The next time they play Fibber Magees in this competition, it will be to convince him that they have what it takes to play at this years Bloodstock Open Air Festival in August alongside the likes of Slayer, Gojira, Fear Factory, Anthrax, Twisted Sister, Behemoth, Venom and dozens of other heavy hitters. Come May 7th, Simon will be there to select one group, and so there is one rule for tonight:
Go hard or go home!
ZhoRa are the first out of the traps tonight. They started a little later than billed but only negligibly. But it was like letting a bull out of the pen at a rodeo. Frontman Colin Bolger is a man possessed onstage – his comfort when fronting the band is remarkable. It is quite calm here at 8.30pm on a Saturday night, the meager few that are there steadily get more engaged. There have been less important nights (such as heats), where the joint would be upended. But the night is young, as M2TM has never let me down yet (methinks a larger plan is afoot). Zhora opened up with their mind-blowing single “Voynick” and sail effortlessly through their set-list.This is the last night that they; or any other band can please the crowd and judges and the standard is set pretty damn high. Each band will have to match or beat this performance to go to the final and that aint gonna be easy. Madcap drummer Tom Woodlock is cutting loose behind the kit and the audience is receiving full brutality of his assault on those skins. They are an incredibly heavy band and aren’t afraid to let it all out in their performance. When Simon Hall comes over, this is the caliber of musicians that he will have to pick from, therefore I’m glad I don’t have his job.
Next is Call to Arms. If you remember, a few weeks ago I wrote an article on Overdrive about this band’s dedication to self-promotion. It’s admirable the amount of pushing that CTA have done in this competition. It has paid off though, as Fibbers is now rammed to the gills. Gnarled front-man Dean Donnelly is front and center and itching to get back to doing what he loves best, and that’s roar into a mic and guide his band’s followers into several walls of death. His uncanny ability to psychically control about 60-70 mentallers in front of the stage is nothing short of perplexing (he made use of his sound check time by inviting everyone to step closer to the stage – that was a clever move). Ronan Murphy’s drumming sets the pace of the fury, as I watch the front section of Fibbers collapse into a melee of thrashing limbs and crowd-surfing. CTA brought the A-game tonight (not that they never did before, but tonight is special). Donnelly’s colleagues feed from his seemingly limitless energy and multiply it tenfold to deliver back into the audience. Crowd favorites ‘The Core’ and ‘Imprisoned Darkness’ make a welcome addition to the entertainment, as well as a new track ‘The Reaper Never Sleeps’. A giant among bands in Dublin for the amount of hard work that goes into the music, and a band that has a very bright future indeed. Although they have an abundant amount of energy on stage, there are moments where they sound somewhat sloppy and a little distracted by the overall situation. Overall the presence of the band, who proceed to smash the living shite out of Fibbers, did a fantastic job, but need to make sure that the music comes first, always! The pressure is most definitely on for Call To Arms on May 7th!
Following in the ash cloud of CTA is Jenova, who lap up the pressure to give it their best. As soon as the first beat is struck, the bowels of Hell open and the venue is rocked to the very core. You can feel the vibrations in the walls! Guttural, stomach-turning and deathly heavy, singer Brian Harrington, is undoubtedly a vocal maestro, as his vocal ability ties in directly to his band’s music, something that usually takes a while to master. The working class (9-5ers like me), get a deep shout out for their dedication to keep the country running as the set continues with ‘Nail the Eye’. Jenova’s brutality is cataclysmic. The crowd reactions are a little low but that is merely due to the pace of the songs. They’re down-tuned, sludgy and would cripple you if you tried to carry them, much like when Harrington dived head-first off the stage into a sea of banging heads. He was okay, but it did give a cause for concern for a second or two. Sure it’s all fun and games but this was no game. Another stellar band eager to take a bite out of Bloodstock, and they are well on their way.
Up next we find The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back who are in rare form tonight. The Dublin based five piece waste no time in crushing the venue and all that stand before them. I caught up with vocalist Stephen Cannon before the gig, who emphasized how pumped he was for it. But pumped is a weak term for everyone else. I knew what was coming, and I couldn’t wait. When TDWHSB play, you expect war. And they always deliver.
