M2TM Wolverhampton Final 2019 review

M2TM Wolverhampton
Grand Final 2019
KKs Steel Mill

1st June, 2019 
 

 

Review and photos by Tony Gaskin

 

After a years hiatus, Metal 2 The Masses returned to Wolverhampton and boy have they done it in style!
Six heats and three semi-finals saw the last six bands gather to do battle one last time!
The bands finally get to grace the big stage here at KK’s Steel Mill and everyone had nothing but praise for the set up here, a much needed independent venue in the city that can host events big and small. Big shout out to Matt at Mayhem Promotions for bringing the event back to the city.

In time honoured tradition, the running order was decided by drawing out of a hat and the unenviable task of going on first fell to experienced old hands, Rustlung.
These guys are no strangers to M2TM and have featured in both Birmingham and Wolverhampton events, so going on first didn’t faze them at all and quickly got the 400+ crowd banging their heads to their groove laden stoner rock. It was an impressive way to kick off the final and set the bar high!

Another band that has tons of experience and an equal measure of skill are The Black Hounds.
Formed by members of various defunct and disbanded Black Country bands, these guys have been creating a buzz on the local scene for a number of years now and although not what you would describe as a “metal” band, they certainly kick ass with their heavy rock riffs. Singer Ant was struggling with a throat infection but this didn’t seem to put the guys off and they gave everything they had.

All the bands in M2TM have one aim. To get to play at Bloodstock Open Air Festival on the New Blood Stage. So far we’ve had two bands who could hardly be described as “New Blood” and the third band on tonight stretch that nomenclature even further. Ten year veterans of the Black Country Metal scene, Eyes of the Raven have had a tumultuous career, but what you might call a bit of a renaissance recently. Their well received 2018 EP ‘Crown of Serpents’ and a revamped stage image has seen the band go from strength to strength. Their heavy southern rock sounds definitely get the big crowd moving and grooving.

Three down with three to go and already proving to be a tough choice!

Breaking away from the battle for now we had a respite in tension but certainly not in noise levels as 2017 M2TM Wolverhampton winners Ashen Crown took to the stage as the first of two special guests this evening. The Birmingham based Death Metal outfit absolutely decimated my ears, a band that are proudly carrying the DM flag for their city and worthy successors to the likes of Benediction and Bolt Thrower. There are many better than these guys on the underground scene at the moment. Brutal.

So part 1 is done and dusted and we get back to the real business of the night with the fourth band on, Atarka. This just happened to be the bands first anniversary and they have made their mark in these last twelve months. Not wanting to be constrained by limiting genre labelling, Atarka blend up a mix of blackened death metal with a modern post core feel. Front man Jamie Smith barely pauses for a breath and the energy is infectious, real contenders.

The draw at the start through some mystical metal magic had definitely split the two halves of the competition into old hands/young hands with next band up being the young Black Metal coven from Telford, Blood Church. Paying homage to their musical roots, the band get the award tonight for being the most theatrical with cowled figures, bible destruction, inverted crosses, fake blood and even a couple of real pigs heads! It was like an Aleister Crowley dinner party.
But all that theatre is nothing if they couldn’t back it up with musical substance, and there was no fear of that them lacking in that department either. Fast, brutal old school Black Metal that got the crowd into a frenzy and circle pits on the go.

Finally we come to the sixth competing band of the night, Elyrean. Poles apart from Blood Church, these four young, unassuming lads, quietly set about getting ready on stage. No fuss, then they unleash a blistering barrage of Thrash that is sickeningly tight. Taking classic British Thrash and throwing in modern twists of tech and prog, they power through their 30 minute slot with barely a pause, leaving us all out of breath!

I’ve been to many, many M2TM Finals all over the country and I have to say, hand on heart that today is up there as one of, if not the best one I’ve had the pleasure of attending and we haven’t
even had the special guest headliners!
It’s become a bit of a thing now with M2TM Finals up and down the country to have special guests and rightly so. We’re here not only to support the best in underground metal/rock but
also to celebrate those that have gone on and achieved bigger things.
There aren’t many bands around though that can boast of playing all the stages at Bloodstock. But Evil Scarecrow can and they epitomise the ethos behind Bloodstock supporting the
grassroots scene.
I think just about everyone I know has seen Evil Scarecrow at some point so you know what you’re going to get. Silly songs about robots and mutants, on stage banter and tomfoolery, budget pyro! But all backed up by five very talented and accomplished musicians. Metal fans and bands can sometimes be accused of being too serious, but thankfully we have the likes of Evil Scarecrow to balance things out.

When all is said and done, there’s only one reason why we’re all here. Who will get the nod from Simon (Hall not Cowell) and get to play on the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock Open Air
Festival 2019!

Firstly, Simon invites Eyes of the Raven to play on the Jager Stage, which brings a huge cheer. A much deserved reward for these stalwarts of the local scene. Then he announces the big one, Wolverhampton M2TM Winners 2019 are Elyrean!

Congratulations to the two bands, commiserations to the four unlucky bands who all played blinders.
Tonight was one of the toughest finals I’ve seen and it was no easy task to choose, but all the bands should be proud of what they did here tonight.

 

Bloodstock Open Air is held at Catton Hall in Derbyshire 8th-11th August, tickets available from www.bloodstock.uk.com