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Sunday 10 March 2019

Bloodstock Metal To The Masses Heat 4 Review

Metal To The Masses South Wales Heat 4, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

Having barely recovered from the excitement and drama of Heat 3 we were back at Fuel once more for another evening of suspense, drama and above all excellent hard rock and metal as Lead By Lies, Incursion, Fallen Temples and Anal Floss Is Boss locked horns in a testosterone fuelled aural wrestling match. With the winner going through to the semi-final by right and a second band picking up the wild card nomination the atmosphere was as electric as it has been for all the previous rounds.

The draw had been made earlier and it pitched Lead By Lies (6) into the opening slot. The local five piece were making their M2TM debut and hit hard from the off. Their intense brand of metalcore which mirrors elements of Avenged Sevenfold, Parkway Drive and Bullet for My Valentine got a big reaction from their faithful at the front but also from a number of members of the crowd. Pumped with energy, Lead By Lies worked incredibly hard to keep their initial momentum going. This is a massive challenge to all the opening bands, the adrenaline that kicks in from the opening bar can dissipate in seconds. Vocalist Ryan Griffiths is a focal point of the band, his large frame dominating the stage. Unfortunately, his vocals were a little ropey from the off, with his cleans struggling in the early tracks. Happily, he found his range and combined the cleans with more aggressive growls. As their confidence grew, Ryan and bassist Ashley Ball took advantage of the small amount of space in front of the stage to make daring forays into the crowd!! As the night wore on this couldn’t have happened so kudos for the band for indulging. Musically the band are a little generic for my tastes, but they earned a solid response and polled well at the end of the night.

Whilst Lead By Lies may have been playing their first MTTM, veterans of previous campaigns Incursion (8) knew they had to step up their game to match last years efforts where they reached the final. We won’t comment on vocalist and guitarist Johnny Foxall’s joyous birthday celebrations but let’s just say he was fully in the zone by the time the thrash three-piece hit the stage. And hit it they did, with an intensity that hadn’t been seen since 2018’s semi-final. Incursion play an unworldly style of thrash that mixes numerous influences but at times flickers between Machine Head, Devildriver and Strapping Young Lad. Mixing the set up with some humour, a new song and revitalised versions of older tracks, the first sweaty pits (brought to you courtesy of most of Democratus, Sepulchre and Blind Divide) of the evening opened. Things took a turn for the bizarre with The Hobnob Song, which saw a foolhardy audience member called Eddie attempt to retain a packet of Hobnobs through the duration of the song whilst the rest of the pit attempted to wrestle the biscuits from his grasp. Cue much chaos and many crumbs!! Last year one of the areas that the Bloodstock judge suggested needed work was the clean vocals and Incursion have learnt from this with Jonny’s performance much improved. As the band launched into their anthem Scourge to close the set, and despite the absence of Adam’s mum in a wall of death, you knew that Incursion were going to be there or thereabouts at the end of the evening.

It suddenly took a step up in both quality and professionalism with band 3 on the night, Fallen Temples (9). These guys have been around for a good while, and if you read our interview with guitarist Adam Vaughan, you’ll have learnt the history of the band. Veterans of the hard rock scene across the UK, Fallen Temples have already played some huge events in their career including Planet Rockstock and Hard Rock Hell, and it showed in their composed and compelling 30 minutes which just flew by. Tracks such as Euphoria and Phoenix got the place moving, although the band deserved more people watching them. With their infectious groove a combination of Clutch, Pantera, Orange Goblin and Soundgarden most pleasing to the ear, those that did watch were treated to possibly the best set of the competition so far. Tight, engaged and absorbing, Fallen Temples just steamrollered the venue with their sheer class. Watching drummer Joe Stirland batter his kit, sing backing vocals and spend more time off his stool than Lars was mesmerising whilst bassist and man mountain Joe Lewis, splendidly clad in a Clutch shirt, never stopped moving. This was combined with some stellar guitar work and perfectly delivered vocals from Adam, all leading to the set of the evening. Humble throughout, Fallen Temples deserve to get wider exposure.

All roads had to lead to this, and for the second week in a row, the one-man band took the headline spot. As those in the know took a collective intake of breath, Dirty Dez brought us 30 minutes of pandemonium through the medium of porn grindcore. Yes folks, the man who lists Cock and Ball Torture, Cliteater, Cemetery Rapist and Mortician amongst his influences hit the stage as Anal Floss Is Boss (8), immediately encouraging chants of “Floss is Boss”, mosh pits, crowd surfing and a sterling rendition of Sospan Fach. Toilet paper streamed through the air from the start, (which we hope wasn’t too much of a challenge to clean up – sorry Fuel) as Dez hit his routine hard. A rabid crowd engaged fully in the show, which included household favourites Felching Fecal Fantasy, the groovy Reasons To Watch Porn and closing anthem Death By Cock. At times it was easier not to think about how to write this review and just enjoy the chaos that was unfolding in front of us. Slick dance moves, grooves and beats saw shapes that hadn’t been thrown in Fuel for a while, all topped off with a slab of the heaviest grindcore around. Smiles all round as the set came to an end, with disappointment that the porno infused shit fest was over.

If the previous heats had been challenging to judge, this Heat added even further difficulties. With Incursion polling a massive number of votes, and with a performance that was vastly improved on 2018, it was no surprise when they claimed top spot. A tight decision then saw the wild card go to Fallen Temples but Anal Floss Is Boss could consider himself desperately unlucky. Quality won out on the day. Commiserations to both AFIB and Lead By Lies, who also polled well and who we hope will recuperate, reflect and reapply next year. Another massive night, with thanks to all involved including another huge crowd. Next heat, Heat 5, is on 29th March and promises to be a ball breaking evening. Come, join us!!!!

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