If you, like me, enjoy screaming guitars and metallic thunder, but have a bit of a problem digesting a lot of the nu metal, yo metal and death growls and grunts, Southview is a name you should know. It’s scary how good these guys are, especially when you consider that they come from Rockford. It seems that the Forest City is developing quite a strong heavy music scene these days. In the late 1960’s Birmingham, England gave birth to such pillars of hard rock/metal as Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. It might be wishful thinking, and perhaps a bit too early to say it, but I wonder if Rockford, Illinois might be the birthplace of the next wave of metal. Listening to Southview and a few other bands from the area it’s definitely not out of the question. Southview seems to manage to steer clear of a lot of the trends in music, instead harkening back to classic metal sounds (I hear a gritty take on Sabbath all over this along with the occassional Iron Maiden leaning), thrash and stripped down metal fury ala Motorhead and turning this combination of sounds into a unique helping of iron heavy music.
The band is composed of Matt Zilm (vocals and guitar), Rob Willis (guitar), Chris Haas (bass) and Mike Jerding (drums). They have been together under the name Southview since 2002, and as good as they are it’s amazing they haven’t followed The Heavils in getting picked up by a label yet. Still, their first release Hardcore Predator Behavior, while showing signs of the power that was to come, came across as a bit under-produced and a little too rough around the edges. Perhaps this could explain their lack of a real recording deal. Anyone with a good ear, though, would be hard pressed not to hear the talent even in that rather underdeveloped recording. What promise that release hinted at their latest EP The Chaos of Ecstasy delivers full throttle. There are a lot of bands with far longer histories that could be proud of material as strong as the three songs on show there, but these guys are just starting out. I would say that we should expect great things to come from them.
Any fans of the genre should do their best to support these guys. It’s not often that you can get to see a band with this much potential in their early formative period. I think comparisons to seeing Earth (the band that became Black Sabbath) in Birmingham might not be too far off base. I have to admit that part of my fervor for these guys is the fact that you don’t hear too many bands these days sticking to the metal roots that I find so appealing. Still, Southview is very talented, and certainly stand as one of Rockford’s musical treasures. If you enjoy cranking metal with some tasty guitar work, then these guys are definitely for you. Every musician in the band pulls off playing their hearts out while not taking the emphasis away from the whole picture. There are some BIG bands out there that could learn a lot from that tactic. While all the guys here could show off if they set their minds to it, it’s obvious that creating a unified and powerful sound for the whole band is the true goal. Such restraint and sense of musical integrity is rare. All in all, Southview is a unique breed, and one that will hopefully be around for a long time. Catch them now, so you can say “I knew them when.”