Last week we saw the battle of the three-piece. This week, the battle of the front person!
Metal to the Masses Coventry was back for its second heat. There was still a buzz in the air with chatter about last week’s competition and the audience were eager to see a new set of Bloodstock hopefuls.
With little introduction, mirroring the night, straight up to the stage were Koncept. Their set started out very rock rather than metal but it absolutely did not stay this way. The vocals were the first thing stand out. They were in tune, varied and backed up with excellent harmonies. Not only that but the melodies that were being sung were catchy and melodic. I can imagine them being a brilliant opening act for a much larger band and believe they would go down excellently across the country.
The band’s tightness was then defined by the wailing sweep-picking lead of their front man who was incredibly proficient. The lead was almost so good, it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the band’s style and felt a little out of place at times. Between the songs, the band took a bit too long in talking amongst themselves whilst the audience waited patiently which created a lack of structure and flow in their 30 minutes. The intros of the songs were very similar song to song but aside from this, the set did have good variation all round, albeit predictable.
Rolling a d20 for their chance at Bloodstock Open Air, Barbikan! Let us get it out of the way. They didn’t have a drummer, they were backed by a drum machine. This splits opinions, and in fact, entire homes and families’ lives. It’s a serious topic that gets brushed under the once homely carpet and we need to do what we can to help those who have been affected by drummerless metal bands.
Flying the flag for that battle, Barbikan fought a brilliant fight. Their weapon of choice? Amazingly cheesy power metal that made you want to politely duel your friendly neighbourhood wizard. If power metal had to queue up at the post office – this is what it would sound like. The politeness came from the front man who was an incredibly lovable character. Perfectly animated throughout, he made you understand exactly what they were going for.
Although the rhythm guitar was not tight to the galloping midi, it was played with excitement. The set brought nothing new to the genre but it did bring everything we love about it. Dragons, chains, witches and kings were all topics for Barbikan’s tales. Between the songs the band was engaging and there was no awkward silence, something all too common amongst us folk who like metal and dragons. They came across like a British Anvil many times throughout the night.
I would love to see this band with a drummer and for the front man to stick with vocals. Barbikan have something. They have 15000 metal fans wanting what this band can bring to an alcohol fuelled festival war.
Due to a drop out the night before, the last band of the night took to the stage – Temple Black. Their set started with an unfortunate string break which was so well covered by their front person it almost seemed rehearsed. Strangely it was this that made the audience realise this band was here to win. The vocals were perfect. I mean that. The tone, emotion, tuning and melody was stunning. It was almost frustrating to have them backed loosely from the other members.
The bass and drum chemistry was brilliant, however they were not locked in together as much as would be expected for such a great sounding band. Although understandably after what had happened at the start would have thrown any professional off course, the guitar work was very choppy. The riffs themselves were lacking inspiration but they did provide a good base for the vocals to do their thing. So well in fact, the vocalist carried the performance.
It’s well known that some people can only sing when playing their instrument or vice versa. Not with Temple Black. Not at all. The vocal quality was perfect no matter the circumstance. They came across more like a grunge band rather than a metal band, but with one of the best front person’s performances I have seen, I am totally confident in saying they would not be out of place at Bloodstock.
As the night drew an early close, only two bands were able to get through to the semi-finals. Announced by Anthony Knight of Underground Ascending, Temple Black took first place as Barbikan galloped in on a close second.
The next heat takes place at The Arches on Friday the 10th of February.
Photos by Topher o’Meagher