We’ve reached the Semi Final stages of Metal 2 The Masses Ireland and tonight at Fibber Magees in the post Paddy’s Day turmoil, five bands are making their case to play at this year’s final in May. The first two slots in the auspicious final will be filled tonight, one by crowd vote and the other by judging panel selection. The quality on show tonight is solid and PlanetMosh settles in for what is sure to be a rollercoaster of a night.
First up are Antidotes. I missed this crew in their Heat so it’s awesome to be able to see them ply their trade at the next level. Fronted by Stephen Cannon, Antidotes are a very different proposition to his other band (The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back). Their style is a unique take on the metalcore genre. It concentrates on almost alt/indie swirls of clean melody with fantastic lead work from guitarist Rob Gaffney, but just as you are settled with this calm, they smash you in the face with a sledgehammer akin to Deftones at their heaviest. Stephen regales in his frontman role, albeit with a guitar slung over his shoulder, and he stalks the edge of the stage revelling in the power of the songs they are playing. Antidotes open the show well, and the early crowd show considerable appreciation.
Rumbling in tonight from Galway for the second slot are sludge crunchers Ten Ton Slug. The band were awarded one of the wild card slots by the judges and they appear ready to drink deep from this cup of opportunity. Their doomy riffs are heavier than a real heavy thing. Imagine trying to drink concrete and you’re almost there. It’s unsettlingly beautiful and the sizeable crowd bang their heads in unison. Lead singer, gruesome growler and erstwhile stand up comedian Rónán commands the audience with consummate ease. About half way through the set he bellows “Saturday night fever- can you feel it in your blood?”. It’s warmly received, as are their groove laden melodies. At one stage before the end of their 30 minutes, various band members are stamping on the stage so hard that a pint of water beside the singers monitor is rippling like the infamous dinosaur movie scene. Ten Ton Slug are giving everything tonight and if one word could describe their performance it would be Jurassic.
The hallowed 3rd slot was randomly handed to Two Tales Of Woe. A firm favourite on the Dublin scene for years, their return to the stage last year was welcomed by so many people. They are a different band now, a stronger band, a better band, a band that is playing for each other and enjoying every fucking second of it. Carl King is up there with the strongest vocalists in the competition in 2016 and his humility and respect is refreshing. TTOW are not taking this for granted, they want to play Bloodstock and in 30 minutes they absolutely win over the crowd. The response is the loudest of the evening and they feed off the audience’s joy. Special mention has to be made to Kelvin Doran; that man can beat a drum and lock a groove. His cymbal work on the some of the fills is sublime and adds an extra dimension to the sound. I’m really looking forward to hearing the new material they have been working on. Two Tales Of Woe prove tonight that they have what it takes to be one of the favourites for the final in May.
Enshrined are in the penultimate slot of the evening and they don’t get off to a great start. Sam’s guitar pedal has technical issues before they even start and we have to give a shout out to sound man JC for coming up with a solution to work around the problem. That being said, Enshrined’s set is cut by one song to keep with the venue curfew. The sign of a good band is being able to roll with the punches and when Sam and the guys get going, they are on fire. Tonight is the best that I’ve seen Enshrined play. Conor Spierin was born to be on the stage. His lead lines, solos and onstage persona are the focal point as he spurs on the crowd. His unbridled fervour is infectious and serves to wipe clean any memory of early hiccups. Dharma on bass, (and that fabulous harsh vocal) is a beast of a player. Enshrined tonight played their hearts out and left nothing behind them. M2TM is a better place because of young bands like this.
Closing the night are upstart thrashers Saint Slaughter. Thankfully, the late start has not affected the attendance and they rip into a furious half hour of thumping anthems. I was pretty critical of lead singer Eoin in the last heat but tonight he is a revelation. He is unapologetic, powerful and takes leadership of the band. It’s a huge step in the right direction and the band has benefited tenfold. His vocal delivery reminds me of Mille Petrozza and combined with the star quality of Jeff Hernandez on lead guitar, Saint Slaughter have a lot of potential. Jeff is definitely vying for the ‘best guitarist’ competition at M2TM this year (in my head anyway). His riffs and solos are beyond superb tonight and he even ventures into the crowd for a little extra showmanship. Tom Moylan lays down a back beat that is frantic yet precise and controlled. Saint Slaughter are another band who have improved immensely in the last year and they should be on your radar.
All in all, semi final A was a cracking night with all the bands standing tall, giving everything and supporting each other. Yes there are winners, but there are no losers. Every band brings talent and fire that makes me proud to be part of Metal 2 The Masses each successive year.
The crowd vote went to Two Tales Of Woe and the judges’ selection was Ten Ton Slug.
All photos by Steve Dempsey of Down The Barrel Photography
Bands are welcome to download their photos from his Flickr Page.