From the get-go, the beat stirs the primal ferocity of the onlookers, as their heads thump off the ceiling. It’s a good thing nobody lives upstairs because they’d never sleep, and may possibly have a perforated eardrum. But we at Overdrive are used to it. It’s out bread and butter – TDWHSB bake us up a nice batch and fire it out for all to enjoy. Smashers like ‘Eat this’, ‘Monster in Me’, and ‘Denied’ scatter debris across the floor as we can only watch the audience dissolve into a puddle of sweat and blood. There are no limits here, as wall after wall of bodies clash and smash each other into oblivion at the command of Cannon and his acolytes. They are an outstanding band and are one of the favorites to hit the final. Kudos to the audience as well for lighting up the venue, to see one of the heavy hitters in this competition throw down.
The Soothsayer are fifth on the stage and utterly mesmerizing as always. Pagan doom metal at its finest and led by the charismatic Con Doyle, they adopt nonchalance up to the point of take-off and boy do they take off. Barefooted and brazen, the initial growls echo from the belly of the hooded figure holding the mic and these are sustained throughout the rest of the performance. The stage presence that each member adopts whilst playing, is sheer testament to the love of music shared by each member of the group. This is reflected wholeheartedly in the style of songs that The Soothsayer write.
They always bring that extra bit of originality when they play. Whilst others leap and crunch about on the stage, Doyle and Co. delve deeper inside themselves and find their brutality without showing too much aggression. This is another branch on the ever-growing tree of underground Irish metal. The breakdowns in their songs are few and far between. But when they hit, it’s like being hit by Mike Tyson, leaving you breathless and choking on the ground struggling to breathe. An amazing band and yet another that has a bright future in the music industry. Take heed Rise Above Records!
Finally we get to the last band (it seems like the preceding bands are each closing a festival, such is the quality of acts!), Alpheidae don their game face and bring the pain. Running out of the stands as if chased by the hounds of hell, they run riot. Being onstage is second nature to this band, and it looks like they never left. Singer Calvin Singleton, with a bandage around his wrist for some reason, uses it as a prop to enhance his madcap antics onstage, such as blindfolding himself and wrapping it around his head… as the sweeping picking of guitarists Ros Coughlan and Leon Burke shred up the ambience.
The beats supplied by Señor Zach Parkinson, supplies the backbone and the blasting ingredients for what is a devastating act, not forgetting Gavin Wynne on the bass guitar, pounding it like it’s having a heart attack. The crowd interaction is consistent, with neck-breaking moshing from one end of a song to another. The local hospital’s emergency room was busy on Sunday morning I would think. Alpheidae are one of those bands who can take a spark and create an inferno, driving the punters to the verge of insanity, turning Fibber Magees inside out and upside down!
This is by far the toughest night that the judges have ever faced in all the years that M2TM has been here. Six bands, six judges (5+1 guest judge in the form of Kevin “Lefty” Letford from Red Enemy) and only one decision can be made!
Call to Arms pulverizes the competing bands with the crowd vote (this is yet another lesson to learn – push, push, push!), whilst Zhora get the judge’s decision. Our minds can rest now. All we have to do (and you Overdrivers NEED to do), is land down at Fibber Magees on May 7th at 7pm, for what will be a night of breakneck carnage, fantastic music, camaraderie, and drinking. The decision for the winner of 2016 Metal 2 The Masses will be decided, and that group will represent Ireland in the international circuit at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival in August.
The final of Ireland’s 2016 Metal 2 The Masses, will be taking place on May 7th in Fibber Magees with AeSect, Call To Arms, Minus Ten Thousand Hours, Ten Ton Slug, Two Tales of Woe and ZhOra taking to the stage to battle it out! Details for this how can be accessed here. Doors are 7pm with an early bird price of €5.00 between 7pm and 8pm and will be €10.00 thereafter.
Simon Hall of Bloodstock UK will be flying in to hand pick the winning band who will get to represent Ireland at this years Bloodstock Open Air Festival in the UK.
The runner up band will win a fully customized EPK (electronic press kit) from Overdrive, so don’t forget to make it down to the show on May 7th and show your support!
For more details on the final, just click this link.
Tickets are on sale now for this years mighty Bloodstock Festival! You can purchase your ticket by clicking on the graphic below! See you in the pit!
Words – Shaun Martin / Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Down The Barrel Photography
METAL 2 THE MASSES IRELAND SEMI FINAL C PHOTO GALLERY 24/04/16
© OVERDRIVE 2016