Metal 2 the Masses Heat 4 – Scimitar, Conjuring Fate, By Conquest or Consent, Sinocence
Saturday 4th April 2015 – Limelight 2, Belfast
So far Northern Ireland’s inaugural Metal 2 the Masses contest has seen some close results, but tonight was being touted as the closest yet, with four terrific bands on the lineup. Imagine how tough the final will be…
First off the starting blocks were thrash metallers Scimitar. Opening track ‘Innocent X’ instantly bathed the Limelight in the glow of old school thrash, much to the delight of the patrons who immediately began banging their heads.
Vocalist Jonny Gray possesses a brilliant snarly screamy voice, rather Rob Halford-ish in its delivery. Tonight he is a picture of focus and effort – in fact, the whole band are clearly giving their all. The result is a set packed full of bangers, from the Motorhead vibe of ‘Black Death’ to their furniture-shaking, Kreator-esque self-titled track, and new song ‘Sleepy Hollow’ with its atmospheric intro and intense, galloping beat.
With Gray’s voice filling the venue effortlessly and several audience members clutching their generously provided plastic scimitars, this was a clear and bold statement of intent from the night’s openers.
A flute intro and a determined air signified the arrival of band number two, Conjuring Fate. Opening song ‘House on Haunted Hill’ had the crowd singing along almost immediately; clearly this band are a much-loved institution in the local scene.
They pull out all the stops throughout their set, from the dense growl of ‘Trust No One’ to crowd favourite ‘Mirror Mirror’ and a flawless ‘Where Eagles Fly’ which showcases vocalist Tommy Daly’s higher range brilliantly.
Their crowd pleasing party tricks are all there, too: Daly’s rather phallic water bottle antics, guitarist Phil Horner’s wander through the crowd whilst belting out a solo, demanding (and receiving) headbanging on cue – it’s all good fun, but they never miss a beat up there.
The waves of rowdy appreciation from the audience (and the worried expression on the judges’ faces) points to this being a night of some tough choices indeed.
Third act, groove metallers By Conquest or Consent certainly don’t make said choices any easier, as they immediately launch into a bellowing scream and a punishing beat. Clearly on a mission to blow the roof off the place, they fire out tune after pummelling tune, barely pausing for breath.
Their sound is a mash up of the strong groove element of Pantera, the syncopation of tech metal, the rapidfire beat of nu-metal and the brutality of hardcore. Vocalist Pete Renshaw puts in an intense and sweaty performance, using both clean and screamed vocals in a very impressive range. The result is a highly original sound, made all the more impressive by the fact that both their drummer and bassist are new to the band. How new? They first performed together at soundcheck earlier that evening!
Tracks such as ‘Revelations’, ‘Three’ and crowd pleaser ‘We Came to Bring the Fight’ from their debut album Empires really showcase this unique band’s talent, as well as their almost Faith No More-like quirkiness and some seriously beefy power. An exhilarating piledriver of a set…that’s three for three, so far!
Winding up the evening, if not the intensity, is metalheads Sinocence. Fresh from releasing their critically acclaimed second ‘No Gods, No Masters’ EP just a few weeks back, they open their set with an attention-grabbing bang in the form of ‘Long Way Down’. From there it’s certainly not ‘down’, with vocalist/guitarist Moro in particular in fine form tonight; his voice is clear, lush and note-perfect.
The band tear through their set of prog-dusted heavy metal tunes, cleverly and strategically taking advantage of the tried and tested ‘quiet/loud/quiet’ method. Tracks such as ‘Making a Monster’ and ‘Metalbox’ are greeted by a sea of aloft horns and bellowed approval.
By the end of their set they succeeded in rocking the socks of the audience, as well as confusing the hell out of them: four amazing bands! Only two can go through! Who to choose?!
In the end (and after careful counts and recounts) it was left to Distortion Project organiser James Loveday to inform the crowd that this was, as predicted, the closest contest so far, with only 4% between all of the acts. Taking the judges vote was Sinocence, with the crowd vote going to Conjuring Fate. This was truly a tough call, so congratulations must be extended to all four bands.
The final heat takes place in the Limelight on April 18th, with Cursed Sun, Dead Addiction, A Little Bitter and Shrouded all vying for those last two spaces in the finals (dates to follow). Will it be as close as tonight? Come on down and find out!