Posted on by Oran

It only feels like a few months ago when the 2019 Metal 2 The Masses Ireland Grand Final played out before a soldout capacity on a particularly roasting hot Saturday night back in May and we saw AeSect and Black Shuck embrace the news of their addition to the UK’s most Metal Festival. 

Fast forward eight months and here we are once again for the launch of Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Ireland 2020 with Heat One, bursting at the seams with captivating, unsigned Irish talent.

Opening up tonight’s proceedings are Cork-based five-piece, Arjuna’s Eye. Having just released their rather excellent sophomore studio album ‘Amalgam‘ late last year, the band are faced with opening this year showcase, and they don’t disappoint.

Neve an easy slot to play, Arjuna’s Eye are visibly fighting a few nerves and waste no time in ripping into their set with ‘Beast Mode‘ which packs a hefty punch and eases the band into a steady groove.

Vocalist Sean Frahill displays his powerful lung capacity with a range that is almost bipolar at times when it comes to the power of his guttural phrases, to the sheer gripping clarity of his clean/melodic offerings.

With a set time of just 30 mins, Arujuan’s Eye proceeds to unveil a compelling setlist that sees all members shine giving a good insight into their unique sound. A few technical gremlins raise their heads with samples, but aside from that, a solid start to the night and a band that have literally only scratched the surface of their potential.

Arjuna’s Eye are figuratively a massive ice-berg and tonight we have only bearly seen the tip. A band that you simply need to keep your eyes and ears on, and one that has the potential to go all the way.

Next to grace, the stage is Lugosi, a tremendous force of nature and as quirky as you can get and wonderfully weird. Like a hybrid of Clutch and Danzig, Lugosi, just ooze confidence and as they smash through a set that features ‘Creepshow‘, ‘Mans Best Friend‘, ‘Lugosi‘, ‘Slasher‘ using a fucking glorious theremin for extra awesomeness, Lugosi can’t do any wrong.

Vocalist Rev JM Burr is about as compelling as a vocalist can get. Dancing, prancing and stalking the stage with a look of pure menace in his eyes, all the while guitarist Alan Morton drops filthy riffs like ‘The Owls‘ with bandmates drummer Jimmy Rooney and bassist Neal Wright locking in a solid groove. Lugosi are all over it and with the venue started to fill, the band only feed more from the atmosphere.

One can only imagine the damage they could do in front of 2k punters at Bloodstock. If they don’t get the support for the forthcoming Clutch gig in Dublin this coming July, there’s something seriously wrong with the world. A fantastic live band that deserves more attention. Go check em’ out today.

The show keeps moving with Brake Loose a self-proclaimed “experimental psychedelic, jazz-influenced‘ rock band with a penchant for including spoken word poetry between songs. It’s obvious from this performance that the band is motivated by vocalist Alejandro Murillo, who spends a good deal of the show engaging the audience from the lip of the stage in a sort of dazed, self-actualized Jim Morrison type persona, which includes the use of his tambourine and maracas.

Band members Rob Higgins (Lead Guitar), Juan Livinalli (Rhythm Guitar), Val Entas (Bass) and drummer Dan Crowe proceed to lay down a sort of sultry, stoner soundscape with punching moments, galloping tempos that are dripping with groove, despite the guitars dropping out of the mix due to Murillo removing the mic during the performance; in an attempt to use the mic stand.

Tracks such as ‘Through the West‘ and ‘Midnight Train‘ fair well with the punters, and as the venue becomes yet more dense with punters, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the outcome of tonight’s showcase will be.

Brake Loose bid their farewell and the venue prepares for the sonic volcano that is Grey Stag. Having worked their asses off over the last 2 years, the 3-piece waste not a second in tearing up the venue for this, their third year taking part in M2TM Ireland.

The band launch with ‘Skyburner‘ and it’s apparent from the get-go that their hard work has paid off. A truly monstrous sound swallows the venue and commands attention from every dark corner.

Grey Stag just annihilate their setlist. Like lambs to the slaughter, they have the venue in the palm of their hand with the other firmly gripping at the neck.  ‘Those of Stone‘, ‘Cyclopean‘ and ‘Labyrinth‘ come down on us like an avalanche, and as they wrap up the set under a haze of green lights and dry ice, their grip on Bloodstock 2020 is looking more likely than ever. Grey Stag are on the rise and you’re either gonna get behind them or they’re gonna go through you.

We come to the final performance of the night and More Than Machines are gearing up for a performance that, by all accounts, should be a dead-cert. From the get-go, the band smash into their set showing their teeth, but the compression and high end of the guitars are almost embedded into the backing tracks, and the melody/clarity of most of the set is very difficult to identify at times.

There’s a lot going on with More Than Machines sound tonight, with vocals over- dominating/battling the heavily compressed backing tracks and at times, muting the guitars, bass and backing tracks out of the mix altogether.

As they march through their set in spectacular style regardless of the few sound issues, bassist Brian Loughney mounts a table halfway down the venue floor, head-banging like a crazed lunatic followed by vocalist  Conor Dooley commanding the audience to ‘get down’ (Slipknot style) and ‘jump the fuck up‘, to which the audience obliges whole-heartedly resulting in a flurry of pit-action and the loss of a good few pints.

All in all, More Than Machines pulled off a great performance, one of the most engaging of the night and all we can do now is rely on the crowd and judges votes to see if there is a place for them in the semi-finals.

With the first Heat now in reflective mode, the judges ponder and debate as well as public votes being submitted, counted, checked, counted again and confirmed as follows:

Judges Vote – Arjuna’s Eye

Crowd Vote – Grey Stag

Metal 2 The Masses Ireland 2020  – Heat 2 will be taking place this Saturday night (February 1st) in Fibber Magees, Parnell Street, Dublin 1. Admission is FREE and official voting is for the band you believe should be going forward to the semi-finals, is €3.50.

Please visit the official event link here, Performances on the night will be from Cork Street Posse, The Risen Dread, Neon Empire, My Soul Divine and Psychotic Outsider. Doors from 7.30 pm. Keep an eye out for CosmoPalace footage of Heat 1 this coming Friday.

Full gallery by Down The Barrel Photography © 2020.

Oran O’Beirne 2020

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