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.

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. 


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. 


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. 


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.

Metal 2 The Masses Stoke-On-Trent Final

M2TM 2022 Stoke-On-Trent Final Poster

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

Live Review by Rob Sutton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One band to go! 

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

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

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

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




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

Midnight, Night Demon, and Overthrow at New Cross Inn, London (England) 30/05/22

Midnight, Night Demon, Overthrow
New Cross Inn, London (England)
Live Review and Photography by Chris Galea

To put matters in context…shortly before it was due to take place, Manorfest got cancelled. This was a great shame since its line-up of bands was nothing short of impressive. From all the bands scheduled to descend onto Whittlebury Park in central England, the bands from U.S.ofA. were in a particular quandary so they quickly tried to book some club dates in England to make their trip worth the while. Night Demon and Midnight were two such bands – instead of a festival scenario they got to play in a much more intimate setting. 

So here we are and local band Overthrow were tasked with breaking the ice. In fact, as I enter the New Cross Inn, Overthrow are just finishing their soundcheck. 


Despite the fact that Overthrow have been around for quite a while, this was my first foray into the band’s music. Blackened Thrash is how I’d categorize the band’s music – a genre I’ve heard many times before but Overthrow performed with an impressively tight and angst-ridden conviction.

Yes, I very much enjoyed Overthrow’s set and the crowd’s reaction suggested I wasn’t alone in that. In particular the last song in their set (which I later found out to be ‘Altar Of The Fallen’) seemed to grab the audience by the scruff of their necks and rattle them frenziedly. Such was the band’s impact. 

By that point the venue was already packed….things are looking good….

Pure Death
Altar Of The Fallen

Night Demon

It’s been a while that I’ve been wanting to see Californian combo Night Demon perform live and tonight that wish comes true for the first time. The band’s music was different from that of Overthrow and Midnight….less aggressive but still very dynamic. Night Demon are directly influenced by the heaviest and most riff-laden bands of the NWOBHM. More to the point is the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the band’s set.

As suggested earlier the trio had a very dynamic stage-presence and I had a hard time pinning them down for a few unblurred photos (always a good sign with Metal gigs). Night Demon always seemed to have an ear for the crowd’s mood and each song felt perfectly timed for the moment. Of course it helped that the band has such a great arsenal of songs in its repertoire.

Apparently the gear of Night Demon and Midnight got lost when the bands arrived in England (not a surprise really….the air travel industry has been in a shambles since Brexit). So kudos to both bands for giving the middle finger to adversity and making the most of tonight’s gig.

Screams In The Night
Empires Fall
Hallowed Ground
Kill The Pain
Howling Man
The Sun Goes Down
Dawn Rider
Are You Out There
Curse Of The Damned


For the benefit of Midnight virgins, the band (a trio…as Night Demon) plays a blackened Thrash with a Punk-like attitude. I had already been to Midnight shows before this night….always in festival scenarios….and to be totally honest I hadn’t been won over. However I have several European friends who heap praise upon Midnight so I was looking forward to re-assess this band. As the DJ stopped playing, the band members stepped onto the stage, and then…..all hell broke loose.

Besides the punters even the band members themselves stage-dived and crowd-surfed. At one point, while bassist/vocalist/band mentor Athenar was being carried from one side of the venue to the other, a member of the audience went up on stage to play his bass. I could have sworn I even saw a snare drum surfing the crowd at one point. The absence of any barrier between the audience and the low stage helped break down any psychological distinction between band and audience – it was one crowd, one Metal party.

From the street, the glance of a homeless man shifted from his bottle of booze to the venue’s transparent glass panes….his mind probably trying to decide whether he was witnessing reality or some alcohol-manufactured nightmare.

As Midnight finished their last number, the band members dumped their instruments onto the stage. Loud feedback echoed through the New Cross Inn as the trio walked through the spent audience and out of the venue.

It was a long time since I had last been to a gig with such a sweat-drenched and boisterous crowd thronging the venue. And I loved every moment of it.



