After all the hype and promotion surrounding the Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition in Dublin over the past few months which saw zhOra victorious, you’d be forgiven for missing the relatively under-promoted Wacken Metal Battle Ireland, where once again, some of the best metal bands from around Ireland fight it out in Fibber Magee’s to win a slot at a major European metal festival. Wacken Open Air is a massive festival with around 80,000 attendees, most of whom buy their tickets even before the lineup is announced, so getting the chance to play there is sure to be an incalculable boost to any unsigned band’s career. Vying to be that band tonight are: Two Tales of Woe, Animator, The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back, Jailbirds, Xerosun and Jenova (in that order). It’s a varied lineup in terms of styles and experience, with the first two bands having already pounded the New Blood Stage at Bloodstock.

Two Tales of Woe get the night started with chugging riffs and crunchy sound that seem to really get the building crowd into the mood for heavy music. Next up, Wexford-based Animator return to competition in Fibbers sounding better than ever. Their now-familiar classic thrash riffs still reminds us of something Megadeth or Slayer would have been proud of in their earlier days. And Corey Taylor would most likely approve of The Devil Wants Her Swagger Back, who are third onstage and blow the audience away with more high octane brutality. Even a broken string doesn’t slow the momentum too much. Remember the name (if you can) because these hard working lads deserve a big break, and it must surely be coming soon. Dialling back the heaviness, Jailbirds deliver thirty minutes of Australian flavoured rock, not a million miles from the style of Airbourne who recently played at the Academy. A thoroughly enjoyable set, especially after a few tinnies, but maybe not the most obvious choice to represent Irish Metal at Wacken. Dublin-based Xerosun are the penultimate band of the night, and they get stronger each time they perform. With Martyna’s impressive vocal range adding the flavour to an already tasty foundation of rhythm and umpteen-string guitars, the crowd seem duly impressed. Gambling on a debut performance of a new track at the competition is a brave move, but unfortunately technical difficulties detract from what otherwise was a Wacken-worthy performance. Finally, Jenova wrap up the night with an explosive delivery of heaviness, spurring moshpits and even seeing vocalist Brian Harrington surfing the crowd.

A noticeable difference between this Wacken Metal Battle and the recent Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses is the lack of an MC to introduce the bands or drum up enthusiasm from the audience, even though no drumming up was actually needed. Only once all six bands had performed, did the event organiser take to the stage to thank all involved and to announce the winner as judged by a panel of mystery metal mediators. The runner-up place is awarded to Jenova, who would take their place, should the winner be unable to travel to Germany in August. But Animator are crowned the well-deserved winners, and let’s be honest, are unlikely to miss the opportunity for any reason. Go on the lads!

See the full gallery of photos from the night by Olga Kuzmenko here.

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Filed under: Burning Metal Ireland

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