[No, that’s not a mis-type – there are five rounds leading to the next tier hence quinter final!]
On a Sunny Sunday afternoon Metal2TheMasses London was back at The Big Red in North London with the second quinter final all-dayer. Battling it out for two places in the semi-finals this week were: Die Kur from Heat 1, Demonskill from Heat 7, The Bleeding from Heat 8, Sutalkerah from Heat 9, and Seven Main Sins from Heat 10. There were also performances from two non-competing special guests; Slave Steel and Bearfist. Today reigning head judge Keiran Sheard was joined by Claudia Black and Matthew Banham, and together their votes made up 60% of the final score, with the remaining 40% being decided by the audience.
Opening the competition today were death thrash metal four-piece The Bleeding. Playing first on a day like this can be a tough slot, but the band did a brilliant job of tempting people inside out of the sun with their fast and heavy sound. James was one of the most energetic drummers I have seen for a long time and was a pleasure to watch as he beat the life out of the kit, with Sean on bass keeping things hot and heavy, and Tasos creating some glorious riffs. Sean’s backing growl vocal went really well with Jamie’s main vocal, which he certainly delivered with intent. Their set was furious and frenzied and it was hard not to bang your head along to their music. They ended their set with “Death Eternal” from their 2017 album Rites of Absolution to rapturous applause from the crowd.
Next to play were industrial metal six-piece Die Kur. When I saw the band compete in Heat 1 back in November last year I remember being impressed with the inclusion of both a theremin and a violin, which you don’t often see in a metal band! The high notes of Takatsuna’s delicate violin perfectly punctuated the heavy, sludgy bassline being created by Amadeus on bass and Nick on drums, making for a really rich, layered sound. Tony and Ivan on guitars, together with Ays on synthesizer and vocals, completed the well-rounded sound that Die Kur have very much made their own. Their set was incredibly tight and went down very well with the ever-growing crowd.
Third on the bill were Demonskill; a four-piece melodic metal band who made it to the quarter finals of M2tM London a couple of years ago. Their music was fast, groovy and thrashy – a wonderful combination! There were rolling basslines by Joan, kick-ass riffs by Trent, and some expert tapping from vocalist and guitarist Stuart, while Oz brought everything together with his fast-pased drumming. Their Metallica cover was a hit with the crowd, who moshed away happily.
Next up were death/black metal band Seven Main Sins who I saw play at Heat 10 of the competition a few weeks ago. These guys won the prize for most dramatic entrance onto stage hands-down, with vocalist Łukasz dressed in a long black hooded cloak emerging from a side-door in a plume of smoke, before walking ceremoniously with a book and a lantern to the centre of the stage. The band have their put their own stamp on the black metal genre and I really enjoyed their music, featuring throaty vocal roars, heavy riffs and a deep bassline, all culminating in a wonderfully atmospheric sound. There has been a slight change in line-up since I last saw the band, having recently lost two members, but that didn’t faze them and they played a brilliant set featuring stand-in drummer James, who did a marvellous job.
Last of the competing bands to play tonight were Sutalkerah, who made it all the way to the final of M2TM last year and have come back this year with with their sights firmly set on playing Bloodstock Open Air Festival. The five-piece groove / thrash / death metal band always go down well with The Big Red crowd, and tonight was no different. The relentless pounding bass from Steve together with some tasty riffs from from Iacopo and James, and some expert drumming from Emanuele create a wonderful sound. However many times I see Sutalkerah perform I am always taken back by the sounds that comes out of vocalist Graziano. This clean-shaven young man produces clean and grown vocals, both delivered with a huge amount of passion, making him a very engaging front-man. By the time the band’s set was drawing to a close the majority of the room were on their feet happily moshing and having a lovely time. Shout-out to the couple who I saw head-banging along to every single band who played today – people like you make me happy.
After all five competing bands had performed it was time for the judges and audience to deliberate and cast their votes. While they did everyone was treated to two special performances from non-competing bands, the first of which were thrash metal quartet Slave Steel (who Mark saw play Sonic Rebellion metal club night last year) who reached the final of M2TM London in 2016. These guys really tore the roof off The Big Red and their set was a non-stop metal party.
Closing proceedings tonight were the mighty Bearfist from Chelmsford, who won Metal2TheMasses London back in 2016, and who we interviewed as part of our #ROADTOBOA coverage that same year. Their sound was groovy, heavy and relentless…in the best possible way. Vocalist Rob interacted with the crowd brilliantly, flanked by Dan on guitar and Jon on bass (which was particularly visually-pleasing as they had almost matching beards) with Alex giving the drums hell. Bearfist are brilliant band that I would not hesitate to go and see again.
It had been a long afternoon/evening of metal but a glorious one. Alas only two of the five bands who battled for glory this evening were able to advance to the next stage of the competition. As always it was a very hard one to call as all the bands put their heart and soul into their performances, but the eventual winners were…Die Kur and Sutalkerah. Huge congratulations to them who will join last week’s winning bands Dirty Ol’ Crow and The Brood in the Semi Finals!
Metal2TheMasses London returns to The Big Red next Sunday for the third quinter final round where more bands will be battling it out for a place in the semi-finals in June. Get all the details on the event page and come join us for what is always a fun evening supporting the local music scene!
Photos by Katie Frost Photography