As Bloodstock still courses through the veins, Getintothis‘ Nedim Hassan chats with Marw, Midnight Prophecy and Ashen Reach and picks the best gigs and albums.
Bloodstock Open Air 2019 reaffirmed why the independent metal festival is so vital for the UK scene and beyond.
Aside from the strong community atmosphere and the thrill of seeing internationally acclaimed headline acts, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the event is its ability to unearth new bands for fans to discover.
It is in this regard that the Hobgoblin New Blood stage comes into its own.
We’ve examined the significance of the Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses ‘battle of the bands’ style system before, but witnessing first-hand the victorious bands performing on the New Blood stage in all their glory is a testament to the continued importance of the competition.
With our Bloodstock hangovers still lingering, this month’s column catches up with bands who have recently graced the New Blood stage as they reflect on their Bloodstock appearances and look ahead to the future.
Marw (a Welsh word for death or dying) are an atmospheric black metal band from Merseyside.
Consisting of a core foundation of members with pedigree in other extreme metal bands, this relatively new band has hit the ground running in a short space of time.
Intense and immersive, guitarist Andy Owen describes their approach to their recorded sound and live performance as follows: “The overall theme is trying to denote despair […] It’s all about the atmosphere and the feeling behind it.
We want to subject you to an [almost cathartic]experience so at the end of it you should be able to shake it off and think “Wow, I feel quite refreshed.”
Their participation in the Metal 2 the Masses competition was something of a last minute decision to get more gigs under their belts.
Consequently, as both Andy and fellow guitarist Max Baker admitted, winning through to play on the New Blood stage was a “total surprise.”
As Max elaborates: “Metal 2 the Masses was just another gig. We knew the promoter and we thought we’ll enter and see what happens and they [the judges]enjoyed it and that was that.”
Reflecting on their performance at this year’s Bloodstock, both guitarists still seemed pretty dazed.
As Andy said: “It was a pretty surreal experience wasn’t it? It was like, this is our fifth gig in front of all these people […] but at the end we were shocked at the noise [from the crowd]. We were like, ‘what, do they know who we are?'”
Elaborating on the Bloodstock experience, Andy commented on the way in which the festival provides new bands with considerable media exposure: “The exposure’s been absolutely worthwhile; it’s been quite crazy to have this much exposure so it’s been good. […] Hopefully, we can build on this platform. We’re really grateful for it. Not many bands get this at their fifth gig.”
With upcoming tour dates already secured with European hardcore black metal outfit, Hexis, Marw are already continuing the momentum.
They play with Hexis in Liverpool at Drop the Dumbulls on 27 August 27.
Midnight Prophecy appeared as special guests on the New Blood stage this year, having impressed Bloodstock’s Simon Hall during the Merseyside Metal 2 the Masses final. Describing their style, vocalist Craig Cairns defines it as “Classic 80s [metal]with a modern twist.”
When we sat down with Midnight Prophecy, they had performed on the New Blood stage just a few hours before and were still processing the experience.
Collectively they summed up their feelings as: “Pretty amazing, pretty nerve wracking. Unreal.”
Crowd participation and the amount of people who already knew their material was something that took the classic metal act by surprise:
Bassist Peter Mansfield smiled as he talked about how: “We got prophecy chants […] Lots of people we’d never seen before chanting ‘prophecy’ [so]it was a good time.”
While, an equally delighted drummer, Sam Caldwell, explained that: “It was really good the support that we got.
We saw quite a few familiar faces in there which was brilliant and I just love how fluent people are with discovering new bands here. It’s just fantastic, the best festival ever.”
Although the band have had several high points in their career so far, including supporting metal legends Anvil and being part of the bill at SOS festival, they all agreed that their appearance at Bloodstock Open Air 2019 was their most high profile gig so far.
Indeed, their appearance at this year’s festival was the result of several years of hard work and dedication.
The band had participated in previous Metal 2 the Masses competitions in the North-West and, having already released an album that has been well received both here and in Europe (with their fan base in Germany especially growing), Midnight Prophecy felt like it was the right time for them to finally make it to Bloodstock.
Midnight Prophecy already have clear plans in place for how they want to keep the momentum going, as drummer Sam Caldwell explained the band are writing material for a second album but that is in its early stages: “We’re taking our time with it, we’re not going to rush it, when songs come songs come.”
However, their most immediate business is to continue playing live, for as Sam went on to say: “we want to play the hell out of the album we’ve got now and tour as much as we can.”
Those plans are already coming to fruition because Midnight Prophecy have an extensive UK tour upcoming in November with Danish heavy rockers,Statement.
