The four bands all had varied style, and all put on an entertaining set in their allotted 30 minutes. There was groove, extreme, shlock and melodic metal on display and the variety only enhanced the experience.
What was noticeable was that all the bands had worked hard on their stagecraft as well as their music.
Arriving on stage the opening act (appearance times were as per all heats drawn randomly) Oracle provided a wall of groove, taking their lead, it appeared from one part DevilDriver and another from Lamb of God, without being overly derivative.
The five-piece honed their ferocity to a keen edge, and well-balanced guitar elements trading off each other's licks. Matched with a sensibility on vocals that worked in the heavy groove assault. Loads of promise to be built upon.
From the full-on to the melodic metal of Rusty Taste of Sweetness, with bitter sweet vocals delivered with a smoothness amidst the swell of guitar and bass. They used the stage to the full as their mixture of classic rock with metal sensibilities oozed over the Limelight.
Some nice solo runs created a warmth to the sound, a sense of needing to hear more, but always keeping a little in reserve to catch the unwary with the next lick.
The new line-up of So Long Until The Séance (SLUTS) brings the horror and melody to the fore, without sacrificing the heft. Behind the make-up there is a death snarl and a metal menace designed to garrotte while the head bangs.
There is still that glint in the eye that hints at evil but promises a quick death. All would be puff and corpse paint were it not for the fact that the band has the tunes and performance to match the visuals.
Deathbus suffered a series of technical disasters in last year's Metal2TheMasses that led to their set being cut short. This year was no different with a guitar/amp failure. But rather than throwing in the towel they shrugged it off and roared on with a double vocal assault.
Surprisingly it did work and gave more dynamism to their extreme sound. A future direction or a smart way to get round a problem? Whatever was the case there is no doubt that Deathbus have used the last 12 months well and are practically unrecognisable now.
This was a heat that once again demonstrated the diversity of talent on display in Northern Ireland's heavy scene - much promise for the future and we can't wait until the semi-finals.
Qualifying are SLUTS and Oracle.
Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Lizzie Torbitt