Sunday 26th November, London’s Metal 2 the Masses competition took place at The Big Red (as it will do almost every Sunday until mid-June!) This week it was the 3rd heat with 4 more bands vying for a spot in the next round, starting with…
HammerJack. The four-piece band from Guildford began the evening and there was no easing into the set, they jumped in and got straight to the point. The point being hot and heavy, old school hard rock. Some great riffs in amongst the thumping set, with tracks like “I Can’t Change” offering just a touch of 80s sleaze. I’m guessing bands like Guns N’ Roses, AC/DC and WASP are on the list of influences.
Shane on drums and Jason on bass nailed the classic rock rhythms, and Sharpy’s high voltage vocals cemented the hard rock attitude the band had. But for me, the lead guitarist, Korush, was a real highlight and a joy to watch in almost every number. Some cracking solos played expertly with, seemingly, a few hundred notes per second being hit at times. Lots of movement, some great numbers, and a solid start to the evening.
Lack were next up. It took me a little while to ‘get’ this band as I had no idea what to expect so it took me a song or two to figure out how to describe them. At times they were thrash, others more punk, and then my brain stopped with the lazy pigeonholing and realised they were both at the same time! A tonne of no-frills, head-banging stuff from the Luton based 3-piece ensued and never let up. Rob (guitar/vocals), Steve (drums) and Jay (bass) provided plenty of shouting and chanting in the vocals, even getting a bit of crowd participation with some “Oi” chants. It all worked well alongside the fast and loose thrashy guitar, like punk decided to stick its fingers in a plug socket. The raw and unfiltered vibe really came through as they eased into the set and loosened up even more. The bassist seemed to be a mix of styles, which was great to see/hear as he switched from some fast single string plucking to full on strumming to create a more rhythm guitar sound, all whilst failing to stay still for more than two seconds. Great high energy stuff!
The Brood, although based in North London, are made up of five members from France, Spain and England. This European Union of face melting hardcore came in with some black and death metal mixed in for good measure. High-tempo tracks with plenty of aggression, Aitor, Donnie, Senen, Nando and Thibaut powered through their ten-track set, relentless in their efforts to bring as much sound and energy as they could to the Big Red. The tracks were short and high impact with the band allowing themselves a few moments between a few tracks to address the crowd before returning to the onslaught of fast and heavy riffs. A good bit of crowd participation with a couple of fans (one I recognised from a band at last week’s Metal 2 The Masses) having a microphone thrust in front of them by singer, Thibaut, prompting some crowd based guttural growls.
The final band for the night moved the atmosphere towards a melancholic mood. With members from Norway and the UK, the majority of Hex Morbidity met as students in London and describe themselves as ‘melodic black metal’, which is accurate as it’s hard to describe them as anything else. I assume everyone that mentions this band immediately draws attention to the inclusion of a cello, and I shall do no different.
Classically trained Arianna Mahsayeh uses the dark and deep tones of the lowest cello string to fill in the deeper frequencies, in lieu of a bass, and also adds a haunting vibe to proceedings which worked perfectly with the vocals. The lyrics were poetic in nature, and vocally performed by Jarod Lawley in a way that made them clearly defined, still with a hint of growling, giving the crowd a chance to appreciate the effort that has gone into creating each line. More traditional metal vibes were there with Torbjørn Jørstad and Jarod on guitars and Demitri Levantis on drums, with these aspects becoming more prominent as the set’s intensity and tempo increased as it continued to a great sounding finale.
After a bit of deliberation between the judges, and the public votes were counted, the winners were announced. Congratulations to The Brood and Hammerjack, who both made it through to next year’s quarterfinals!
I should note that Mick Wood (the organiser) did mention at the time that a third band from the night will be included in the Moshpit/Circlepit round, which is reserved for the best runners-up. I’m looking forward to finding out who that is as he didn’t say who it was last night.
Photos by Ryan of ShotIsOn Photography