It’s only been 5 short months since we were sat basking in the warm, sunny (sometimes) and loud fields in Derbyshire where Bloodstock calls home. August and the return to those hallowed fields is still far off, yet here I am driving into Manchester through fog filled roads (seriously like a Silent Hill film) eager for this year’s first taste of what the festival might have to offer.
Metal 2 the Masses returns to Manchester this year at a new venue The Bread Shed a reasonably sized event venue attached to the Flour & Flagon Pub. Sporting its own large stage, great lighting and superb sound, which I can attest to having attended events here before. The addition of a photo pit makes my night and I’m eager for the first band to start.
There will be 40 bands this year: 8 heats, 4 quarter finals, 2 semi-finals and the Grand Finale all the way off in June, with 2 bands from each heat getting the chance to progress. Under the new co-management of Stonebaked Promotions and APF Records things have changed slightly. Everyone who arrives is given a token to vote for their favourite band throughout the night, with the final band being voted through by a panel of judges. There will also be two wild card acts to go through this year, decided by the judges.
First band to hit the stage is Beyond Salvation, a technical thrash metal band from Manchester and hit the stage they do! Right from the off they deliver hard powerful intros that will snap your neck and the already large crowd seem to be in agreement. As they bang their heads along to the blistering guitars and vocals lapping every second of this violently impressive act.
Next up 40,000 Leagues, a 5-piece metal band again based in Manchester. They tear onto the stage and don’t stop still for a second with progressive melodies and synced guitars, pounding drums and baseline – they picked up the gauntlet and ran with it. Nathan “Nips” lead vocals were on point as he leaped about the stage. Even when the monitor speaker he used to leap to the barrier step gave way and both it and he came crashing down into the photo pit! It’s OK, he had a soft landing… me! We picked each other up and he carried on without missing a beat (he broke his toe apparently).
Third band of the night was Frozen in Shadows, a supergroup of members from Impavidus, Footprints in the Custard, Prognosis and Godhand come together to form a melodic death metal band that delivers from the off. Whether delivering dense riffs or thundering drums and baseline they keep the crowd headbanging through the entire set. Singer Russ Custard eggs the crowd on as he shows off his impressive growls and vocal range, and not a little pony in sight. Thankfully.
Crescent Halo are fourth tonight, a 3-piece hard rock/metal band again from Manchester. They play classic metal in the vein of Maiden/Priest/Saxon, etc. With soaring solos and songs about Dragons, it’s a step away from the previous offerings with the energetic frontman Chris Henderson’s lead vocals being crisp and clear. Not quite as tight as the first three acts, but this can be forgiven as Chris tells us it’s the band’s first gig with this line-up. The crowd lap up the change in pace.
Last to grace the stage for this first heat are Kvilla, a hardcore/death metal band from, you guessed it… Manchester. This 4-piece enter the stage with masks, face/body paint and dark demonic red lighting. Add a thick fog from the ice machines and it’s a perfect setting for them. With hard chest thumping drums and bass, and ferocious riffs, Sean Ossoway snarls and growls his way through each song, looking all the while like some grim reaper. A fitting finalé to the first heat of Manchester’s Metal 2 the Masses.
Then the agonising wait as the bands mingle with the crowd and each other laughing and joking, wishing each other well. Nothing but camaraderie here as the judges retire to a private room to count the crowd’s vote and debate the band they want to go through. Finally, Paul “Chunk” Watling – event organiser, host, compére and a judge to boot – climbs on stage to address the waiting bands and fans. After thanking everyone for showing up on this Sunday evening he announces the results…
First bands to go through for Manchester’s M2tM is 40,000 Leagues, who won with the public vote, and Beyond Salvation who get the Judges’ decision. All the bands played great sets tonight and I couldn’t have chosen a winner between the first three personally. If this is the calibre on night one then I can’t wait to see what future heats bring.
Pics by Drew Scott Photographic
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