This Thursday saw the latest Metal 2 The Masses heat in Voodoo, Belfast. And this time there was a special guest headliner in the shape of previous Dublin winners Ten Ton Slug. But before the Galway heft merchants could crush our skulls we had the matter of the 4 competing bands to deal with.
Wintriness is the brainchild of Jordy Thompson, ex of last year’s Belfast M2TM winners, Shrouded. Recruiting former Shrouded alumni Shane Hughes on guitar Wintriness peddle a brand of Death Metal that mixes elements of Folk and Power Metal. But as they take the stage it is clear that they still don’t have a full band and will be relying on backing tracks. This does not bode well. An awkward start that leaves the crowd unclear if the band have started or are doing a quick soundcheck doesn’t help matters. It is clear that there is a lot of talent within this band, but the backing tapes and lack of any stage presence makes for an uncomfortable live experience. Jordy’s vocals, whilst brutal in the studio fail to convince live. As a first live performance it didn’t really have the impact it should have, but hopefully the recruitment of a full band and some more gigs will see Wintriness ascend to the top of the extreme metal scene in Northern Ireland in short order.
This year’s competition has seen a fair few bands added that have left many metalheads wondering if they know what Bloodstock is about. One such band is Cloakroom Q. They would be more suited to the likes of Boomtown or Glastonbury with their Talking Heads meets early FNM via The Doors brand of indie rock. Their opening tune shows promise, bringing an almost post-rock epic quality to the night. But as soon as they kick into their second number it becomes clear that this was an aberration. Having brought the biggest crowd of the night they had plenty of bodies on the floor but the M2TM regulars were not impressed.
Victim Royal take the stage next. They claim that they are “a sharp shock to tired metal blueprints”, but their BFMV/Trivium sound is as tired as it is uninspiring. At times their guitar harmonies are clunky, and their drummer seems to favour power over flair, but following on from Cloakroom Q they bring the energy back up. And singer Adam is clearly having the time of his life up there as his grin never shifts. The potential is there though, and with a few more gigs under the belt they may hopefully find a sound of their own.
The final band of the heat are local legends Cursed Sun. Having pulled out of a previous round due to a drummer injury, some reshuffling meant they were able to make this heat. And the competition is a better place for their inclusion. Having recently hit their 10-year anniversary the guys rip the stage up like it’s their very own. Their Sci-Fi inspired Metal is crushingly heavy tonight, and with the addition of new bassist Steve Martin Cursed Sun have become an even more fearsome beast, if that were possible. Both singer Andrew Jones and guitarist Ciaran McKeever make forays out into the crowd during their set as they whip the Voodoo faithful into a frenzy. As they close their set with new tune Replicant, it is clear who tonight’s winners will be.
The votes are handed in and counted as the anticipation builds. There is a sense of foreboding amongst many in the room that Cloakroom Q’s large following may have swung the crowd vote their way, but those fears are swept away with the announcement of Cursed Sun as winners, with Victim Royal going through in second place. Usually that announcement would signal the end of proceedings and the sated metal hoards would disappear into the night. But not tonight.
The mighty Ten Ton Slug, kicking off their Irish/UK tour, step up and deliver one of the most bone crushingly epic sets of the year so far. It is clear from the off that since winning the Dublin competition a few years ago the Slug has grown more feral and menacing than ever. Playing with the likes of Crowbar has tightened them up as they deliver up massive sludgy riffs and paint stripping screams like their lives depended on it. They also have a drum sound that turns internal organs into mush and leaves the crowd reeling from the punishment. It can only be a matter of time before they outgrow venues like Voodoo. If they are playing a venue near you anytime soon get your ass down for all the heft.
Bloodstock M2TM Belfast Heat 6 will take place on Saturday 17th March at Limelight 2, Belfast, courtesy of The Distortion Project. Competing will be As Cities Kneel, False Solution, Munro, and Surf Green.