Metal 2 the Masses Semi Final 2 – Altus, Rule of Six, Sinocence, Overoth
Saturday 2nd May, Limelight 2
Semi final number two of Bloodstock’s Metal 2 the Masses, and the tense yet jovial atmosphere in the Limelight is thick enough to cut with a knife. Sadly the entrants had dropped by one as Derry nutters Proxist had had to pull out due to illness (please try again next year, guys!), so at 5.45pm promptly the lights dropped and the first band hit the stage.
A slow, doomy intro preceded Altus, who assembled quickly and were good to go. They begin with a clatter of distortion and an almighty scream vocalist Steve ‘Sleeve’ Reynolds, clearly starting as they mean to go on. A real sense of malevolence hangs in the air when this band plays: they really have a great dark, heavy vibe, and improve every time we see them.
Each song blasts its way from the stage and wraps around each audience member in a sinister embrace, all grindingly heavy grooves and flashes of melody.
As always Sleeve is a witty frontman, self deprecating and sarcastic. Tonight he introduces us to VERY new drummer Paul Gallagher (getting the crowd to chant “hi, Paul!”) and announces that their set will be slightly shorter due to said new member’s recent addition to the band.
Shorter it may be, but it is certainly not short on attitude, heaviness and effort. The cords in Sleeve’s neck stand out with exertion, guitarist Michael Legge simply never stands still, while angelic looking bassist Terry McHugh is a one man wind turbine, banging his head like it’s an Olympic sport and he’s going for gold. It’s clear that these guys would fit in easily to any Bloodstock lineup, and tonight’s performance shows just how much they want that chance.
Now for something completely different…it’s Rule Of Six. With no fanfare at all they launch into their set, with the by now familiar five guitars (well, four and a bass) spread across the stage. ROS are, above all, a band that want to entertain you. They’re a bit silly, a lot fun, and catchy as hell. Although accomplished musicians, they clearly don’t take it all too seriously, which is neatly shown when technical difficulties unexpectedly grind proceedings to a brief halt, during which they play amusing elevator music.
The music itself is all epic and sweeping, power metal style but very definitely not of the standard po-faced variety; they’re sort of ‘Dragonforce meets Evil Scarecrow’, if you will. In fact, one suspects that they would go down a treat at Bloodstock in much the same way Evil Scarecrow did – with great music and a hefty dollop of humour.
They wrap up their set with the ‘one-two punch’ of ‘Shadowchaser’ and ‘Speaker For the Dead’, all burly vocals, deep harmonies and majestic tuneage, much to the delight of the crowd (which rather endearingly included actual grandparents, there to offer their grandsons support. Aww!).
Sinocence offer up a first tonight by actually introducing themselves at the beginning of their opening track ‘Long Way Down’. The crowd immediately surge forward to fill the area in front of the stage, also a first. This band has always been a tight unit and tonight is no exception: there is little banter between songs, just a concerted effort to nail every song.
And nail them they do, from the singalong-inducing ‘Making a Monster’ to the heavy groove of ‘Ascension Code’, each track is as taut and thunderous as a volley of machine gun fire.
By the end of their ‘smashed it out of the park’ set, that familiar “who the hell am I going to vote for?!” expression is beginning to cross everyone’s faces. Decisions!
Final band Overoth being by lighting some candles and incense…and then proceed to blow the place up. As the heaviest act on the lineup, the sheer weight of their music was always going to impact the crowd, but my goodness they really kill it tonight. Vocalist Andy Ennis gives us all a lesson in how to properly front a death metal band: his voice is an aural assault weapon, deep and intense, whilst his stage presence (and devilish eyebrows!) is glowering and sinister.
The whole band in fact have a diabolical aura about them – and not just from the incense wafting from the stage. Their music is pounding and brutal yet laced with proggy moments, giving the songs real texture and charisma. Tracks such as ‘Kingdom of Shadows’, ‘God of Delusion’ and ‘The Forlorn’ roll off the stage and set the whole room vibrating, compelling the crowd to headbang and/or stare in wonder, while final number ‘The Greatest Lie’ is quite simply the best song of the evening. And voting just got that little bit harder…
After a protracted wait, The Distortion Project’s James Loveday once more climbed onto the stage to thank everyone for coming, supporting the contest, and voting. First through, to the surprise of almost no one, was Overoth (hoorah!). And after a dramatic pause, the last act in the finals was: Sinocence (cue a room full of whooping).
And so to the final! See you at Voodoo on Friday night, where Conjuring Fate, Donum Dei, Overoth, Sinocence and a wildcard band will compete for the honour of playing Bloodstock’s New Blood stage. Come down and show your support for our astonishing metal scene!