The Sword--concert review

Last night as promised, I drove across the river to Revolution Hall to see The Sword. First off, a note about the venue. Revolution Hall is relatively new, it’s only been there for a year or so, and this was my first opportunity to see the place from the inside. Spectacular. While it’s on the small side, the Hall is not only clean, but very well organized with a single bar recessed into the wall. On top of that, there is a balcony that wraps around the stage, giving perfect sightlines just about everywhere in the place. The stage itself is raised considerably from the floor, at a guess it’s around five and a half feet tall, and so there are no problems with taller patrons blocking the view of smaller ones.

I arrived fashionably (and intentionally) late, so I arrived just as Year Long Disaster was beginning their set. I have to say, I was suitably impressed. A little research shows them to be a three-piece from the West Coast, and while they’re not metal per se, they have a lot of down and dirty blues riffs. It wasn’t long before I realized that I hadn’t stopped tapping my foot the entire time they’d been on. They’ve been compared to Cream, and I don’t think that’s wildly inaccurate, there are certainly similarities. Although, to be fair, they are heavier and a little nastier than Cream. Also, they said almost nothing between songs, which is fine by me. Nothing worse than an opening band who talks my ear off when they don’t have anything to say. So, if Year Long Disaster came around on their tour, I’d likely go see them again.

Lately, it seems that I’m being somewhat to suitably impressed by a larger proportion of opening bands. I wonder if this is the product of me relaxing my standards, or if the bands are actually getting better. I hope the latter. After all, by my theory, we’re only two years away from the return of quality mainstream music.

Then, The Sword. They wasted no time, beginning the set with a thunderous “To Take the Black,” and it never really stopped from there. If you’re a fan of the new album, this was a show for you, as the preponderance of the set list came off of “Gods of the Earth.” There were a couple highlights from “Age of Winters,” most notably “Barael’s Blade.”

The primary thrust of the show however, was to simply pour metal into the rafters as quickly as possible. Similar to their opener, The Sword wasted very little time with words, choosing to rarely speak and instead just continue the pounding. This served to both keep the set moving, and keep it a little shorter, but they certainly gave me my money’s worth. As a side note, it is my sincere hope that opening for Metallica gets The Sword the exposure they need to make some more noise in the mainstream metal scene. I fear that their lack of an explosive personality may hinder that, but people who don’t know them are missing out.

One note: Kyle Shutt was wearing a very old-school Dio shirt, when between songs, some drunk yelled out “play some Dio!” The band responded with the first eight bars of Holy Diver, which got a rise out of the crowd.

It doesn’t take long watching The Sword to realize how talented each musician is in his own right. Bryan Richie, the band’s bass player, is among the most prolific bassists I’ve seen live. It’s not often you see a man who never stops any of his four fingers from dancing on the strings. I remember remarking during my review of their album that The Sword seemed irrepressibly honest, and the show last night only went to proving that. While playing a couple of new songs, I kept seeing the band members watching each other, listening to one another’s sound, making small adjustments, so on and so forth. At the end of the pair of new tunes, Trivett Wingo (drums) smiled and chuckled a little at his band mates, nodding his approval of what had just happened. All this adds up to the same result: The Sword is interested in producing the best rock they can, and having the most fun doing it. If the new songs are any indication, we are in for more of the same from them as we’ve already heard, and that’s fine by me.

The crowd was small without being sparse, but shockingly dedicated. A raucous and energetic pit kicked in and only took a couple small breaks during the majority of the set. Almost everyone seemed to be either headbanging along, or chanting lyrics and that level of fandom for a small band surprised me somewhat.

When the smoke had cleared, the set list contained mostly new stuff. Included in the mix were, in no order, “How Heavy This Axe,” “Lords,” a riff heavy “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians,” “Maiden, Mother and Crone,” “March of the Lor,” and a couple others before ending the set with “The Black River,” played into “The White Sea.” The band had barely stepped off the stage before the chanting for an encore began, and they returned to finish the night with “The Horned Goddess,” before thanking the crowd and ending the evening. Characteristic of their albums, the vocals were buried in the mix, and the guitars rightfully given center stage.

If this tour comes near you, see it.

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