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The Sword w/ Children and Slough Feg – [Live]

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Friday, 25 April 2008

Having never seen The Sword before, and not really realizing how dedicated their fan base is, I was quite surprised when I entered Slim's and found myself having to push through the sold-out crowd to get to the bar for a beer, especially considering the two support bands hadn't even taken the stage yet. The room was already buzzing with excitement, and as I struck up a random conversation with a Sword fan who showed me (unasked) his 2006 Sword t-shirt underneath his 2008 Sword hoodie, I began to understand the cult following this band has. Although I would have to endure two openers, I could hardly wait for The Sword to take the stage, and witness their live show first hand.

Children, a three-piece band hailing from Brooklyn, NY, and fellow Kemado labelmates of The Sword, started the show off on the right foot and pretty much had me from the opening chords of "Nuclear Bummer," the opening song of what would be an all-too-brief set. Their NWOBHM-inspired riffs were a bit reminiscent of early Iron Maiden with a bit of Exodus thrown in for good measure, and as I finally caught a glimpse of them on stage, I realized why I was hearing such a killer twin guitar attack from only three musicians. Children have no bass player! As I watched and listened I was struggling to understand why such a heavy sounding band would choose to go sans bass, but it finally hit me that they really didn't need any. Johnny Rad and Skyler Spohn were both shredding, and as they traded off the lead and rhythm the initial novelty of no bass player quickly faded, and instead all my focus was on two high-energy axemen and a drummer, who were kicking the crowd's asses. Since I was not familiar with them before this show I didn't recognize any other songs, but I will definitely be picking up their Death Tribe 12-inch and would encourage you to do the same.

San Francisco locals (and favorites) Slough Feg were up next, and all I can really say about them is that if you haven't seen them live before you really owe it to yourself to check them out. Their sound is a bit hard to describe, but if you were to take one part straight-up heavy metal, mix it with one part prog, one part Celtic folk, and two parts NWOBHM, you would have a pretty good representation of what Slough Feg is all about. Vocalist/Guitarist/leader Michael Scalzi was really working the crowd, and his constant high energy, dramatic vocals, and killer guitar work, mixed together with plenty of showmanship really made each song almost epic. He also had quite a bit of funny stage banter, and although it almost seemed like he was taking the piss out of the true metalheads in the crowd, I found him to be quite entertaining and his humor quite tongue in cheek. Guitarist Angelo Tringali was blazing as well, and together with drummer Harry Cantwell and bassist Adrian Maestas, the four members of Slough Feg put on a show that was part Spinal Tap, part Saxon and part Manowar. Favorite song of the evening was "Baltech's Lament," but unfortunately there was no mini Stonehenge to accompany it.

Hitting the stage with a perfect combination of heaviness and sludgeness that I'm not sure I have witnessed live since seeing Trouble almost 25 years earlier, The Sword showed the couldn't-get-another-person-inside-if-you-fucking-tried crowd just why they will be touring Europe with Metallica this summer, and while they will soon be huge. Guitarists J.D. Cronise (who also handles vox) and Kyle Shutt were absolutely shredding, and together the two of them laid down some seriously shredding riffs, while bassist Bryan Richie provided some pounding rhythm in the form of his Geezer Butler style bass playing. Drummer Trivett Wingo, although suffering a few technical difficulties kept all songs heavy and fast paced, and although The Sword and all of its parts are SO much more than just a Sabbath-inspired band, his drumming is very reminiscent of Bill Ward.

As I stood taking in the utter heaviness that The Sword was churning out, I realized that watching them was a lot less like watching a band up on stage playing, and more like watching four dudes who just wanted thrash. Although I usually like to see a band with a lot of energy, witnessing these guys up on stage just doing their thing and letting their music do most of the talking was quite alright with me. Songs from their just-released album, Gods of the Earth, including "The Black River," "To Take The Black" and "Maiden, Mother & Crone" sounded amazing, while classic "Freya" sounded almost epic. I wish I could say more about their performance, but they simply came, raged and conquered. The only negative thing I can possibly say about their set was a little short, and seemed to be over before it really took off. In the short time they were on stage tough, The Sword showed that they may very well be the next metal Gods of the Earth.

More on The Sword here: myspace.com/thesword

More on Slough Feg here: myspace.com/sloughfeg

More on Children here: myspace.com/childrenofthemushroom

Related Articles: Interview with J.D. Cronise

Download – "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians" from Gods of the Earth

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