Gig review – Metal to the Masses heat 1 at Duffy’s Bar, Sunday 3rd March 2024

Torchbearer. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

with Feral State, Skeyth, Massasauga, Wollow and Torchbearer

Reviewed by Simon Ball

Organised by Resin Events

First about the venue. It’s nicely rammed. The sound is excellent and I forgot my earplugs, it’s loud but not painful.

First band Wollow – WolloW start promptly at 1830 on the dot. Which is about 7 seconds after I arrived at the venue. Their opener is punchy, a haunting gloomy verse and a heck of a middle eight with a tempo change.
Alan’s vocals move through all sorts of styles and he’s competent at growling and screaming, and can switch between modes gracefully.
Dan’s Bass is thumping with punchy fills in the middle eight where he is joined by both guitarists layering up textures so that the bass fill becomes the main riff. The outro solo over a doom riff ends with drums then bass then guitars dropping off…. And over the last held guitar note the crowd politely voices its approval.

Second song features some weird bass discords which I quite liked during the first chorus, the grinding verse reminiscent of slower bits of Slayer style, but not so much that it would be considered slayeresque. The haunting pre-chorus and subsequent return to full band was a short bridge. Guitarist Scranney’s lead in the second song is varied and moody and gets heads nodding in the crowd. And a bigger cheer than the first song.

Third song starts at 1844. It’s pacier and less doomy. Much bouncier and the crowd’s heads are bobbing a lot now, they’re really warming to the contours of the set Wollow have put together. On this song Alan’s vitriolic vocals are angst-ridden, bringing to mind Hetfield on Kill em all…in a good way.
In the bridge, familiar site of local scene stalwart Jake from (Phoenix Shire) banging his head can be spotted from the back of the room. The outro is another Slayer-esque grind bit going into a Nirvana-style moshy bit. Ending on an abrupt jarring chord… Wollow’s Singer Alan says thanks as Scranney starts the next song.

Wollow. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

The vocal line and riff of the fourth song are very catchy indeed. It’s at this point I notice that Alan maybe had effects on his voice, but that no one else sings or has a mic to do any backing in Wollow. This one has a bouncy riff which reminds me of some of Temple of Lies earlier works, not a surprise when two members of this band were in that band.

At 1854 they start their last song, number five, starts with a cloud of smoke and is pacier but less groovy, stage left guitarist plays a riff in this one which is the first time I’ve noticed him doing a lead part… he was hidden behind a pillar so I may have missed earlier solos.

The band look close together, the changes are tight, the riffs are good, and I think their performance would benefit from the five of them being on a bigger stage. Duffy’s did not give them much room to put on their full show.

Driving bass lines tight with the drummer. Last song might be called Wollow.

Fake ending gets crowd applause before they come back in with the best part of the song, solo from stage left guitarist is tight and punchy… Stage right guitar is loud compared to his bandmate and is drowning the solo slightly.

Final song gets good applause from the crowd.
Descriptors: Powerful, Vigorous
Number of solos, several
Fast songs, about half.

Second band Feral state have a punchy sound.

At 19:16 They start their first song and it is Fast punky grind, full of growly vocals.
As a four piece, they have a lot more room and are much more mobile. The first song seems to be one riff and a blast beat. And lasts two minutes.
There are slam dancers, and these guys are louder, I’m regretting not bringing earplugs.
Son of a gun? Yeah… The crowd are really into this and some of them know the words.
They smash through their set, songs are a couple of minutes each and they don’t stop much between songs. The next song is full of grind with blast beats. It might be called Worm breath?

Feral State. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Sounds like the next song is called Skank. There is a slam pit now. I wish I was young, and drinking, on a Sunday night. I’d have gone mental for this thirty years ago when I was 20. The crowd seems slightly smaller than for Wollow, but maybe I am further forward, or maybe they are all bunched up together at the front!

Descriptors: Virile, valorous
Number of solos: zero
Fast songs: all 8 of them

Third band – Skeyth.
They start at 20:03 and are Bass, vox, guitar and drums. This is much more my cup of tea/pint of Star/rum and coke. This is Growly bass, strong singing, head bobbing metal.
There’s a massive groovy wah solo bridge on the first song, I’m not good at telling by ear what tunings people are in, but this seems like at least a Drop D riff fest, if not Drop C.
And their Drummer does awesome high hat work.
At 20.08 they play a banger called Dark Red Cross and their crowd are definitely into it.

Skeyth. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Singer in this band so far has only one main vocal style but he does it well.
There’s another Massive wahwah solo on this song and a good amount of fans dancing it up. Lots of heads nodding to the groove

Descriptors: Chatty, Beefy
Number of solos, several, lots of juicy Wah solos
Fast songs, most

4th band.

