Find us on Facebook!

To keep updated like our page at:

Or on Twitter:

Or E-mail us at:

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Bloodstock Metal To The Masses Grand Final (Live Review By Paul)

Bloodstock Metal To The Masses Grand Final, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

And so, it finally happened. Nearly 30 bands, six frenetic heats, two epic semi finals done. The final arrived. To say anticipation was great for the evening would be one of the greatest understatements of all time. The build up had been frenzied on social media; we ran interviews with each of the bands plus a look back and forward with last year’s winners Democratus; the bands plastered their pages with reminders and pleas for support … and the bloody event only went and sold out! It promised much and delivered so much more.

For the Musipedia crew, this was an event to relax and enjoy. We’d worked damn hard throughout the competition and with only this review to write, it was an opportunity to kick back, have a few beers and enjoy the company of old and new friends whilst watching the magic unfold. Having grabbed a pre-gig meal and pint in the excellent Head Of Steam, we arrived a good hour and a half before doors at Fuel to find all the bands had successfully navigated their way through the traffic chaos thanks to the Tory tax-dodgers event at the Stadium and loaded in. Sound-checks were well underway and there was already an air of excitement. Nerves were being settled, the bands were in jovial form and eager early birds headed to the bar whilst Wales played out the death throes of their defeat in Croatia.

The draw was unkind once more to Haverfordwest’s In Which It Burns (8) who seem to inevitably pull the opening slot. Up first again, following the decision to push Cranial Separation’s set to the end of the evening. Going on first never worries the West Wales boys and with their usual aggression they took the event by the scruff of the neck. A healthy crowd was treated to possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen by the band, as they simply scorched the earth around them with their intense anti-establishment groove metal. Frontman Stretch was straining every sinew of his vest clad frame, snarling his vocals and firing forward crushing riffs for fun. The band have impressed me ever since I saw them at Fuel a couple of years ago and their shows in this tournament have been astonishingly consistent. The Creed and 6341 slayed big time, whilst newer material slotted comfortably alongside. Guitarist Steve, his wiry frame covered in tattoos, played the gig of his life, his fretwork excellent whilst Vinny and Mikey had the engine room locked down tightly. The bar had not only been set but smashed. This was the standard every band needed to meet.

Having released their debut album Thrill Of A Kill a week earlier (see review on 7th June), Swansea’s Sepulchre (8) were already on a high and took that energy and enthusiasm into a strongly delivered set. A brief technical difficulty threatened to derail them early doors, but they recovered well, inciting the first pit action of the evening (and I’m still aching) with their anthem Kill Me. It’s hard to be objective when you are in the thick of the pit but from the chaos around me it was evident that Spatula were bringing it home big time. Frontman Darren Evans adding riffs, lead breaks and the gritty vocals in his own inimitable style. Betrayed By God closed out a set that was bursting with passion, and you couldn’t argue that Sepulchre hadn’t given it their all. That bar which IWIB had torn down was now stamped on by Sepulchre. Two bands in and the breathing was already in trouble.

Whilst Sepulchre had impressed during their journey through to the final, it had been Cardiff’s Blind Divide (10) that demonstrated the exact way to build on previous experiences. This was final number 3 for the band, and with the prize just out of reach in 2018 you sensed that this time the band was going to grab it and hold it tightly. And they did just that with the most ferocious set I’d ever seen from them. From the opening bars it was clear that Blind Divide were not here to make up the numbers. The crowd had swollen in the main room and the pit action continued in ferocious style. Two new numbers including the awesome Betrayer mixed up their set as they had promised and the roar of approval between songs was deafening. Blind Divide delivered everything we had hoped and at this stage of the evening manoeuvred into pole position. It was a position they refused to let go. But we still had a lot more to enjoy.

Possibly the discovery of the whole competition has been the big hard rock and metal sound of King Kraken (8). The five piece who have not even been together for a year yet had thundered their way into the final. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and certainly were in no mood to go down without the ugliest fight they could offer. New tracks, additional effects including Mark Donoghue’s tolling bell on the opening number, and a massive army roaring their efforts made for another bombastic Kraken set. As the pits which appeared to have settled opened once more to the pulverising Freak, Kraken pushed even harder. Drenched in sweat, they gave their all and are now an established and welcome addition to the Welsh circuit. They are slowly spreading their musical tentacles across the country and I can only see this band going one way. Skyward.