New Cross Inn:

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

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 2
McLean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside

Review and Photography by Beth Jones

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

In Depths

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

Wrath Of Man

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

Bad Earth

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


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


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


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

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

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

M2TM North Wales:

N.E.W Metal Productions:

Mclean’s Pentre:


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

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 1

M2TM North Wales 2022 – Semi Final 1
McLean’s Pub, Pentre, Deeside

Review and Photography by Beth Jones

It seems like ages since the last of this year’s M2TM North Wales heats. So, it was nice to have the first semi final come round. Following a venue change due to unforeseen circumstances, we winged our way over to our second home, and the Birthplace of Pentre Fest, McLean’s Pub in Pentre, Deeside. We had five competing bands – Omega Throne, Absolence, Zebedy, Thrashatouille, and Grief. And because it’s getting to the business end of proceedings, we had a guest headliner too – Djinova.

Omega Throne

First up were Omega Throne. They’re a Blackened Death Metal band from Liverpool, and boy do they love a good bit of shouting and heaviness! But it’s got a groove to it, and they’re tight as hell. The lead singer is a giant (to be honest, most people are giants to me), and has a super expressive face, which really lit up their performance here. Musically, Omega Throne are a very pleasing listen. My only criticism is the gaps between songs were too long and too empty. When it goes from a wall of noise to nothing it does seem a little awkward.


Next, we were in for some Merseyside Progressive Metalcore, in the shape of Absolence. These guys were one of Fozzy’s wildcards, and in fairness they stepped it up a notch for this performance. It’s solid modern Metalcore, that’s incredibly Djenty in places, and that’s fine by me, because I do like a bit of tech metal. They used samples pretty well, and they kept the audience more entertained between songs. But there was still too much time without music. The front man did like to have a bit of banter with the audience though, which was good. But it covered up for the fact that their set, music wise, was short again, and sadly, it went into banter overdrive at one point, which made them overrun.


North Wales based Progressive Rock/Metal band Zebedy were our 3rd competing band. I’m kind of unsure what to say about them to be honest. They’re good. But this performance was a little flat. Something sounded a little out of tune, the balance of sound wasn’t right, and while they do have a heavier edge occasionally, it just felt a little too commercial for Bloodstock, in my humble opinion. It was more of a Reading Festival vibe. I know that it shouldn’t be about ‘are they a Bloodstock band?’, but I’m just not sure it would work on the Newblood stage, sandwiched between the screams and growls of other bands. They do certainly have their place in the genre though, I just don’t think it quite happened for them in this performance.


These guys are somewhat old-timers to this competition now, getting to the semi’s a couple of times before. And this experience showed. For performance value and stagecraft, they walked the evening. Self genred “Chef Metal”, they play a blend of Thrash, Death, and Modern Metal, that’s food themed. Every song has an element of comedy thrown into the lyrics, but the ferocity with which the music is delivered shows how seriously they take their sound. The one thing I will say that the intro sample that they use is too long. It runs the risk of losing people before their set has even begun, and they should either ditch it, shorten it, or think of something more engaging to do during it, to make sure the attention is firmly held on them. That is my only criticism.


These guys for me were, musically, the tightest on the night, and my favourites. They’re a new Progressive Metal/ Djent band, who have the makings of a really brilliant one. They’re beefy and heavy, and the sound, and songs, are complex but assured. They also have a lot of stage presence, and professionalism for such a new band. However, (and this is a really big HOWEVER, which really, really annoys me because they’re so fecking good) … they need vocals. Their current arrangement is instrumental, which is great, but it is absolutely and sorely missing some shouting. It doesn’t need to be a huge amount, just something to sit on top of the already brilliant music. Add in a bit of growl and the occasional scream, and they would be absolutely first class, and a force to be reckoned with.


Djinova won M2TM in 2019, so knew exactly how the competing bands felt. They used it as a bit of banter with the crowd who were still left! They play Technical Death Metal / Deathcore that really packs a punch, and it was really bloody good! The frontman used the whole space, on and off the stage, in order to command the audience. And there was some serious bopping an nodding of heads going on throughout the set. 

Now, if there’s one thing that modern bands need to make sure they polish up on to make it to the next level, it’s business acumen! And Djinova have certainly got a sense of that, never wanting to miss an opportunity for a quick sale, even while on stage – the frontman actually sold merch whilst singing! Touché! Never seen that done before! A great show, and a great end to the night.