2050:Master soager? I checked the spelling MASSASAUGA

I’m several pints in now and my descriptions of each band are getting less detailed as the night goes on. This band surprises me, as for a 2 piece of only guitar and drums they have a big, full sound and are very active. I like the SG tone. Although the crowd has thinned out a bit, there are several heads nodding.
Good ending to the first song too.

Good riffs and vocals. Full drum sound.
The song that starts at 20.53 has excellent use of riffs, with chords and solos mixed together in the riff. Great screaming solo on guitar.

I think the song is called Don’t be scared of the dark.

The next song, at 20.56 is called The Witching Hour. It has a solid bouncy riff, and is an all-out belter.

At 21.00 slow bluesy one. Called Deeper Than The Rest. Capo 1st fret.

At 21.04 The Only Good Wizard is a Dead Wizard, great crowd participation. There are less people here watching this band, those that are here do seem to enjoy them though, and it’s a shame, because this pair know how to put on a show. They’re active, using the space, they are tight, and their riffs are good.

21.07 Dungeon Crawler? Now they’re talking my language… Lovely pinch harmonics. Good riffs. And they’re Selling CDs for three quid. I consider it and then remember that I never carry cash anymore, must make a mental note to bring some cash to future M2TM gigs! I return from thinking about this to see that the Guitarist had stepped off the stage, away from the crowd, and even without his Mic, in the crowd he could still be heard singing the chorus, it was astonishing.

Massasauga. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

Their set comes to an end, and there may well be more musician talk about the the general dislike for the current majority party in Parliament.

Descriptors: exciting, active
Number of solos, several
Fast songs, all of them.

Headline band, Torchbearer guests who won at Cardiff!

They have a really big sound for a four-piece, crowd going for it.
Torchbearer have two vocals, the lead singer and guitarist.
Lots of head-banging riffs, definitely one of the best bands I’ve seen play here in a long time, I’d love to see them up at Firebug or at Uprising on a bigger stage.

2nd song starts at 21.46, great riffs. Modern solid metal sound. Chuggy, djent action with melodic solos.
Bass solo melodic riff is a cracker.
Singer singing for a bit… it kicks back in with a huge riff and chorus. Really working the two vox

Phuq the tories! Seems to have been the overall sentiment from the bands this evening.

Crowd clap and join in, it seems all the audience for all the bands are starting to flow back and the room is heaving, and they’re all enjoying Torchbearer. This is Sunday, in March, it is Metal, and Leicester has a “Scene”. Well done to everyone for pulling this thing together, and for being here.

The next song, is a fast one, another massive riff. Guitarist good vox, but the combo with the singer’s hard core, flu-affected scream was awesome. You can see why they won their round, and they set a bar for the other bands who played tonight.

At 21.58 they play a song called Northstar.
Lovely bass and drum tandem work. Very tight.
Massive riff. The crowd was fully returned and there’s a lot of hair in the air.

Bridge and chorus, lots of juicy chords.
Not sure if the guitarist was singing more than usual as the frontman had a nasty cold, but it gave him a good flemmy growl!
At 22.01 there was a vigourous slam pit for the big bridge riff.

Torchbearer. Photo (c) Kevin Gaughan

At 22.02 penultimate song starts, I didn’t catch the name, but it’s another fast one, the singer liked the mosh pit… Vindication? It’s a hardcore punk number. Good slamming by the beautiful twenty somethings and an awesome middle riff, vox by the bass player in a very shiny top also goes down well.

At 22.04 the last song is called Frost Bite, another banger. It’s going to be on my rotation on Spotify after the gig.
I like the singer’s sentiment as he thanks the bands, and tells the crowd to go and support gigs and be nice to each other. They also have T shirt merch and again I regret not having cash.

The final song continues with awesome growly bass slides in the intro. The guitar solo pre-chorus was nice. Lovely motif and built anticipation on the second time around. A Good chorus riff and vox.
Bass and drums huge sound in the hands-up middle bit, and the drums overall are tight and full.

This band have excellent songwriting, technical ability and awesome overall presentation. I recommend you check them, and all the bands out on Spotify, and go and see them live next time.


Band battles are brutal, I’ve played in a few, and said never again, and I always say that after every one. I think I have played in five. Won one, got to the final of one and played at DeMontfort Hall for Uprising. I recommend bands give this a go and bring all their friends and get them to vote.

So what have we learned?
There’s a mass of Metal talent playing in Leicester, there’s load more heats and it’s well worth going to see Metal to the Masses.

Overall, tonight’s winning band were Feral State. They probably brought the biggest portion of the crowd and that’s how they got the most votes, and they played well, but all the bands were excellent, and any of them could have been the winner tonight.

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