Meet Leicester’s Metal 2 The Masses Finalists

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If you know anything about the UK rock and metal scene you’ll know that the annual Bloodstock Open Air festival has been doing more than any other festival to bring aspiring artists to a bigger audience. Quite aside from assembling the best heavy metal line-up to be found anywhere in the UK, Bloodstock regularly promotes up-and-coming talent, and many highly regarded acts started out with a performance upon one of Bloodstock’s stages.

Now an annual fixture, Metal 2 The Masses is a nation-wide competition that sees bands competing in their respective regions to win a coveted spot on the New Blood Stage. It’s a remarkable contest that sees promoters, bands, technical crew and graphic designers from across the metal community come together in common cause. Competition is fierce (but friendly) and nowhere more so than in Leicester, where local promoter Simon Yarwood has put together the most ambitious Metal 2 The Masses yet seen, with a final that pits the five finalists in a competition that takes place in the legendary De Montfort Hall, a venue that has, over the years, played host to Queensryche, Thin Lizzy, the Manic Street Preachers, Motorhead and many, many more. It’s this sort of dedication from both artists and promoters that has been inspired by Bloodstock’s example, and Metal 2 the Masses events up and down the country have (deservedly) been receiving ever-increasing attention in recent years.

Uprising, as the Leicester event has been dubbed, is a huge event for Leicester. Not content with hosting a final featuring some truly phenomenal bands from across the Midlands, Simon has also bought together a dream line-up of Bloodstock alumni to make the event truly spectacular. With bands like Hell, Phil Campbell’s All Starr band, Beholder, Aghast, Mage, Internal Conflict and Simon’s own Resin (who played Bloodstock a few years back), the final has become a festival in its own right and, for the finalists, it marks the conclusion of a contest that has been grueling and exciting in equal measure.

Over the last few months, thirty-five bands have battled it out in intense, sweaty and crowded heats in Leicester’s own Firebug bar. It’s been a colossal battle, with many worthy bands falling along the way, and the bands that remain represent an eclectic, exceptionally talented group of musicians, all of whom have delivered powerful performances that deserve a wider audience no matter who eventually takes the crown at Uprising. So, regardless of whether you can make this epic day of metal, we’d like to introduce to you the five finalists of the East Midlands Metal 2 the Masses.

BloodOath Faces

Blood Oath – Frazer Hart (Guitar)

Could you introduce your band for us?

We are Blood Oath. This band has been a drunken idea for a few years now but for various reasons didn’t happen. Fast forward to late last year and Simon Yarwood posted an ad looking for bands to join the Leicester Metal to the Masses competition. This prompted Frazer to take the bull by the horns and book a slot for his as yet nonexistent band. Simon was aware of this so no lies or underhandedness was involved! Luckily the other guys loved the idea and so starts the fastest band naming, logo design and song writing sessions ever! We had 3 months to go from nothing to a half hour set and dammit we did it!

So Blood Oath was born directly from this competition. 

We are:

Thrax: Vocals

Mike Freeman: Guitar

Frazer Hart: Guitar

Dave Camp: Bass

Ady McGlennon: Drums

What are your principle influences?

Carcass, Entombed, Amon Amarth, At the Gates, Bloodbath, Decapitated, Exodus, Iron Maiden, the Haunted. It’s really just heavy, hooky, riff based metal that burns your grandma’s ears!

Do you have a release out currently – if so where can people check it out?

We’ve only been together 5 months give us a chance! We currently have ropey live and rehearsal recordings on our facebook page but hope to record in the next 4 to 6 weeks. Keep an eye out.

How did you get involved in metal 2 the masses and what have your experiences been of the heats so far?

We exist because of Metal to the Masses! The experience has been great and we have met some great people in great bands. The gigs are run like clockwork, well promoted and there is a great feeling of everyone being in it together. I’m pretty certain we will be gigging with some of the other bands after all this craziness is done.

blood oath

What would you say has been your band’s biggest success to date?

To date we have only played 3 gigs, all Metal to the Masses gigs so our greatest success to date has been making it to the final.

How challenging is it for an independent band to develop a following? What would be your tip for a band just starting out?

All of us in Blood Oath have been in bands previously and have experience trying to make waves and create a following in a sea of a thousand bands. Life can be difficult in a band and sometimes it can feel like you are getting nowhere. But use social media, hook up with other bands and when you have a gig, invite an out of town band to play. They will invite you to one of theirs. Create a network and promote each other’s stuff. This is the next step in Blood Oath; get out there because a band that only plays its hometown gets nowhere.

As we tried to do in Blood Oath the best piece of advice is to have the strongest songs you can possibly write. Don’t settle for a riff, lyric or piece of music that is not great or is just padding. Concentrate on every single aspect of the song, not just the hook riff and chorus.

