Live Review: Gutlocker w/Arimea, Transients & Weaponry @ Metal 2 The Masses Quarterfinal Oxford!

The Wheatsheaf in Oxford is the venue for tonight’s Metal 2 The Masses Quarterfinal that sees Reading based bands Weaponry and Transients compete with the locals in Arimea in the regional heats that ultimately end with a slot on the New Blood stage at Bloodstock. As it’s the 20th Anniversary this year, that’s going to be something extra special to have on your Curriculum Vitae when throwing your next demo at a perspective record label. As the name of the place suggests, the Wheatsheaf is a Pub in the center of Oxford with a 150 capacity live music room on the first floor and a fully stocked bar for all those wishing to partake.

Playing as a quartet tonight with lead guitarist Max Ashworth being under age, Weaponry [8/10] win the judges vote through to the next round with their usual adrenaline fueled set full of rants from vocalist Al Bristow. New drummer Tim Doyle proves that he has what it takes with an impressive performance behind the kit, even going as far as holding up a “vote Weaponry” sign with one hand as he batters out the final parts. Guitarist Dan Ashworth takes his usual place on the floor in front of the stage, making eye contact with the front row while sucking down Newcastle Brown Ale and delivering Deftones infused Grunge Metal riffs a plenty. “Something I Lack” and “Hard Place” go down a treat, while “Search For Life” is a pleasure you can’t measure.

Up next are Transients [8/10] who suffer a few technical issues before storming through a 24 minute set of Technical Melodic Metalcore. The last time we saw them they were supporting Arcaeon and tonight they have a much heavier bass sound and less punch in the guitar work though still impress with some of the more technical aspects of their sound. They have Sam Cropp from Earthborn Kings filling in for them on their second guitarist slot with “Wild Fire” and “Dark Days” taking pride of place in the set and bassist Josh Sparkes absolutely loves it. His face throughout is a picture of pure joy and huge smiles and his approach must be infectious when it comes to being on the road in this band.

The last of the competing bands are Oxford locals Arimea [8/10] who go through on the crowd vote tonight. A quintet fronted by Whitney Cooper, they sound like… imagine if Paramore played DJent with Alternative Metalcore vibes. All clean vocals with 8 string guitars, they’re good fun and Cooper loves cutting shapes to the bounce parts. Their debut EP “Castle Bravo” appeared in November 2019 and “Dreadnought” is a highlight which their bass player absolutely loves, giving Transients Josh Sparkes a run for his money with his facial expressions and powerhouse performance.

Tonight’s headliners are Gutlocker [9/10] and while the Woking based band who Weaponry’s Al Bristow calls “Poundland Pantera” also suffer technical difficulties at the start of their set, they make up for it with Guitarist Peter Tucker hammering out riffs from the likes of Metallica and Slayer while bassist Ben Rollinson ends up borrowing a spare from Transients. When they do get going, Gutlocker have that raw energy and Sludge infused sound that the likes of Raging Speedhorn bring to the table and work the crowd like a marionettes. “Welcome To F***Town” is a mid set highlight while closing cut and Jamiroquai Cover “Deeper Underground” is hilariously good fun. They might not be completing in the competition, but they should be at Bloodstock. Simple as.

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