Two more bands to go but no sign of the energy levels dropping despite the oppressive heat which Fuel generates. With the audience now cramming into the room, it was time for Fallen Temples (9) to show their quality. Adam, Joe and Joe played superbly, the dual Joe combination solidly tight, allowing Adam the freedom to express with his guitar work and strong vocals. Cut The Wire stoked the temperature, Phoenix poured a bit more fuel on the fire and then they hit accelerate until the finish line. Like all the bands here, we’ve eulogised over the quality on display with our previous reviews and Fallen Temples are no exception. Simply brilliant musicians, confident but humble with it, they showed once more why they are one of the most enjoyable bands in South Wales. If you missed them at this show, make up for it at the next available opportunity. You won’t regret it.

All the buoyant enthusiasm of the previous acts was however, punctured by the final competing band, Levitas (7). The band’s miserable post black metal ceremony saw the venue plunged into darkness, as their passages of riffing despair circled their deathly tendrils around the room. To be fair, this wasn’t the best Levitas performance with some of the clean vocals struggling a little. The band have been one of the major success stories of the whole event and I love their sound but, on the night, it perhaps was a little too left field in comparison to the other acts. There is plenty more to come from this technically excellent outfit and I look forward to our next encounter.

With the serious stuff out of the way it was really time to party before the final decision from Bloodstock’s Rob Bannister was announced and who better to maintain the fun but those cheap dildo wielding death metal nutters Cranial Separation (7). Decked out in some fetching Hawaiian shirts (last seen on the Jaegermeister Stage at Bloodstock August 2018), the band bludgeoned their way through 30 minutes of typically irreverent and pulverising death metal which included a new track (or two?). The pits opened back up, lunacy prevailed and Cranial did what Cranial do.

A week ago, last year’s year’s winner Democratus (8) destroyed the second semi-final in Bristol with a powerhouse guest headline display. With a partisan crowd behind them and Kerrin back in the fold after his recent absence, the band took the opportunity to demonstrate why they have been worthy champions for 2018-19. Powerful, comfortably confident and assured about their delivery, new tracks Preacher Of Hate showed promise whilst Divided They Fall also received solid feedback from the faithful who had thronged to the front, head banging and pitting one last time. A Life For A Lie rang out, no words were necessary from frontman Steve Jenkins to get the audience in full participation mode. There it ended; the last show as winners but Democratus have shown how to push on after winning the event and their profile is off the scale in comparison to this time last year. A model to follow for sure.

So that was it … but wait. The announcement still had to be made. Who had impressed Rob Bannister sufficiently to gain the golden ticket? Well, in true ironic style, the raffle for the two tickets was won by Adam from Blind Divide before the band’s drummer Anthony claimed the slab of Hobgoblin. With the metal gods shining down, it was no surprise but thoroughly deserved that Blind Divide got the nod and were hailed as 2019 winners. It didn’t stop there though, as Fallen Temples were awarded a guest slot which once more was fully deserved and recognition for their hard work.

It’s been hell of a competition. We’ve had tears, anger, sorrow and so much joy through the last couple of months. The guys and girls at Fuel have been immense, putting up with an at times rabidly ferocious audience. The sound team have excelled, with Fuel’s notoriously poor sound no longer a real issue. Kurtis Bagley played a blinder on the night and the sound was excellent. Thanks to Rob for travelling to Cardiff to judge; a task I’d have balked at due to the level of quality. And to Alyn and Tim, who stoically organised and maintained their heads when all around were losing theirs at times. Composure, hilarity and amazingly, a bit of professionalism are wording that spring to mind. Yeah, I know, but it’s true.

They have run an immense programme and rightly deserve the plaudits. Thank you both. Our final observation is that this is the year the fans have returned in their droves. Full houses are now commonplace in this area and we want to maintain this. It’s been a true honour to cover this competition and we now turn our attention to the main event, BOA in August with the plan to undertake more pre-festival interviews and reviews. We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage. If not, nothing I can say will change that. Thanks for reading. See you at a gig soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment