Metal 2 The Masses Northern Ireland Heat 3 – Belfast, Limelight 2 – 19 March 2016

Poster for heat three of Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses Northern IrelandThe third heat of this year’s Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition in Belfast brought with it one of those thankfully all too frequent, and horrible clashes, which sometimes can plague any scene, the local metallians – and, by default, your PM team, having to split themselves in two, at least for the early part of the evening, in order to support both this and the annual Blazefest fundraising extravaganza just a few hundred yards up the street…

Eyes See Blind are breaking a three-year hiatus in order to open proceedings, and they do so not only with a return to their original line up but also a fresh vibrancy to their hungry, angry hardcore style and an energetic bounce in their collective steps.  They are greeted by a small and largely immobile crowd, but they play as if there is a seething pit of humanity just on the other side of barriers.  Their set is played at a frenetic pace, with their adrenaline levels most definitely on maximum and, despite their absence from the local live scene for so long, they are tight, confident and obviously have set out to just enjoy the experience.

Up next, Lisburn black metallers Drakonis are taut, precise, confident and suitably demonic.  Their sound is underpinned by flawless double kick work that hammers its way relentlessly into your ribcage, while their winding guitar melodies exude a macabre malevolence in a performance which is tighter than the links on vocalist Cass Cassidy’s chainmail shorts, yet so fluid it washes over you like a spring tide.  With their dark melodies and suitably evil vocal, the quintet deliver on every level.

Scimitar play tight, precise thrash ripped straight from the Bay Area, and especially the Slayer (old) school.  Bravely opening with a new song, ‘Cursed City’, they leave no room for manoeuvre or time for rest as they mould one song into another in a fast and furious assault on all the senses.  In fact, their set is delivered with such a ferocious intensity that they play everything at virtually supersonic speed, with the result that they under-run by more than five minutes, meaning they have to append ‘Erased From Existence’ and making them possibly the first band in the history of M2TM, at least in this part of the world, to play an encore!

Symptoms Of Silence‘s twin-vocalized emocore is energetic but sticks out like a sore thumb – especially when they take the perhaps extremely unwise decision to present a Bring Me The Horizon cover in a competiton of this nature.  They’re competent enough musicians, especially drummer Jack Scott and guitarist Kyle Colby, but it’s perhaps a blessing in disguise that their set is cut short.

Under the circumstances, the result is perhaps something of a foregone conclusion, with Scimitar edging it from Drakonis by less than a percentage point, with both bands now progressing to next month’s semi-finals.  The next heats take place this coming Thursday (24 March) and Saturday (26 March) at Voodoo and Limelight 2 respectively.

  • Photograph of Scimitar © The Dark Queen.  Taken at a previous show.
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About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff