The pressure keeps rising higher and higher with each round of Metal 2 the Masses in London. Last Friday the Big Red saw six of the twelve semi-finalists step onto the stage to battle it out for a chance to play at the Bloodstock festival, but only three would go on the final.
In previous rounds it was usual for the first band to play for a rather small audience, but people in London like going out for a pint after work on a Friday and that helped build a great audience from the start.
Detoxen played one of the best opening sets so far. All the right ingredients were there, from the great energy of the band (which included a bass player outdoing everyone else), the riffs, etc. It was my first time seeing them and I was hooked.
Tides of Ire followed shortly after. I always feel that when the expectations are high and not met but the show is still good, it’s almost as if it were a bad show. I had seen these guys a few times before and always really enjoyed their catchy and crunchy riffs to the point when things would get sweaty, but this time around something felt missing. The 5 hour drive to play the show clearly took a toll on the band.
The evening was just starting and Xero got on stage. It seems they understood the pressure they had on them and they brought their A game with them. Everything was cranked up a notch from their previous performance, just enough for them to stand out and appeal to a crowd of metalheads.
The crowd-favourites Hand of Doom were back for another lesson in kicking ass on stage. In every single round these guys immediately got headbangers moving to the front as soon as the first note was played. They showed to be extremely comfortable on stage and had a great interaction with the audience from start to finish, showing why they are such favourites.
Symbol of Orion also had a great deal of the audience rooting for them and for good reason. They have revealed themselves to have a great unique sound that stands out from other bands in the competition thanks to their Nepali roots. They put on yet another great show even better than before, and as with Hand of Doom, headbangers took it to the frontline to enjoy the music.
At this point we had some really great bands play amazing sets, the pressure was on Eight Lives Down to give it all they had. They have a great attitude and presence on stage. Each and every one of the band members is so different and they take full advantage of that. In some ways their performance was better than when I saw them previously, but when it came to vocals sadly there were some occasional failings.
The votes were in, and it had been settled. The first band to be announced as winners of the semi-final one was Detoxen, followed by Xero. Things got a bit more intense when the last band to go through was about to be announced, with the crowd cheering loudly both for Hand of Doom and Symbol of Orion. In the end only one more band could go through, and given the amount of support in the audience for another band, I was a bit surprised to find that band was Symbol of Orion. Completely deserved, and I’m sure that Hand of Doom came very close.
All these three bands will now play at the grand final which this time around will take place at Nambucca on the 6th of July. Until then, the semi-final two will be taking place at The Big Red as usual, on the 21st of June, featuring Empire Warning, Mountain Caller, Oldblood, Orbital Junction, Salvation Jayne and YGODEH.
Photos by Luis Rodrigues