It’s Saturday night and for the third consecutive week, I find myself at Fibber Magees on Dublin’s Parnell St. for the last heat of this year’s Metal 2 The Masses Ireland showcase. With 5 bands going toe to toe on the stage, could this heat be the magnificent seventh?
Opening the show this evening are Dublin Metalcore diehards, Enshrined. It’s been almost a year since they played a show and there are inevitable hiccups. During the first song, Sam Gorman forgets some lyrics but he quickly regains his composure and leaves it behind him as if it never happened. I’ve always said that bassist Dharma’s blackened vocal gives Enshrined an extra element of menace and that has not changed. Tonight his contributions are visceral. For an opening band, this is definitely the best crowd response compared to the previous sextet and it drives the band on. Sam expresses how much it means to them to be playing in front of people who support their music. Enshrined are back and can only improve as they play more shows.
Following on, Pethrophia, the lads from Cork are back and almost more intense than they were last year. Lead singer Chris is the most imposing frontman in this year’s competition. His stage presence is gargantuan as he cajoles friends in the front row (in Spanish at times). When he locks in, his delivery is bestial and he does steal all the attention. Swilling beers, singing his heart out and having a good old time seems the modus operandi for him as his band lay down their death-thrash hybrid. Their performance is solid and definitely matched the challenge put before them by Enshrined.
Call To Arms make their M2TM debut on the hallowed third slot for the evening. Before they even start, the venue is rammed. This is not an exaggeration; it’s very clear who the crowd are here to see tonight. As the first note strikes, guitarist Daniel drops to his knees like a heavy metal James Brown. There is fucking electricity in the air. I mentioned almost two years ago that this band were a big prospect and I still stand by this. To see a young band with such a core following is uplifting. Call To Arms are a band that feed on said rabid enthusiasm. Walls of death, circle pits and abundant moshing are present throughout the set. Dean Donnelly is an extraordinary frontman. His control of the crowd is masterful and endearing. He pays respects to the other bands, but leaves no one in doubt that Call To Arms are here to win. In a risky move for a first performance, they air new songs before closing with fan favourites. To be honest, they are not as tight as I have seen them in the past and get caught in the emotion, but fuck it, this is live music and the crowd bay for an encore at the end of the thirty.
Penultimate act of the evening are Damage Assessment. It’s their third time at M2TM and the Portlaoise three piece rip into the venue (which apathetically emptied after the previous band) with their thrash anthems. My special mention of the evening has to go to drummer Adam Burke, whose work behind the kit is astounding from start to end. Add to this aural beating the guitar work of Chris Craig along side the basslines of Jack Donovan and you get songs that are fast, punchy and riff fuelled. My only niggle with Damage Assessment is Jack’s vocal. It’s ok, but when I listen to thrash, I want my singer to be in my face, tearing the skin off it. Personal preferences aside, the lads were heavy as hell and water tight and drew a good number of the attendees back into the main venue. Check out their page to see if you can make it to their upcoming shows.
Last are Dubliners Minus Ten Thousand Hours. There is no tag or genre that can be labelled onto this absolutely fantastic three piece. Lefty from Red Enemy announces them onto the stage and they begin with a deception. Light vocal and gentle guitar makes you think that MTTH are the wrong band to close. WRONG!! After the short intro they basically bring aggressive mayhem to the venue. It is an amalgam of all sorts of styles that comes out of the PA throughout their set. There’s reggae, metalcore, indie and more: hell at one stage one of the crowd members compares them to a punk Biffy Clyro -it’s that much of a genre fuck. The crowd love them with moshing matching the onstage ferocity. Minus Ten Thousand Hours end the night with a belter of a show and leave the audience spent and ready to go home with bleary eyes and shit eating grins.
On the night the crowd vote went to Call To Arms and the judges vote went to Enshrined. Wildcard bands will be announced very soon with the 3 semi finals due to take place in the coming weeks.
PlanetMosh caught up with both bands in the aftermath and here’s what went down:
Call To Arms – Dean & Ronan
1. For people hearing about Call To Arms for the first time, tell us about yourselves.
(Dean) We are an honest five piece metal band from the north of Dublin who put blood, sweat and tears into putting on the best live show possible and we want to make waves across the Irish metal scene and abroad. You ain’t going to find five other guys that want their band to succeed more than we do and that is pretty evident in our live show, or if you just come up to chat with us.
2. Last night’s Metal 2 The Masses heat was your first show of 2016 and the crowd reaction was pretty intense. How did it feel on that stage last night?
