Bleeding Through / Throwdown / Man Made Man
Powertrip / Honor By Defeat

Forest Hills Lodge
Machesney Park, IL 8/23/04
by Dr. Abner Mality

I don't know what massive revelation caused the Forest Hills Lodge to become a heavy metal hot bed, but I am certainly grateful that the message was received and the plan carried out. Forest Hills has been host to some decent metal shows in the last year, but most of them were of the nu-metal variety. This one was startling because it featured a couple of the hottest metalcore bands in the country, both of whom had graced the Second Stage at Ozzfest many times this year.

Bleeding Through and Throwdown must have one hell of a work ethic to spurn a Monday night off from the strenuous Ozzfest tour and then throw their own high-energy show in a small venue in Rockford, Illinois. Because it was Monday, the crowd, composed almost completely of high school age kids, was not what it could have been, but neither of the two headliners complained. And in fact, it was decent for what it was and the energy level was high.

Before the two heavy hitters took the stage, we had a strong line-up of local favorites to set the mood. Openers Honor by Defeat, whom I had never heard of before, play riffy modern hardcore, definitely leaning on the punk side more than the metal. It was pretty typical stuff and the band was so young I doubt if they even had their driver's license yet. The singer was the WHOLE focus live, as the rest of the band showed all the charisma of sedementary rocks. Obviously these guys have a lot of time to polish and perfect their sound, if they are so inclined, and hopefully they will get the chance to do so.

Though they have played in the area more than a year, this was the first time I actually saw a Powertrip gig all the way from first to last. The band is led by Eric Virgin, younger brother of Man Made Man's Sean Virgin. The brothers have more than dark eyes and hair in common...they have stage presence and sheer energy to spare. I remember Eric from his days with Tribulation and he's progressed in leaps and bounds. His roaring hardcore vocals are more raw and his clean vocals are a million times better than they were then. Like big brother Sean, he also has that ability to grab an indifferent crowd by the throat and force them to headbang, mosh and get into the music.

Musically, I would say Powertrip is no break-through, innovative band, as it combines Hatebreed type crushing riffs with more of a groovy flow and occasional nu-metal style catchiness. It's stirring stuff nonethless and it's the perfect kind of music to get aggressive kids running around in circles and imitating kung fu stars. Drummer Matt Kiefer did a good job of skin bashing and since this was his last gig with the band, I hope they can find somebody of his caliber as a replacement. Bottom line: Powertrip is a brutal modern hardcore band but they need to expand their influences a bit and broaden their sound.

Man Made Man has reached that plateau at last. It showed tonight with the band sounding better than ever due to a great
live sound. The show was being taped for their DVD and this surely incited the crowd to get some good sized pits going. I know Sean was slightly disappointed with the turnout, but you really can't expect a sellout crowd in Rockford, Illinois on a Monday night.

I gotta say, the newer material sees M3 reaching some new heights. "Wartorn" is absolutely me, it's thrashier and more direct than past material, and the chorus is awesome. Much the same thing applies to "Undisputed", another new one which reminds me of the best Fear Factory. Sean's vocals were great and his vocal range is all over the place. What he doesn't nail down, guitarist Dave picks up with his own strong vocals. He himself would be a more than adequate lead singer.

I have to say that DJ Evil has picked up his game as well, adding a lot of depth and originality to the band's music. At first, I really didn't think he was gonna fit into the band, but this show demonstrates that he has, beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Despite an embarrassing technical screw up at the end of "Student Bodies", the band's set was a good one and I hope their upcoming CD catches all the nuances of their sound. Along with The Heavils, they play some truly original, brutally heavy shit.

I didn't know jack about Throwdown before I saw them at Ozzfest a couple of weeks prior. They impressed me there with a sweaty, angry dose of hardcore that I felt actually may have surpassed Hatebreed. They got the biggest pit of the day going up there and probably emerged as one of the "sleeper" bands of the day.

Well, they were twice as vicious in the smaller, more intimate confines of Forest Hills Lodge. From such humble roots was hardcore born and these guys have not forgotten those roots. They attack from every possible angle but keep things basic and rhythmic. Yes, I could detect the same sort of super-heavy downtuned crunch that makes Hatebreed so potent in the live setting, but I could detect a lot more as well. There's a lot of Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags style oldschool hardcore here as melodic twin guitar harmony bullshit made its way into Throwdown's set. This was hardcore with its roots in punk, not Iron Maiden.

Just a great, awesome set from Throwdown. I am converted, I am theirs. This is one of the best live acts you will see and hopefully the kids in the pit appreciated how cool it was to experience it in a smaller venue instead of the huge, commercialized Ozzfest.

Like Throwdown, Bleeding Through also impressed me at Ozzfest, but come across even better in the smaller Forest Hills Lodge. They are truly one of the most unique bands in American metal today, mixing many different styles into a cohesive and haunting whole.The band did not get off to a promising start with "Love Lost In A Hail of Gunfire"...not due to any fault of their own, but because the amps cut out COMPLETELY in the second half of the song. This resulted in the kids in the pit comically bumping into each other in confusion. Soon enough, though, the sound problem was rectified and the band kicked into "Sweet Vampiress", which again demonstrated their strengths. They can go from thrashing, almost Suffocation-like speed into crushing Hatebreed mosh parts, topped off with eerie Gothic keyboards and catchy emo-like vocal work. It sounds like hell on paper, but with few exceptions, the band make it work.

Another big asset is frontman Brendan. Not only is he as nice as hell, but he is a great magnetic presence live. Very athletic, he jumps from one end of the stage to the other on a constant mission to rouse the fans, even tossing in a cartwheel here and there. Despite a turnout one-one thousandth the size of Ozzfest and a crowd already tired from the previous bands, Bleeding Through was able to get a good crowd reaction going. I foresee great things ahead for this band if they are able to maintain their unique style and don't sell out to metalcore. Thrash-head managed to snag an interview with Brendan so check it out elsewhere in Wormwood!

This was a pretty high quality metal show and it looks like it won't be the last we see at Forest Hills. Keep 'em coming!!!

Special thanks goes out to Sgt Deth's wife Kathi Heitzman for the photography!

Bleeding Through's Website

Man Made Man's Website

Prosthetic Record's Website