After this rehearse like hell! Not just musically but like you are on stage. Record yourself and watch it back. Practice your gig not just your songs.

Physical releases or downloads?

Not yet but soon my friends…soooooon!

Any final comments?

Our final looks amazing with any of the bands worthy of winning the coveted Bloodstock gig and although we want the Bloodstock gig like crazy we shall sit at the final smug as hell that what we have gained from Metal to the Masses is more than anyone. We have gained a band!

 final coil b&w

Final Coil – Richard Awdry (Lead guitar / Vocals)

Could you introduce your band for us?

We are Final Coil. We are a four-piece from Leicester. Phil and I provide guitars and vocals, Jola plays bass and Ches is our drumsperson. We’ve been together for some time now, although we’ve gone through the usual line-up shifts and, I think, this is the strongest line up we’ve ever had. It can be hard to keep a band focused and together, but when it works (as Final Coil does now) then it’s amazing!

What are your principle influences?

The obvious one to most people is Alice In Chains, but mixed in with that there’s a bit of Tool, some Nine Inch Nails and maybe some Deftones.  You could go on for some time, so I’ll keep it simple.

Do you have a release out currently – if so where can people check it out?

Our recent EP – ‘Closed to the Light’ – is available to stream or purchase at finalcoilrock.bandcamp.com It’s the most nuanced release that we’ve put out, and although we’ve produced heavier EPs, I think it’s the record that most accurately reflects the myriad influences we have. We also did a lyric video with the awesomely talented Andy Pilkington of Very Metal Art for one of the tracks – our first proper video – and you can check that out on YouTube.

How did you get involved in metal 2 the masses and what have your experiences been of the heats so far?

We’d been supporting gigs put on through Resin events for a while anyway, so when the opportunity for this came along it would have been silly to pass up. Without exception all the M2M shows we’ve experienced either as an artist or as audience have been phenomenal and the general vibe and communal spirit among the bands and all their supporters has been superb. Simon’s put in an immense amount of work and we’ve been lucky to have people like Russ working on sound because everything has just come together perfectly. Competitions can be daunting, but this hasn’t been like that at all, and although we’re all desperate to play Bloodstock – who wouldn’t be – it’s an honour just to have got this far.

ME

What would you say has been your band’s biggest success to date?

Either getting to the final of this competition or disentangling guitars from Phil’s hair at the end of a gig. Fortunately, the latter hurts him more than me!

How challenging is it for an independent band to develop a following? What would be your tip for a band just starting out?

It’s very challenging. Realistically you can’t get your mates out to every gig so being respectful of other bands you play with and venue staff, even if they aren’t necessarily your thing, is essential for not getting yourself a bad name among the likes of promoters and venue managers/sound engineers etc.

I think, also, it’s more essential than ever that bands try to develop their own identity – we play for the love of playing and, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a bigger audience, I’d still rather play what I love to a small group of people than compromise in front of a larger one.

Physical releases or downloads?

We’re big fans of physical releases, as the piles of vinyl that populate our respective homes will attest, and we put a lot of effort into our own physical releases as a result – it’s so cool when you get a release with great art or liner notes, and we always try to give our work a strong visual presence. Obviously we can see that that’s not for everyone so if you want to download us instead, be our guest!

Any final comments?

I wouldn’t say all ginger frontmen are megalomaniacs but….

garganjua

Garganjua – Scott Taylor (guitar/vocals)

Could you introduce your band for us?

We are Ganganjua and we are a 4 piece doom band from the East Midlands!

What are your principle influences?

Our main influence would be the genre of doom! Specifically, epic, melodic doom in the vein of Pallbearer, Yob, Samothrace and Ahab.

Do you have a release out currently – if so where can people check it out?

We do, we released an album called ‘A Voyage in Solitude’ in January through Hibernacula Records (physical) and Black Bow Records (digital)

How did you get involved in metal 2 the masses and what have your experiences been of the heats so far?

To be honest, we’re good good friends with the promoter who is running the Leicester M2TM and we wanted to do our bit for a vibrant metal scene and take part. Honestly, we didn’t really expect to get anywhere and just did it to play a gig hahaha but it’s been a really good experience. Everyone involved has been so killer and what has been really nice to see (or not see) NO EGOS! Everyone has just been really supportive of everyone and I think that is the main thing.

garganjua 2

What would you say has been your band’s biggest success to date?

For us personally, the album has been a big success. Not in the sense of sales or anything but just what it has meant to us as individuals and as a band. It’s something we’re very proud of. We have also supported some of our biggest influences over the last 12 months: Pallbearer, Samothrace and Conan! Obviously, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a little proud of reaching the M2TM Final too.

How challenging is it for an independent band to develop a following? What would be your tip for a band just starting out?