A year can be a long time in metal and we also thought we’d check in with last year’s Merseyside Metal 2 the Masses winners, Ashen Reach (formerly Equinox).
With huge high points that included massive tour dates supporting Bullet For My Valentine in Russia, the last year has seen the band reach new heights and earn a growing fan base.
Yet, line-up changes have also posed particular challenges this summer. Consequently, we spoke to drummer Jess Stanley about the band’s current incarnation:
“It’s been a very interesting summer for us as a band. The vast majority of it has been spent looking for new members, namely a rhythm guitarist and a vocalist!
So, we spent days and weeks scouring, promoting, advertising and searching as best we could for the perfect people.
They needed to share the desire and drive to push the band forward as much as we do, but also be able to take us to another level musically and add to the solid foundation we have.”
Ashen Reach are evidently a different beast to the band we saw at Bloodstock in 2018, but they have lost none of their drive and ambition.
As Jess went on to state: “At the end of the day we want this to be our living someday, it’s a lot more than just a ‘hobby’ and we needed to know that anyone auditioning would be up to this.
We went through this process, multiple times, with several different people for each role. What followed were a few weeks of difficult decision making.
Racking our brains going through pros and cons of each person we auditioned, debating about who we should choose and why.”
After much consideration, the band went with Joe O’Sullivan as their new rhythm guitarist. Joe then aided them in choosing Kyle Martyn Stanley as their new vocalist.
Jess confirmed that: “Once we got together as a complete band for the first time and started rehearsing and writing, deep down we knew we’d made the right decision.
We felt this was going to be the line-up that would push us onto being the best Ashen Reach we could possibly be.”
Here’s what new lead vocalist, Kyle had to say to us on his early experiences with the band: “I already feel like I’ve known them all for years and I cannot wait to start writing with them, gigging with them, and helping them get Ashen Reach known all over. This next chapter is going to be sick!’’
While we’ve focused on three very different bands, they all share one thing in common. Each of their profiles has been enriched by participation in Bloodstock Open Air.
From the Metal 2 the Masses heats, to their regional finals, to the New Blood stage – the festival remains an integral part of their journeys.
Shifting away from our post-Bloodstock focus now, it is time to check out what is happening in the wider scene.
First up, Liverpool-based black metal provocateurs, Dawn Ray’d, have announced a European tour with False that will take place in November.
With additional UK dates to be added and details of the release of the follow up to their highly acclaimed debut album to be confirmed soon, Autumn will be an exciting time for the band and their fans.
Fresh from their appearance at Bloodstock Open Air 2019, death metal act Krysthla come to Liverpool to play at EBGBs on September 13.
With support provided by From Eden to Exile, Novacrow and Scare Tactics, this is another line-up that sees those lovely people at Deathwave Entertainment seriously spoiling us.
For those who like seriously dirty sounding grindcore, look no further than Kazimier Stockroom onSeptember 2.
No fewer than five bands will take to the stage for what will surely be a legendary Monday night.
Headliners are the mighty Haggus from the US. They will be supported by Scouse powerviolence fiends, Dad, Stevenage’s Skullfucked, Yorkshire’s Fidget and Manchester’s PivoRapist.
As if we haven’t spoiled you enough this month, we finish off as always with a look at the latest releases that have melted our turntables.
Devourment: Obscene Majesty
Brutal death metal monsters, Devourment, are back after six long years to smash our skulls in.
An avalanche of heavily distorted riffs forges unrelenting waves of dense noise throughout tracks like opener, A Virulent Strain of Retaliation.
Savage cuts such as Cognitive Sedation Butchery and Arterial Spray Patterns combine machine-gun like blastbeats with slower groove-laden riffs that mimic the deliberate cuts of rusty saw blades as they compel you to bang your head.
Destruction: Born to Perish
These Teutonic thrash titans seem to get better with age.
Destruction’s fifteenth studio album boasts sharp production and the band’s customary frenetic pace is married to some subtle variation and moments of melody.
Standout tracks include Butchered for Life with its superbly solemn guitar solo that complements the darkness of the lyrical content and Inspired by Death with its fist pumping chorus, complete with shouted vocal harmony.
Excuse: Prophets of the Occultic Cosmos
Kicking on from 2016’s debut EP, the first full album from this young speed metal outfit from Finland features rapid fire riffing and catchy choruses.
Songs such as Blade of Antichrist display a punk-fuelled NWOBHM feel, complete with a galloping rhythm. While longer outings, most notably the title track, sound satisfyingly like a heavier, more ragged version of Diamond Head.
Right, we’re off to nurse our Bloodstock hangovers once again. Keep supporting your scene people or we will blast your houses with Devourment albums at extremely high volume.