PlanetMosh dropped into Fibber Magees on Saturday night for the latest round of Metal 2 The Masses Ireland. On paper it was an interesting prospect with a few genres being represented, from Black Metal through to Rock n Roll.
Drawing the opening slot (by choice) was Horrenda. This extreme metal offering had been the brainchild of Darragh O’Connor and has gone through a myriad of line up changes to get to this point. The progression in the music has been interesting and this was my first time seeing them live. Lead singer ‘Nomad’ was the only performer masked behind a veil of corpse paint and his voice was quite a surprise. His lower end is deeper than the chasm of Khazad-dûm and spilled forth from the stage like a menacing plague. Overall Horrenda is nestled very much in the past with nods to Burzum and Satyricon and they suffered a little with going first as the crowd was slow to build this week. They played very much inside themselves and there was no real connection with people who came to see them play. Music this extreme is not for everyone, but I would love to see Horrenda (and many other Black Metal bands) take the original blueprint and reinvent a tiring genre. There is genuine passion in Horrenda and passion breeds creativity.
Tension Head travelled from Ballina to perform their M2TM debut and they brought their fans which gave them a head start even before they hit the first note. The air onstage was that of pure fun, elation and genuine chemistry. Tension Head are a tight band; slick riffs, tidy solos and a strong rhythm section. Lyrically, it’s fun with ‘Do You Go Down?’, and the front rows sing along with careless abandon. To be brutally honest, Neil is a good frontman and is a strong presence on stage but at times his vocal can be a little weak. Minor quibble aside, this is heavy metal 101 and they definitely were favourites with the masses. Tension Head tick a lot of the boxes for fans of the classic heavy metal sound.
The gypsies of grunge, Vendetta Love returned for another year and landed into the centre slot with ease. New bassist Aidan has settled into his role in the band. Thankfully, there are now 3 extroverts on the stage and the performance was immense. I have to take a second to mention Shawn’s guitar tone. Jerry Cantrell and Slash would sacrifice virgins to sound this good. Last year, I was critical of Shawn’s lack of crowd engagement, but this year he was a revelation. Vendetta Love are one of the most promising bands in Ireland right now, if only people would open their eyes and ears. On the night it was ‘What’s In The Blood’ that was a sublime highlight. The intro solo absolutely rooted me to the spot, before they batted the ball out of the proverbial park. After the gig, Shawn commented “What a fucking night Saturday night was. Left everything on the stage. Some quality bands. Ahh man, music..” Kinda sums it up better than I could ever attempt.
Just Me & The Devil were a new band for me to see on stage. I had checked out some of their material online before the night and was expecting a classic metal sound. What I did not see coming was an almost punk fury remonstrating from their music. They move between genres without regard for convention to make a sound that is very much their own. I enjoyed the solos of lead singer / guitarist George. They brought a nice flavour to the evening, albeit a little disjointed for my taste. They represented Brazil (66% of the band) for the first time in our 4 years of covering M2TM and they gave everything they had. The crowd reaction was enthusiastic and at the end of the day, that means it’s job done. Kudos.
Closing the night were another group of M2TM debutantes, Jailbirds. An Australian flag propped on the guitar amp gave an indication of their origins (Two of the lads have made the 10,000 mile journey to settle in the Emerald Isle) . To compare Jailbirds to AC/DC does them a massive disservice, yes there are nods to acca dacca, but there is a stronger leaning towards the sound of The Black Crowes, Rival Sons and Thin Lizzy within their songs. Their music is well thought out rock and roll with a foot tapping sensibility that was infectious. The crowd lapped it up with heads nodding and fists pumping. Lead singer / guitarist Axel is a fireball of energy who did not stop moving from start to finish. His vocal delivery was flawless and very akin to Dennis Lyxzén of The (International) Noise Conspiracy. Jailbirds are a formidable force and a breath of fresh air in this year’s competition. Drawing the final slot gave them a real edge but they had the chops to rise to the challenge set before them. Jailbirds closed to a rapturous response. This impressive band would be crowd favourite on New Blood Stage if given the chance.
In summary; Heat 3 was very much a crossover of styles that ebbed and flowed with momentum. Every band had belief in their mission and the real winner was heavy metal. On the night the crowd vote went to Tension Head and the judges’ selection was Jailbirds.
In the aftermath we caught up with the latest Semi Finalists. Here’s what they had to say
We can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tensionhead2015/
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And our 3 track demo is available for streaming & free download here:
Thanks guys! See y’all at the semi-final \m/
For people hearing about Jailbirds for the first time. Tell us about yourselves and your debut EP ‘Break The Silence’?
We’re an Australian/Irish hard rock band based in Dublin. The band was founded in the fall of 2016 by Aussie brothers Axel & Jay McDonald. Irish guitarist James Orr and bass player Jamie Trimble joined in shortly after to create the raw, dynamic sound of Jailbirds. “Break The Silence” is our first ever record which includes six EXPLOSIVE, LOUD hard rock n roll tracks. In an age where commercial trash pop music dominates the musical scene, our mission statement is simple, cut through all the bullshit and play great powerhouse rock n roll music to the world.
This is your first time playing Metal 2 The Masses. What made you decide that Bloodstock needed some Rock n Roll?
Rock n roll and Metal are very similar in many ways, it’s mostly about the energy and the live performance. As much as we love to play rock n roll, we also love old school metal groups such as Slayer, Megadeth, Metallica. Those bands have had a major influence on us as a band but also as individuals. As much as Bloodstock is considered a “metal festival,” the spirit amongst metal heads and rock n roll fans has always stayed the same over the years and we find ourselves having a lot of common ground in terms of musical tastes. We think that having some rock at Bloodstock is a great idea and it keeps it diversified to a certain extent, not just having metal, and we think it will be well received by the fans.
How was the M2TM experience for you and would you recommend it to other bands?
Our M2TM experience has been fantastic so far! We had the opportunity of meeting other bands and other important people that are part of the music scene in Ireland. We would highly recommend it to any metal or rock band wishing to take their band the next level. This competition is also a great opportunity to get your music out there and reach out to more fans.
Jailbirds were the judges’ selection on Saturday night. How did it feel getting to the next stage and what can we expect in the Semi from you?
It was a great honour to be selected by the judges, we would like to thank them very much in choosing us to perform at the semi finals. We’re absolutely psyched to get back on that stage again! Jailbirds haven’t changed their motto since day 1, and that is to turn up the volume to the max, play an amazing rock n roll show which the fans won’t forget.
Where can we find out more about Jailbirds?
To discover more about Jailbirds, fans can check out our Facebook page : http://bit.ly/2lwTL9x
Our record “Break The Silence” is available on all streaming platforms, Spotify, iTunes, just to name a few:
Physical copies can also be bought at our gigs for a price of 10€.
All photos by Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography
All bands are encouraged to download and use the photos where needed. Full permission is granted from Steve because that’s what this whole M2TM beast is about. Flickr Page.
Thanks to Overdrive / Jetrocker / EHT Promotions for their continued support.