Friday night saw the third Belfast heat of this year’s Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition hit Voodoo’s stage. An eager and excited crowd filled the room early and they were treated to yet another surprising turn of events.
First name out of the hat to play were Black Metal 4-piece Indominus. Their 2016 Legion Within EP has garnered them rave reviews and expectations were high. As the first chords were struck however it became immediately apparent that they would not be able to live up to said expectations. The sound was a muddy swamp of bass which nullified the intricate guitar work that graced their EP. In a competition where bands are judged based on their appearance and stage performance as much as the music they play, having a cohesive look and stage presence counts for a lot more than at a normal gig. With a drummer (who was admittedly excellent) looking like he was comatose and a bass player who came across like Taz on speed, Indominus’ performance was jarring. It wasn’t until their last song that their undoubted talent began to shine through, but it was too little too late.
Next up were local Hyper-Thrash legends, Acid Age. Completely understanding the nature of the competition, they came out all guns blazing. The last year or so has seen some line up changes with the band adding a second guitarist, a new drummer, and a violinist. Yep, you read that right, a violinist. It is a bold move that could either be a complete disaster or a stroke of genius. Thankfully for tonight’s crowd it was the latter. Anna adds an interesting dimension to the full-on assault, shredding away and even managing to rip out a solo or two. The band has quite a sizable local support, most of whom are out tonight and snapping necks down the front. The band don’t waste any time or put a foot wrong in a tight, concise set that left the venue sweaty and pumped.
The third band to take the stage was Armagh’s Thunderwolf. Formed from the ashes of Sentinel they peddle a brand of NWOBHM that leans a bit more towards the Thrash side of things. Despite bringing the largest crowd of the evening expectations were not high, based mainly on their very poorly executed Digital Reign EP. But just as Indominus proved, sometimes what you hear on record isn’t what you get live. Within the first 10 seconds of their set the uninitiated are having to pick their jaws up off the floor and try to pop their eyes back into their sockets. Thunderwolf blast out a set heavy enough to demolish buildings. Their rhythm section is frighteningly tight leaving the guitarists the room to build riffs and shredding solos that belie their age. And the vocals, which on record were unimpressive, are immense. Their followers open up the first pit of the night which is quickly followed by the newly converted. As the final chords ring out the Thunderwolf chant goes up leaving no-one on any doubt that we have just witnessed something special.
The evening’s last act is Wardomized who waste no time in launching into their particular brand of Grindcore, which throws in a few almost Grungy elements. They have garnered a decent sized fanbase in their short life, but unfortunately the quickly emptying dancefloor shows that they haven’t turned out tonight. This doesn’t stop the band from laying out an intensely brutal set. The twin vocal attack and buzzsaw guitars terrorize the dedicated Hardcore rivetheads who remain to throw shapes and scream their lungs out. Despite the dwindling numbers the band throw themselves 100% into their set and leave the stage drained.
Once the final screech of feedback has faded out the final votes are cast, and the counting can begin. After what seems like an eternity, James Loveday makes his way to the stage to announce the winners. It is no surprise when he announces Thunderwolf and Acid Age as tonight’s victors. The surprise is in the well-deserved gulf of over 10% between the top two bands. A new contender has been unleashed on Belfast’s M2TM and their name is Thunderwolf.
Bloodstock M2TM Belfast Heat 4 will take place on Saturday 3rd March at Limelight 2, courtesy of The Distortion Project. Competing will Be Periapt, Rule Of Six, Rusty Taste Of Sweetness, and Skypilot.
Review & Photography by Liam Kielt.