. 2021’s winners Pearler took a video vote to get to Catton Hall last year. A band well loved in this part of the world; Pearler wowed the audience with another riff fest which was excellent.  Keep an eye out for both these bands. They deserve it. 

With a wildcard slot still very much a possibility, we may yet get to see either Torchbearer or Karmen Field grace the sacred halls. Neither would look out of place. But for now, it’s time to plan for Friday 12th August and I Fight Bears set on the New Blood Stage. Be there. 

Torchbearer

I Fight Bears

Karmen Field 

Eulogy

State of Deceit

N A S H

Blind Divide

Pearler

LINKS:

Fuel Cardiff:

South Wales M2TM:

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 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
25/6/22
Live Review by Rob Sutton

Competing bands:
Steal the City
Death Divine
Reanimate
Kaparilion
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.

https://www.facebook.com/stealthecityuk

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… 

https://www.facebook.com/DeathDivineUK

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.

https://www.facebook.com/reanimateuk

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.

https://www.facebook.com/KaparilionOfficial

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!

https://www.facebook.com/karmaspuppet

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!

LINKS:

Promoter/venue:

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.

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.

Bloodstock Metal to the Masses South Wales Quarter Finals 3 & 4 – Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff 17 & 18/06/2022

Bloodstock Metal to the Masses South Wales Quarter Finals 3 & 4
Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff 
17 & 18/06/2022
Live Review by Paul Hutchings

Quarter Final Three

If the previous week had shown the more challenging side of this competition, Quarter Final three proved that the Metal community in South Wales can do it properly. This was a night to savour, with big, enthusiastic crowds who supported all the bands from start to finish. The bands themselves stuck out the searing heat in the venue on the hottest day of the year, resisting the urge to get some cool air on perspiring skin. Despite what some may have seen as a counter attraction with the Stereophonics and Tom Jones playing across the road to a sea of pink cowboy hats and fruity ciders, all the bands competing had pulled their support along with them, thanks to some concerted efforts on their social media accounts. One thing the judges do consider is the promotion ahead of the event, and in this QF all boxes had been ticked in that area. 

Taking the judges vote in their heat, newcomers on the scene Zac and the New Men are rapidly making a name for themselves in the South Wales scene. It’s not hard to see why. This performance took things up a couple of notches from their heat, and it was another confident, assured and energetic performance that got everyone moving early in the evening. Gloriously decked in their psychedelic shirts, they once more belied their youthful ages and cranked up their splendid blend of Hard Rock with a classic twist. Their energy was enough to make an old man weep, their ability to bounce in unison on their last song and then emerge without a sweat mark anywhere merely provoked incredulity. These guys are the real deal and I’ll buy you a pint if they are not playing Steelhouse Festival by 2024. 

Zac and The New Men 

Having seen off the permafrost challenge of Cardiff’s Black Metallers Black Pyre in their heat with a solid fan vote, Karmen Field were back and in boisterous mood. Backed by the biggest numbers of the night, the four-piece were on fire from the start, demonstrating a determination and experience that their six-years together has brought them. “We’re Karmen Field, and we want to play at Bloodstock” roared vocalist Molly McBreen. They certainly played as if they were on that New Blood stage, with their combination of 90’s Grunge, Progressive passages and bone crunching riffing launching temperatures still higher. Fiercely active on stage, the band are also blessed with some fabulous musicians to support McBreen. It all added up to a fine performance for another band who are rightly creating waves. Another fine set. 

Karmen Field 

Catalysts had taken the fan vote in their heat and having spent the first ninety minutes of the evening stoically sweating amongst the crowd, proceeded to shed even more liquid with a competent and vibrant performance. Five musicians on Fuel’s stage aren’t ideal but as happened in the heat, Catalysts grabbed the event by the balls and simply swung it around their collective heads. Their music isn’t something I’d usually select by choice, but when this band get into full flow, genres don’t get a look in. Engaging with the audience at a level that not even Karmen Field had managed, front man David Challenger’s clean vocals impressed once more whilst his interaction with the crowd was typically Welsh. It’s impossible not to smile when Catalysts play, such is their sheer enthusiasm. Another band to keep an eye on. 

