Gig Review: Metal 2 The Masses Oxford Heat 5 – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford (22nd April 2023)

So, after 3 weeks and an excellent night seeing Sabaton perform at Wembley Arena, I have returned to the ever-so-familiar venue that is The Jericho Tavern for the latest and final heat of this competition. Four bands to battle it out to win the crowd and judges votes and secure their place in the quarterfinals. The calibre of bands that have already made it through have been impressive so far, which will certainly make the quarterfinals something not to be missed.

First up with the heavy task of opening this evening was Shoot to Kill, a five-piece heavy metal band from South Bucks. They started out extraordinarily strong, bringing along their own custom pre-recorded intro before hitting us with their first track. Straight out of the gate these guys certainly show vast amounts of promise pushing further into the competition. They displayed an extraordinary amount of confidence on stage with a great deal of movement, and their crowd interaction was on point. It looks like they have been releasing music for at least three years now, which you can find on the usual streaming platforms. I must admit that despite the sound issues, becoming a usual issue in this competition, listening to them on Spotify after the event really got me liking these guys. That being said with the sound issues, they did adjustments halfway through with the sound engineer and yielded a much better sound filling the room.

Second up on stage was Mercury’s Well, and they are a three-piece death metal band hailing from Reading. First thing to note was the length of each song. It seemed these guys like their music so much they just kept wanting to play. All three members were donning black and white face paint, which is always good to see, however they may have wanted to apply this just before going on stage as it did not look as good as when they were around their mech stand at the beginning of the evening. Death metal definitely is not one of my top genres, in fact it’s quite near the bottom, but that did not stop me appreciating their talent. For such a small band they easily filled the room. However, they did seem to lose a small amount of the crowd halfway through their set, this may be to do with the length of each song as they felt like they were 10 minutes long each. Even I had to disappear halfway through. Upside to being only a three-piece band was the fact that with the venue having such a small stage these guys had tons room to move around.

Next up we had Second Hour, formerly known as Last Rights, and let me tell you that these guys were great to watch. They have an old hard rock/metal vibe taking inspiration from such bands as Iron Maiden and Sone Sour but adding a modern twist to their songs. Yes, these guys brought a small crowd with them, however, they certainly won more of the crowd throughout the evening. Their confidence on stage was exceptional and that was clear with their crowd participation. Horns were raised and heads were banging throughout their complete set. This is also the first band that I have seen at Oxford’s M2TM where a second sound check was completed prior to taking the stage and it certainly proved worthwhile, as this allowed them to knock our socks off without any sound issues. My vote without doubt when to these guys and as a massive fan of Iron Maiden and I cannot wait to see what they bring next.

Time for the last band… however, Master Bizarre have unfortunately pulled out of the competition for reasons unknown to me, but that did not stop the night from ending as we had a secret band perform for us all. This was the almighty Echo4Four, a four-piece alt rock band from here in the heart of Oxford. These guys have been on the scene for a while, and they are definitely worth checking out if they happen to be playing in your area. So, with Master Bizarre dropping out that means all three bands that performed have made it through to the next round. Judging was not needed that night so they may as well have just had the evening off, but that did not stop them from being there and enjoying what this event had to offer. It was clear that the crowd vote went to Second Hour however it was a very tight race between all the bands.

This competition is really starting to look good as we say goodbye to the heats. And judging by what I have seen so far, it is only going to get better. The next event at The Jericho Tavern is going to be a tough one for all the bands and it is not one to be missed.

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