Overdrive and Jetrocker are proud to once again be at the helm of this heavy metal cruise, that will take us from January and February heats, through the March and April semi-finals, and to the final night on May 7th, where BOA’s own Simon Hall will pick the band he wants to play at the festival. Overdrive’s Shaun Martin was on hand to see the opening night through and give his two cents on how high the bar has been set for the 35 bands who want to stake their claim on the international circuit.
There can be only one…. only one band that plays the first chord of the first heat of the competition to play at BOA, and that responsibility falls on Meniscus. This is not an easy position to be in, because this is where the standard is set. At 8.30pm, they kick off the competition. The Waterford prog-metal trio waste no time in going for the throat and telling the audience that they want this opportunity and their votes. There is an air of confidence about them and rightfully so. Meniscus bring a welcome mix with their self-styled prog approach. There is an impressive use of pedals from both Bill Stuart – Guitar/Lead Vocals and drums Mark Stuart – Drums/Vocals, and they have a healthy mix of quiet, phased, clean-channel intros, and brutally heavy, grunge-infused metal breakdowns. I can also hear some moments of Meshuggah/Animals As Leaders influences within some of the solo work by front-man Mark and it’s impressive as hell. It’s the first time I’ve seen sweep picking whilst singing, and I know this kid practices every day with his band to be the be(a)st he can be. Formidable, to say the least.
Next up is Nautilus. Veteran warriors from previous MTTM competitions, they narrowly missed out being winners in the final last year, losing out to Animator and Snowblind. Their dark, doom-laden, apocalyptic songs like “Terrors Drown the Day” and “Curse the Sea”, are new ammunition to their extensive catalogue. Said catalogue saw them lay waste to other bands in last year’s competition, casting other bands out like snowflakes in a hurricane.
Frontman Cathal Hughes is up there with some of the finest death growlers of the day and can prolong that growl for quite a while. They are simply brutal in musical depth. Masters in culminating a crescendo of buildups, with their verse, and their breakdowns break the floor, straight into the jaws of Hell. Heavy, heavy, heavy. They belong at the M2TM competition, and it will take a lot to stop them.
The instrumentally charged Megacone are ready to hit the stage next. If you think metal freestyle jazz as a genre, you’d be close. Think of the result if Frank Zappa, Mr Bungle, and Primus went out on the piss. Their musical productions might be close to what Megacone are about, as each man knows exactly what note is played everywhere on the instrument in front of him. That skill doesn’t sink in overnight, ladies and gentlemen. Their innovation with their sound is admirable. It’s basically a wide-open platform for them to exploit because there is nobody in the competition like them – totally avant-garde. Three guitars, drums, bass, and a concert flute. They can be thrash-metal-esque for 10 seconds, and then jump into an Italian-like tango melody for another 10, then Icelandic folk rock the next and so on. It’s mind-blowing to watch them keep tempo with each other. There isn’t a beat missed, or a note out of tune. Everything is perfect. They have a healthy following here in Dublin and are regular attendees at a lot of clubs here in the city. Definitely another great band to keep an eye on.
Following Megacone are heavy metal belters, Two Tales of Woe. These guys are the real deal. They’re active, pumped and ready for business. They have some shared qualities that can be found in the Southern American Stoner / Doom movement, but ultimately have their very own deep rooted flavor, and it tastes so, so good! . Their reception with the audience is by far the liveliest of the night, as there is nobody standing still (not that there are many standing still anyways). TToW have beautifully arranged guitar work, as is evident on their second song ‘Vision’, with both guitars harmonising perfectly at accelerating pace.
Frontman Carl King (no relation to, but bears a striking resemblance to Kirk Windstein of Crowbar), pounds the crowd with his signature vocality and sheer dominant stage presence. This is why Corrosion of Conformity selected them to support their Academy gig on June 14th 2015. Their appreciation of the audience’s attention is not unnoticed and their hard work is staring to pay off.
The final act tonight is The Magnapinna. Another band that have their own style in the form of differing musical tastes and genres, moulded into the blend of heavy music that is fitting for a larger stage. Their opening number ‘Dance For Me, Baby’ selects the gear that the band itself will be in from the get-go. Think funk mental, think stoner metal, and think spoken word infused with groove metal a-la White Zombie.
Whatever blend of music you can come up with, you can say you were the first, because with The Magnapinna, that’s what you get in each song. The band belt out their unique style and never falter once, however at this stage in the night, it’s starting to get a bit spacy in the crowd, but that only frees up extra room so people can bust a move. The funky tunes are free-flowing and they are lapped up by the stragglers aiming to earn a hearty dose of whiplash for their Monday morning commute.
At the end of the night, the judges (narrowly), chose Nautilus to proceed to the next round, with Two Tales of Woe hot on their heels with the crowd vote. The next heat is on Saturday January 23rd, in Fibber Magees, Parnell Street. Details of the bands and opening times can be found here. This is the opening night to the 2016 competition. If this is how high the bar is, this early on, then the final will be total…. fucking…… Armageddon.
Bloodstock Open Air will take place on August 11th through 14th in Catton Hall, Derbyshire U.K and tickets are on sale now from this location. Get them now while you can!
Words – Shaun Martin
Photography – Down The Barrel Photography © 2016
Content © Overdrive 2016
Check out the full gallery from the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland Heat 1 below.