T’was a summer’s evening in balmy Bournemouth…
No. It was a bloody hot evening in blistering Bournemouth! As the sun-worshipping, semi-naked lobsters left the beach in search of aloe vera, outside The ANVIL rockbar, a metallic silver van pulls up, emblazoned with the letters “B.O.A.”This can only mean one thing. The METAL TO THE MASSES Bournemouth final is on!
A stranger to these parts, I knew nothing of the venue, or the bands, before arriving. This was deliberate. I wanted to experience that feeling of discovery one gets all to rarely.
Tonight’s venue is subterranean, sited below the bar itself. I like these hideaway venues. They add to feeling that you’re involved in something (quite literally) underground… something secret… something special.
So, was tonight going to be special?
First band up, were METAPRISM.
The room was heaving as they took to the stage. The first thing I noticed was the imposing figure of vocalist, Jut Tabor, who wasted no time in whipping the expectant crowd into a frenzy by beckoning them forward, or just jumping in amongst them! It was then I noticed the ace in the Metaprism hand, co-vocalist, Theresa Smith, who added a delicate, melodic counterpoint to Tabor’s growls. Tabor proved to be no one-trick pony though, often harmonizing with Smith. The guitars of Ollie Roberts and Jimmy Alford continued in the same vein. Both competent in their own right, with quality solo work, they were even better when they were complimenting each other. The whole thing was stitched together by the tight, yet understated rhythm section of Mike West (bass) and Jof Walsh (from Mask Of Judas, standing in on drums). What a strong, confident… perfect start to the evening.
Suitably warmed up, the crowd greeted ENGRAVED DISILLUSION.
First impression was one of confusion, as vocalist, Matthew Barker stood on stage with ‘just-so’ hair, waistcoat and white skinny jeans! Fashion sense aside, we were treated to another solid performance. Again, we got the combination of growls and clean vocals, but this time without the dramatic, ‘symphonic’ edge. There was plenty of activity on stage, most of it coming from the direction of bassist, Aaron Preston. Too many blue Smarties, I think! The band ended their set on, what I thought was, their strongest song. It had emotion, beautiful guitar work, and created plenty of nodding heads of approval. Some said it was a strange song to finish with. Not the usual bombast, but more of a fizzle out. It’s a hard one to call. What should you finish your set on? Your strongest song, or your catchiest one?
STRAY BULLETS KILL brought something else to the table. Actually, they brought a lot less to the table. No delicate, clean vocals, no harmonizing, no natty dressers! What we got was a stripped back, brutal assault. I’ll be honest, I struggle with this sort of onslaught for prolonged periods of time, but amongst the brutality, there are some proper chunky guitar riffs going on. Special point of note… MT’s face furniture. Imagine Brian Blessed on HRT, and you’d be getting close!
Rounding the evening off were, Southampton-based, HUMMUNE.
Perfectly demonstrating the many and varied aspects that make up the modern Metal scene, three-piece Hummune served up a large Metal plate, brimming with groove! If you couldn’t see them, you’d have sworn there were more than three guys on the stage, such was the fullness of their sound. They also did a fantastic job of filling the stage physically, particularly vocalist/guitarist Stu. If he wasn’t at the mic, he was lunging, swaying, twisting and jumping. If we weren’t underground, they might well have raised the roof! A great finish to an evening of fine performances, and a massive headache for the judges!
Only one band can win. At stake is spot at BLOODSTOCK OPEN AIR Festival, on the New Blood Stage, with the potential to also perform at WACKEN OPEN AIR in Germany, and METAL DAYS in Croatia.
After much deliberation, the winner of this final was Metaprism. Congratulations to them, and a massive ‘thank you’ to all the bands that took part, showing, once again, that British Metal is as strong and diverse as it’s ever been.
Under a cloudless sky, the metallic van shuddered into life once more, and made its way west to Wales. Watch out for the BOAmobile!
Review and photos: Rob Nankivell
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