The crowd, the comradery, the liquor. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you’ve gotten the chance to experience it again. Consorting with other metalheads at a show was a loss I thought we’d never overcome. I’ll never take it for granted again.

Hello from the gutters of Joliet, Illinois! Rumors of the demise of the live music scene have been greatly exaggerated. I am proud to say  Heavy Metal is still alive and kicking!

With the Covid Pandemic crushing the world, I can honestly say I haven’t been to a live show in nearly two years. I wasn’t sure what to expect when longtime friend J.D. Peterson picked me up to head out to The Forge (22 W. Cass St 60432 Joliet, IL). We arrived in record time and met The Metal Channel Editor, Roger Schultz, out in the front of the venue.

I’ll admit The Forge isn’t my favorite place to take in a metal show but it’s a definite step up from its predecessor MoJoe’s. Considering the bookings the building has lined up this year, I think it’s safe to say it’s become a pivotal part of  the recreation of  the metal scene.

The crowd, the comradery, the liquor. You don’t realize how much you miss it until you’ve gotten the chance to experience it again. Consorting with other  metalheads at a show was a loss I thought we’d never overcome. I’ll never take it for granted again.

My eyes looked towards the stage, I was rabid to take in live music. Unfortunately, we missed the opening act. Misfire is a local band from Chicago. Roger had made the opening of the event and described the band as highly entertaining. He noted the dual vocals were exciting and seldom seen in thrash metal. He urged me to check them out.

We’d arrived during the middle of Cultus Black. Taking in their frenzied performance, I think this act has potential. All members, save their vocalist wore mugger/pantyhose style threads on their faces, giving the band a real Jacob’s Ladder meets The Boogeyman vibe. The music is deathcore at its root but laced with a supercharged nu metal vibe. Their overall presentation was cultishly unique.

Up next was Prong. Although the group was established back in 1986, in my mind they will always be an influential act in the hardcore scene of the early nineties. One of the few bands who kept metal alive during the ‘Grunge Invasion’. Hellbent on crushing you with reality, Prong is a prime example of what heavy riffs laced with solid song writing can achieve. Combining elements of industrial, punk, and thrash into a stimulating brew they are one of those rare bands that appeals to a multitude of metal followers.

Prong hit the stage with wrath. A power trio with Tommy Victor as the nucleus. The set list was a perfect blend of groove-oriented riffing peppered with squealing harmonics. The dramatic shifts of speed and texture were laced with nihilistic lyrics describing urban and inner decay and struggle. Highlight tracks for me were: “Disbelief”, “Beg To Differ”, “Unconditional”, “Broken Peace”, and the longtime classic “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”.

Before the final act I decided to check out the merch tables and check in on Tommy Victor (Guitars, Vocals – Prong). Roger scored the most bizarrely autographed merch you could imagine.  A White Castle hamburger signed by Overkill guitarist Derek “The Skull” Tailer the purchase included plastic forks and knives that said Overkill as well as a red solo cup with the words “Fuck You’ written on it. All this and Derek’s guitar pic for 10 bucks. Try as we might this purchase didn’t make it out of the venue in one piece! I personally scored a signed CD copy of The Wings Of War (J.D. grabbed the vinyl) and we were set.

I’ve been a Prong fan for over 20 years but I hadn’t really interacted with vocalist and guitarist Tommy Victor since 2016’s No Absolutes. I reached out to him not sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised when Tommy agreed to meet me. I found myself in the bowels of The Forge’s ‘Green Room’ a place I never new existed. Thanks Tommy – interview to follow…

Overkill was the final act of the evening.  Still incredible live, vocalist Bobby ‘Blitz’ and bassist D.D. Verni have truly earned the right to end their career on their own terms. Seeing the band own the stage with such a venomous vengeance it’s hard to believe that will be anytime soon.

Overkill’s set was absolutely brutal, a fast-paced extravaganza that barely gave those who beheld it time to breathe. With a collection of hits spanning decades, it’s getting harder for Overkill to squeeze new numbers into their live set. For that reason, it wasn’t surprising that songs from the band’s 2019 effort The Wings Of War were eliminated from the presentation.

I personally had no issues, Overkill is one of the last great thrash bands from the ’80s. There’s material people expect you to play and there’s nothing wrong with giving it to them. Highlight tracks for me were: ‘Wrecking Crew’, ‘Hello From The Gutter’, ‘Rotten To The Core’, ‘In Union We Stand’ and my personal favorite ‘Elimination’.

As I drove home that night, I contemplated live music and how important it is to metal. A live show reinforces the metal lifestyle and celebrates history. I hope the new generations adopt this tradition because I can’t think of a world where a band can’t get on stage and make a crowd scream. \m/


Prong is:

  • Tommy Victor – Guitar, Vocals
  • Jason Christopher – Bass
  • Griffin McCarthy – Drums

Overkill is:

  • Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth – Vocals
  • Carlo “D. D.” Verni – Bass
  • Dave Linsk – Guitar
  • Derek “The Skull” Tailer – Guitar
  • Jason Bittner – Drums
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