One does not simply miss The Sword when they’re playing an hour away in your backyard. Last night The Sword, promoting their new album, Apocryphon, disemboweled the crowd at The Madison Theater in one fell swoop. It was metal at it’s finest – blasting amps, shredding guitars, blood and beer flowed freely from the front row to culminate in a show for the ages.
Generating the first few drops of blood was California’s Gypsyhawk, who announced they had just been signed to Metal Blade Records. While their studio albums push them towards American heavy rock rather than metal, I was pleased to see they can definitely shift into metal mode on the fly. Promoting their latest whiskey and weed-fueled album, Revelry & Resilience, this Pasadena quartet delivered on their promise of bullshit-free 70’s rock. High energy, engaging, and packed with riffs, it was further evidence that the metal clock had been turned back thirty years. Check them out on Facebook, and tell them Fister Roboto sent you.
Up next was Austin’s instruMetal quartet, Eagle Claw, who I just discovered last week. If you like riff-heavy metal minus the terrible vocals and lyrics, then you’re in for good news. Backing their brief, but darkly alluring new album, Timing of the Void, Eagle Claw conjured up harmonies and riffs reminiscent of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith while forging their own distinct sound. The world has the room and the need for bands like Animals as Leaders and Pelican; bet your ass Eagle Claw have a place here as well. This band has multitudes of videos on youtube and it’s in your best metal interests to check them out. I love a metal band that doesn’t mind acting “un-metal”, and these guys have it down. You can tell they love their stage time, but don’t need to lead the crowd in a rousing round of “Hail. Satan!” to deliver their unique vocal-free tapestry of destruction. Only the most talented of musicians can keep your attention without a singer, and Eagle Claw rank at the top.
My friends and I were lucky enough to meet the guys, and they’re all very enthusiastic and approachable, guaranteeing fan for life status here at Left Hand Horror. Make sure to check back often as I’ll be interviewing these guys as they continue to support The Sword on this tour. I don’t mind admitting I’m giddy as hell. Eagle Claw have certainly used their Kung Fu skills to joint-lock this lifelong metal head. Check them out on Facebook.
Eagle Claw’s Luther and Matt show just how Kentucky ugly claws, swords, and Fisters can truly be!
Before I get to The Sword review, let me say that I’ve been dreaming about my first live experience with them for nearly three years. I don’t know what they could have possibly done to make the show better. Throw out wads of hundred-dollar bills, invite me to sit in on Winters Wolves? Yes, that would have made for a significantly better show, but all things realistic – The Sword blew my fucking mind. Blasting into Apocryphon, the crowd collectively lost their shit before the first chorus hit. Singer/guitarist/prophet of doom, J.D. Cronise, served up heaping retro riffs and chugging down tuned guitars under a sly smile and trademarked trucker hat. The Sword don’t just put on a show, they suck you into their throwback metal world of wolves, witches, and undead kings. It’s kind of like Game of Thrones in band form, but with far less incest. Well, I can only assume.
Up next, favorites, Freya and Hammer of Heaven set the tone for the rest of the evening. The official setlist went as follows:
Hammer of Heaven
To Take the Black
The Hidden Masters
Maiden, Mother, and Crone
The Horned Goddess
Veil of Isis
Lament for the Aurochs
Yeah, I know, metal heaven. The Sword delivered their loudest and best from under a fog machine and alternating blue and orange lights, all designed to set your senses aflame as we’re assaulted with Orange amps turned up to eleven.Their CHUG CHUG CHUG metal formula can even be nerdy and campy in the most charming of manners, but this doesn’t take away from the sonic proliferation this band has honed into a razor-sharp, uh, blade. No Sword puns please. We forgive you, Matt Rade, for saying they were “on point” this tour.
So, there we are kids, I can thankfully add Eagle Claw and The Sword amongst my shining metal moments that I’ve been racking up since 1978 when my Dad made the mistake of taking me to see Kiss. I’ve seen countless shows and would be hard pressed to recount them all. Last night was metal bliss on every front, easily the best show I’ve seen in the last decade, and that encompasses Tool, Mastodon, Clutch, Baroness, and a host of tier one bands. The Sword are tits, you might not know it yet, you can’t argue facts. GO SEE THE SWORD! At least check out their Facebook page for starters. You can even pick up their new CD (standard edition) at Best Buy for the more than reasonable price of $7.99.
Check out my friends, Morgan and Shaun post-show. Shaun even went to Columbus on Thursday to see the bands and got the shaft in his setlist attempts. He did much better last night. Thanks for listening to me ramble, kids, now go pay for some cds and support live music – there’s nothing like it.