Look who’s back. Back again. Metal 2 the Masses is back and people certainly told their friends! It’s heat number four for our little city’s competition (sorry, revolution) and again The Arches had a damned decent turn out. There was something a little different in the air and I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. A strange hyped, buzz. It got me curious from the outset.
Shallow Kings opened the show with a varied set. This rock band consisted of decent pitched screams alongside the main clean vocals. The performance was lacking slightly with each musician staring down at their instruments almost trying not to catch anyone’s eye in fear of being caught out or put off, when in reality they had nothing to be afraid of. Their songs were solidly structured and filled with catchy hooks backed by rhythmic and melodic bass lines. The lead guitar was precise and the tone sat the licks just in the right place in the mix.
During the third song of the set, the dual vocalists picked up their performance and you could see the confidence start to shine. They, although easier said than done, need to work on this to give their performance the conviction it needs. It should be mentioned that Shallow Kings was a last minute addition to the line up due to a band pulling out just a few days before. They handled the situation marvellously. They had good songs and some of the riffs were great. Played with a bit more confidence in what they are doing, this could be an excellent and exciting new band.
A group of guys get on stage. The front man begins to introduce themselves whilst Anthony Knight, the announcer, stands aside and let’s them finish.
“Oh, Sorry!” the now sheepish front man apologizes after realising he’s done somebody else’s job.
“It’s doesn’t matter! You’ve already done it!”
And what followed next was one of the best thirty minutes I’ve witnessed at The Arches.
Simai are virtually unknown here in the UK. This was their second gig on our beloved island. Hailing from Bulgaria, this (and I cannot believe I am saying this) nu-metal band were amazing. Straight away the tightness trapped you into having a great time. With the first chorus singing “put your hands up” this band were not shy about what they were trying to achieve. They want you to party. They want you to have fun. They will not let you do otherwise. In fact, all of the choruses were catchy and upbeat. The guitar tones were rich and the bass tone allowed for every beat to hit you with force.
The set was well paced and surprisingly varied. Between songs was covered well by the charismatic front man who also flawlessly went from mic to mic as they broke during their set. They had bundles of professionalism. Simai are a perfect party band with intricate rap verses and deep, heavy breakdowns. For this to be the year of Skindred at Bloodstock, Simai could very well be the perfect New Blood Stage addition.
Up next was Slowbro. An incredibly fitting name. The first noticeable difference was no microphone placed on the stage, secondly that it was a three piece. With no bass player. Thirdly, eight string guitars. You’d think that was a strange mix, and you’d be right. The sound, though, in places was great. They had good riffs throughout and when the low eight string rang out you could clearly hear why they thought no bass was needed.
Unfortunately this wasn’t so true when the scratchy lead guitar came in. The sound would lose that uniqueness and it became a little hard to listen to. Without bass or vocals the two guitars were incredibly exposed. Their set however was full of great moments and genius ones too. Instead of using a microphone to address the audience, signs were held up instead. This could have been something special but unfortunately the nine lines of handwriting were held up for all about two seconds meaning the audience had no clue of what was written. The idea is great though.
It felt like this band had some amazing song ideas that were screaming for a vocalist to step up and add the emotion. Unfortunately without this, the songs blended into each other a little too much and gave the feeling of a linear, non-varied set. Slowbro has bags of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing their progression.
Closing the night on a high were The Mire Deep. With a high energy, raw set they grabbed the audience’s attention and smashed the night away. The front man had strong gritty vocals of a hardcore vibe and the overall tone to their sound was coarse but clear. The songs had great variation ranging from Hatebreed hardcore to prog-like doom, with a few classic metal riffs thrown in for good measure. During these breakdowns, the drumming was fantastic in forcing the perception of a time signature change and this really added to the musical catalogue that this band can produce.
The only thing this band should work on is keeping a constant BPM throughout their songs to help the crowd move to the fantastic soundscape they have created and to polish their already great performance.
The night ended with Anthony Knight of Underground Ascending announcing The Mire Deep as runners up. The Winners, Simai.
Photos by Topher o’Meagher
The next round of Metal to the Masses Coventry will take place on Sunday 26th February at The Arches.