Metal 2 The Masses Manchester Final 2018
With a slot at Bloodstock 2018 up for grabs, six local acts give the gig of their lives
for the gig of their lives
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
With an enthralling and unpredictable World Cup casting a backdrop to this year’s Metal 2 The Masses final in Manchester, six widely varying acts made the stage a battleground a spot at this year’s Bloodstock Festival. It meant that, with two more finalists competing in a changed format this year, their killer instincts were more vital than ever.
Challenged with setting the pace, the raw, hardcore aggression of Dead Retinas took no time in getting in the audience’s faces. Frontman CJ Smith spent more time in the crowd than on stage and whilst his charisma, their secret weapon, ignited a brutish yet charming performance. Yet guitarist Chris Heath also spent much time in the crowd, leaving them a little visually awkward at times thanks to an often empty looking stage.
The superbly named Def Goldblum were quick to shift the mood with a polished and groove-addled thirty minutes of early 00s inspired genre bending. Flanked by gasmask wearing musicians, Duke-01 spat his lines with venom and swagger. Entangling the rhythmic punch of rap with the overdriven grunt of metal, each was chorus a slab of hip-shaking confidence. Their entertainment value was undeniable and turned them a real wildcard.
After several line-up changes in the last year or so, sludge metallers Barbarian Hermit, who pride themselves in thick, bearded riffs and a suitably barbaric thump, were pre-final favourites for many. Having filled their vacant positions with some hugely experienced local talent, they left Rebellion quaking in staunch, bassy tones and powerful neanderthal vocals.
While there was nothing wrong with their visual presence, the aural gravity of guitarist Chris Farron’s tight and attacking playing was the most impressive element to Saurr. His grinding System-Of-A-Down-meets-Gojira riffs adrenalized their performance, but some flat vocal moments blunted their edge a little. They sadly lacked that extra bit of musical magic that, in a cut-throat competition context such as this, could prove costly.
Völniir’s bleak and dreary, occult darkened black metal – which seemed to make the venue seem darker too – meanwhile arrested all those not soaking up the sun in the smoking area hypnotically. Sonically, they were arguably the most suited for a festival whose roots are in the celebration of extreme metal. Other bands may have been flashier tonight, but the hypnotic atmosphere with which they quilted their audience left a lasting impression.
Having the final say, and coming into the night on the high of being added to the Tech Fest 2018 line-up, Chiasmata’s bright progressive musicianship saw their songs twist, turn and unravel down ever-shifting paths. Yet there were moments where their songs seemed to get a lost, lacking a strong chorus or refrain as an anchor-point give them some kind of familiarity, and as such their momentum dipped and dived. Technically the most gifted band on the bill their inexperience was their undoing, but with last year’s winners, Prognosis having faltered at the same stage the year before their triumph, they showed that perseverance is key to success in this well-established and fiercely competitive battle of the bands.
Interestingly, looking around there didn’t seem to be a definitive fan favourite. Shirts of all the finalists littered the sun kissed venue and its long, parasol sprinkled smoking area; it made predicting the results almost impossible. Asking around that smoking area, everyone had their own predictions for who would be representing the city at Bloodstock.
In the end two bands were awarded slots at the festival, with Barbarian Hermit claiming a spot on the prestigious New Blood Stage and Def Goldblum perfect suitors for the smaller Jägermeister Stage which puts less emphasis on heaviness and more on the spirit of summer.