Last Saturday in Dublin, the Metal 2 The Masses Ireland chapter reached the mid-point of the heats and the crowd was in early to see who would progress to the semi finals and maybe make it all the way to Bloodstock.
Taking the stage in the unenviable opening slot was rock outfit Crooked Edge. Hailing from North County Dublin, this young band hit the ground running and didn’t stop until they had exhausted every ounce of energy in their collective being. Their riffs are very much in the modern rock vein and this coupled with the strong vocal from Fiona Garvey makes them a formidable band. I’ll be honest, they definitely feel like a band who are still finding their true sound but on Saturday night, their fans were in full voice and Fibbers was hopping with the excitement. Genuine enthusiasm and tight musicianship definitely gave them an edge on the night and Crooked Edge could upset the status quo later in the competition.
Second up were the returning Marabou. God, I’ve missed this fucking band. If ever a 3 piece band was destined to be the voice of a pissed off planet, it would be these Wexford noisemongers. It’s been a few years since the lads went on hiatus and seeing them back on stage was fantastic. Shay Davitt has lost none of his onstage bile. Crunching Prong style song structures and melodies were order of the day and there was an added maturity to the performance that proved that good bands never truly disappear, they just need a little time away to come back a stronger proposition. Check these guys out A.S.A.P.
Holding the fulcrum position was Dundalk’s Words That Burn. No strangers to M2TM, Roni and the guys were back on the Fibbers stage and had the crowd setting off the first pits of the evening from the offset. Seeing WTB over the years, they have evolved into a behemoth of brutality. Drawing their set from the ‘Regret Is For The Dead’ album, Words That Burn gave a polished, professional set that made a massive impression throughout the venue. There are nods to the songcraft of Slipknot but there is something else in there that gives them their uniqueness. Special mention has to be made of the bass work of Ger Murphy. Words That Burn are an exceptional exponent for Irish metal. Do what you can to catch them on their Clonmel, Belfast, Waterford and Dublin shows over the coming weeks.
Pain In Vain were the penultimate act of the evening. I would hazard a guess that they are the youngest band in the competition and much like Call To Arms last year, I worried if they could make the jump from all ages shows to the judgemental 18+ shows. Safe to say that, although nervous, they gave their best. Frontman Mickey has a vision on how he wants to lead the band. If anything, he had more enthusiasm than all the bands of the evening combined but the execution of that aforementioned vision fell a little flat. It’s all about learning from this experience and using the nervous energy as an advantage. Big props to the band for delivering a strong set and I do think they will be back next year as a stronger proposition. Mikey’s rough vocal is a massive strong point, that would serve the band well if used more than the clean vocal. Seeing how they develop from here will be an interesting journey.
Closing the night in a ball of sonic haze was Mother Mooch. From recollection, this Dublin band are the first band with psychedelic leanings to enter M2TM. Their set was an assault of kaleidoscopic aural manifestations. The doom metal template was subtly entwined with upbeat Fu-Manchu moments all which revolved around the relaxed warm vocal of Chloë Ní Dhúada. Their set was beguiling and over and over again I was transfixed by the driving floor tom work of Danni Nolan which afferently controlled the impact of the soundscape. This 30 minutes was a focused performance and showed a band very much sharing their inner selves. Sublime. It’s performances like this that keep me coming back to M2TM year after year.
On the night the crowd vote went to Crooked Edge and the judges’ selection was Mother Mooch.
In the aftermath we caught up with the latest Semi Finalists. Here’s what they had to say:
For people hearing about Crooked Edge for the first time. Tell us about yourselves?
We’re a 4-piece band from Rush Co. Dublin (Hon’ the Parish) with 3 of us (Ciaran, Ronan and Steven) having played together for the guts of 5 years. After meandering around as a band for a majority of that time and after going through various vocalists changes until finding Fiona and unfortunately losing a guitarist roughly a year ago we decided to put the foot down and get ourselves in gear.
With our music, to put it simply I’d say we’re trying to blur the line between hard rock and metal while writing what we want to write and not caring what anyone else thinks while doing it.
This is your first time playing Metal 2 The Masses. What made you decide that Bloodstock needs to have Crooked Edge playing on the New Blood Stage at Catton Hall in August?
I wouldn’t say they need us but if they want us we’re more than happy to oblige! But being from Rush and seeing some of the bands we grew up watching at the local gigs (Alan “Batman” Hanlon of Nautilus and ZhOra, Crafty Fuzz and the boys in Fang Club) and witnessing what they have done and what Metal 2 the Masses did for some of them it’s lit a fire inside us that pushes us to live up the standard already set by other brilliant bands from Rush. There’s just something about the town that produces some unbelievable music.
How was the M2TM experience for you and would you recommend it to other bands?
