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Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland – Heat One Preview

The Northern Ireland leg of the annual Metal 2 The Masses competition – which, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept, offers an unsigned band the opportunity to play at Bloodstock – kicks into action this coming Saturday (30 January).

The first gladiators to enter the arena that will be Belfast’s historic Limelight 2 are Cursed Sun (who last year managed to make it as far as the regional final), Deathbus, Shrouded (who also competed last year) and Wardomized.  To get everyone into fighting spirit, PlanetMosh decided to find out a bit more about each of the combatants by sending them a bunch of questions… Here are what each of the bands had to say for themselves, printed, in interests of fairness, in alphabetical order…

Cursed Sun

Name and position of person answering:  The name is Jones and I’m the lead singer.

This is the second time you have taken part in Metal 2 The Masses: what did you learn from last year’s experience and why have you decided to give it another crack?

Cursed SunWe were lucky enough to get to the finals last year and a gig like this really makes you think and up your game.  Unfortunately for us, the finals saw us play as only four fifths of Cursed Sun: Ciaran couldn’t play that particular gig.  So this time around I want to show our potential with a full band. To be truthful I’m just happy to play any gig. I need that artistic release.

You’re currently working on a new EP: can you tell us a bit about how it is going, and when we can expect to hear it?

Yeah we are making what will be our fifth record. [I’m] loving the new songs.  Each of the songs is very different but maintaining the Cursed Sun sound. It cracks me up when I hear a band play and all their songs blend into one another.  We are recording in February and March so the CD should be released in the early summer.

Are there any particular subjects which you are addressing lyrically on the songs?

Each track is very different. Some fantasy elements in there that keep me interested and one 0f the songs is about my sleep paralysis that I get quite a bit!  It’s pretty scary!

You played a couple of the tracks live for the first time recently, when you opened for Axegressor at Voodoo:  were you pleased with the crowd reaction?

I’m glad i remembered the lyrics, lol.  I think the songs went down well. That was a great wee gig for us. I’m looking forward to testing the new tracks out again on Saturday.

Does playing the songs live change them in any way, especially if you haven’t recorded them or finished recording them?

Jones of Cursed SunIt can go one of two ways: it could solidify the ideas or you could walk away thinking “what the fuck have I done, I need to rethink the whole song”, but luckily I was happy with the crowd reaction and felt very happy with how comfortable I felt while performing the tracks.

Of all the other bands taking part in this year’s Metal 2 The Masses competition, which ones would you recommend PM readers check out?

I only know a few of the bands that are participating, but in our heat I like the young upstarts, Shrouded.  I’m also a big fan of Scimitar.  I know they are taking part this year.

If you don’t win the competition, who would you like to see go through?

Scimitar, because they are similar to ourselves in many respects.

And, assuming you were to make it all the way to Catton Hall, which bands are you most looking forward to seeing (providing they didn’t clash with your own set)?

Gotta be Slayer and Mastodon

And, if there was one other musician appearing that you would love to have join you on stage, who would it be?

I’m gonna ask Kerry King up onstage with us. If he can do a tune with Sum 41 he can no doubt join us beys onstage.

Deathbus

Name and position of person answering: Alessandro Rocco (Ale) – lead guitar.

Can you start off by introducing yourselves: who all is in the band and where do you come from?

Our band consists of me on guitar, Jared McGinn on vocals, John Laverty on drums and Quinn Begley on bass. Although we are Belfast-based, I am the only one who actually lives in Belfast. The rest of the members are from County Down, with our vocalist Jared coming from as far as Ballyhalbert [a tiny seaside village] to practice and perform in Belfast.

For those unfamiliar with your sound, how would you describe your style of music?

Over the past year that we have been practicing and performing we would say our style now and for the future is a blend of black metal, crust and crossover thrash. Our major influences for the band would be the likes of Toxic Holocaust, Leftover Crack, early Napalm Death, Municipal Waste, Mayhem and Dayglo Abortions.

The first time I came across you was when I picked up a copy of your demo CD at last year’s Poser Holocaust. You’re just about to release a new EP (on the same day as M2TM I believe?): how do you think your sound has progressed between these two releases?

Before we started practicing actively as a band we really stood as a joke/parody band. When we put out our first demo it was really just complete noise comedy. When we first started gigging we started as a blackened hardcore punk band and just slowly progressed our sound to what we are now. The new EP is fast, heavy and very thrashy, which is definitely the sound we are looking to continue with.

Tell us a little bit about this new EP, ‘Holacoaster’: give us a track-by-track rundown…

The EP opens up with ‘Skeletal Warfare’, which is a straight forward blackened crust song. This song has gone through many formats since we first started gigging, and the final version really represents what our sound is like now.