I think it is very difficult as there is just so much out there now in terms of bands and variety. Its difficult to stand out. Our advice would be: Be original, don’t restrict yourself creatively and gig your backsides off. Hard work is key.

Physical releases or downloads?

Much bigger fan of physical for sure. I still buzz for opening the packaging and seeing the booklets, the thanks lists, the lyrics…. love it all.

Any final comments?

Just to thank you for your time!

 conjurer

Conjurer – Brady Deeprose (Vocals / Guitar)

Could you introduce your band for us?

We’re Conjurer, a 4-piece post-nonsense band from The Midlands. We comprise of Dan Nightingale (Vox/Guitar), Brady Deeprose (Vox/Guitar), Andy Price (Bass), and Jan Krause (Drums)

What are your principle influences?

We’re influenced by a ridiculously vast range of music, both as a group and individually, and the majority of it doesn’t really translate directly into what you hear. I’d say we wouldn’t shy away from sonic comparisons to Neurosis, Mastodon, Opeth, Armed For Apocalypse, or Yob, but give the EP a go; we love hearing people’s interpretations.

Do you have a release out currently – if so, where can people check it out?

At the moment, we have absolutely nothing. Our debut EP is coming out on July 1st via Holy Roar Records, which is an absolutely crazy thing to be able to say.

conjurer ep

How did you get involved in Metal 2 the Masses and what have your experiences been of the heats so far?

We’ve known Simon Yarwood since the early days of the band (last year) and he’s always been supportive of the noises we make. He asked us to get involved and we thought the idea of playing on possibly several of his shows was always a winner and with the potential of actually playing Bloodstock, you’ve got to give it a shot.

We’ve had a great time so far, a few of our friends’ bands have been playing the shows, most notably the fantastic Garganjua who are joining us in the final, so it’s been a really good atmosphere. We play a hell of a lot of shows all around the country but the Leicester ones are always well attended, well run, and always great fun – massive respect again to Simon for holding the local scene together!

What would you say has been your band’s biggest success to date?

Signing to our collective favourite label has been far more than we’d ever expected to be honest! On top of that, we’ve had the chance to support some acts that we’ve been fans of for years which is a surreal experience. In fact, most of the last year and a half has been surreal: almost everyone we’ve encountered has been overwhelmingly supportive and positive about the band and we’re so, so grateful.

How challenging is it for an independent band to develop a following? What would be your tip for a band just starting out?

It’s definitely a tricky thing and is something that the majority of bands we’ve been in in the past have struggled with. I’d say that a lot of bands try and start playing shows before they’re ready – we see some bands with loads of promise that probably needed a few more months of rehearsals to get that stage-ready tightness together. We rehearsed for the best part of a year and were writing for months before that, so what looks like a swift progression from our first show last year has actually been a long time in the works.

 More general things: turn up on time, and don’t leave before everyone else plays. Talk to as many people as possible – it’s astounding the amount of things that I’ve been able to make happen based off a quick chat in the smoking area at a show. The most important thing I’ve learnt, and this is from the rest of the guys, is quality control: whether it’s song-writing, live performance, or merchandise, don’t settle for anything less than a professional standard no matter how much longer it takes you to get there.

conjurer logo

Physical releases or downloads?

Like I said, our record comes out on July 1st 2016 via Holy Roar and we’ll have various formats. As well as standard CD/download, we’re doing 12” LP in black and frost smoke, and the latter is absolutely stunning! They’re all going to be available from us at shows as well as http://www.holyroarrecords.com/ and https://conjureruk.bandcamp.com along with a stream of our first track ‘Scorn’ which is available now! We also have merch and tickets for upcoming shows available from www.conjureruk.bigcartel.com.

Any final comments?

Just to thank you for taking the time to chat to me! If you head over to www.facebook.com/conjureruk we have details about all our upcoming shows as well as links to tickets for Uprising, incorporating the Leicester M2TM final, on June 4th for just £8 from us!

temple of lies

Temple of Lies – Jon Scranney (Guitar)

Can you introduce the band for us?

TEMPLE OF LIES have absorbed influences from the whole musical universe and have alchemically combined these to form a raucous rock/metal experience that has their devotees coming back for more religiously. The four piecepowerhouse from Leicester, UK, consists of Si Shaw (vox), AlexGamble (drums), Jon Scranney (guitars), Simon Ball (bass).

Primary influences

We like a diverse range of music. If it’s good, it’s good.We all grew up listening to bands like Metallica, Nirvana, Slayer, Black Sabbath, but we like drum n bass, dance music, classical music… if it’s good,it’s good!

from sand

Tell us about ‘From Sand’ your latest album.

The album was recorded over a three week session using a Reindirk desk andanalogue outboard gear. We recorded instruments separately. So all the drums were recorded first with guide guitar, then bass, then Guitars and finally vocals.

The artwork is particularly impressive – How did you develop it and did the band have much input?

Yes the artwork is fantastic. We are lucky to be able to work with our Artistat Zonument who is very talented and can visualise our concepts. The artist then works freely once the concept sketches are sufficiently developed. We trust him completely. The album cover is really actually two covers. The disc has an image of the Earth Mother Ship and has complex underlying themes which actually relate to lyrics in the songs. The main front cover is a Crystal Phylactery which was originally designed as a single cover for the song Riff Machine. The Riff Machine idea involves a crystal ball with a sorceress conjuring. The crystal is wired to a bottled brain which, in turn, is wired to a suspended cage which contains a skeletal guitarist….Riffs are conjured using the device… hence the riff machine. The cage was eventually replaced by a crystal phylactery which now entraps the ‘Riff Beast’. It would be great to release a vinyl picture disk of the album ‘From Sand’ with just the Earth Mother Artwork in the future.

How did you get involved in Metal 2 the Masses?

We really want to play Bloodstock festival and thought we’d have a go at Metal to the Masses. It has been a great experience so far meeting so many awesome people and talented bands/musicians. The standard has been so high that each show was joy to attend as a spectator (sore neck afterwards!). We love playing live and always try to play with passion and feel, so all of the heats and particularly the quarter and semi final were amazing. The audiences have been great at each show and people are singing the lyrics to some of the songs which is always a buzz. A community has evolved as the competition has progressed, all with a passion for music.

How challenging is it for an independent band to develop a following? What would be your tip for a band just starting out?

The real audience are the people standing in front of you while you are playing live and the only way to reach that is by going out and gigging. Particularly when you first start out. The more gigs you’ll do the better you’ll get and people come back, the audience grows. This needs to be backed up by social media and a good website of course. Some younger bands nowadays seem to rely too much on social media, trying to miss out ‘the apprenticeship stage’ out on the road, gigging and making friends and a good network along the way. Work with other bands to promote your gigs and promote each others gigs too…..

Where can fans go to find out more about ToL?

Visit our website for music/merch and send us a message or get hold of us on Facebook. We also have a youtube channel

Any final words?

Work hard and enjoy what you do. Always try to write good original songs, keepwriting, enjoy gigging, love music and enjoy meeting people along the way. Always give your all when you’re performing your music \m/

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Bloodstock Open Air 2016  latest news:

BLOODSTOCK festival is excited to announce another batch of bands for August’s event at Catton Park!

Regrouped Brit industrio-metallers, KILL II THIS join the main stage for a Saturday slot.  Frontman, Mark Mynett says “BLOODSTOCK is one of the finest
metal festivals there is; this year’s stunning line up says it all!  So we are both delighted and honoured to be playing the Ronnie James Dio stage.”  Check out their video for ‘The Universe In A Nutshell’ here:

Stepping into Friday’s special guest slot on the Sophie Lancaster Stage are Norway’s black jazzsters, SHINING.  Singer Jørgen Munkeby comments, “Last time we played at BLOODSTOCK was one of the best and most exciting shows we’ve ever done. We’re so much looking forward to be back at the UK’s best metal festival again!”  Remind yourself of their sound with the video for ‘The Last Stand’


Also landing Friday slots on the Sophie stage are Brit crust/grindcore monsters, FOETAL JUICE and British apocalyptic metal crew, ANTI CLONE. Tunisian symphonic prog metallers, MYRATH play the Sophie stage on Saturday, as do French avant-garde extremists, MISANTHROPE.  Lastly, stepping into a Sunday Sophie slot are US progressive thrash beasts, VEKTOR.

Already announced for 2016 are the three headliners, TWISTED SISTER (in their last ever UK show), MASTODON and SLAYER, plus special guests BEHEMOTH,
GOJIRA and ANTHRAX.  Also on the bill are FEAR FACTORY, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, SYMPHONY X, SATYRICON, PARADISE LOST, DRAGONFORCE, METAL ALLEGIANCE, STUCK MOJO, ROTTING CHRIST, MISERY LOVES CO, GHOST BATH, VENOM, UNEARTH, DIAMOND HEAD, GOATWHORE, ACID REIGN and many more.  Additional bands are still to be announced.

Weekend tickets with camping, plus various VIP packages are available now, priced from £139 (+ booking fee) at
http://bloodstock.seetickets.com/event/bloodstock-2016/catton-park/902838.

BLOODSTOCK will be held at Catton Park, Derbyshire on 11th-14th August 2016.  Keep up to date with the very latest info on BLOODSTOCK’s official sites at www.facebook.com/bloodstock and www.bloodstock.uk.com, or via Twitter on @BLOODSTOCKFEST.

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