Metal 2 the Masses Heat 6 – Towers, Donum Dei, The Crawling, Sinocence, Oracle
Friday April 8th, Voodoo Belfast
After some superb performances, a few close calls and the odd head-scratching moment, the second year of Bloodstock’s Metal 2 the Masses competition in Belfast reached the end of the first stage with the sixth and final heat taking place in Voodoo on Friday April 8th. Because heat four’s date coincided with Easter there were only three bands on that night; tonight punters were treated to five bands to make up the numbers.
First off the starting blocks were youngsters Towers, who begin well enough with a serious groove to their music, before getting bogged down in rather proggy fashion for the rest of their metalcore set (progmetalcore?). Although musically tight and clearly passionate about what they’re playing, their songs have more twists and turns than an M Night Shymalan movie, often resulting in clumsy time changes and hard to follow patterns, making it rather difficult for the crowd to connect to them. Running ten minutes over did little to endear them to the crowd, either (or the judges).
Although also young, modern metallers Donum Dei take to the stage next and show the previous band just how it’s done, performing a set that’s both technically brilliantly executed and full of soaring enthusiasm, not to mention riffs, grooves and pile-driving drums. The crowd step forward and heads immediately begin banging as the band do their best to impress. And it works, too: from the singalong to ‘Justice Fails’ to the huge applause they receive following tracks such as ‘Terrorise’ and ‘Contribute To Chaos’, they knock their set out of the park (even if they have to frustratingly cut it short in order to try and regain the time lost during the first act). So far in their fledgling career that have barely put a foot wrong; tonight is no exception.
From groove metal to death metal, Lisburn trio The Crawling begin their set with an eerie choral intro before blowing everyone’s hair back with their heavy and atmospheric as f**k set. Often setting a faster pace than would be expected from ‘doom death metal’ (their description), they set fists pumping and hair flailing with their dark and malignant music. They cleverly utilise creepy sound effects to introduce their songs – it sounds like the soundtrack to the Exorcist in here, right down to the flies – as well as swathes of dry ice and moody lighting to really amp up the atmosphere. Sonically they are unquestionably the heaviest band of the night, with their slower and more deliberate sections enlivened by faster parts that race along like runaway freight trains, whilst final track ‘End of the Rope’ even throws in the slinky plod of industrial. Very metal – very Bloodstock.
Stalwarts of the local scene Sinocence are back for their first gig with drummer Ben Simpson. This new addition certainly seems to have helped them get their mojo back, if tonight is anything to go by: their set is both slick and bruising, with the band in blistering form. Tracks such as ‘Making a Monster’ and ‘Ascension Code’ are clear crowd favourites, and the band lap up the applause looking equal parts delighted and relieved as they effortlessly round out their set of sweaty, frantic metallic rock. It just got interesting…
Blazefest ‘Battle of the Bands’ victors Oracle are the final act of the night, and they pour their heart and soul into their performance. A heady mix of the groove of Lamb of God and the funk rock of Rage Against the Machine, along with a glorious blast of thrash, their set is both wildly entertaining and seriously arse kicking. Frontman Jason Kerr makes it look easy as he fires out his powerful bellow, pacing the stage looking completely immersed in the music (and a little bit loopy with it); the rest of the band keep up fantastically, wrapping up the night with aplomb. The judges all looked distinctly perplexed by now; who to choose?!
After a protracted wait, guest band-wrangler Paul Bam eventually stepped onstage. Keeping it simple, he announced the final heat winners: first, The Crawling, and second, Sinocence. With only 1 percent between first and third place (Donum Dei), it was undoubtedly the closest heat of the contest, and deservedly so – there was some stellar talent displayed tonight. Well done to all involved.
And so to the next stage: the semi finals! They are as follows:
Semi Final A: Friday April 15th, Voodoo. Featuring Baleful Creed, Cursed Sun, Selene, Sinocence.
Semi Final B: Saturday April 16th, Voodoo. Featuring Acid Age, Drakonis, Molarbear, So Long Until the Seance.
Semi Final C: Saturday April 30th, Limelight 2. Featuring Erosion, Scimitar, Shrouded, The Crawling.
The final will take place on Friday May 6th in Voodoo. It’s sure to be a brilliant night, so come on down and support the local scene!
Photos by Liam Kielt Photography