The second track is called ‘Acid Cannibal Assault’, which features an appearance from Jude Milk of Acid Age. This track continues to follow the crusty style but also brings the thrashy side that most of the EP sounds like. The track finishes off with a fucking brilliant solo from Jude which really came as a last minute idea, but ended up sounding great. The third track, ‘Rip Raw Boner’, really brings back the humorous side of Deathbus which is prominent in most of the songs we play on our set. It is pure speed and last only just over a minute. It is fast, simple thrash and hopefully shows what Deathbus as a band can do with upcoming songs.

The last track, ‘Goonbag’, is a fan favourite and really just serves as a perfect end to the EP. Like the previous track, it is very fast and is a track that we have wanted to record since we first started playing it live.

Overall, we are happy with the selection of songs we picked for the EP and can’t wait for people to hear these tracks recorded.

Were you familiar with Metal 2 The Masses before you entered it? Did you attend any of last year’s heats?

I got familiar with the competition last year, as I was attending Bloodstock festival myself. Although I was not able to catch any of the heats, I kept up with them through social media so I had a good idea of how it worked before entering Deathbus into the competition.

Do you think you’ll approach your performance any differently from any other show? Will be a little more nerve-wrecking knowing that you’re being judged by fans and music industry professionals?

Because of how we have progressed from our original sound, we have designed a new set for the Metal 2 The Masses that focuses mostly on our Thrash sound. It is also our first time playing a venue like Limelight 2, which obviously is going to be a great experience. Although we are nervous about playing, I think that as a band we will still push ourselves to our limit to keep the crowd and judges interested in our performance. At the end of the day, everyone makes mistakes live but we try to cover over these mistakes by making our set as entertaining as possible while still playing great music. It’s also quite relieving going into the competition to know that a few of the judges are already familiar with our music and also to know that we have a small dedicated fan base who will hopefully support us through the heats.

Apart from the obvious slot at Bloodstock, what do you hope to learn by taking part in Metal 2 The Masses?

As previously stated, it will be our first time playing venues like The Limelight 2, so we hope to learn about playing in venues this size and learning how to optimise our stage presence on a stage like that. The sound will obviously be better in these sorts of venues, so it will be important to optimise our tones and levels to fit the venue. The competition will also give us a chance to play to an audience who might have not heard of us before, which is a great experience considering we are just putting out our first proper release.

Of all the other bands taking part in this year’s competition, which ones would you recommend PM readers check out?

From our first heat, I would definitely recommend checking out Shrouded. These guys are fucking brilliant musicians and play some fucking great death metal. Wardomized are another band who you need to check out if you haven’t already. They just released a new single which is heavy as fuck and is really well mixed and produced. Also, if you’re into hardcore check out Towers. These guys deserve more exposure in the scene and are excellent live.

If you don’t win the competition, who would you like to see go through?

Although I can’t put my finger on one band, I think that the two bands who would deserve it the most are Scimitar and Acid Age. Those guys have worked really fucking hard to get where they are and either one of them would destroy the new blood stage if they got a chance to play it.

And, assuming you were to make it all the way to Catton Hall, which bands are you most looking forward to seeing (providing they didn’t clash with your own set)?

The bands we’re most looking forward to see are Venom, Anthrax, Acid Reign and Behemoth. The rest of the bands playing so far are also going to be fucking amazing, and we’re very excited to see who is announced next.

And, if there was one other musician appearing that you would love to have join you on stage, who would it be?

It would have to be Scott Ian. Due to his work with S.O.D, I think he would genuinely appreciate and enjoy our music for what it is and have a laugh playing with us.

Shrouded

Name and position of person answering: Shane Hughes – guitar and vocals

Can you start by introducing yourselves to our readers: who are you and where are you from?

We are Shrouded, a four-piece melodic death metal band from the Belfast area. That being said only one of us actually lives in Belfast, the rest of us are staggered around Lisburn and Antrim!

And, for the majority of our readers who haven’t heard you yet, how would you describe your style?

We have always said that our sound is predominantly a melodic death metal sound, but there are a lot of influences that we all throw in, such as black metal and thrash metal. We all have a love for slamming brutal death metal too, so there is quite a variety of genres being mixed around in our music.

You’re quite a young band: how did you first get into metal? What was the epiphanous moment that made it stand out above all the pop dross that dominates our airwaves and media?

I know for me personally I would have listened to some of the older punk bands when I was younger, but as soon as I first heard Iron Maiden everything else on the radio sounded crap in comparison. That pretty much goes for the rest of us too though not necessarily through Iron Maiden. Dani was listening to Death Metal when I was still in primary school!!

I first came across you about a year ago. Dani’s dad was playing in the band at that time: did that feel unusual for you, and what did he teach you during that time?

It was quite awkward, though we are very grateful for his help. He really highlighted the importance of bass guitar to us, especially me as I was being very stubborn and saying we don’t need a bassist. Though once we heard the difference in sound, especially live, we thought we really need this.

