For the first time, Bloodstock Metal Festival’s battle of the bands competition has had an Edinburgh Scotland battle. The event was held in the Banshee Labyrinthwhich is in the old town centre of Edinburgh. The events under the title M2TM (Metal 2 The Masses) are held all over the UK and in Norway and Poland (if memory serves me correctly). This gives up and coming bands the chance to play the festival on the New Blood stage. If they do well there they can be invited back to play one of the main stages (normally the Sophie first) and even eventually the main Dio stage. Who knows who will be the first band to end up even headlining the whole event? That would be amazing and a full vindication of having a tent for young or unknown bands at an event this size!
Getting back to Edinburgh, I had the pleasure and fun of watching 4 bands, all metal as fuck, battling it out to get into the next round to eventually win the chance to hopefully play Bloodstock. The events are normally around the £5 mark for 4 bands each doing half an hour sets with roughly 15 to 20-minute change overs (allowing you to get to the bar and buy another beer so missing none of the action). The place was lovely and busy with a crowd cheering all the bands on throughout the night, with most band members checking each other out and clapping and cheering. Folks might want to win but there is plenty of respect on show.
First band up were Wild Fire from the borders in Scotland. The singer (possibly Keir?) did mention Kelso but someone shouted “Galashiels” back at him. So they were certainly rural from Edinburgh! They call themselves “old school heavy metal” and there was plenty of that in their set. The first track had an AC/DC vibe about it but quite a number of tracks had a mix of Thin Lizzy harmonies and Metallica riffage. The last song was they said, the first song they ever actually wrote about 5 years ago when aged 15 (that aged a few of us in the Banshee)! They played a little fast probably due to nerves so the set ran quicker than expected, but there was plenty of talent on show with some of the soloing being very good. I have a feeling the experience will have done them good and I expect to see them try again and do well.
Second band was female-fronted Edinburgh outfit Engines Of Vengeance. This band brought the groove to the metal. They also brought a front person with character who spent as much time in the crowd as on the tiny and low stage! Their experience shone through, tight and heavy but with melodies to get the body moving. They say they are “classic and melodic heavy metal” and they certainly are. They got an excellent response from the crowd possibly due to the singer Mercy being very in the faces of the folks on the floor.
Third up brought a change of pace and style to the evening. Nassau another Edinburgh based band play black metal, ferocious and angry sounding but with hints of prog as well. Although they are heavy as hell they do have a sense of playfulness in some of their in-between song banter which comes from also the guitarist (if memory serves me correctly) as well as the vocalist. I loved the comment about how there are things that seem wrong to say whilst in this environment (competition), like “you enjoying all the bands?” to which when the crowd responded resoundingly they were they responded “FUCK!” whilst of course laughing. This was my second time seeing them and the second time I was impressed!
Last on the bill were also from the city and are old school NWOBHM. No frills, just proper metal with melodic solos and choruses. They have been around a long time and it showed in their performance. They sort of owned the stage and knew how to get the crowd to join in clapping when appropriate. There are moments of infectious AC/DC riffage mixed with 70s rock and that NWOBHM as previously mentioned. They finished the live sets nicely on a high.
Once the bands stopped we all marked our “X”’s on our ballot which we were given on the way in. After a short count the results were revealed, not before another load of cheers for each band taking part, and the 2 bands winning through on the night were Engines Of Vengeance and Nassau. A huge “well done” to both and a “good luck” for the finals to come.
The M2TM heats are held all over the country and are worth getting along to. A chance to see some new or lesser-known acts as well as a chance to perhaps get a local band you enjoy to Bloodstock. Just keep checking both the official Bloodstock website and Facebook pages to see if there is one near you soon. Great atmosphere and attitudes all round. Have a few beers with friends, be entertained and have a head bang! All for the price of a pint in London (or so it seems!).
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