A West Michigan Heavy Metal Tradition, the Heavyweights is in its 14th year at The Intersection. This year is the first in The Stache (the front lounge). Bringing out the bands’ fans and local metalheads young and old to bang their heads with some of the best in MI Metal.
Each preliminary round features 4 bands, with the audience voting for 2 winners. Judges enter the mix for the finals. Week 1, Jan 23 2015 opened the series with a good mix of genres, with the veterans, Deveraux and Infinite Design, banging it out against newcomers Essentia and As I Said Before.
Essentia – WINNERS
Essentia is a 3 piece out of Grand Rapids I’d call Heavy Prog Djent, with that familiar guitar sound, with a very technical twist by Chase Dunkelberg. (Winner of the Ultimate Guitar Shredder in 2014) and fast, stellar playing by Dylan Brow who makes some of the best drummer faces this side of hell.
Kyle Poniatowski adds a new, vocal element to the band as they evolve with a different sound, having wrote all new material that incorporates vocals. The music is so layered and interesting, varying the vocal range and styles may fit better? But they’re just getting started, and I’m stoked to hear how they progress. Especially if they can find a bass player who can keep up with Chase.
Infinite Design – Runner Up
Muskegon based Infinite Design has a technical, death metal sound that has progressed after a year hiatus. The new sound has this really heavy, trippy edge to it with the keyboard, and awesome, layered guitar licks that make it varied and interesting. Larry Passenier on guitar, keyboards AND vocals helps with that ‘something extra’ in both the sound and the show, adding to great visuals with Jay Ingersoll on guitar and Nick Modd on bass. Of course, Adam is using his height and reach to go all beast mode on the drums.
They’re hoping to bring the title back to Muskegon, and even brought out past HW winners from Withhold the Blood and The Severed Process in support.
American metal from Lansing, the 4-Piece DeverauX has a great range of sound, with an edge similar to Killswitch. With searing screaming and solid clean vocals, Phil LaMay is a great front man who got the crowd going, even though many people had never seen them play before.
I heard several people exclaim “They’re great! Who is that?” This is definitely due to Chas Millican’s mad riff skills and catchy hooks with varied rhythms and breakdowns by David Flod on drums and JD Younk on bass. Even when the flu hit, they still trudged on and put on a great show.
As I Said Before
Grand Rapids Metalcore with that bouncy thing that makes you want to jump up and down (the guys in the band proved that throughout the set). As I Said Before had so much energy on stage and you can tell that they love playing the metalz.
The set was led by Brad Hayes, with really solid screaming vocals, Eric Wondergem and Zach Deabay on guitar, and backed by Alyssa Roath on bass and Brandon Wondergem on drums. They have your standard breakdown, screaming, bouncy configuration and do a decent job at it. The music isn’t too predictable and it’s fun to listen to. Although they should worry more about tightening up their sound than choreographing the jumping.
Essentia and Infinite Design will head to the finals on March 6 in the main room of The Intersection, along with 4 winning bands from the next 2 rounds (Jan 30 and Feb 6).
One winner at the finals will pull down a sweet prize package including cash from The Stache & The Intersection, recording time at Darkwave Audio, MoshPitNation gear, Jac Hammer Glass pieces, tattoos from Forever Ink, band merch from Merch Live, heavy metal art from Wicked Illustration and more.