Scanlan's, March 22, 2007

By Dr. Abner Mality

Scanlan's is a sports bar type establishment only about 2 miles up the road from my laboratory. What a break that they are bringing in a hard rocking show of Chicago quality to the neighborhood! Brand New Sin is a band that's played all around the world with the likes of Motorhead, Shadows Fall and Lacuna Coil, In fact, tonight's gig was a kind of "warm-up" show in advance of the band's next big tour with Type O Negative and Celtic Frost (wow, what a weird package that is!). Opening for the New Yorkers were two of the area's finest, Southview and Hogtied. Toss in Forever to Burn and you got yourself a rock and roll party, my friend!

The pluses to playing at a sports bar type joint are the intimacy and the chance to rub shoulders with band members during the gig. The minuses are the fact that there is basically no stage to speak of, the sound is never all that good and the set up is awkward. Tonight the quality of the show overcomes the adversity, but you could see every band struggling with the rinky-dink nature of the set-up.

Forever to Burn kicked the show off at 7:30 on a Thursday night and the crowd was about what you would expect for that time. This is a local deathcore act that has a really talented guitarist and a ton of conviction in their playing. It's just's all so played out. There's so many bands like this, you'd need a whole state to hold them. Talent and brutality is there...I'm hoping it will grow into something good.

I heard Brand New Sin guitarist Ken Wieghman talking with the singer of Forever to Burn about his death metal roots and how he was into the guys. That's a hell of a classy thing to do. From what I could see, Brand New Sin were about as friendly and approachable a band as has played in Rockford and they didn't seem to mind playing a small bar at all. Good for them.

Next we all got a treat as Hogtied came rolling in from the cornfields of Freeport to bust a beer can over all our heads with their groovy, stomping heavy Southern metal. I really think these guys have the charisma and chops to make a mark on more than just us local yokels. The addition of a new guitarist and bassplayer (both hailing from the sadly departed Through Dead Calm) has given their already beefy sound more punch and with the goofy antics and wit of lead singer Rocky, they have one of the best frontmen ever in the Northern Illinois scene. This rotund, manic good ol' boy is pure fun to watch, as he smashes beer can after beer can against his already well-dented skull and rolls around on the floor like a puppy. His voice is like a bellowing bull and perfectly matches the dirty roughneck metal of his band. Plus his stage banter is without peer. "I want to offer my eternal gratitude to the two people who brought me a Budweiser," he jibed. "I'm going to put them in my will! And leave them all my debt!" At another point he praised the benefits of prescription narcotics and yelled out this anecdote: "Come on, don't be afraid to shake your ass...the only person who's gonna laugh at you is me! And who the fuck am I?"

Great set from Hogtied, who should have been playing to more people. In addition to Rocky's shenanigans, the lead guitar work and drumming is also of a very high standard. I noticed the members of Brand New Sin and all the other bands grinning and watching their set with interest.

Southview have been quietly honing their craft for many years and earning their keep with hard work and good music. They had a tough act to follow coming up after Hogtied, and, indeed, their set had a different flavor. Not as loose or goofy, these guys are a well-oiled machine playing a rather unique brand of metal that I can best describe as a cross between Black Label Society, Iron Maiden and Metallica. There's definitely a bluesy feel to a lot of their music (especially "The Highway") but it's more metalized and plenty of excellent twin guitar soloing. The sound was not 100% during their set, as the guitar was too harsh and trebly, but the playing and energy was enough to overcome it. Matt Zilm has really improved as a live vocalist from the last time I saw him. He and guitarist Rob Willis cut loose with some great dual guitar duels that caught the attention of the BNS guys.. I also wanna give props to bassist Hash, who does more than just keep a simple rhythm...the bass work is very fluid and "busy", adding a lot to the songs. All four members contribute to vocals, which gives the sound even more depth.

They played a lot from the recently released "Drink to the Poor Damned Souls", ranging from the fast and thrashy "Stab the King" to the moody "Over You" to the ass-kickin' metal boogie of "The Highway". I'm also glad they slipped in the classic track "Killing Bed" from their debut EP...that sucker's got one of the best damn riffs I've ever heard in my life.

By the time Brand New Sin took the stage, the bar was finally full and ready to rock. These New Yorkers have sharpened their live act with endless touring all over the world for some of the biggest bands in the metal scene. And yet they seem really at home at a place like Scanlan's. It's not complicated music but that doesn't mean this is a sloppy band. They were as locked in as any math-metal act.

Burly singer Joe Altier has improved by leaps and bounds since the last time I saw BNS opening for Motorhead and Corrosion of Conformity. He's still got that bull-like roar but there's a lot more emotion and change of inflection in his singing now. He's also pretty good at stage talk and told us that we could pick up all 3 Brand New Sin CD's for just $10,00 at the merch table. "We're all about getting the music out to the people," he said. "We ain't in this to make the record company rich!" He also admitted that they are working hard on a new album already because they aren't comfortable with releasing an album every two or three years. Well, I don't know how long they will be on Century Media, from that talk.

The set was also marred by poor sound. During an otherwise blistering rendition of "SPP", the left speaker stack and Joe's mike cut out completely, castrating the song. The problem was fixed fairly quickly, but it's pretty obvious that this was not the sound situation the band was used to. Nevertheless, they got the crowd rockin' with the highpowered "Changes", the classic "Judgment Day" and several choice cuts from their new album "Tequila". Wish I coulda got some pics of them in action, but I dropped my goddamn camera and the batteries were kicked across the room!

The new crush of bands playing hard Southern rock is already leading to a played out scene, but Brand New Sin were there before most of them and hopefully Southview and Hogtied will be able to escape the collapse.

Lotta stomp n' squalor on a Thirsty Thursday night in Rockford!!!

NOTE: Apologies to all camera took a hell of a beating and I wasn't able to retrieve any pictures from the show!