So, with that, it was time for the results. Two bands would progress to the final, one on judges votes and one on crowd votes. This was going to be a tough call, especially for us judges. We had a very long conversation, weighing up the pros and cons of each band, but again, for the 5th time this competition, came to a unanimous verdict… The crowd vote went to a very deserving Thrashatouille! Huzzah! And the judges vote went to Omega Throne! Again, deserved! Semi Final 1 was another great night all in all. Bring on the second semi final! 


M2TM North Wales:

N.E.W Metal Productions:

Mclean’s Pentre:

Bloodstock Festival:

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

M2TM Manchester 2022 – Grand Final

M2TM Manchester 20222 Grand Final Poster

M2TM Manchester 2022 – Grand Final
Rebellion – Manchester
Review by Rob Sutton
Photos by Drew Scott

Guest bands:
Foetal Juice
Footprints in the Custard
The Crawling

Competing bands:
I Am The Wreckage
Portrayal of Ruinn
Vlka Fenryka
Asylum City Zoo

We made it to the final! It has been a long journey for Manchester with the sheer volume of bands entering, and the calibre of bands being so high this year it has been a tough one. For the final, the 0161 crew went all out by adding 5 guest bands! First up was Acoustic Beast but with them only playing a handful of covers I didn’t see much point in writing about them (sorry, covers aren’t my thing).

The first guest band was a band I have been itching to catch all year, Saurr. For whatever reason every time I was due to see them, either I got the plague or they did. Thankfully this was not the case this time around and the former M2TM Manchester winners were here in full force. Saurr are one of these bands that mix numerous genres together, there is a lot of Groove, a bit of Sludge, bits of Metalcore, bits of Djent… you get the idea. All these are blended together beautifully to create something that feels so heavy and powerful; the riffs are just phenomenal and backed with thumping drums, these guys instantly get the crowd’s heads bobbing. To break up these incredible riffs, some atmospheric guitar interludes appear, which are stunning to watch, and what makes it even better is that, even though there are backing tracks, the lead guitar is being played live! Honestly, this guitarist is a boss! Vocally as well these guys are strong, the harsh vocals cut through perfectly and really add to the all round heaviness, however while the cleans are being done, over the distorted guitars, they are sometimes a little lost. That being said these guys kicked off the day in fine fashion and set the benchmark for the competing bands that follow.

Speaking of competing bands, I am the Wreckage drew the short straw and were the first on. Straight off the bat, what happened to the sound? Saurr sounded huge, but the power just vanished for these guys, as well as the following 2 bands. This is something that has been noticed in a few heats – the fact the sound is inconsistent for the competing bands, and this is a worry. Also, I will note as well, whoever is doing the lights only seems to put effort in towards the end of the night… C’mon, this is a competition – play fair! Anyway, rant over! I am the Wreckage blasted straight onto the stage and made it theirs from the get go, they commanded the crowd perfectly and boy did they respond! The pits were mega and the circle pits were like fairground rides with the speed they were spinning. Previously I have commented that the guitar tone has been muddy and inaudible, but tonight it was crystal clear and sounded amazing. For that matter they all did; they perfectly encapsulated the essence of Hardcore and brought it forefront here. It’s really hard to find much wrong with this set… I mean there were a few missed notes but they weren’t that noticeable, and the bassist was wearing an I am the Wreckage t-shirt which annoys me. Actually on that point, why do bands do this? This would work if they all had their own t-shirts on, but they didn’t so it looks a bit… full of yourself. These are minor points though in what I thought was an incredibly strong set, which probably made the rest of the competing bands have to use the lavatory.

The crowd were in their masses for I am the Wreckage, but they thinned dramatically for Asylum City Zoo. This was strange, as these guys are not short on their online following or presence in the Manchester scene, but this might have something to do with their lack of energy. Normally these guys are full of beans however here perhaps the nerves got the better of them. ACZ do have songs which are at a much slower tempo than that of IATW, but this doesn’t mean they’re any better nor worse. In fact the vocal harmonies present are stunning! They really ‘hit you in the feels man.’ Top this with some interesting vocal effects and it’s an all round intriguing watch and an enjoyable one at that. Also something of note as per the previous sound comment, the kick drum was punching right through in the mix for these guys and sounded brilliant. The drummer was on point in timing along with the rest of the band, too – this was a tight set. I also appreciated the give always they do during their set; it’s a nice bit of giving something back to the crowd. Asylum City Zoo did play a very strong set, but their lack of energy and lack of really pumping the crowd let it down. Shame as musically this was tight!

