Review – Metal to the Masses quarter final 2 at Firebug, Sunday 28th April 2019

Photo: By Design by Kevin Gaughan

with Omen Machine, Ten Days Later, By Design and New Age Grace

Reviewed by Liz Marriott.
Organised by Metal 2 the Masses, Leicester and Resin events

Greater stakes warrant a vaster venue, and Metal 2 The Masses decamped to Firebug this Sunday, for the year’s second Quarter Final. With a promising line-up, excitement was running high, and the artists did not disappoint.

Opening act, Omen Machine, hit the ground running with a five man strong strike-force, sparking a mosh pit from their very first song. Guitarists Oliver and Callum once more assailed the audience with their incredible fretwork, whilst bassist, Ross, and drummer, Fred, beat them into eager submission with a battery of rhythm and blast beats.

Bringing it all together was frontman, Matt, whose compelling melodies shone through the sound; he easily captivated the crowd with his heartfelt performance. The band took full advantage of Firebug’s bigger stage, utilising the extra space to deliver an exceptionally dynamic, energetic set.

Omen Machine Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Ten Days Later had the less than enviable task of following the five-piece, and they gamely stepped up to the mark, displaying a classic blend of driving, metal-influenced rhythms, bluesy bass riffs, and a propensity to prog-flavoured, extended instrumentals.

Vocal duties were shared between guitarist, Andy, and impressively, Dale, on drums. Meanwhile bassist, Roger, injected more animation into the performance, ricocheting around the stage, and adding a visual aspect to the set.

Unfortunately some technical problems created recurrent feedback on the bass, which marred the three Nottingham-based musicians’ otherwise engaging sound.

Ten Days Later Photo: Kevin Gaughan

Next to ascend were By Design, who took some time to assemble their set up – but it was well worth the wait.

A foreboding intro crept across the room, whilst the band crouched with their backs to the audience. As the music gained momentum, they rose to their feet, clapping overhead, before turning dramatically to pile-drive into their first track.

The Trivium-inspired trio played with unrelenting ferocity, flaunting a glorious cacophony of harmonised solos, and layered clean and screamed vocals. Their polished stage-craft was clearly well rehearsed, and lead vocalist/guitarist, Rob, exhibited incredible control of the crowd, directing them with arm out-stretched, a dictator of sonic destruction.

Unusually, the three-piece forgoes a bassist, instead utilising guitarist Harry’s computer. However, this by no means diminished their impact, and the band decisively demonstrated that having less performers does not equate to a lesser performance.

See below for our video interview with By Design.

By Design Photo: Kevin Gaughan

The closing slot was taken by “wild card” act New Age Grace, a female-fronted four person ensemble, who wound down the evening with their more mellow, alternative rock material.

“Wild cards” are bands nominated for the next round by the judging panel as something slightly different, and it was easy to see why the group might have been put through: their clean-cut sound was the perfect antidote to a barrage of brutal breakdowns. Vocalist Amy had an excellent range, and her clear, commanding voice wove between strains of melodic guitar.

Final song Don’t Follow was particularly atmospheric, concluding with the last line of lyrics lingering over a soulful solo.

New Age Grace Photo: Kevin Gaughan

So, who would make it through to the following round? First to succeed were Omen Machine, with By Design hot on their heels. The hoard of semi-finalists swarmed onto the stage for a photo, gleefully extending devil horns to the camera.

Watch this interview with By Design and their performance of Gods & Men at the gig.

Want to catch the next bout? Details can be found here.

Omen machine on Facebook.
By Design on Facebook.
Ten Days Later on Facebook.
New Age Grace on Facebook.

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