Unbelievably we’re here, four months on from the heats kicking off and a plethora of bands coming through the doors of Voodoo Belfast, tonight the huddled masses gather once more to pay homage to the best of the best. Seven powerhouse bands are gathered here tonight for one last blast into the unknown.

Speaking to all the guys prior to their allotted stage times, everyone is up for it, pumped but calm as all the graft has been put in on the run up to tonight’s event. The practice rooms around Belfast and beyond have been ringing to the sound of distorted minds and it has been a beautiful thing. Alas here we are, the giants that is, Mr Simon Hall, is here representing Bloodstock themselves and tonight he alone makes the call on who takes the top slot.

Opening tonight, the mighty Elder Druid a Sludge/Doom extravaganza unfolds before us as tonight’s proceedings get off to a formidable start. A powerhouse band with a strong cohesive sound, they impale the Belfast crowd with their bruising, gargantuan sounding riffs. Tonight stand in bassist Daniel Zanker Ovalle mixes it up with Elder Druid as they look no worse for the change as he exhumes poise and passion just like he’d been in the band for years. The sweat dripping from the guys shows just how much they’re putting into this performance as they live and breathe every thrash of their slamming riffs. A vastly experienced band showcasing their craft with ease and their set makes you feel dirty just watching it. Perfect for a Friday night in Belfast.

Divides Unfold take things in a totally different direction, from the off their quality is there for all to see, starting and stopping on a dime, savage riffery fused with melodic hooks and highly addictive vocals melodies whilst all being held together one seriously tight assed back line. With more of a commercial edged songwriting they separate themselves apart from the other Rock bands in the heats with a powerful cohesive sound that brought them through to the final. Tonight is no different as they launch an onslaught of banging tracks that have the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands. These guys mean business and are not here just to make up the numbers, their energy on stage, presence and passion is there for all to see and with a monstrous set it goes down well with the Voodoo faithful.

Where THVS left off in the semi finals THVS picked up once again, a bombastic performance as always that takes the breath away, aggressive, intense, powerful. Like a bat out of hell frontman Michael Smyth is the like Michael Myers of performers slaying his way through a vicious and bludgeoning set. Relentless as always, it’s an energy sapping set just watching it and you can feel the pain as the heat in Voodoo tonight is through the roof and these guys are part of the reason why. No pain no gain, all guts and glory THVS make their mark.

Nomadus bring a wall of distortion to Voodoo unlike the bands before them, heavy as fcuk and brutal to the core. This young band may be fresh faced to the local scene but they have made an indelible mark on the M2TM in 2019. A shot across the bow to all the established Metal bands across the local scene and a hefty reminder that the young blood are coming up behind them and are definitely here to stay. Each band bring something different in one of the most varied final in recent years, Nomadus bring the noise.

Belfast’s technical maestros Ketos are in fine form once again following the release of their debut LP First Strike. A successful album launch night and the boys are riding high as they bring a different level to the competition for 2019 with a furious mix of melodic Thrash and technical brutality. A savage combination, crazy, beautiful to watch all wrapped up in one majestic 5 piece package ready to be devoured. High intensity from the off and a relentless pace make for a killer 30 minute set. Clearly well supported in the room, the roars greeting the band at the end of each song speaks volumes and rightly so. Ketos have come into their own over the last 12 months and indeed are a force to be reckoned with.

Following Ketos for many can be an intimidating thing for most, not for Lock Horns, equally adept these guys bring yet another level of savagery and brutality to proceedings. The crowd are giving everything to this band and they are responding in kind, each member is giving their all on stage, down below chaos and unholy hell is unleashed. The energy in the room is off the charts as a plethora of hardcore fans mosh their way through an absolutely killer set. You don’t often get a M2TM crowd singing lyric back to the band in full force but the popularity of Lock Horns is such that vocalist Alex Da Costa can take a breather as the huddled masses down below fill in. You cant help but be impressed and it just shows the grip they have around the neck of the Voodoo faithful.

Victim Royal (Not Royale) just for clarification wrap up tonight’s proceedings, once again these guys full on energy and smiling from ear to ear do their thang and bang out a killer set, killer performance to close off an unbelievable nights music. Five maniacs from Belfast let loose on a Friday night, what’s the worst thing that could happen? Brave enough to throw in a few new numbers into tonight’s set, they showcased what brought them through the sets and into tonight’s final. A balls-out middle finger to the establishment portrayed through the medium of modern dance and some heavy metal. A highly addictive band, you can’t help but be charmed by their youthful exuberance.

Seven bands, a room packed to the rafters and yet another fantastic spectacle put on by our lord, our god, Mr James Loveday / The Distortion Project, whom many see as the force behind the Metal scene here in Northern Ireland. Simon Hall paid respect to the work put on by James here and each band spoke highly of their experience throughout the competition and help from James personally. But now it was time for the announcement, which would make one bands day, and break the hearts of six others in the room.

 

Lock Horns deservedly took the crown, a performance worthy of the Hobgoblin Stage at Bloodstock and beyond. Congratulations to the lads and to all who took part to make 2019 one of the most competitive and highly charged finals in years.

Bloodstock Open Air Festival takes place August 8thto 11that Catton Park, Walton On Trent, Derbyshire.

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