Time for a raid! Viking shields adorned the stage, fur coats, blue battle paint, axes, swords and horns were all being waved around while the whole crowd began to chant… This can mean only one thing, Vlka Fenryka were next! In their semi-final I really rated these guys, and they completely change the atmosphere of The Rebellion unlike any other band at this event. It felt like they had put that little bit more thought and attention into how they looked on stage and how they presented themselves, and this is something I massively appreciate! The intro with the band chanting and bouncing around the stage was a sight to behold – it’s unlike any other band and I loved it. Musically the guitar tone was significantly better than last time, my ears weren’t bleeding, and in fact, the Melodic Death Metal style riffs were really audible, which was music to my ears, quite literally. The vocals also seem to have stepped up, the growls were slightly deeper than last time, which for me fits this style way better than the high pitched tones. Add these to the once again cracking cleans and you can’t really fault them. Vlka gave the crowd a load of blue glow sticks, which when I asked them ‘why’ they replied, ‘well it’s blue so it fits.’ It didn’t fit, Vikings didn’t have blue glow sticks, and this to me was an afterthought that actually took away from their image. I’m sure there is something else they could have done that would have been better but hey ho. Also there were way too many ‘woahs’ in this set for me. It starts to make the songs all sound the same. Again I am being really fucking picky here as this was a solid set with unbelievable crowd control and crowd engagement, like no other here. Yes, we had seen pits and carnage, but this was a different kind of owning the stage, as well as another belter of a set!

The final competing band was Portrayal of Ruinn, and after their semi final set, which was probably the worst I have seen them, they really needed to step it up here. Starting with 3 hi-hat hits then straight into their set, it felt a little lacklustre compared to the previous bands, and immediately I thought ‘here we go again.’ Thankfully I was wrong and they proceeded to dive headfirst into brutality and carnage! Instantly pits were being opened and bodies were being hurled across the room, and this is what Portrayal are about! They again owned the stage and this time what they asked for from the crowd they got! It seems a couple of weeks and a tour have done them some good. It felt like they were playing for the crowd as opposed to playing for themselves and it made a huge difference! The reaction they got was massive. Musically everything sounded a lot more polished, the riffs sounded chunkier, the drums were tighter, and the bass was as crunchy as some honey nut corn flakes. They even threw in some backing vocals which again really worked well; there wasn’t loads of them but enough just to emphasis certain parts… call it tasteful. The lead vocals started off pretty solid, the lows and mid range were spot on, with the ‘brees’ also working nicely, however I think perhaps a bit more vocal warm ups are in order, as towards the end of the set the ‘brees’ were more like whispers and his voice did start to crack. Another point from last time was the clean to distorted on their new song. This felt like an afterthought during the last set, but even though I’m not a huge fan of this, it was much slicker than last time. This set was a million times better than their semi final. Staying on stage REALLY worked well for Portrayal tonight. They looked so much more professional, they were tight and all round really fucking good to watch!

So, with the competing bands out of the way, we moved on to the final 3 guest bands. First up was Belfast based The Crawling, previous M2TM winners in 2016, who have since got on to play the second stage. These guys wasted no time in bringing their Doomy, depressing metal to the crowd, and honestly, it was gorgeous! The guitars were so pretty they give me butterflies and almost a tear in the eye. The melodies are prettier than you’re wife to be on your wedding day, I just cannot get enough of them. Despite these guys only being a 3 piece the sound is huge and filled the whole room leaving the crowd grinning and nodding in pure appreciation. As for me, well I had the biggest smile on my face in awe of them, just wow! Now there wasn’t just pretty music here. There were also some gnarly vocals to go with it, almost sounding Draconian Esk. There is a right mix of influences, from Slayer to Satyricon, and all were obvious to see throughout. Honestly I could ramble on about how much I enjoyed these guys and I wish there was a bigger crowd for them because my god YES!

