Bournemouth’s rock bar hot spot, The Anvil, hosted it’s last set of heats Saturday 6th May, which was judged by Ryan Mills of Metal to the Masses. The prize being a place in the Semi Finals and a change to play Bloodstock 2017.

Held in the basement of the bar with its heavily stickered walls, the three contenders and headlining act, Isarnos, couldn’t be further apart on the spectrum of rock.

First up were The Wild Claims, a two-piece rock outfit from Portsmouth. Playing just their third gig since forming in July 2016 didn’t hinder their performance, especially that of the energetic guitarist/vocalist, Ben. With their heavy drums, pulsing rhyme and timely vocals this band have great potential. If you’re in to rifty, vibrant, stoner rock then defiantly look out for these guys on the posters of Albert Roads musical haunts, you won’t be disappointed.

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Second on to the tiny stage was Southampton Alt Rockers Stone Mercy. This five piece, currently a man down with one guitarist absent, were keen to impress the small but enthusiastic crowd. Their front man, Mike Jellon, was on top form with vocals helping to unify their tight set. This included hefty bass rifts, vociferous drums and cadenced guitar solos. Their peers likened them to a Pearl Jam/Godsmacked mix, which are good comparisons to their classic rock tone. These guys are getting more exposure on the Southampton scene of late and will be headlining @ the Talking Heads – Southampton on 29th June, worth a watch for sure.

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Third and final act were Dorset band Iconsburn. These were by far the heaviest and more like the caliber of bloodstock participants. The front man of this five-piece metalcore/heavy metal band was entertaining to say the least. Spending most of the time amongst the small crowd, its easy to see how these guys can get the larger audience in the mood for a wall of death. Their seriously heavy sounds and vocals weren’t far off Meshuggah. It was safe to say these were the number one contenders for a place at bloodstock, and were suitable winners considering the criteria for the festival. If you’re in to angry intense sounds, these are your lot.

Headliners Isarnos were previous contenders of MTTM and were nothing short of intriguing. They consisted of no less then seven members, playing instruments that didn’t warrant a place on a rock stage. The long list included a Bouzouki; two Whistles; Hurdy-Gurdy; Violin; two Guitars and Drums. Their bassist wasn’t present, but just as well really, they wouldn’t have fitted on the stage.

With the crowd glued to their quirky set up, they began to play. The sound were creating was interesting. Each component of this performance was exhausting to watch, especially front man Ollie, who seemed to playing a different instrument every two minutes, but this Celtic Folk Metal brand works. Their “esoteric melodies” would be apt in Game of Thrones, however this septet has a place on the stage and deserves to be seen. Though a larger open platform would suit this band over a sweaty 10 x 6 foot basement stage. Isarnos will be hosting their inaugural invitational show “The Metal AllianceLondon in June.

Overall an excellent night had by punters and a good night put on by Ryan (Bear) Mills. Although his comments were a little harsh on some of the bands, with phases like “meat and potatoes rock” and mocking equipment, the winning band chosen by Bear is one relevant to the bloodstock trend. Good luck to the winners Iconsburn, who’ll be playing The Rockhouse, Andover on June 3rd.

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