Is family support important to you? Or do you think you would have went down this path anyway?

It’s nice to have support, but for the most part we are quite independent. I think each of us would have ended up on this path one way or another. It just might have taken a bit longer.

You’ve now recruited a new bassist. How has he fitted in and has he brought any new dynamic to the band and how you approach your music?

He fits like a glove! He has done a great job in keeping the low end of the songs tight. Recently he has been adding a lot of his own little twists to the bass lines which are very interesting to watch and listen to, like adding in little arpeggios and licks that blend really well with what the guitars are doing.

Are you planning to record new material with Jordy any way soon?

We actually have quite a lot planned this year as far as recording goes. We have our new EP, which we are still writing right now but as soon as we have that nailed we will be recording it. We also have something else planned but we’ll keep that under wraps for now…all I will say is it will be soon.

We’re here to talk about M2TM: apart from the obvious slot at Bloodstock, what do you to get from the competition?

It’s always a buzz to play these sort of gigs. Obviously, playing in the Limelight is a big highlight but since it’s a competition there will also be a lot of new faces there that mightn’t have seen or heard of us before, so it’s always nice to play to someone new.

Of all the other bands taking part in this year’s competition, which ones would you recommend PM readers check out?

I’d give everyone a listen to haha! There are still a few heats to be announced but from the bands that I know are playing I would highly recommend Cursed Sun, Baleful Creed and Erosion.

If you don’t win the competition, who would you like to see go through?

I’m afraid of pissing off another band here lol! Obviously I would like to see a lot of the bands taking part to get through, I’m excited to see what other bands are taking part. I know competitions can bring out a different side in people but at the end of the day it’s all about the metal so we can all agree on that!

And, assuming you were to make it all the way to Catton Hall, which bands are you most looking forward to seeing (providing they didn’t clash with your own set)?

Quite a few so far, the lineup is great this year. Anthrax, Slayer, Behemoth, Venom, Satyricon, Metal Allegiance, Rotting Christ and Goatwhore…just to name a few.

And, if there was one other musician appearing that you would love to have join you on stage, who would it be?

It would have to be Corpsegrinder! To share the stage with him would be out of this world.

Wardomized

Name and position of person answering:  Luke Tolcher – drummer.

Can you start off by introducing yourselves:  who all is in the band and where do you come from?

WardomizedWe are a four piece heavy metal band from Belfast/Lisburn, featuring Stephen Mckeown, Eddie Cross, Josh Johnston and myself.

For those unfamiliar with your sound, how would you describe your style of music?

That’s a tough question for us to answer at times but I guess for me I would describe ourselves as a death/doom metal band  that creeps onto a NuMetal groove at times.  We used to be “crossover thrash”, but them days are done.

You have just released a new single: can you tell us a little bit about it?

Of course! ‘Strained’ is three track single release basically giving the overall idea of music, production, etc. to expect from our new EP [which is] set to be released [later] this year. It’s our most adventurous release so far, and we have been working really hard on writing something really smart and personal to the band.

Strained‘, the title track from the single, is the main focus because it goes into some detail over four verses lyrically, giving an overall theme that will occur on the EP:  four tracks based on real life events or human beings that have mentally scared us. [It’s] quite a personal release that we hope comes across as sound as possible.

Is there more recorded material on the way?

Yes, expect our new EP this year! We will be making announcements on such things like artwork and track listing in the next coming months.

Apart from the obvious slot at Bloodstock, what do you hope to learn by taking part in Metal 2 The Masses?

It will be a different experience being judged at the end of a show, that alone will be interesting, and learning what it’s like to be in a competition will be a new one for us. So I guess just learning the way a competition would run and how to handle criticism and winning or losing as a band is what I want to go away with at the end of the day for future reference.

Of all the other bands taking part in this year’s competition, which ones would you recommend PM readers check out?

Out of the ones that have been announced so far… Erosion, Deathbus, and Shrouded.

If you don’t win the competition, who would you like to see go through?

Out of my heat, Shrouded and Deathbus.

And, assuming you were to make it all the way to Catton Hall, which bands are you most looking forward to seeing (providing they didn’t clash with your own set)?

Anthrax, Dragonforce and Venom.

And, if there was one other musician appearing that you would love to have join you on stage, who would it be?

Ha! Dee Snider for sure.  I would love to hear him on our song ‘Lemonbrain’.

 

The first qualifying heat of Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland takes place this Saturday (30 January) in Limelight 2, Belfast.   Doors are 5pm and admission is £5.  As ever, voting will be via a 50/50 split between a panel of local industry representatives and the audience.

The second heat – featuring Baleful Creed, Erosion, Skypilot and So Long Until The Seance – takes place at Voodoo on Thursday 18 February at 8pm.

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff