Posted on by Oran

It’s Saturday night, a record-breaking Bloodstock crowd fills Dublin’s Fibber Magees, awaiting the first of 5 bands to take to the stage for the first Metal 2 The Masses Semi-Final of 2018, and to say that there is a hum of excitement in the air, would be an understatement.

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With this year’s Bloodstock Festival fast approaching, the 2018 Irish Metal 2 The Masses has seen a phenomenal range of bands emerge from all corners of the country; all gunning for a place in the coveted final, which takes place on May 12th.

This year’s journey has been an inspiring one for sure. When mostly all Irish mainstream media platforms decide to ignore the flourishing metal scene in the country (I’ll tell you all about it over a beer one of these days), it’s astounding to see so many punters cramming into the venue, in anticipation for tonights show.

Had some of these media organisations taken their head’s out of their asses for a moment and bothered to give a little exposure to the incredible passionate rise of Irish metal, maybe they would realise that we are living in a truly a golden era for the countries genre, and tonight is no exception.


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Handling the opening slot for tonight’s proceedings are Dublin Thrashers Crossfire. Armed with an assortment of riffs that have been marinating in a Slayer/Metallica gravy, the four-piece pummel the audience with their savage brand of toxic thrash metal, and it’s fucking glorious.

Visually, Crossfire are the epitome of the Bay Area Thrash explosion in the mid 80’s, with hi-tops, band shirts, denim and a ‘fuck you’ attitude, which makes for a blinding performance from the lads, who proceed to smash out tracks from their recently released ‘Bound in Skin‘ EP.

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Vocalist, Kevin O’Connor commands the centre stage under a veil of sweaty long hair, accompanied by bassist Conon Jordan to his right and guitarist Matt O’Brien to his left, who looks every bit the maniac under the amber glow of the stage lights. 00337 - UNLEASHED FEST 2018 V_2Drummer Dan O’Connor gives the kit a major working over through tonight’s setlist creating our innards to vibrate at times and it’s just what is needed to kick-start the audience into shape for what lies ahead.

Old-School Thrash lives on and is in rude health, with thanks to bands such as Crossfire. They deliver a beast of a performance and bid their farewell’s to the sound of a roaring audience. Catch them at this years Unleashed Festival on Friday, August 24th.
For more information on Crossfire, please visit this link.

Having only seen Grey Stag once before, I was intrigued by tonight’s performance, and, as with any band, was hoping that they would deliver. In short, yet they did! Describing themselves as ‘Prog Sludge Metal‘, the Dublin three-piece create a fantastic sound that is dripping with atmosphere and unexpected glorious arrangements.

Flavours of early Mastodon are peppered here and there under their thick, chunky riffs and tree-falling crescendos. How vocalist Matt Geoghegan conjures up that haunting guttural sound is anyone’s guess. Imagine a large beast-like creature violently roaring in an eerie forest and you’re halfway there!

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By far, one of the most interesting new bands to emerge from the Irish metal scene, Grey Stag create a formidable sound that is so very hard to resist. If you have a passion for filthy riffs bathed in murky undertones, then I urge you to invest some time in checking them out. Another stellar Irish metal band, that will no doubt follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ten Ton Slug and zhOra.

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Black Dawn Rising take to the stage with a very visible army of fans, dominating the main pit and when they rip into their intense setlist of death/thrash style deep cuts, they instantly connect with the venue, from front to back, left to right and beyond.

Having entered M2TM Ireland this year for the first time, this powerful three-piece pull off a show that is packed full of intensity, brutality and charisma, and will most definitely see them punch a hole through their local Carlow scene, into the great unknown and rightfully so.

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With a setlist that is literally relentless, Black Dawn Rising waste no time in devastating Fibbers under a haze of sonically-driven tracks that rattle the glassware behind the club’s bar, all the while drawing punters in with their ferocious intentions for tonight’s audience and panel of judges.

For more information on Black Dawn Rising, please visit this link.