I must admit we were apprehensive when we entered as we thought we simply weren’t “Heavy” enough but quickly thought to ourselves “screw it, what do we have to lose?” So we got a bunch of demos together we were working on and polished them off in time for the heat and went out there and performed them as best we absolutely could! In terms of the experience I personally can barely remember what happened, I just kind of zone out on stage and do my best to give it all I can.
If you’re in a band and thinking of entering next year, if you think you can bring the energy and the performance then 100% go for it. As we said to ourselves, what do you have to lose? And if anyone tells you that you shouldn’t you tell them “no worries” and do it anyway.
Crooked Edge was the crowd’s 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 an unreal feeling, having gone in honestly not expecting much to come of it, especially having to go up against Mother Mooch, Words That Burn, Pain in Vain and Marabou it was an amazing feeling to have won the crowd vote. We can’t thank all the people that voted for us enough. We promise to live up to your expectations for the Semis again. We also can’t thank all the organisers like Jetrocker, Overdrive and M2TM Ireland enough for having us. It was an honour to be there.
Right now the plan is to finish up a couple new songs and hopefully debut them at the Semis as well as practice the life out of what we already have to ensure we give the best set we can and give the best performance we can to the people there.
Where can we find out more about Crooked Edge?
The usual places, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/CrookedEdge/?fref=ts), Instagram (crooked_edge), Snapchat (crooked_edge), Twitter (@crooked_edges) and all them. Give us a like and follow and all that if you wouldn’t mind! We like to think we’re a sound bunch of lads and lassies and try to show that and have fun with our Social Media accounts. Other than that we’re going to see how the next few months go and will keep everyone posted if anything develops!
For people hearing about Mother Mooch for the first time. Tell us about yourselves and your debut album ‘Nocturnes’?
We are Mother Mooch, a five-piece heavy psych band from Dublin, “psychedelic doom-grunge” is our favourite description we’ve heard of our music to date. We have quite a broad range of influences, and I honestly don’t think there’s anyone who sounds quite like us because of that. We released our first EP, Preludes in early 2015 and followed it up with our fully self produced and financed first album, Nocturnes in November that year. We got a load of seriously great reviews off the leading underground stoner/doom magazines and websites like The Obelisk, Vincebus Eruptum, The Sludgelord, Doomed & Stoned, and we teamed up with German stoner/psych label Krauted Mind Records to issue an amazing vinyl version of the album last October.
This is your first time playing Metal 2 The Masses. What made you decide that Bloodstock needed some Irish stoner/psych rock?
We’ve wanted to take part in the competition for the last couple of years, but the stars didn’t align until this year. We’ve seen first hand the huge opportunities the competition has given to our friends in Ten Ton Slug, Two Tales of Woe, Dead Label and Psykosis and we definitely want to follow in their footsteps.
How has the M2TM experience for you and would you recommend it to other bands?
It’s been great so far and hopefully it’s not over yet. It’s a really well organised competition, we’ve been at a couple of the other heats to support our mates, and it’s great to see all the participants supporting each other. I would definitely recommend it to other bands. We’ve never ever taken part in any battle of the bands style competitions before, but the opportunity to play at Bloodstock and the potential UK and international exposure makes it a no brainer.
Mother Mooch 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?
I think our heat was probably one of the toughest, Words That Burn and Marabou have been around for as long as we have and are really great bands, I wasn’t familiar with Pain In Vain or Crooked Edge before, but both seriously impressed me on Saturday. All we could do was focus on our own performance and it seems to have done the trick. It was great to make it through as the judges’ pick, gratifying for all the hard work we’ve put in over the years. As for the semi, it’s more of the same from us, rockin’ our arses off!
Where can we find out more about Mother Mooch?
I’ve seen you have arranged some shows under the United In Fuzz banner. Can you tell us how this collaboration came about and what it’s all about?
Well, it all stems from Bloodstock actually. A couple of UK midlands bands, Witch Tripper and Sound Of Origin started it up as a gig swap thing, Slug and Woe got involved through their participation in last year’s M2TM and Bloodstock Open Air and got some UK gigs out of it. They were kind enough to invite us to join in along with zhOra and Elder Druid. At this stage there’s a load of UK bands all over the island arranging gig swaps and teaming up for tours, all of the Irish bands I’ve mentioned have booked UK gigs as a result and now we’re starting some Irish UIF shows. The first one is on March 24th in On The Rox and it’s the rockier end of things with us, Galway’s Between The Lines and Mons Olympus from Belfast, and the next is on April 7th in OTR and it’s a much heavier show with zhOra headlining, Raum Kingdom, Elder Druid and Iona Death Cult. Hopefully as time progresses we’ll be bringing over some UK bands and taking it outside Dublin.
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.