From the melancholy to the mental! Yes, it was Manchester/Cheshire’s own Footprints in the Custard (minus the mankini). Footprints are well known for their crude themes and nudity on stage, but tonight was actually an exception for the nudity! It felt like a more mature set; don’t get me wrong it was still entertaining and funny but there wasn’t a real dick to be seen on stage! Although there were plenty of foam dicks in the crowd – pretty sure everyone got a dick to the face at some point! An example of this maturity was in the song ‘A Barren Field Of Fucks’! The riffs were straight out of The Black Dahlia Murders catalogue (RIP Trevor) and it strangely works. I like the way they’re moving to more interesting song writing, within the silly themes. Guitar wise, even though there was only one tonight, it still sounded big, and the solos cut through so cleanly they could be mistaken for a freshly washed dick. Footprints also brought their giant inflatable unicorn, which was instantly thrown into the crowd, with an audience member riding it (sure there is another dick joke in there somewhere); this however nearly caused more damage than it was worth, almost taking out some of the stage lighting and the guitarists lead. So, sadly, the unicorn was put to sleep earlier than perhaps intended. This was a very silly set as usual and an almost emotional one with the speech about Trevor. Very enjoyable, very fun and it gave me the chance to say ‘dick’ as many times as possible in a review! Penis!

Finally tonight we had a bit of brutal Death Metal from Foetal Juice. These guys are relentless in their speed and aggression; some of the faces they pull on stage are frankly intimidating, but that all adds to their aesthetic. The crowd responded to this aggression with drunken chaos, many beer cans being smashed over their heads, necked in one or just thrown around (waste of beer). Even the band joined in by biting some cans in half! Foetal Juice were clearly in the party spirit as they looked noticeably inebriated by this point, yet somehow they managed to remain tight and relatively professional on stage, even with the comment ‘to the competing bands, don’t worry if your shit, look at us.’ In fairness this wasn’t a shit set by any stretch of the imagination. What it was, was, well… pure decimation: plenty of pits, unbelievable fast songs and a set which flew by in the blink of an eye. We even got a cheeky guest appearance from their former vocalist who didn’t seem to have lost any of his abilities, and in fact had a voice that can only be described as ungodly. I really enjoyed these guys as well, and they were the perfect band to close out this very long day of bands.

So with that there was only one thing left… Time to announce the winner, *drum roll*………….. Portrayal of Ruinn! This was rightfully deserved, the amount these guys have improved since there semi final was insane! They will be a welcome addition to Bloodstock.

As for the other 3 bands, well they need to return next year. They were all incredible and would have all been deserved winners. I don’t say that lightly either, as if you have read any of my previous reviews, you will know that I won’t hold back. But tonight each band brought it in their own way and really should be proud of how far they’ve got. 

So that’s Manchester sorted, let’s find some more finals to criticise!





Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images are the property of Drew Scott. 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, Heat 4

M2TM North Wales 2022, Heat 4
Central Live Music Venue, Wrexham
Live review and photos by Beth Jones

And just like that, the final heat of the 2022 North Wales Metal 2 The Masses was upon us. This was a bumper weekend for me, too. M2TM Friday, Devin Townsend on Saturday, and a family meal followed by Jazz on Sunday. Niiice! As usual, we rocked up to Central ready for some great music. Two of the bands were old names to me; Bad Earth and Thrashatouille. But the other two, Absolence and Bourbon Hitcher, were not ones that I’ve come across until now.

Absolence kicked the night off. And before their set they went round dishing out free wristbands to everyone who wanted one – a nice touch, and something to make them memorable. They play a very tight and pleasing Metalcore, which was performed very well. The frontman has a decent amount of stage presence, and the band as a whole gelled comfortably together. They looked like they were having a great time, and were musically solid. To take it to the next level, I think a bit more exploring the full extent of their talents would be a good move, because there’s no question that these guys are a talented bunch, but it did start to get a little samey. They also finished their set 9 minutes early. Whether this was because they played everything at double time through nerves or not, I don’t know. But guys, honestly just relax and have fun with it – you don’t need to feel nervous, because what you do is high quality and solid.

