Last Sunday, The Unicorn hosted the tenth heat round of Metal to The Masses. For those who don’t know, The Unicorn is a pub in Camden that hosts live music for the majority of the days of the week. Almost every Sunday, it hosts the London rounds of Metal to The Masses. Metal to The Masses was created by the Bloodstock festival, in a search to find the best and newest music in the underground scene. In the heat rounds, four bands play in the hopes that they’ll be one of the two that are chosen to go through to the next round. The reward for winning the entire competition is a spot to play on the New Blood stage.
The first band to take the stage was Tayne. Tayne are a London-based band who have a very experimental sound. Their music is a combination of an electronic sound, and metal vocals. It all seemed heavily driven by the powerful drums, but the guitar riffs would occasionally cut through, as would the electronic shifts.
There was only one vocalist, but they evaded the risk of sounding flat by using a mixer to create depth to the voice, adding another layer to the music itself. In some parts, it was almost as if his voice was another instrument to use. He would switch from screaming to singing, flicking through the different genres to create a unique, one of a kind sound. The energy on the stage was an ascension – the facial expressions of the vocalist showed just how much he was putting into his performance. But the guitarist wasn’t tied down by a microphone, so was free to move around the stage as he wished. The two of them dominated the front of the stage, and opened the stage perfectly for the night.
The next band to come on was Them Bloody Kids. They’re a three-piece band from London, and say that their music makes you feel like “you’ve had 46 lines of cocaine in 3 minutes”, already showing to anyone looking them up that they aim to have huge amounts of energy in their music and their performances.
Before they began playing, people in the crowd started changing “TBK!”, which made the vocalist very happy as he stated “we like that!”. He had a very soulful singing voice, which could also switch to screaming, metal vocals within seconds. He clearly had a lot of control over his voice, and his ability to switch between sounds like that gave the performance a very polished edge.
The drummer, at the back of the stage, was also very good at what he did. Flipping his guitar sticks in the air, flicking them as he played – watching him, I was in awe of how effortlessly he performed the powerful drums that underlined the music. The crowd reacted insanely well – jumping, dancing, mosh-pits. There was absolutely no doubt to anyone there that people loved the performance, and that they caught the attention of the crowd.
Stonus came on next, a five-piece band that originated in Nicosia, Cyprus in 2015. They’ve been based in London since 2018. Black Sabbath, Queens of The Stone Age, and Colour Haze are amongst their influences, and you can really feel this in their music. With a combination of melodic vocals, thundering drum beats, and riffs that stick into your mind for hours, their music could probably be best described as a mix of stoner and alternative rock, with a slightly psychedelic undertone to it.
With five people on stage, it’s easy for people to get lost in the shadows. But the vocalist made sure this didn’t happen – he was constantly moving around the stage, going up to different members and interacting with them so that no one was forgotten on the sidelines. He pulled people into the performance, shifting the gaze of the crowd. Some parts of the music was purely instrumental, others driven by his powerful vocals. Even if he wasn’t singing, he was still putting his entire being into the performance. In the second to last song, he jumped into the crowd, starting his own mosh pit, before climbing back up.
Lastly, Modes took the stage as the final band that would play for us this evening. Coming from Kent, they were the heaviest band to play that night. While the others were a mixture of sounds, theirs was pure metal. The vocals were intense, guttural, and felt like an addition to the music itself. Their songs seemed to be heavily carried by the guitars, the drums not as overpowering as they are in some other performances. The metallic riffs and eerie bass underlined the entire sound.
The most unique part of their performance, however, is that they hardly spent any time on stage. They all descended, walking around the crowd in a circle. They then played in the pit, in front of the stage. The connection between the people in the crowd and the people in the band created an informal setting – it didn’t feel like a performance, it felt intimate and close. They bought two fans onto the stage over the course of their performance, the first one being to show the crowd how to wave their arms with a torch on their phone, and the second one to portray their merch. The girl they bought on was a huge fan, and couldn’t stop smiling as she stood next to them on stage, wearing their t-shirt. They clearly love performing, and they closed the night with a passion for music .
After all four bands have played, they calculate the winners based on votes. The winners are decided by a 50/50 split between the votes of the judges, and the votes of the viewers. After they’ve calculated the results, the manager- Mick- takes the stage. He did a short quiz, asking a question to the crowd to see who wins a free tattoo of up to £200 – courtesy of one of the judges. Before he announced the winners, he thanked everyone who came along and reminded us that “the people who didn’t come – we are the seen, they are the unseen”.
After counting, debating, and quizzing, we found out that Stonus and Them Bloody Kids were the winners of that night! They truly deserve it for how much energy they put into that performance, and I wish them and the other bands the best of luck in the future.
Pics by Abi Rose Photography