Catalysts

The warmest people in the venue must have been State of Deceit, whose dedication to watching their fellow competitors didn’t go unnoticed. With the doors open to let air into the room, several non-voting punters slipped in to watch possibly the most explosive set of the competition. State of Deceit were fully charged, bringing a light box and smoke machine, earning extra marks from the judges. Frontman Pete Scammell is always an entertaining watch and this bear of a man prowls the front of the stage, inciting the first real pits of the evening, which at times were ferocious with at least one casualty later claiming a bit of rib damage (been there brother – hope you’ve escaped too much damage). This was the first time I’d seen the band as a five-piece, with Davide Santini on bass bringing a new dimension to the band. These guys could fill the space on that New Blood stage with ease, and their Groove-based pummelling saw the walls shake, such was the power they delivered. 

State of Deceit

Breaking to vote, the dance floor area resembled a swimming pool, such was the sweat being shed. A brief pause in the proceedings was concluded with the results. It was a massive shame that these four bands couldn’t all go through, for this would have been a semi-final to be proud of. Unfortunately, only two could progress and it was Karmen Field who gained a gargantuan fan vote, whilst State of Deceit’s professionalism and increased effort impressed the judges the most. It’s a cliché of mammoth proportions, but the real winner on this night was heavy music and even writing this the morning after leaves a warm glow.

Quarter Final Four

This event is proving to be the mother of all challenges. We’ve had just about everything thrown at it. After the heat of QF4, the weather gods decided it was time to cool things down with an evening of heavy rain. With the Stereophonics in the Stadium for the second night, it was unsurprising that the attendance was smaller than might be expected. And we still had drama to come later!

With Sons of Thunder sadly having to pull out due to injury, a three-band quarter final saw Sounds of Insane Music draw the opening slot. For those that don’t know, SOIM is a solo project of Elliot Cadmore, a massively talented musician. SOIM’s show consists of backing music with Elliot shredding his nuts off. Highly technical and impressive, the challenge for any solo artist is to capture the audience’s attention and hold it. Despite a few timing issues, nerves, and material which at times is inaccessible to many, SOIM made a real fist of it, with the small but enthusiastic crowd giving huge support. After his set, Elliot announced a hiatus from solo live shows to focus on new material and forming a true band. We wish him well and look forward with anticipation to the next stages of his musical journey. 

Sounds Of Insane Music 

Following SOIM, the Groove-core of Collapse the Void produced a solid crowd reaction with some small but perfectly formed pits kicking into action. The Newport quintet make a fine noise, with bearded frontman Eli possessing a huge bear-like roar. The band’s sound is aggressive but refined with some sweet dual guitar work giving their songs a unique flavour. My one minor criticism is that the band use Eli and both guitarists Mike and Joel for vocals, which at times can be a little overpowering. Apart from that, there was little to dislike as Collapse the Void produced the set of the evening for me. Considering they only formed just before lockdown, this is a band that could seriously go places in the coming years. 

Collapse The Void 

It was left to Excursia to give the fans and the judges a headache as the final band. The band are veterans of the competition, having entered twice before and making the final of the Bristol competition in the past.  A few line-up changes have seen the band change their sound from the earlier Thrash-based style to a more Extreme and varied format. Full of energy and pumped up as always, Excurisa launched into their set with a frantic pace, which went down well with their support at the front of the stage. As the heat increased, frontman A’Dan Shide shed his shirt and switched from rhythm guitar to focus on his angry, raging vocal delivery. The band have come a long way since their formation in 2016 and are now showing real signs of progression. 

Excursia 

Alas, two thirds of the way into their set, the sound was pulled as it was revealed that a medical emergency was happening in the main room. Confusion set in, which was quickly addressed by the organisers with clear announcements providing enough information to ensure everyone behaved. Thankfully the ill customer was well enough to leave the venue with assistance sometime later. A sensible decision saw the voting take place whilst there was a lull, with Collapse the Void grabbing the fan vote and Excursia securing the second spot via the judges’ decision. 

Another bizarre evening in this weird and wonderful journey to BOA 2022 concluded. We return for the semi-finals on 24th & 25th June. Who knows what will happen then! Whatever happens, we’ll bring it to you here at Ever Metal. 

LINKS:

Fuel Cardiff

M2TM South Wales:

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.