Celebrating its 20th birthday in 2020, Bloodstock are looking for the best and newest metal bands to perform on the New Blood stage in August 2020 through the Metal 2 The Masses scheme. M2TM was started in 2005 and runs through a voting system. One winner from each of the 28 regions is selected to perform. The finalists are selected by Heats that have several bands battling it out on stage to go through to the next round until one is chosen.
I was lucky enough to attend the second heat at The Unicorn, in London, on the 1st of December. For those who don’t know, The Unicorn is described as an “underground icon,” supplying music to London’s heavier sub-cultures six nights a week, they have live music with bands ranging from alternative to metal. It is famous amongst Londoner metalheads and is a hotspot for sub-cultures.
On this particular night, four bands were musically sparring for that coveted position. Two out of four will go through to the next round, where they will have to win one more round in order to play on the New Blood stage next August.
The first band, Hunted by Elephants, took to the stage at around eight o’clock. With a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and a vocalist who doubled as the keyboard player, they seemed to take root in a nostalgic feeling 70s/80s sound. The vocals were strong and soaring, the drums fast and lively, and the riffs skirted just under deep undertones that followed the songs wherever they went. The music itself was heavily driven by the guitar and drums, and during parts of the song where vocals weren’t included the singer would leave the front of the stage to add in the keys. During this time, the guitarist and bassist would take over the stage. The easy, friendly way they interacted with one another really set the tone for the rest of the show almost every band’s members seemed to have close relationships. If you’re going to open a stage, Hunted by Elephants have it down to a T.
Maziac came on next. Coming from London, they describe themselves as an “alternative rock/progressive metal three-piece”, and I couldn’t think of a more accurate description. Their music was heavier, as if it derived more from punk than the previous band had. With a mix of intense vocals and atmospheric melodies, it sounded like a mixing pot of subgenres. It worked. Their songs had a little bit for everyone, no matter how heavy you liked your music, there would be at least one part of a song you would enjoy. Being a three-piece, the band was dominated by the vocalist / guitarist and the bassist. They took up the space, moving closer to the centre and falling back. I specifically enjoyed the way they utilised backing tracks, it created a kind of depth to the music and made it sound more 3D. The band have an EP released, and a debut album on its way very soon.
Jukebox Monkey were formed in Kent and are a “southern stoner rock juggernaut”. While their music echoed the more traditional rock sound, there was definitely a mix-in of metal and grunge. The way they interacted with the audience really made them stand out, plugging their band name, and urging us to come closer, they tried to fill that gap between band and audience. More than that, the interactions between the guitarist and bassist clearly showed to us that they are close friends. Moving around together, laughing at one another mid songs, and then the fist bump at the end. The energy they had was infectious – not only the cheerfulness but the energy they had while playing. They got so into the music that, by the end of the show, the bassist had slid to his knees on the floor. Jukebox Monkey have three EPs under their belt, so make sure to check those out!
The final band were Lung Fluid. They had their t-shirts draped over the speakers at the front of the stage, and more merch to the side. Unlike the others, the bassist wasn’t tethered to a mic. Instead, the vocals came from the guitarist and drummer. With his “Do Not Cross, Police Line” strap, the bassist was free to move around the stage. Compared to the other three bands, the music sounded a lot more aggressive, and was definitely more derivative of heavy metal – this was especially shown in the vocals. They even point this out themselves, saying they play the “sweet sounds of heavy metal”. They have an EP coming soon, so keep an eye out!
After all 4 bands had played, voting began. Walking over to the table, you wrote down two bands you felt deserved to go to the next round. The winners were chosen by the votes, but also by the three judges, each group having 50% of the say. It took around half an hour for the winners to be decided. The bands were scattered around The Unicorn, talking with friends or just waiting for the announcement. Mick took the mic, explaining that usually, they’d have a fun singalong, but, with the cold and illnesses floating around London, they were missing too many members.
Some words were spoken, banter was thrown, and then, the names were announced.
Jukebox Monkey and Hunted by Elephants were put through to the next round of the competition! Best of luck to you two with the next stage, and best of luck to Lung Fluid and Maziac, I know they’ll do great things in the future.
Photos by Abi Rose Photography