In the second semi-final of Metal 2 The Masses London, five bands battled it out for two places in the Grand Final on 7th July; The Brood, Core of iO, Empire Warning, Serpentyne and Sutalkerah.
Starting us off this evening were The Brood, who added drama and suspense to their performance with a spoken-word intro before vocalist Thibaut took to the stage. The band describe their sound as “grinding hardcore tainted with hints of dirty punk, filthy death and evil black metal” – which I would say is a fairly accurate description! Their set was deliciously sludgy, thrashy full of aggression and headbang-tastic. All five band members were very animated and I really enjoyed the heavy riffs and grunty vocals. In my notes I wrote “smashy & thrashy”, and what better way to start a Friday night of metal!
Next up were tech-metal / progressive rock band Core Of iO, who I saw for the first time at the Fifth Quinter Final at the end of May and really enjoyed their relentlessly energetic performance. Once again the band opened with “Fourteen Stitches” which was a great start to their set. These guys always seem so down-to-earth, and vocalist Bob expressed the band’s gratitude at making it to the Semi Finals. They certainly shouldn’t have been surprised that they had made it this far in the competition, as they are definitely one of my favourite bands that I have discovered this year. Their music crosses many genres boundaries, but the predominant vibe is one of technical / math-rock / prog; creating a sound that is both disjointed and groovy at the same time, and always goes down well with the crowd.
Bringing a slightly different vibe to the evening were symphonic / folk-rock / metal sextet Serpentyne, whose music is wildly different from anything else in the competition this year. The band features a violin and bagpipes, together with bass, electric guitar, drums and operatic vocals, creating their unique metal-meets-medieval sound. Serpentyne always seem to go down well with The Big Red crowd, and I also spotted a few members of other competing bands moving and grooving along to their set.
After Serpentyne came five-piece groove metal band Empire Warning, who we featured as our Band of the Day back in May. These guys were very charismatic and all five of them looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves as they played their chuggy and up-beat tracks to the crowd. Vocalist Elsio used both scream and clean vocals at different points in their set which worked really well with the rest of the band’s sound. Empire Warning’s tracks are groovy and melodic as well as crushingly heavy, and the band drew a sizeable crowd. They had great banter with the audience and good vibes flowed through the room. Empire Warning are another of my favourite bands that I have discovered through this competition.
Last to take to the stage were five-piece groove / thrash / death metal band Sutalkerah, who made it to last year’s grand final. They opened their set with infectiously catch “Baba Yaga” and their performance was full of energy from start to finish, as always. There was a huge crowd of people moshing along to their set and the band played a great set. Vocalist Graziano always puts so much passion into his vocals which really adds to the intensity of their performance. The bass was pounding, the riffs were tasty, and the drumming was excellent – Sutalkerah always put on a great show!
After five brilliant performances it was time for the judges to deliberate, and while they did everyone was treated to a performance by non-competing band Silk Road (that I unfortunately wasn’t able to stick around for). Today 70% of the total votes came from the judges, and 30% from the audience. After much deliberation the winners were… Serpentyne and The Brood, who will join the winners from last week: Prolapse A.D., Dirty Ol’ Crow and Dead Before Mourning, together with wildcard winners Annunciation to play the Grand Final for the chance to play Bloodstock Open Air Festival this summer.
Photos by Katie Frost Photography