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Stone Sea have been a band that seems to be everywhere these days. Having entered M2TM late in the campaign due to another band unable to commit to performance dates, the stoner/alt-metal three-piece go about wrecking Fibbers with their infectious, groove-based tracks and a “no fucks given” stage presence.

Vocalist/guitarist Elvis Suhadolnik Bonesso effortlessly melts his fretboard as he switches between fuzzy, warm filthy riffs and delicious blues-driven solos, all the while bassist Jeremy Burke provokes the rammed venue, demanding more action from the throngs of punters that swarm the edge of the stage.

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Stone Sea serve up a tasty cocktail of Sabbath/Purple style riffs with lashings of early Clutch and QOTSA thrown in for extra measure, all the while providing a healthy, clean sound over a brilliant performance from drummer Ross McDermott, who rattles the kit with relative ease.


Having been active since 2014, Element X certainly know how to put on a show. Like the bastard sons of Judas Priest and Sabaton, Element X open their ceremony with a sense of swelling anticipation with, that I’ve rarely seen any other band achieve this year.

Vocalist Dave Cullen holds court in centre stage with his wingmen, guitarists Ian Kenna and Franco Buonocore shredding in full force at the lip of the stage. Bassist Hugo Hernandes and drummer Rodrigo Alonso work together like a battering ram, keeping Element X’s intense force at a peaking level throughout the entire performance.

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Having heard their 2015 ‘The Prologue‘ release, there is one thing that’s apparent, they are waaaaay heavier, live than on record. The beauty of Element X in a live setting, is the synergy the five-piece harness, all the while spewing gallons of swagger into the mix.

With two performances under their collective belts for this years, Metal 2 The Masses Ireland campaign which began back in January, there is a sense of this band becoming better and better with each gig. Keep your eyes and ears open, as our guess is these guys are going to be a rather big deal in the future. If they can capture that live intensity on their next studio recording, there is no doubt that many, many doors will begin to open for them.

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For more information on Element X, please visit this link.

Tonight’s guest judges Emmett Mulligan and Crooked Gentlemen are visibly blown away with the selection of bands and the level of talent that has unfolded from the stage and have to now undergo the painful decision of choosing a favourite.

As the judges battle it out, Thrash-Metal upstarts, Psykosis take to the stage and proceed to ‘fuck shit up’ with their usual menacing and hilarious mixture of breakneck old-school bangers such as Driller Killer which opens up a pit that most would swiftly walk away from with a little ‘pep in their step’, with fear of breaking a bone or three!

With plenty of new material in the mix, Psykosis are on course to enter the studio in the near future to work on the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Welcome to the Psyko Ward‘ which saw them earn an impressive following not only in Ireland but also in the UK and beyond.

For more information on Psykosis, please visit this link.

Finally, we find ourselves at that nail-biting moment where the first two finalists for Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland are about to be announced and with all eyes on the stage, Jetrocker Events very own Kevin Kirwin brings the agonising wait for tonight’s hopefuls to an end.



With both bands receiving their Vocalzone gifts and the winners of the Iron Maiden/Killswitch Engage raffle claim their prize, we bid another farewell to a truly spectacular night of homegrown metal.


Next up is Bloodstock Ireland Semi Final B which takes place on Saturday, April 21st in Dublin’s Fibber Magees with performances from Antidotes, Catastrophe, Outbreak, Sectile and This Place Hell. A very special guest performance from the UK thrash/punks Footprints in the Custard and a special ticket raffle for Avenged Sevenfold /Avatar’s Belfast show the SSE Arena on Wednesday, June 6th.

Admission is €5.00 which includes one official voting slip, per person as well a strip of raffle tickets. Additional raffle strips can be purchased at the judge’s table in the venue at 3 strips for €5.00 and 5 strips for €10.00.



METAL 2 THE MASSES IRELAND – SEMI FINAL A 14/04/18 PHOTO GALLERY – Down The Barrel Photography 2018

Oran O’Beirne

© www.overdriveie 2018