We were back at Metal 2 the Masses Coventry for their wildcard heat! Comprised of the bands who fell just short of getting straight through to the semi finals, this was their chance to wow the crowd and the judges for a second attempt in their quest for Bloodstock Open Air fame.
The night began with big sounding Vengeful Atonement. This band soaked up the energy emitting from the eager audience and spat it back with their mix of classic metal and thrash. Their front man had consistently great melodic screams in his arsenal and he was backed up by proficient musicianship from the rest of his band.
The guitar work had great lead harmonies and excellent ideas in the melodies. Unfortunately these weren’t always executed to the standard their song writing had set for them. This could be down to the scratchy lead tones, but the phrasing of the lines lacked emotion. Do not let this get in the way of the excellent writing capabilities of Vengeful Atonement as they had some genuinely awesome moments in their set, which was varied and catchy throughout.
Their style came across much like pro bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and they definitely have the potential to riot a crowd like their heroes. They lacked a bit of a punch changing sections and specifically going into and throughout the faster parts of their well crafted art. In terms of stage performance, every single member of the band gave it their all and reinforced just how much playing at Metal 2 the Masses means to them and the community watching. They held the onlookers gaze and with a bit of work, Vengeful Atonement could be one of the best bands in the area.
The second act who took to the stage were a previous heat’s favourite, Wave. They dressed the set in their own way with an amazingly placed lit up Wave sign on the PA that, although seems small, certainly gave their set character. The front man attired in a clean white shirt and dickie bow combo added to their all-too-self-aware performance of not being particularly metal. In fact, so much so, they announced that they googled the most metal words used in albums and one track reeled these off in a brilliant, comedic fashion.
Both entertaining performing and not, Wave kicked up a storm with their almost skate-punk genre. Although there was nearly a constant feedback being given off from the guitar, the sound was huge considering the band consists of a guitarist and drummer only. The riffs were grindingly catchy and the drums powered them with technicality and finesse. Both members seemed to feed off each other as well as the screaming crowd who were roaring to hear more.
Their “fast” song began and ended quicker than you could read this sentence and injected yet more showmanship from Wave. The front man covered the empty stage so well that I don’t think I would want to see them with any other members on stage. Their charisma was all that was needed. A moment that stood out for me was the use of the harmonizer pedal that was so well used I couldn’t help but wonder why more bands don’t exploit this more often. They ended by advising “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” I was grinning from ear to ear. It definitely happened. I definitely loved it.
From the comically entertaining to the dirty, deep and dark Djinova. This five piece brought the heaviest set of the night with powerful screams and some of the best death metal riffs around. The guitars were full of flair and crafted some absolutely evil lead lines sitting over quick, technical hooks. The music was full of brilliant melodies and oozed with style.
I wanted to hear more of this from the vocals which seemed a little lacking in creativity when compared to the soundscape backing them. The tone of the bass was excellent in gluing together the dropped tuning and the pounding rhythm. Not just this, but it was played with brutal, energetic form.
Although the set was not particularly varied, this didn’t matter so much as everybody in the room could feel what Djinova were producing. And it felt good. The drums lacked power and would lose even more on extended fast sections which may have hindered the vocals in keeping to the beat. At points they felt very disconnected from the rest of the band. This made some parts of their set difficult to watch but ultimately Djinova showcased themselves as a technically proficient band with some serious musicianship.
On the last track however, the vocalist took much more of a front man role which boosted the energy in the room monumentally. It seemed to push the already energetic guitarists even further to becoming a tight, evil-sounding, monster of a band. With just a few refined tweaks Djinova are on for something big. And Bloodstock could be the catalyst.
With more guitarists than the entirety of Wave’s members (their words not mine) When the Wolf Comes Home powered their way through an exciting, excellently played thirty minutes. Compared to their first heat, this band were incredibly tight. They held back a bit on throwing themselves, and their gear, around the stage and it made for brilliant performance.
The bassist held his place off the stage completely and this gave their set tons of character and turned The Arches into an intimate party where anyone could be involved. The pacing of the show was excellent and the songs went from strength to strength as it developed. A big moment for me came when the clean vocals started towards the end of the set. That sat so well I went away wishing I was able to hear more.
Aside from this small part, the entire way through was simply flat out technical aggression that I couldn’t take my eyes off, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t get poked out this time. There was huge amounts of power, speed and each member paced around like beasts possessed. Their final track saw the most variation with a brilliant ethereal break and cemented the fact we were watching some of the best musicians around.
To end what had been an incredible night for Coventry, KiriKai weaved neatly crafted compositions with excellent showmanship. The riffs were unsophisticated but catchy and the bassist stood his ground on the stage giving the band a brilliant stage presence. They grew heavier as the time ticked ever so closer to the opening of the votes and although getting late into the evening, the crowd stayed with KiriKai, chanting and interacting throughout the performance. Although the vocal performance wasn’t as strong as in the previous heat, KiriKai put on a great set with sing-a-long songs and a sack full of energy.
The two bands announced to enter the semi finals were runners up Wave with the winners of the evening Djinova. They will compete with the winners from the previous heats, starting from the 19th March at The Arches, Coventry.
Photos by Topher o’Meagher