A whole new generation is getting behind Bloodstock’s infamous Metal 2 the Masses. This competition has served many in gaining a rightful place at Bloodstock Open Air. The contest comprises of some of the best local acts around the country performing to win a shed load of goodies – and this year is Coventry’s first!
The evening was introduced by Anthony Knight of the Underground Ascending management label, a previous Metal 2 the Masses winner himself. From the very start, the sense of community at The Arches was indescribable. So I will stop there.
Ok, I’ll continue. The four bands were helping each other with their gear on and off the stage, buying drinks for each other and the bellowing laughs across the room set the standard in this friendly battle.
First up to the podium were heavy rock trio Pelugion. Immediately, the thundering punch these guys are known for filled the room. They seemed a lot heavier from when I had previously seen them, I don’t know if the idea of “metal” made this a conscious decision for the group – but oh my, did it work. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands, singing along to their insanely catchy choruses, air-guitaring to the flawlessly played 6-strings and stomping defiantly with the sweet, sweet bass tone that encompassed The Arches (seriously, that bass tone….).
Their set had everything, and I wanted more. Unsure whether they would go down well at Bloodstock Festival, being less “metal” than one would expect – the showmanship, ability and songwriting could very well see this band through to the end. And I want them there.
With a tough act to follow, Wounded Cross started nervously. It was announced that it was a first gig for the new rhythm guitarist and I have to say, for a first gig it was decent. Unfortunately their sound made it difficult to pick out the intricate riffs you could see them fingering, matched with out of tune instruments, and this was not the strongest of performances. The individual members can definitely play – and they can play well – but as a band, the tightness and power just wasn’t there and they seemed lost between songs.
The vocals had a brilliant old-school tone and the lead guitar was blinding. It was unfortunate that it didn’t click for them on the night although I can’t wait to see them once they have a few more gigs under their aggressive belt.
Abandoned Life were showcased next. If you like slllooooowwww doomy metal – this is for you. The crowd almost didn’t know what to expect, but began flowing and swaying to the incredibly dark music this trio produced. Although not much to look at in terms of stage performance, the riffs were hypnotising. There were brilliant moments of anticipation as the songs got quicker and quicker, but unfortunately they never seemed to build up to anything leaving the set without much variety.
The show, however, went well for them leaving the crowd wanting to know what they could build up to. It was an incredibly atmospheric set and I cannot wait to see what they do next.
Then there was one left. Kirikai finished the night on a blinding high. The most varied set of the night, ranging from the psychedelic (almost funky at some points) to flat out pedal to the metal! The front-man had crowd participation down to a tee and they loved it. Surprisingly, it was the slower sections that kept the audience’s attention – a mean feat for a metal competition.
The set got stronger and stronger as it went on but ultimately fell on the last hurdle. They had stage presence, great sound and greater songs. I think it was just a bit unfortunate that they decided to end on what was more of a grungy ballad when they have so many strong set finishers under their belt.
The night closed with a heartfelt speech from Scott Allen of Gehtika announcing the winners (eventually) as Pelugion, with second place going to Abandoned Life. The turnout for the evening was incredible for a midweek, first heat showcase.
The second heat takes place on 2nd February and if this night was anything to go by – Coventry will deliver one of the finest gigs that can be offered.
Photos by Topher o’Meagher