Posted on by Oran

The Wildcard Showcase offered up a sensational collection of quality Irish metal, with five bands taking to the stage in Dublin’s Fibber Magees all covering a wide range of sub-genres. This is what happened…

Tonight’s line up was chosen by the public with an online voting poll that resulted in Antidotes, Grey Stay, Organ Blender, Trenchknife and The Virgin Converters all in it to win it, for the last two remaining places left for Semi Final C, on Saturday, May 4th.

Kicking things off tonight is the rather awesome Grey Stag who waste no time in unpacking a setlist that is jam-packed with Mastodon-flavoured riffage, drenched in guttural vocals and intense atmospheric brilliance.

Still, to this day, it’s impossible to connect vocal depth of frontman/bassist Matt Geoghegan’s range and focused talent. Tonight we get a meaty brutal setlist with bangers from 2018’s ‘The Guide‘ EP, which has shown just how far this Dubin-based three-piece have come in the short time they have been making wonderful noise together.

Grey Stag are a band that are leaping forward from strength to strength every time I see them, and tonight is the best for me, to date. Sharp and brutal, with lashings of groove and balanced darkness comes in abundance, giving the night a painfully difficult start for the judges and the crowd; who will cast their vote at the end of the evening.

Hailing from Limerick, Trenchknife are as tight as a nun’s ninney. Blackened thrash, with waves of death and grindcore aplenty, and we’re only two tracks deep into their setlist. Featuring members of Shardborne and Three Hour Ceasefire, Trenchkinfe are a fucking hurricane of buzzsaw riffs that are likely to cut you deep, leaving a scar that you’ll not forget too soon.

Having formed in early 2016, the four-piece waste no time in decimating the stage with a blistering performance that rattles through the venue like the aftermath of an earthquake. There are touches of Napalm Death, intertwined with flavours of Death, and classic Possessed, but all-in-all, Trenchknife have the gusto and swagger to melt the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock and should not be taken with a pinch of salt, as they have the potential of doing some serious damage not only within the boundaries of the Irish metal scene, but on a global level. Watch this space…

Back for another swing at the title, Galway’s, Organ Blender bring their multi-influenced bag of tricks to the Wildcard Show and in the space of a few weeks have loosened up considerably delivering a seriously strong performance.

One gets the sense that vocalist/guitarist Padraig Mckeown is the brainchild here (I could be wrong) as he has the look of pure determination and focus in his eyes, and is no doubt chasing the scent of victory tonight.

Bringing their own additional stage lighting (other bands take note), Organ Blender rip through an intense setlist that takes us down dark pathways of technical Death Metal with hints of early Carcass here and there, to Thrash-tastic savagery and unpredictable unique arrangements, that for me, are really the stand-out point; when it comes to this band.

Bassist Jason Kealy doesn’t look like a rabbit caught in the headlights this time around and brings a little more to the visual element for the live show, while drummer Jay Grimm smashes out the heartbeat of Organ Blender under a thick veil of dry ice and murky slime-green lights.

Huge potential here folks. One of the bands that have shown a massive improvement from their first performance and we can only imagine what they will bring to the stage going forward.

With a crowd that seemed to appear from nowhere, Antidotes pull out their big-guns with their brand of contemporary post-metalcore and the crowd are lapping it up. Vocalist Dean Donnelly focused as ever, gives blood, sweat and tears from the lip of the stage; over a backdrop of down-tuned sonic brutality, provided by bandmates Rob Gaffney (guitars), Leigh Walsh (bass), Cormac Tunstead (guitars) and Donal Bowens (drums); who bring a wealth of force that would summon the deepest oceans to land.

New single “Alone” makes an appearance with backing vocals that are thankfully in check. A lot of bands who flirt with this genre tend to flip from guttural to clean vocals, making the mistake of losing the grip on vocal tone and melody, and can sound like a slaughtered ally cat at times. Tonight, Antidotes dodge that bullet and pull off a whopper sonic pummelling, that leaves each band member visibly hungry for more.

The band’s new line-up has brought an interesting range of dynamics to the stage that were present before, but somehow slightly amplified, raw and visceral. I look forward to seeing the progression of new material in the coming months.

The final scene on tonight’s metal menu comes from the truly unique and wonderfully insane Virgin Converters who transform Fibber Magees into a dark and mysterious carnival sideshow, that happens to be loaded with creepy riffs and spine-tingling backing tracks; that would give Rob Zombie a thing or two to smile about.

Now functioning as a three-piece, The Virgin Convertors unleash a morbid pantomime of tracks some of which are from their ‘Murder Hotline‘ EP, which was released last year. Bringing an element of extreme metal, infused with alternative and twisted ‘musical poetry’, there really isn’t anything quite like The Virgin Converters, and as they peel off layer after layer of madness, the growing crowd look onward in a kind of curious bewildered haze.

There has not been, nor will there ever likely be another band in Ireland that brings so much theatre to their performance as The Virgin Converters. Finishing up with an electronic euro-party dance remix, the three masked members breach the boundaries of audience/stage with hectic swagger and unpredictable entertainment, that’s cracked to eleven!

A round-up of all five performances is reviewed with public votes counted (and counted again) resulting in a crowd vote going to Antidotes and the judge’s vote narrowly finding its way to Organ Blender, who will both be performing at Semi Final C on May 4th.

Photo Gallery by Down The Barrel Photography © 2019

The next Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland event will be Semi Final A, which takes place on Saturday, April 20th in Fibber Magees, with performances from A Night in the Snow, Creep, My Soul Divine, Old Season and Vendetta Love. Very special guests on the night are Northern Ireland’s Death Metal crew Stranglewire.

Admission is €5 (includes the official voting slip). Doors at 7 pm. Access the official event via this link.

Oran O’Beirne 2019

Photo – Down The Barell Photography © 2019