Gig Review: Metal 2 The Masses Quarter-Final 4 – Oxford (3rd June 2023)

I really wish there were another way that I would be able to explain to you where I am and what I am doing. As this competition is progressing, I am finding it extremely difficult keep mentioning the fact that I am in the same place every Saturday night doing the same thing. How what I am doing I absolutely love. Seeing all these grassroots bands put everything that they have got into this competition to make it to that big stage at Bloodstock is always good to see, and even better to see the friendships between bands that have not only existed for months or even years, but of the new friendships made within the last month or so. Not just for bands supporting other bands within this competition, but also for the people that I have had the pleasure of meeting so far. For me, this has to be the most satisfying part about reviewing bands, and I hope that I get the opportunity to review them further in the future regardless of the outcome of this competition.

But enough soppy stuff from myself as that is not what you are here to read. You are here to know about tonight’s performances. So, with that first up on stage is the final band that I have yet to hear from the heat stages, being none other than Bring to Bear, with their Folk Melodeath. The first thing that I notice before this band took to the stage was an accordion. Now I do not know how few a bands that would use such an instrument, but one band certainly comes to mind. I am a huge fan of Alestorm despite all the politics involved with them currently. I do not do politics with bands; I just listened and enjoy the music. To me, whatever goes on in the background is up to the band and I will not let that deter myself from the genres that I enjoy. Bring to Bear it seems, take massive inspiration from Alestorm which really pleased myself. It was fairly easy to notice the pirate rifts within the background, partly due to the accordion. The music was upbeat and energetic, to which I may have had a little dance myself. Their mix of clean vocals from their female lead, and deep growls in the background from their male backup singer worked fantastically. The crowd interacted with the band magnificently which spurred the band on further. A plethora of movement on stage was great to see, along with next to no technical difficulties throughout their complete set. An exceptional performance to open an extraordinarily strong quarter final.

Back to grace the stage once again is none other than Sore Teeth, and as always delight see Chris on stage again regardless of which band he will be competing with. I do hope the performing with both Sore Teeth AND stone soup within the same competition does not put too much of a strain on practise times with both bands. However, it would appear, that he has more than enough time whilst practising to pick up another instrument, this time it was recorder. However, if I could give Chris any criticism it is simply this, either practise more on the recorder or put it to bed. Sore Teeth yet again provided us with another outstanding performance of thrash metal, and the crowd appreciate it yet again, due to the vast number of pits throughout their complete set. They did not seem to change much from the heat stage, I suppose you do not fix what is not broken. That crowd interaction was above par. It did seem that they played a vast number of songs within a small amount of time, this may be due to all of their songs being noticeably short, Two to Three minutes maximum each. As much as I like hearing the full band’s repertoire, I found but as I am starting to enjoy one of their songs it seemed to end quite abruptly before starting the next. The want for longer songs would be my only criticism but other than that it was a solid performance.

I dare not say the number of times I have been to the facilities, but I am sure by now you could predict the number. Imagine what this will be like for me whilst attending Bloodstock. I do not search for pity but if anyone can recommend that having catheter fitted proves worthwhile then please feel free to get in touch. However, I do digress from what is about to happen next. Third up on stage we have the return of Hymn to Apollo. For those of you who read my review from heat three you will be aware that this band did not impress me. They had issues throughout their complete set, serious lack of energy and movement on stage, and what I believed to be an extremely deficient performance. So, what did they bring this evening? Well, what I can tell you is this… I am proud to say that I will quite happily eat my words from the previous review, as tonight it would appear that despite the same faces being on stage, it truly felt like an entirely different band. There was movement, energy, confidence, and even smiles on stage this evening. The sound issues that hindered them in the previous heat was not present this evening, and it was fantastic to be able to hear them playing their instruments without the mass amount of feedback from their previous performance. I can honestly say I enjoyed their set in its entirety, and it was great to see that their talent that took them through to the quarterfinals in 2019. The vast difference between this evening and the previous heat really puts these guys into contention for spot in the next round.

Lastly, but by no means least we had the delights of Shoot to Kill, who if you remember rightly opened heat five and now gets to close the last quarterfinal. Yet again straight out of the gate they showed us the same confidence on stage with somehow even more amount of movement. Yet again they had vast amounts of crowd interaction and were so humble in-between songs towards all three previous performing bands. The only thing that was lacking in their performance was a not so powerful vocal, for a weird reason it did not seem strong this evening, but as it turns out Daniel, their lead singer, was suffering from a viral infection. But watching his determination to perform, it certainly did not look the case. It still looked as though he was putting everything that he could muster down the microphone. It is such a shame to see a band perform with issues outside of their control. An infection like this, especially for a lead singer, could easily make or break their position within this competition. I feel sorry for his throat after tonight’s performance and hopefully they receive acknowledgement from their previous performance, and that this simple illness does not hinder their hopes to progress further. Other than that, it does seem, but this band still had more to offer.

And that now brings a close last quarter final and the last chance for the remaining bands to secure their spot within the semi-finals. But who is to go through you ask? Well, the results are in. Taking the crowd vote were Bring to Bear, and the judges vote going to Shoot to Kill. This is such a shame say goodbye to Sore Teeth, However, at least this means Chris can now focus on one band. And this is even more of a shame for Hymn to Apollo who have seriously impressed me tonight and has taught me to be mindful when judging a band on solely one performance. Now it is time for Daniel to rest his voice and recover as quickly as feasible possible ready for the semi-finals. We now have our eight bands going through to the next knockout stage and things really are getting tougher and tougher.

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