It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new heat at Coventry Metal to the Masses! Last week our beloved little venue, The Arches, had to contend with the biggest heavy metal legends in the world with Black Sabbath playing 20 minutes down the road. This time however, there was nothing stopping the crowd. This heat was very well attended and it gave the bands a guiding nudge into putting on a true performance.
First for the judges viewing pleasure was Wave. A two piece rocket of a band with great musical chemistry between them who have won the secret prize of, well, unfortunately nothing but they definitely get brownie points for being the first band to have blast beats in their set! For a member-deprived band, the front man knew how to cover all areas of the stage and it became captivating seeing him move from the microphone, to his drumming colleague and then to the edge of the stage energising the audience.
The guitar tone however didn’t support this vigour. It was muddy and quite often out of tune. It seemed as if extra bass tone was added to the guitar to cover the lack of bassist which unfortunately didn’t resolve that issue – if anything it made their sound crave the need for it even more. The songs themselves consisted of well placed varied riffs backed by a tight and precise rhythm that held my attention throughout. In fact the songs were so varied that the penultimate song of the set felt like a modern pop punk track whilst the set closer was a straight rock song.
The set got softer and softer as it went on and unfortunately, so did I. There was some brilliant moments in this set and Wave would go down brilliantly on a stage such as the Jagermeister Stage at Bloodstock where they can make a much larger crowd feel their music, like they made us feel it tonight.
Then the crowd was presented with Oily Toys. The band. They play music. With a name like this, I don’t know what I was expecting. Another party band with silly songs about issues they probably shouldn’t be singing about but somehow it’s seen as jest? Nope. Not these. Not these Oily Toys.
The first thing that snatched the crowd was the front man. A well known man in the Coventry area, but not well known he could do that. A genuinely amazing vocalist and performer with bundles of stage presence. The choruses were surprisingly catchy and they had the crowd swaying along. There were hooks to the music but unfortunately there was a severe lack of them. When the beat was smashing, the bass roaring and the vocals just doing their thing, this band’s sound was unique and captivating. They need to utilise this more.
A majority of their set was the standard slow drones we have become all too aware of at Coventry’s Metal to the Masses but Oily Toys had something extra, and they should push these unequalled qualities much more within their music. For a start the screams were in tune. You just don’t get that at this level of competition and it felt like a blessing to hear. Their set ran quite smooth and between songs they held the audience, but it was during these overly long drone sections where the crowd began to get distracted.
The last song of their set, when they managed to start it, was amazingly haunting and psychedelic and I wanted to hear what else they had. This band have a serious amount of potential and they need to not be shy about what they are good at. Which is not drones. It’s songs. More songs please, Oily Toys.
When the Wolf Comes Home destroyed each other. The stage. Their gear. And it looked like they attempted to kill a few of the audience too. This band’s drummer is something spectacular. Perfect velocity in the strikes, ultra tight rhythm and charismatic to the core. To be able to stand out as a drummer is a mean feat but to do it whilst the rest of the band are having a war with their guitars is something else.
I’m not a fan of musicians throwing gear around and having stands fall into drum kits and the like, but I do get that it can put on a fantastic show. At a venue like The Arches, though, it almost scared the audience away rather than pull them in. But who cares what the audience think when you’re having the best time on stage? They were so into their craft they left a piece of that with you by the end of it. Ok, that was probably a splinter from a fret board but the sentiment is there.
They have been one of the heaviest bands of the competition so far and definitely had their songs down. It did feel that with a lack of variation in the music, we were watching the same part over and over again. All of the band could play and they can play well but there weren’t many moments the audience could connect with, unless it was the end of a head stock as it flew out from the stage.
The constant string ringing made it difficult to pick out melodies in the music but they were there and they were great. The band are clearly seasoned performers and held their insane energy levels throughout their 30 minutes and kept a tight leash on the audience. They had big sound, big noise and a big performance.
The final band of the night, and needing a lot to be able to follow the previous band, were Adda-Nari. Another slow and deep sounding band, definitely a theme running in this competition. They had some tremendous ideas within their songs but the drones went on for far too long and were losing the audience with each one. When the beat would finally kick in, it was a great relief to hear and this created some brilliant moments.
It’s unfortunate that these moments didn’t last long before the droning began again. The band had great musicianship between themselves and they should showcase this more often. The blending between songs and tunings was a wonderful sight and a lack of performance on stage only added to the atmosphere this band created. Although the individual playing wasn’t particularly tight, Adda-Nari played well as a band and with what they have created, I would love to hear this with big production on a big stage. In a big field.
There followed another, how shall we put it, “exceptional” speech by Scott Allen of Gehtika. The two bands going through to the next round of Coventry’s Metal to the Masses were Adda-Nari and Oily Toys. The next heat takes place on the 16th February.
Photos by Topher o’Meagher