(Ronan) Honestly, it felt absolutely unbelievable. Our last gig was over three months ago and we’ve been dying to get back onstage ever since. It just showed us how much we missed performing for people. A Call To Arms show is always energetic, we feed off of each other and try and spur each other on. When you hear the crowd chanting your name, singing your lyrics and moshing like crazy it gives us the extra impetus to go one step further.
3. 2016 was the first year you were able to enter M2TM. Last night, your performance felt hungry. How big a deal it would be for Call To Arms to play Bloodstock?
(Dean) I said on social media before the show started that most people think this is just another show they can go to, but for us this is our fucking lives, so to be able to play Bloodstock would be phenomenal. We want this so bad that ever since we were announced for our heat back in December, we were going all guns blazing. We pushed, promoted and practiced HARD and if you ask anyone that saw us last night I’m confident that they would at least say our hunger/eagerness was very evident.
4. Call To Arms have a great following and were the people’s choice at Heat 7, guaranteeing a Semi Final place. How did it feel getting to the next stage and what can we expect in the Semi from you?
We were absolutely elated when we heard the result, the idea of playing Bloodstock is just amazing for us and we’re now one step closer to getting there. To be honest, getting the people’s vote means a hell of a lot to us. The other bands on the night all brought so much to the table with a wide variety of styles and to think that the majority of the crowd voted for us just fills us with pride.
In our Semi Final we’re hopefully going to add another new song to the set. We’re straight back into rehearsals after a few days break to tweak things here and there and try to get as tight as possible. Even though we’re through to the Semi, we still have our work cut out for us and we want to be as prepared as possible.
5. Where can we find out more about Call To Arms (links, merch etc) and tell us a little about the new songs you debuted last night?
(Ronan)We do the bulk of our social media on Facebook. Aside from that we use Twitter to post important info and Instagram and Snapchat where our posts are a little on the lighter side. Our username for all three sites is CallToArmsIRL. Our debut EP Invictus is available for download at https://calltoarmsirl.bandcamp.com/releases
We played two new songs at our heat, which we’ve been writing over the last few months. It’s my first time having input into the songwriting process and we’ve been really happy with how things are turning out. We use a combination of technology and just jamming things out in order to write things and everyone is having a say into how the songs are being shaped.
The first song was called Vultures and has some of the heaviest parts we’ve ever written. It actually started out as a completely different song that myself and Niall had written, but we just weren’t feeling it. We kept one riff and completely rewrote the whole thing in a fairly short space of time.
The next song Descending is quite different again. Myself and Alex have a cool little jam in the clean break that just builds up into a massive outro. We’re taking our time in writing new material making sure that it’s fun to play and will get people moving. We’re not in any rush to release anything in the short term as we really want to perfect things. We seemed to have a good reaction to the new songs so we’re more than happy with that.
1. For people hearing about Enshrined for the first time, tell us about yourselves.
Enshrined are a 4 piece metal band from Dublin with a passion for playing live and pushing ourselves to write the best music we possibly can and music that can stand alone yet ultimately have a positive impact.
2. This is your second time playing Metal 2 The Masses. What made you come back in 2016 and how has the experience been compared to last year?
We came back in 2016 because last year the M2TM gigs were some of the best we’ve played and we get to play alongside some of the best musical talent in Ireland. Not to mention the opportunity being one of a kind and getting to work with the organisers, judges, media involved is a pleasure because we’re all there for our love of music and that’s something any musician would want to be a part of.
3. Last night you opened the show in blazing style and were the judges choice after Heat 7, guaranteeing a Semi Final place. How did it feel getting to the next stage and what can we expect in the Semi from you?
Last night was our first gig in a very long time, it’d actually been almost a year and as a matter of fact it had been a year since we played in Dublin. So as you can imagine there was a lot of dust to be blown off. Now that we have blown that dust off we know that when we come back to the semi final next week we’ll be much more in the groove of things, much more confident and just ready to deliver a much harder hitting performance.
4. Where can we find out more about Enshrined? (links etc)
As with most bands these days our Facebook page would be the go to spot. It has any news of gigs, releases etc and all of our recorded music is already up on it in the Bandcamp banner. As it happens we hope to release a single we’ve recorded called Gatekeeper very soon so keep an eye on the Facebook page for that https://www.facebook.com/Enshrined-394445123942795/?fref=ts
5. What would getting to the final and having a chance to play at Bloodstock mean to Enshrined?
It’s hard to put it into words but to think we could actually play the music we put so much into to such a mass of people that it would hopefully have a positive impact on is what we live for. We live for our music to be heard and for it it to have a positive impact in any shape or form. Playing Bloodstock would be an amazing platform to progress that dream from.
All photos by Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography
Bands are welcome to download their photos from his Flickr Page.