Now in its fourth year, the Belfast Metal 2 the Masses competition is the time of year that has Northern Irish metal fans (and bands!) salivating: several weeks of the best of the local scene, competing for the chance to play at the hallowed grounds of Bloodstock Festival in Derby, England.
The first heat did not disappoint, with four highly worthy bands performing for a keenly enthusiastic crowd.
Doom metallers Elder Druid opened up proceedings; sounding rather like a pissed off Black Sabbath, theirs was a furious, jagged brand of doom that got heads nodding (and often banging) in appreciation. Tight as the proverbial drum and with swivel-eyed intensity to spare, they proved to be very popular with the crowd.
Ketos were next, and it became immediately apparent that they were there to prove the “metalcore shouldn’t be at Bloodstock” naysayers wrong. Tough and muscular, and with a hefty dollop of NWOAHM to really beef things up, they played a stunning set which blew the crowd away. A tightly cohesive unit with a consummate professional in front man Pete Crenshaw, they were definitely in there with a solid chance.
Some more doom followed, in the shape of Disconnect. After a slow start they come out swinging like a wrecking ball, seemingly intent on reducing Voodoo to dust. Innovative, atmospheric and crushingly heavy, thanks in no small part to a downtuned-to-fuck bass guitar, they prove their merit in spades, garnering a huge roar of appreciation from the crowd at the end of their set.
Last but not least it was time for Lock Horns to show what they’re made of, which turns out to be equal parts prog and groove metal, as well as just a dash of L’Oreal-worthy flailing hair, They were immensely popular from their opening drum solo to the final scream from front man Alex Da Costa, who is utterly in his element onstage. Like a pile driver set to heavy metal, their sound has heads banging from start to finish.
Four brilliant bands, one difficult decision to make…who to vote through? When Distortion Project head honcho James Loveday steps onstage to announce the results, it becomes clear that this was a very close race, with less than one percent separating first and second place. The result? On 27.6 percent: Lock Horns; and at 26.95 Percent, Ketos.
Well done, folks! Now on to heat two…
The second heat of M2TM will be at Voodoo on Friday, February 9th, featuring Cursed Sun, Death of a Salesman, Oracle and Korvid. Doors at 8pm
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Pictures by Liam Kielt