Gig Review: Metal 2 the Masses Manchester – Heat 2 (25th January 2020)

So, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m off to Manchester for the 2nd heat of M2tM 2020, thankfully no fog in sight this week. A quick mention of the stage times and setup that Stonebaked Promotions and APF records have in place for this year’s event. First off, it’s on a Sunday – normally not the best day with most folks having work the day after, but as the doors open at 5pm the first band is on at 5.30. This has the last band finishing at 9, results at 9.30 which gives everyone ample time to make their way home nice and early.

Viral Strain (c) Drew Scott

One final point to make all though the set times are the same each week the bands actual running order isn’t announced till an hour before kick-off. This helps to ensure people turn up for all bands and not just a favourite.

Arriving at a little after 5 I find a nice free parking spot 20 yards from the Bread Shed, another benefit of having the gig on Sunday. The venue is pretty much empty at this point, but by 5.30 it’s got quite full and there are cheers as the first band take to the stage bang on time.

First up are Viral Strain, a 4-piece that bring a heavy metal style tinged with punk influences. Having been around since 2016, they have had a lineup change or two with new drummer Luke Elwick only joining in September last year, and who has added a slightly heavier element to the band’s sound. Frontman Chris Ward warms the crowd up well and the band give a solid performance, obvious by the amount of head banging going on.

Ninety Nine Mercies (c) Drew Scott

Ninety Nine Mercies take the stage next to chants of their name from the crowd, so obviously some fans here tonight. Providing a high energy set these five guys give it their all right from the off using all the stage and leaping off speakers. The crowd lap up a set that mixes up a variety of doom, thrash and groove styles that sounds very unique. Pauly Ashton keeps the crowd fired up all the way through the set. According to the bands profile on Facebook they plan world domination, keep playing like this and they might get it.

Sons of the Wicked (c) Drew Scott

Sons of the Wicked have a hard act to follow but they do so in style. Although this is only the third live gig for this 3-piece band that formed in October last year they play their particular brand of NWOBHM well. Combining powerful riffs, high energy drums, and memorable melodies the boys are very tight, and the crowd are loving it still, with much hair flailing going on in front of the stage. Przemysław Przytuło on bass and vocals keeps the crowd tempo going with soaring vocals and good interaction.

Twisted Mentality (c) Drew Scott

Twisted Mentality next and they bring a definite change of pace. With guitarists leaping from the speakers, this 5-piece shock/horror band start the set hard and fast. Dripping with face paint and gothic costumes they fire up the crowd to the max, and we have the first full on mosh pit so far of this event. Even the other band members are getting in the pit! A most impressive band reminiscent of Wednesday 13 but with their own unique brand of metal tinged with punk undertones, catchy guitar and bass riffs with energised drum rhythms and Christopher Maybury (Razor) vocals and presence stealing the show, this photographer’s favourite of the night.

Wrath of Man (c) Drew Scott

Rounding off the night, Wrath of Man are last up on stage. The only band not from Manchester tonight, this Preston-based 4-piece thrash metal band have a hard set of acts to follow from the previous bands. But undeterred they kick off well with Michael Skeech’s growls reaching down into your chest and ripping your heart out, a mountain of a man domineering centre stage with a voice to match. Add to this face-melting guitar and a thunderous bass and drum line and they were the perfect ending to the night with the still full venue showing plenty of energy for the last band of the event.

The bands have done their best and the judges retire to the back room to count crowd votes and add up scores. Two such guest judges being James Bennet and Jayne Twamley, well known in the Manchester scene for putting on free all day Showcases and gigs in and around the Manchester area. Under the banner of the 0161 Manchester Underground Metal Community they do their best to promote underground bands and local venues.

Paul “Chunk” Watling takes to the stage promptly at 9.30 with the results in hand. After the usual thank you’s and well done to the team and bands the results are read…

Going through on the crowd vote Twisted Mentality, and the judges’ decision goes to Wrath of Man, and judging by the rapturous applause the crowd agreed. Once again, all the bands played extremely well and the brotherhood between all musicians tonight was a joy to see, moshing to each others bands and chatting and laughing with each other after the results. I can’t wait for M2tM Manchester Heat 3 on the 9th of February – hope to see you there.

Pics by Drew Scott Photographic

Viral Strain: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Ninety Nine Mercies: official | facebook | instagram

Sons of the Wicked: facebook | instagram

Twisted Mentality: facebook

Wrath of Man: facebook | instagram

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