IT MAY only be the second round, but this contest has already seen more casualties than the Russian Front (including, incidentally, Battle Of The Bands columnist Son Of Rat, sent into rodent retirement).

Kicking off this year's Round Two were Peachie, who unlike most young York bands of the moment, steer well clear of nu-metal and big trousers, opting instead for a straightforward indie rock sound.

The four-piece are all good players, the rolling rhythms and fluid lead guitar giving the first song a simmering Charlatans/Stone Roses feel. The acoustic songs show maturity, but they're best when the singer ditches the cap and the sensitive Starsailor-isms for a Fender Telecaster and some crash bang wallop New Wave, not dissimilar to rockers-of-the-moment The Hives.

The frontman was plagued by a dicky throat, but even without that, some backing vocals would help them put the songs across. Still, a tight and enjoyable band with good ideas, and one to watch out for.

Sevenball, the contest's second favourites, having bulldozed the opposition with an overwhelming audience vote in the first round's infamous "heat of death", are a band potentially on the verge of big things, with a slot at this year's Glastonbury Festival already lined up for the ex-University of York outfit.

Frontman Luke Ritchie certainly has a remarkable voice, a stadium-sized, angst-ridden bellow (imagine Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder being tortured with a red hot Jeff Buckley CD). The problem usually with them is that the voice is head and shoulders above the band and the material.

Last night, however, the whole band played a blinder. Aided by sympathetic sound, their churning, hypnotic blues-rock riffs were an almost Led Zeppelin-sized platform for Ritchie's troubled howls. Impressive stuff.

However recently-deceased its followers may look, Goth never dies. Screaming Banshee Aircrew (or Screaming Banshee Hairspray as the compere puts it), were probably mere bairns back when the Sisters Of Mercy and their black-clad chums caused the Great Yorkshire Black Eyeliner Famine of the mid-1980s (and that was just the chaps).

But here they are in PVC and Robert Smith coiffures, and very good at it they are too, even if their mix of drum machine, punky guitar and male and female vocals is frequently more Chumbawamba than the Sisters. Their set even bizarrely includes a radical overhaul of the sea shanty, What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor.

A strong opening field for BoB 2002, but Sevenball were the worthy winners of both the audience and Secret Panel votes, with Peachie a close second.