Bourbon Hitcher looked very promising. The frontman/guitarist cut a prominent figure, and instantly had a lot of stage presence. They confidently played a set of dirty, hard-hitting, heavy rock. But, and without wanting to sound like my mother here, it was waaaaaay too loud! Talk about turning things up to eleven! It was actually physically painful to listen to, and after the first couple of songs we had to duck outside. It was that loud that we could actually hear it better standing outside than we could when we’d been facing the stage. The volume of the guitar meant that the vocals, and most of the bass were almost inaudible, and it was only for the fact that the drummer was beating the living shit out of his kit that the rhythms could be heard. So, all in all, a good solid sound with some extremely skillful playing, especially for guitar solos, that was wasted by too much amp crankage.

The penultimate band of the evening were Bad Earth. Having seen these guys many times in the past, they certainly weren’t strangers. But the new line-up of Jordie, Karl on Bass, and Ben on Drums, has brought a completely new dimension to them. The second they hit the stage, the presence, professionalism, and calibre took a giant step up. They are hard rocking, with a dash of Thrash and Core too. Rock Thrashcore. There we go. New genre time. This performance was electric, and the pure joy in all of their faces was actually really lovely to see. They have an endearing quality which just makes you feel all warm and cosy. It’s like a hug, but metal as fuck! Superb performance, and my judges’ vote.

Closing the night, and putting me in the mood for a kebab, where Cheshire’s finest Chef Metallers, Thrashatouille. Again, I’ve seen these guys numerous times, and they never fail to disappoint. This performance was another step up from them, though. They all looked really into it, and frontman Rob had total command of the crowd at all times. Professionalism, presence and showmanship where at the front of this performance, as they had been with Bad Earth earlier, and it was easy to watch. Their set was also perfectly timed, to within 25 seconds of their allotted half hour! They made me smile, they made me get my groove on, and they made me very happy to be part of our little local scene. Top performance.

As the chefs packed up their wares, it was time for us judges to go and deliberate. For me, in terms of the complete packages that we were looking for, it was obvious which bands should progress, and again the judges’ verdict was unanimous. Thrashatouille took the audience vote, and Bad Earth took the judges’. But, as it was the last heat, Fozzy also got to announce his two wildcard acts. These were acts that didn’t quite make it in the heats, but had enough about them to impress Fozzy into giving them a spot in the semis. That accolade went to one of my favourites, IN DEPTHS, who just missed out in heat 2 and Absolence – our first band from this heat. Again, choices that I think all the judges would have called, too. These semis are going to be the toughest we have had since M2TM started up again round here, and I can’t wait!


N.E.W Metal Productions:

M2TM North Wales:

Bloostock Festival:

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

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.

Agent 47, Dead Retinas, Riot Eye, Technologist

Agent 47, Dead Retinas, Riot Eye, Technologist
The Peer Hat, Manchester
Live review by Rob Sutton

The Peer hat is a strange venue with what seems like a quaint pub upstairs and downstairs a small gloomy room with a low stage nestled in the corner. While it isn’t the biggest venue in Manchester, it certainly has a charm about it, although the smoking area (if you can call it that) is just an alleyway with no ashtray in sight… Venue aside, this was my first venture to an RR Promotions event, the promoter himself is probably one of the youngest I have seen, but this doesn’t mean he lacked professionalism – quite the opposite in fact, as the whole night ran incredibly smoothly and had a line-up featuring four bands who had been competing in M2TM Manchester, 2 of which were playing the semi-final the following Sunday.

First up was one of these bands, Technologist. Now I have seen these guys at pretty much every gig they have played, so I probably should know them inside out by now. Their mix of Opeth-style Progressive Metal with the melodies of bands such as Ne Obliviscaris is something I have mentioned during the review of their first gig, so I won’t waffle on about that side too much. Having watched Technologist a number of times it is fantastic to watch their confidence grow on stage, now we can see massive smiles on their faces, constant head banging and general showing off on their instruments. In doing this they consistently have the crowd’s jaws dropping as their sheer talent and precision during their set shines through and is simply unbelievable to watch! I mean let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love some face-melting guitar solos, a bass that slaps harder than Will Smith or a vocal range that rivals Michael Akerfeldt? 

