Band Kamilla Crowned Heaviest of Heavyweights

By John Serba – 2002

This year’s Heavyweight Chanpionship finals can be summed uo in three words: Blood, sweat and beers.

The blood and sweat came courtesy of the six pack of hard rock/metal bands performing Saturday night; the beers came from The Intersection bar in a steady stream, considering that the club was packed to capacity for the WKLQ-FM-sponsored competition.

With its combination of high-quality songwriting, a thick, dual-guitar attack and the expressive combination of melodic and aggressive vocals by singer Jason Wood, Grand Rapid’s Kamilla took home the top prize of $2,500, tattooing gift certificates and an opening slot for national act Primer 55’s March 30 show at The Intersection. A panel of judges combined with fan voting determined Kamilla to be the victor over fellow hard rock acts Enemy, Drench, Redlined, Trudg and Break Nek.

Kamilla– consisting of Wood, drummer Troy Middlecampm, bassist Mike Smith and guitarists Chris Hartley and Jim Borchers — took a step forward from the 2001 Haevyweight Championship, when the band was a runner-up to death metallers Sadomasochism.

“We really didn’t know what to expect when we came in here,” Wood said, visibly overwhelmed by the victory. “None of us expected to get this far — there were so many bands in this (competition), and so many types of heavy music.

“I was sick all week, so I just stayed at home and took antibiotics and slept to prepare for this.”

Kamilla proved to be the most diverse band Saturday evening, going so far as to incorporate a violinist into one song. And diversity seemed to be the order of business for the finals: Enemy battered the audience with complex, thrashy songs; Drench incorporated a funk influence and DJ scratching into its forward thinking hard rock; Redlined often used dual bass guitar for its catchy, ’70s-influenced stoner rock; Trudg mixed an ’80s metal influence with Pantera-style aggression and used pyrotechnics to enhance its show; and newcomers Break Nek utilized stage theatrics from singer Joel Gentry for its modern mixture of thrash and death metal.

Kamilla Guitarist Borchers even started celebrating early, during the wee hours of Sunday morning prior to the announcement of the winner — but not due to overconfidence: It was his birthday. “This is one I’ll never forget,” he said grinning.