One of the great things about Bloodstock Festival it not only showcases the biggest and best metal bands from around the world but it also offers a platform for the unsigned bands of the UK and beyond that are currently toiling on the underground circuit.
Metal 2 The Masses is a battle of the bands that ultimately gives 22 bands from the UK and two from Europe a slot at the UK’s premier metal festival.
M2TM (Reading) Semi-Final 2 kicked off with Oxford based-and youngest band of the evening-metalcore act Fallen From Grace. With their fast rhythms and melodic choruses it’s very quick to tell this talented bands influences: Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium. Both the lead vocalist and guitarist split vocal duty to great effect, with the singer taking duties with harsh and strong lower register clean vocals while the guitarist sticks to the higher harmonies very well. With great breakdowns and competent guitar skills it’s evident that this young band know their craft very well.
The stand-out member of the band was the drummer who used both technical skill, speed and intensity to really fill out the bands’ sound. They also played a brand new song on the evening which was full of energy and power. Fallen From Grace set the tone for the rest of the night, and the bar pretty high.
Pounding rhythms, intense groove and atmospheric tones are what this band do best colliding like a mix between Neurosis and Iron Monkey. Dynamically the band as a whole were incredibly tight and energetic showcasing that they are a band to be taken seriously in tonight’s competition. However the focal point of the performance, and I don’t think that the band would mind me saying this, was front man Danny Page. Danny’s on stage antics have become a thing of widespread rumour and enjoyment in the local underground metal scene and tonight is no exception.
With two empty water bottles gaffer taped to his head, hilarious banter and simulating anal sex with at least two people he certainly knows how to entertain, but that’s exactly what the spirit of the competition is all about-not just the prize but entertainment. He’s also a great vocalist to boot, strong and assured dynamic high and low harsh vocals, he means business. Victorian Whore Dogs had raised the bar even further and with two bands left it was all to play for.
Reading sludge/blues meisters Morass Of Molasses took to the stage next to a somewhat rapturous reception. With good reason too, in just a short year they’ve carved a path for themselves very quickly with a sound reminiscent of Black Sabbath and Alice In Chains. A feedback intro sets the tone for the rest of their set, a blend of subtlety and big riffs bred in the swamp.
The understated, almost smokey, vocals of singer Bones are offset every now and then by a harsh scream to accent certain parts of their songs. The bands’ interaction with each other was very professional and clearly they were all enjoying their time on stage-Chris’, the drummer, drum faces can only be described as epic. All of this inter-band enjoyment of course didn’t detract from the precision and power of the music, most notably the drums. With Sabbath like tempo changes and and heavy use of an octave pedal they’ve crafted a sound for themselves unlike others in the scene. With only one band left the night has already been a roaring success and a great advert for underground metal.
The final band of the night were Maiden head stalwarts and all around nice bunch of people Remnant.
Energetic is not the word to describe this band, melody and technical infused thrash, sounding like a younger version of Arch Enemy, is what they do best. With dual male and female lead vocals they showcase a diversity that hasn’t been seen tonight and a great interplay between the two of them that is both fun and makes a great stage show.
Musically Remnant are a very strong band with some great fast thrash riffs and a sprinkling of groove to boot, the two guitarists show what they’re made of with some fantastic fretwork. The band played a slower song to bring the emotion to the room, dedicated to The Ultimate Warrior who recently passed away, which again showed the depth of their musical ability and diversity as a band. With a very tight and polished set they ended the night with gusto and smiles all round.
With the unfortunate exit of Readings rising metalcore/hardcore act Rise Of Rome a couple of weeks before there was a lot of excitement at The Facebar during the gig. Maybe the eventual winner was there to be crowned in the final.
Winners, advancing to the Metal 2 The Masses Reading final:
Morass Of Molasses