Musically this was close to perfection but I’m pretty sure I heard the phrase ‘last chance’ about 4 times during the set which really did begin to grate on me, even more so when their set time was forty minutes and they only played thirty minutes… I wanted 1 more chance!!!! Aside from this Technologist never cease to amaze me, a band to watch going forward.

Riot Eye are one of a very select group of bands that I have been looking forward to reviewing, not just because they are exceptionally young and talented, but because they are a genre that doesn’t really appeal to me but has me intrigued. Having first caught them during M2TM I found myself really enjoying their show, their old school Punk sound harks back to those good old days of a young teenage Rob at his local venue wearing baggy pants and eyeliner that looked like he had been crying just before entering the venue (not ashamed). They also bring the Punk attitude of being quite literally in the crowd’s faces and pushing them about, yes pits have begun. 

Vocally, while not my personal preference, works perfectly for this genre and with a couple of cheeky solos on guitar for good measure it’s an enjoyable musical affair. For me however there are a couple of little niggles with the song writing, firstly way too many of their songs started with guitar alone, it would have been nice to mix this up a bit with maybe the bass starting or kicking in all at once. Also I’m pretty sure one of the riffs was from ‘Gay bar’ which was really noticeable and lastly the chant of ‘Riot Eye are Shit’ goes on for wayyyyyy too long. Besides all this Riot Eye are fantastic fun to watch and insane on stage. If there was an advert for Monster Energy drinks these guys would be that advert, they are plain and simply fun and that’s all that matters!

From one Punk band to another Punk influenced band, this time with a nice hint of Hardcore to go with it. Dead Retinas pick up exactly where Riot Eye left off with some more, fast, punchy tracks but this time with a more metal twist. Dead Retina’s tread the line beautifully between these two genres and blend them almost seamlessly. The mix of skippy Punk beats to heavy breakdowns is just brilliant; throw this with the mash up of shouting and growling vocals just ticks so many boxes! Because of this yet more pits are present through their set as the whole band bounce around the stage or in some cases dancing on stage and again that seems to be what this band go for, high energy music. 

However, at this point 1 comment got me: ‘we are only at 80% tonight as we have Metal to the Masses on Sunday.’ FUCK OFF! The crowd have paid money to watch bands give it their all and these guys openly admit they aren’t going to play 100%?! Shame as I really enjoyed their set and probably will again but this comment pissed me off so I’m only going to write 80% of their review tonight.

Agent 47 or 4gen7 or those guys with 3 guitarists and a drummer with dreadlocks longer than the M56, are one of those bands which have made a name for themselves as being fun! Tonight is no exception – their charisma onstage and inviting numerous guests to fill the void of Mark (another victim of the plague) was a very nice touch. Speaking of the guests we had Chris from Kringer and the Battle Katz filling on some vocals (shame the mix on these was so high he managed to drown even the drummer) and Luke on bass from Beyond Salvation. Both played their parts brilliantly and looked like they had been practicing with the band for a good while beforehand, even though they hadn’t. 

Speaking of sound it did really let Agent 47 down as vocals were either too high or inaudible, guitars disappeared during some songs, it was all a bit messy but this wasn’t down to the band. Now whether this caused them to fall out of time with each other I’m not fully convinced. There were parts where I think a bit more practice wouldn’t hurt such as the stabs during one song and a few endings just felt un-polished. Asides from this there is a lot to really sink your teeth into here, the ‘almost’ Nu-Metal style rapping is phenomenally cool to listen to and their Death Metal tune grabs you by the nut sack and swings you across the room! While this was a little short of being a full headline set (can be excused as they are a man down) Agent 47 were really fun to watch and have a bit of a bounce around to. Bags of humour, lots of fun and some quality tunes to go with it… Fab!

It was a night where all four bands I really enjoyed and Riley has done a cracking job of getting this many people in on a Tuesday night all while finishing early enough for people to get home for work the next day. I take my hat off to him on this one, bloody brilliant!




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.