The sold-out signs are up at The Roadhouse tonight and there is a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. The reason is absolutely obvious. Tonight is a Battle of the Bands with a difference. The winners get a place at Bloodstock next month – if that’s not enough there is a chance they will be going to Wacken 2014 too. So of course there are some nerves in the air.
The format for this evening is quite simple. Six bands have won through the heats and semi-finals to be here and the band that is considered to be the best by Bloodstock’s Simon Hall (who tells us that he has seen 100 bands in the last four weeks on his travels all around the UK at these things) will get the prize.
Husk have been drawn out of the hat first. The Wolverhampton band are a metal-cum-thrash band and one that has been gigging for a while. “Confessional” and “Remnant” are great big slabs of heaviness and the group are extremely entertaining.
Following them are Eyes of a Raven. Playing with less of a straight bat than the openers, they claim to be One Direction and have a break halfway through their half hour for a drink. Best described as groove metal, and with a sound not too dissimilar from Beholder (the band that tonight’s compere fronts) songs like “Never Broken” and “Bury Your Demons” have huge choruses and great huge riffs.
Next up are Eradikator. RTM is a huge fan of the band, and their “Dystopia” record is as good an album of straight up thrash with no pretensions as there has been for a while. They are quite fantastic, playing the most polished show we have seen from them. “Hells Sentinels” and “World Of Compulsion” are the best songs played this evening. But do they win…….?
Aceldama are billed as “something different.” In practice this means they are the only ones tonight with a female singer and the only ones to play a cover (“I’m So Excited” by the Pointer Sisters). They have problems with their drums, and play a simple brand of rock – one of the tracks is called “Metal And Beer” for example.
Valous have been on the Brum metal scene for a good few years, and like Eradikator, RTM has seen them before and like the group. We find ourselves sitting with their fans tonight too, and they let no one down. “Fools Dance,” “Justified” and “Blistered” are excellent tracks and they can still have a bright future win or lose tonight.
The performances of the five bands already had made it an excellent night, then it was Gethika’s turn.
In the words of one of the other bands tonight, what Gethika did was “hit the stage and blow the fuckin’ walls off.” The band are the most extreme band on show – blending black metal with conventional heavy stuff – and they put on a quite stunning performance. Dressed in dinner jackets and bow ties and complete with painted faces, they throw plastic top hats into the crowd and set a smoke machine off while they are at it. Their songs are tight too, “Impossible Question” and “We will Prevail” are excellent, while “Bedlam” sums up what they do perfectly.
In the end the winner was fairly obvious, and RTM wishes Gethika (who had lost out in a previous final) well when they play the New Blood Tent on that Saturday afternoon, but what this evening did prove was just how many magnificent bands of all types we have in this area.
The whole of the unsigned metal scene can be very proud – and Bloodstock proved again why it is such a marvelous thing.