It’s the final heat of Metal 2 The Masses tonight in Wolverhampton. We’ve already had eleven semi finalist confirmed and tonight two more will go through to complete the line up for the next round. Ultimately come June one winner will grab that converted slot at Bloodstock Festival, the UK’s premier metal fest.
The first of tonight’s five bands are Orpheus, a brummie five piece avant-garde progressive metal outfit. The sound is expansive, from soft melodic intros to meandering riffs and powerful story telling lyrics. Reminding me of latter day Anathema the band have a full atmospheric sound, one that could fill an arena let alone the small room at KK’s Steel Mill. The set is note perfect for a full half an hour, but have they done enough to win over the fans and judges votes?
Next up are 14 Pieces, a Shropshire based quintet who take to the stage to up the pace, aggression and out right fury we are seeing tonight. Hard hitting riffs, fast of pace, burst forth creating a wall of noise that is music to the assembled metal-heads ears.
If you are not already familiar with Master Charger then you should be! The trio, heavily inspired by our lords and saviours Black Sabbath produce a sound of down and dirty guitar noise. Blues fuelled, heavy as hell and full of passion. John’s guitar solos are exquisite as they thunder through their allotted time slot, bass and drums combining to reverberate through to your very soul. These boys thrive off the music and the fans are loving it!
The youthful Atarka bring with them a sizeable fan base. In fact this is the biggest crowd we’ve seen for any band across the six heats. We suspect they will have a strong showing in the fan vote later on. But then their performance deserves it! Their energy is palpable, from whooping and hollering as they set up to jumping a round the stage in throws of musical passion mid set. Their brand of heavy rock, mixed with metal and elements of hardcore strikes a chord with the fans. A magical half an hour follows, anthemic riffs a plenty, lapped up by the baying crowd.
Last to compete this evening are Blood Church, atmospheric from the off a dark intro tape rolls, bells chime and four figures clad in black cloaks arrive on stage in procession. As the music fades, the cloaks drop "We are Blood Church" and we the assembled masses are obliterated. Adorned in corpse paint and spitting blood the band launch into an adrenaline fuelled set of black metal wizardry. The first black metal band we've really seen in six weeks of this competition, these guys are the real deal. Brutal riffs and the haunting creams of Chris ring out capturing the essence of black metal but giving it a modern, slightly more catchy twist.
It's a touch choice for the judges and the fans vote tonight, we've had five solid performances each unique and each musically fantastic, but only two can progress to the semi finals. Its Atarka and Blood Church whop get through in what must have been a tight result. Commiserations to the other three bands, you all did yourselves proud. We'll be back at KK's Steel Mill at the end of April for the first of the semi finals!