Bloodstock Open Air – Metal 2 The Masses- Heat One – Northern Ireland

I know I say this every year but sweet baby Jesus how are we back here once again kicking off M2TM in January?

In the blink of an eye, we went from the final in May 2023 to Bloodstock in August to being back in Voodoo Belfast kicking off heat one. What I can say is we have a great turnout for this year’s opening heat and on the bill are three new bands to the competition and the return of one of the local favs with a new lineup. Fresh faces as far as the eye can see, Voodoo Belfast plays host again to Northern Ireland’s premier Metal competition! As always our glorious host James Loveday and The Distortion Project are at the helm steering us into chaos!

Check out the upcoming Distortion Project Shows here:

So first up Astralnaut, a new band to me and a doomy, groove-laden vibe, thick atmospheric undertones, a five-piece with two guitarists sharing lead work and backing vocals. The end of the opening song gets rapturous applause which says A) the songs went down well with those in attendance and B) they brought a crowd with them—well played. The first rule of the M2TM Club is to bring an audience with you! You forget that and generally, you’re fucked!

The droning riffage gets thicker and heavier and there are heads banging, Belfast is digging  Astralnaut, these guys have been away from the big smoke for a good few years but they have been honing their craft and are putting in a shift! Only four tracks tonight but these guys have made an impression and Belfast has approved this message – even the man from Delmonte He Says Yes!

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Up next are local Rockers Delusional Silence and this is my first time catching them with the enigmatic Peter Renshaw on vocals ( Ketos ) the guys are a man down this evening but in fairness if you didn’t know the band you wouldn’t know, a highly experienced group of musicians who take it all in their stride. On the opening track, Peter is tossing out lyrics like a spitfire, the riffage is bitching and the vibe is good. These guys know how to deliver, blistering guitar solos, killer vocals and a feel-good soundtrack Delusional Silence is one of the stalwarts of the N. I metal scene back in their happy place rocking the shit out of Voodoo Belfast.

Up next we have Devilsome, another new band to M2TM which is great to see so much new blood in 2024, these guys have a real old-school metal vibe, early Black Sabbath, with their frontman and bassist planted centre stage with cruel intent. Tight as a tiger’s ass they set about their business, thrashing it up occasionally and slowing it down to a gnarly pace when they have to, keeping the audience with them every step of the way. A filthy band in every sense and one that had the Voodoo crowd hanging on by a thread. The crowd dig it for sure, the roar of approval that follows every track means that tonight’s winners will never be a forgone conclusion, it’s like the toss of a coin these days, 2024 clearly will be some craic!

Tonight we have Solothurn closing proceedings band No.3 who are gracing M2TM 2024 for the first time, a hefty groove metal band made of up experienced local metal heads and they know how to pack a punch! The sound is huge! As their frontman comments, it has been a good few years since he last graced the stage at Voodoo Belfast, These guys laid down some thick riffage, for me it was hard to distinguish through the wall of distortion, it was like the sound guy set it all up and said you’re good to go and then the guys just pushed it all up to ten, the backline overpowered the vocals, though you could tell that there was quality there from their frontman, it was all a bit of an audible mess for me. How it went wrong I don’t quite know as the other bands had their sound locked in, but it didn’t detract  too much from the performance which was a strong powerful statement of intent from Solothurn.


Our first venture back into M2TM 2024 has begun, a packed Voodoo says everything you need to know, the competition and the fresh faces ensure it’s going to be another strong one. The second heat takes place on Friday, Feb 9th once again at Voodoo Belfast.


Congratulations to Solothurn band and Astralnaut on qualifying to the next stage!


Be there or be square.

Mark ‘N’ Load