M2TM North Wales 2022 Grand Final
Penny Black, Wrexham
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
N.E.W Metal Productions
M2TM North Wales
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.