Another trip to Exeter’s infamous underground cove was upon us to see the Metal to the Masses 2015 final descend upon the Cavern Club. As soon as I arrived it was clear there was already quite a lot of buzz and excitement with people geared up for the rather prestigious event (especially for a Sunday night!) The evening kicked off as soon as the doors opened with just 15 minutes to hail a drink at the bar and find a decent space among the growing crowd, whilst Mike James from Phonic FM and Bloodstock Radio delighted our ears with a Bloodstock based DJ set.
As the rest of the crowd descended into Exeter’s metal underground belly the first band of the night took centre stage. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of Gymir after seeing them milling around the bar. They commit to their image with stage outfits remnant to extras on the set of ‘Braveheart’ but it all made sense within the first few bars of their set. The best way I describe this band would be a melodic Amon Amarth doing an Irish jig. Their stand out song ‘The Return of the Raven’ is stuck in my head even now. I’ve got to hand it to them, first on the bill is a notoriously hard spot but they prevailed with professionalism and got the crow going, although I would say they could have looked like they enjoyed it a bit more but this may have been part of their presence!
One band in and already pleasantly surprised, Battleborne took the stage. Honestly, this band’s unique style of joint vocals and chugging riffs are not usually my style but they were quick to engage the crowd and were easy to bob along too. It was great to keep the energy up on a night like this, but for a festival such as Bloodstock it felt like these guys needed to grow a bit and really connect with what they were playing. Give these boys some time and we may well see a serious contender on our hands.
Cybernetic Witch Cult
Next up was Cybernetic Witch Cult, one of my biggest surprises of the evening. They weren’t my usual kind of metal, but this three piece groovy and slightly retro-esque style really got us all going and had everybody rocking out with their own 70’s style and accompanying TV/projector screen to add another dimension to their performance.
Three out of six bands down, and after another quick change it was local band Reign Eternal’s turn. After hearing lots about this band I was eager to see them live myself. They pulled a formidable crowd that gave the Cavern a high energy feel and I found them to be a rather melodic yet hardcore band that was great to headbang to although I felt as though the vocalists continuity could be slightly sharpened.
Band five of the evening was Torquay quartet Vipera. As a band I had seen before I knew what was coming but was still blown away by their ‘tightness’ – this band’s stage presence is always impressive and you can tell they are giving it their all and putting the work in. These guys and lady have their own twist on classic thrash music with impressive vocals that come out of nowhere! Keep your eyes peeled I don’t think it’s going to be long before we see them play the likes of Bloodstock.
By now it had been a long day and I knew an even longer one was to follow but there was one band left and I was there to see it through! Loft took the stage by storm right off the bat with an odd clarity. They knew why they were here and were determined all with an air of ease. Their old school heavy metal style quickly won over the crowd and the Cavern although weary felt electrified. Groovy beats, classic melodies and this band sealed the deal for me.
Their set finished and guest judge Rachael Harrison ‘Enso Music Management’ took to the stage to make one of the bands Bloodstock dream come true. Bloodstock’s very own Simon Hall couldn’t make it down to the south west this year as he was busy with the Metal to the Masses final in Norway but Rachael was there to metaphorically step into his ”somewhat smelly, and too large shoes” (Her own words!)
With quick wit and a few apologies on Simon’s behalf, Cornwall’s LOFT was announced as Metal to the Masses 2015 Devonshire/Cornwall/Somerset winners, a decision I wholeheartedly support and can’t wait to see them on Bloodstock’s New Blood stage this year. An honourable mention goes to Stephanie Full from Nazgul Agency, Exeter, for putting on this event every year. It was so good to see so many people come out on a Sunday night to support local bands and for Bloodstock to give the unsigned bands a chance to play an amazing festival.
Review: Kerrie Hawkins