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:
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