Date: May 7th, 2016
Venue: Fibber Magees, Dublin
Line-up: AeSect + Call to Arms + Minus Ten Thousand Hours + Ten Ton Slug + Two Tales of Woe + zhOra
The Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses competition began in January with 35 bands but after 7 heats and 3 semi-finals we’re down to the final 6 all vying for their chance to win a spot at this year’s Bloodstock Festival on the New Blood Stage.
The band selected to open todays preceding’s were AeSect who wasted precious little time in getting the place riled up. Despite being the first band of the night, their relentless aggression and technical metal had bodies (and some blow-up guitars) flying at the front of the stage. The latest single, the title track of their Devour the Earth EP, saw absolute carnage and set the tone for the remainder of the set. Some violent walls of death almost knocked over the merchandise tables before their set came to its conclusion.
Tipperary’s zhOra brought their own brand of heavy with a progressive sludge sound not too dissimilar to Mastodon. Their set really took me aback, while the music was still very heavy in tone it was also a lot more atmospheric and smothering. There was an imposing presence from guitar/vocalists Colin Bolger and Pancho O Meara when they came together for a layered vocal approach. For the more instrumental parts of their set they seemed to lose themselves in the music which only served to drag the crowd further into their grasps.
While arguably the least ‘metal’ band on the bill Minus Ten Thousand Hours were no less intense than any of the others. Opening with a quirky little guitar bit, the trio throw all sorts of genres together in what I could only describe as a heavier version of Faith No More. With a hefty groove thanks to Dylan Scully’s beefed up bass, him and guitarist D.j. Campbell completely threw everything they had into their performance. They closed their set with their now infamous performance of ‘I Cut the Gasline’, an excited member of the crowd hoped on stage to lead them into the finale screaming “I cut the what?” before the band let loose and threw themselves, and their instruments, all over the stage.
The youngest band in this year’s competition Call to Arms have impressed time and time again that they’re in it to win it. With a loyal fanbase ‘The Core’ ready to back them up they stormed through their set with a cool confidence. Vocalist Dean Donnelly is certainly one of Ireland’s most confident frontmen, commanding his crowd to join in singing and moshing. Nowhere was this most prevalent than for their own anthem, named after the rabid fans “The Core”, the bodies were flying and the screams almost took the roof off. Their determination and push during this year’s competition certainly paid off.
From the competition’s youngest entrants we move to some veterans of the scene. 2016 is the year for Two Tales of Woe; they’ve stormed through the competition, supported Corrosion of Conformity just last week and they recently released their first bit of music in 3 years, not too shabby! Their sludgy doom sounded super slick and heavy, a real polished performance. Carl King’s soulful vocals were at the forefront, impressing even judge Simon Hall who comments “the big guys do it best!”. With a new single under their belt the band were keen to give it its live debut, “Burning Lands” went down well alongside older tracks and showed a heavier side to the group.
Closing tonight’s show was Ten Ton Slug, a group who’ve smashed and pummelled their way through the competition with their monstrous riffs. Their immense sludge/groove riffs made sure that every neck in the room was moving; they certainly lived up to their name. Vocalist Rónán O hArrachtáin proved he was to be force to be reckoned with, his gravely lows rumbled over the speakers while his torturous screams threatened to shatter eardrums. Their final notes rang out leaving the crowd chanting their name for their phenomenal performance.
Beholder frontman and Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses organiser Simon Hall had commented earlier on in the night that Dublin was the show he was dreading the most simply due to the immense talent that was on offer. After those six performances by bands giving it their all I can’t say I would want to be in his position but ultimately a winner has to be chosen. The Irish New Blood winner was Ten Ton Slug but they weren’t the only winners tonight with Two Tales of Woe also winning a slot on the festival’s Jägermeister stage. Call to Arms once again won the crowd vote on the night winning a personalised EPK (Electronic Press Kit).
As Two Tales of Woe frontman Carl King had brilliantly put “We’re all winners tonight”, six bands in their prime played the sets of their lives to a packed Fibbers Magees of supporters of Irish rock and metal, anyone of them could have won and it would have been well deserved.