The rollercoaster ride that has been Metal 2 The Masses Ireland 2017 reached the semi-final stages last weekend and PlanetMosh was strapped into the carriage once again to see which bands could hold on tight enough to secure a place in that one last foray on the way to Bloodstock.
It’s the Saturday after Good Friday and whether it’s the lure of the bar taps after one day of public alcohol abstinence or the draw of a strong line up in semi-final A that has the punters in early tonight has yet to be determined. By the look of them, it’s a combination of both and first on the stage is Creep. Undaunted by the early draw, they proceed to lay a solemn grungy slab of melody that carries the audience deep into a haze of early 90’s nostalgia. I am transfixed by the vocal delivery of Jason McGuinness. This young fella is easily one of the best singers I have heard on the Irish scene in many a year. Add to this talent, the high consistency of Creep’s collective songwriting and they are a force to be reckoned with. Their set is heavy, harmonious and at times deceptively tranquil. Liam Noctor’s lead solos embellish and enhance rather than distract and tonight the addition of new song ‘Aurora’ is a real gem. The lads put in a great performance which (all clichés aside) sets the bar for the evening. For sheer potential keep an eye out for Creep but also for when James’ elephant goes in search of a mate.
Second on tonight’s roster is Sectile. For a relatively new band (Their M2TM heat was only their second show), they are tight, professional and damned near flawless. I mentioned that their previous performance was a little lost in the sound mix but tonight there are no such inhibitors. Gabriel Gaba is like a leather clad rock icon playing to thousands and he treats the crowd in Fibbers to a masterclass delivery. Their sound does owe a lot to the styling of Alter Bridge and the crowd are totally hooked. Gaba tells us that most of the songs tonight are new; quite a risk in a semi-final, but by the brave, the spoils of war are reaped. Riffs, solos and octave upon octave abound in an extremely proficient set. Pouring everything into your music at a semi-final is a must and tonight Zachary Newman is beating the kit so hard that a tom and a cymbal stand are sent crashing to the floor towards the end of the second song. Should they make it, Sectile are dark horses for the final with an original sound not heard in any of the previous three events.
The lads from Sixth Extinction have to be commended for their efforts to bring their fans all the way up to Dublin from Clonmel. With a busload of rabid heathens in tow, Liam Ryan and his musical cohorts are ready to lay waste to Dublin’s dingy dive bar. There’s a little Spinal Tap moment from the off as the rallying cry of “Fibbers, we’re gonna rip you a new one” is followed by a minute of silence as the drummer is not ready. To Hell with it, that’s what live music is all about and the best bands take these moments in their stride. Sixth Extinction give us a rifftastic feast of gargantuan proportions with the lyrics harmoniously bellowed by the big man up front. A massive shout out to Marek who was filling in on drums for the night and had learned the set in the previous two weeks. The standard tonight has been immense and the Tipperary titans are more than equal to the task at hand. Their thirty minute set flies by and I am left wanting to hear a few more songs. I hope Sixth Extinction are picked up by the local promoters and given a shot at some tasty shows in the future.
The penultimate band tonight is Mother Mooch. The guitars of Sid and Farl are awash with the fuzz of Fu Manchu intertwined with lead lines of Kyuss and leave my mind filled with an aural haze. While there isn’t the metallic aggression of the preceding bands, there is a passion and belief that gives the impression that Mother Mooch are content playing their music for the sake of music alone. Every single one of them is immersed deep in the groove, be it Danni effortlessly laying the backbeat or Leon rumbling his low end. ‘Out On The Western Plain’ is for me, the highlight of their set and I’ve found myself singing it two days later. Chloë Ní Dhúada’s laid back style suits their sound and I never grow tired of hearing her sing. Mother Mooch’s set is slick but I do feel they are not in the running tonight. They’ve brought something different to the M2TM table in 2017 and the competition has been all the better for their participation. I urge people to get out and support them on their upcoming shows in Ireland and the UK (Apr 28th, Coventry).
I will be the first to admit it. This year I was worried for Call To Arms and whether they would be able to build on last year’s M2TM run. Tonight is the first time in all their shows that they have drawn the closing slot and by all accounts they are pumped up to a level I’ve not seen before. Master of ceremonies Oran O’Beirne from Overdrive announces them in with a call to arms (sic) and right away every member of the band (except Ronan of course) is on the edge of the stage cajoling and berating the audience. Within seconds, the crowd in the front of the hall is in a frenzy and kicking seven shades of shite out of each other. As always, Dean Donnelly is pivotal to everything that this band offers. A mini Philip Anselmo incarnate, his showmanship has developed to a level of maturity that takes many frontmen years to attain. I could sit here and blow smoke up their arses all day about how good tonight is, but it is actually the best I’ve seen them. Aggressive, focused and intense with a propensity to fly off the handle at any stage, there is an impulsiveness of youth that backs up their cocky swagger. As their set closes, the fuelled up Fibbers crowd is calling for more and there is no doubt that Call To Arms are a massive contender again this year. Well done boys, that set left me reeling.
The first semi-final of this year’s M2TM Ireland was a bloody close call. Sectile were awarded the crowd vote and Call To Arms secured the judges favour. Any of the bands could have made it and I really hope that those not progressing do consider returning in 2018.
A quick mention of the Two Tales Of Woe guys who stepped in to headline the evening as special guests at the last minute. I couldn’t stay for their set but the opening song hit me like a juggernaut of doom as it bowled me out the door into the cold night air. See you soon fellas.
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. Get them here >> Flickr Page.