with BlackHawkDown, Omen Machine, InSickness and Diceratops
Reviewed by Liz Marriott.
Last Easter Sunday at Duffy’s bar saw the final showdown in the first round of Metal 2 The Masses – and four stalwart contenders entered the arena to give it a sterling send off.
First up were BlackHawkDown, an immensely watchable five piece, whose hard-rock flavoured brand of classic metal had shades of Mastodon and Metallica. The group has been taking time away from gigging recently in order to record their latest album, but despite this, their performance was extremely well executed.
Singer Ben snarled through the set, his swaggering vocals a flawless foil to their riff-driven arrangements. Rousing choruses, solos sprinkled with pinch harmonics, and artful breaks combined to create well-structured, memorable songs, which soon had the crowd shouting along.
BlackHawkDown Photo: Kevin Gaughan
InSickness were next to shoulder their way onto the stage, their serene, euphonic intro initially lulling the audience into a false sense of security, before thumping them in the face with a muscular blast of noise. The onslaught did not abate, with drummer, Valkan, displaying an almost pneumatic ability to pummel the double bass pedal into abject submission, at one point doing a solid four bars of blast beats.
Doomy, sludge-filled breakdowns, and more chugging than a student pub-crawl, contributed to create the kind of raw, barbaric belligerence that one expects from a metal gig. It wasn’t all uncompromising brutality, however – final track “Another One Done” featured more melodic, sustained chords, with a cleanly sung chorus, reminiscent perhaps of Killswitch Engage.
In Sickness Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Playing in third position were Nottinghamshire-based newcomers Omen Machine, who transfixed the crowd with an earnest, energetic performance. The group’s dual lead guitarists seamlessly transitioned between primal, synchronised riffs, delicate, diaphanous picking, and merciless, monumental solos, providing the perfect counterpoint to their uncompromising rhythm section, which was impeccably tight throughout.
The band had great chemistry onstage, particularly vocalist Matt, who sang, shouted, and screamed his way through the set with utter conviction, proving himself a natural frontperson. They acquitted themselves so well that I was stunned to later discover that this was only Omen Machine’s fourth gig – they are definitely ones to watch.
Omen Machine Photo: Kevin Gaughan
Last, but most certainly not least, were Diceratops. Distinctive though their dinosaur-inspired name may be, it was nonetheless eclipsed by their eclectic, multifaceted sound, which exhibited an expansive range of influences. Aspects of prog, hard rock, and tech-metal (amongst many others) added nuance and variety to their core, classic style. This incredible versatility was matched by lead singer Rory’s remarkable voice, which ranged from an ultra-sonic, Iron-Maiden-esque scream, to harsh, guttural, lows, with a rich vibrato-tinged baritone in between.
The effect was further enhanced by drummer and backing vocalist, Gee, who found time amidst his intricate rhythms to underpin Rory’s incendiary high notes with his own growling lows. Throw in a fretless bass guitar, and some cracking, shredding solos, and it’s no surprise that Diceratops received a response of prehistoric proportions.
Diceratops Photo: Kevin Gaughan
It was a night of exceptional performances, and the audience stood by with baited breath to see who would make it through to the quarter finals. It was worth the wait, with not two, but three winners announced: Diceratops, Omen Machine, and finally “wild card” entry BlackHawkDown.
Watch this video of Liz Marriott interviewing Diceratops and their performance of Waking the Eye at this gig.
Want to support your favourite act, or simply experience some excellent live music? See details of all quarter finals below.
Quarter one 24/04/19 @19:00, Firebug
Event on Facebook
Quarter two 28/04/19 @18:30 Firebug
Event page to come
Ten Days Later
New Age Grace
Quarter 3 01/05/19 @19:00 Firebug
Event page to come
Dawn Of Anubis
Graves BAND UK
Diceratops – UK
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