Posted on by Oran

The Beast from the East has subsided, and it’s safe to come out of our homes again. The way is clear for another round of Metal 2 the Masses Ireland, where one Irish band will make the trek in August to the hallowed grounds of Catton Park for the mighty Bloodstock Open Air festival.

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They will join the iconic Judas Priest, Doro, Nightwish, Gojira, Devildriver and dozens more on the bill at the biggest independent metal festival in the UK.

There are 4 more acts vying for the top spots tonight to progress to the semi-finals in April, and then to the May grand finale, where Simon Hall will personally pick the band to play the New Blood Stage. Shaun Martin captured the evening’s highlights.

First to start tonight’s excitement is The Magnapinna from Dublin. This band’s off-the-wall approach to rock music can only be described as avant-garde. The 5-piece show their style of instrumentality, musicianship and hard work to the rest of the country.

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It’s truly impressive, as their off-count and distorted song structure tie together in a neat package to let you get a real flavour of what their sound is like – it’s hard to explain. There are spoken verses tied in with screaming lyrics, catchy rock riffs that hold you in its grip, only to be caught off-guard by a change in tempo and beat style, and indeed singing style, supplied by Christian X.

Oozing frontman confidence, he would remind you of an Iggy Pop/Jello Biafra-type, interacting with each of his bandmates and indeed playing to the crowd. Guitarist Daniel Howard also supplies the vocal front, and his playing style in tandem with his singing is also very impressive. Their regular bassist Michael Jordan (yes that is his name), unfortunately, is unable to play due to illness, so Pavol Rosk (bass player from Zhi Ren), lends a hand and makes the role his own.

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He already had the bass duties on The Magnapinna’s debut EP ‘Hashtag’, so he is quite familiar with the music already. The band’s choice of attire tonight would remind you also of your school uniform – white shirt, grey pants, dodgy tie and shoes, but Christian is decked out in black (of course). Drumsmith Ed Blunden is supplying the spine of the songs and his work is cut out for him. He keeps the timing like a watchmaker, and never a beat is missed nor put out of place. The Magnapinna may not be metal, but they’re good enough to get a serious roar from the crowd as they dance (yes, dance!), their way through the band’s 8-song setlist.

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Second in line is Wexford metal makers, 12 Gauge Outrage. With promises of Wexford strawberries in tow, 12GO put the foot down and run like the hammers of hell. From their very first note, their work ethic is obvious. The solos and the riffs are part and parcel of the delivery here from the guitarists Richard Harpur and Ciaran Byrne, with Byrne on vocals.

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The duo shred up the setlist (containing new songs like ‘Fallen’, ‘Under Skies’ and ‘Wasted in Time’. Byrne also unleashed his inner James Hetfield (but that’s not a bad thing). The drums are brutally heavy from Michael Howlin and coupled with bassist Brian Stacey, they really know how to get the heads banging. The band is insanely tight, and the dedication is paying off because the audience is really getting behind them as they edge through their song list for tonight.

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As they are predominately a thrash metal band, it’s easy to get lost in the music by just mindlessly nodding as the band play their songs, but there is so much more than that going on under the surface. There is a real love of heavy metal music here because I can see the passion that each man is putting into his craft – it’ll be a long time before this band tires of what they do, and that’s very good news indeed. The 12 Gauge Outrage is raging on, so we should all take note that they’re here to stay for a considerable time.

Antidotes are next up and are looking mean and ready to do serious damage. They made it to the finals in 2017 and lost put to Zhora (narrowly I might add), so the game face is on. Lead vocalist Stephen Canon rounds up the punters for a deafeningly heavy metalcore setlist that has already been made widely popular in the underground metal scene in Dublin. Lead guitarist Rob Gafney rips up the fretboard when Cannon isn’t ripping on the mic, and the drums from Donal Bowens sounds like a machine gun. Bassist Leigh Walsh bounces from one side of the stage to the next and the smile on his face lets you know that he is having a seriously good time.

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I have seen Antidotes several times in my nights at Metal 2 the Masses, and you can only write so much about them without re-using your old stories. It’s hard to spell it out any clearer: Antidotes fucking rock!

wM2TM2018 H6 105Their sick riffs coupled with insane singing and a backline that could support the weight of an elephant bring that fact and staple it to your head. Even though they came away empty-handed last year, it didn’t stop them re-igniting that fire in their belly and coming back for another shot this year. The crowd really does love the band and there are all manner of shapes being thrown in the moshpit. Antidotes are tight as fuck, heavy as fuck, and loud as fuck, so get your ears open and listen because this band is gonna be huge.

Last up tonight are Element X from Dublin. Before the band even start, the crowd are shouting their name (I’ve never seen them before so this was a real eye-opener).  Frontman Dave Cullen has the bravado of Freddie Mercury (but not the flamboyance), etched into his stage persona, and it fits perfectly with the hard rock slamming into the audience here. Every time they stop playing, the cheers are loud enough to be heard outside the venue of Fibber Magees.

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Lead Guitarist Franco Buonocore has the two-handed tapping style down to a T, and it’s a real breath of fresh air to see a guitarist flash the virtuoso side of the lead channel. Each man fits perfectly into his role; it’s as if the planets aligned and brought this international cabal together. Cullen, however, is a showman through and through. His ability to ignite the crowd in unison during ‘Reaper Fire’ proves that some people are born for the stage (I made the same quip about Carl King from Two Tales of Woe, who eventually went on to play the Jagermeister stage at Bloodstock in 2016), and that when they are exposed to the correct stimulus, they can achieve exactly what they want in the music world.

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In this instance, it’s a packed venue hanging on your every word, doing exactly what you tell them. He tells them to vote for Element X. as the band sail through the setlist, the pit action gets messy as the riffs get thicker and heavier, pushed out with force by rhythm guitarist Ian Kenna, bass player Hugo Hernandes and drummer Rodrigo Alonso. The band are surely fit for a bigger stage, but for now, this one will have to do.

When the dust settles, the crowd vote goes unanimously to Element X, putting them into the semi-finals, and the judges go with Antidotes for their skull-splitting setlist and stage show.



Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland Heat 6 photo gallery. All images; © Down The Barrel Photography 2018

The next heat (Heat 7), will be on March 31st when after this, the gloves will really come off as the semi-finals kick in. they just have one more night to play to prove their worth, and we’ll be there every step of the way to fill you in.

See you in the Pit


Shan Martin

Photos – Down The Barrel Photography © 2018

© 2018