The Sword

support Lonely Kamel + Bombus
author AP date 27/01/13 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

My much awaited second concert of 2013 was coincidentally also one of my most anticipated concerts this year: The Sword. I have pathologically (and inexplicably) missed every opportunity to see the band on previous occasions, so despite the fact that my MSc thesis was due in less than three weeks from the date of the show, there was no way I was going to be as stupid again. It's always nice to see a sold out show when we're dealing with a metal band, as the atmosphere tends to be that much better, so it is with a sense of eager anticipation that I grab my first pint of the night and settle in for the evening's first support band.

Like the photos? Check out more by Peter Troest

Jonas Rydberg of Bombus

Bombus

Bombus is not a new band per se, but they have yet to emerge as a reputable band outside the borders of their native Sweden. Based on their origin, the metal capital of the world Gothenburg, one could be forgiven for suspecting they're yet another melodic death metal band; however, in reality the band plays the sort of doom-infused retro sludge that is currently enjoying tremendous popularity across the world. Thankfully, however, Bombus have injected enough variety into their music to ensure a dynamic, well-rounded setlist ranging from the Motörhead-meets-Black Tusk rumble'n'roll of "Raised by Pigs", through the mid-paced, Mastodon and Rising style progressive dirge of "Outsider", to the brooding enormity of "Biblical", which rounds things off. The latter two in particular, are the kind of songs that have the capacity to endear audiences on the very first listen, and as such it comes as hardly a surprise that it is these songs that are greeted by the warmest reception tonight. Although Bombus battle with vocals that are too low in the mix in the first few songs, their set tonight is solid proof that the Swedish quartet intends to go places.

Lukas Paulsen of Lonely Kamel

Lonely Kamel

The heavy blues/stoner rock of Lonely Kamel is much more in line with the evening's headliner, and with two studio albums (2008's "Lonely Kamel" and 2010's "Blues for the Dead") and an international deal with Agonia Records already in the bag, their profile is also considerably more widespread than that of Bombus. The genre in question is extremely difficult to get wrong provided you've got the riffs, jams and swagger in order, and in this respect Lonely Kamel deserve nothing but applause for their faithful and intoxicatingly groovy take on the genre. Combining the more psychedelic stylings stemming from their Black Sabbath influence (correct or not, Ozzy Osbourne is credited as the band's manager on Facebook...) with the gruff blues and sleaze stuff of Clutch (in "Wasted Time" and "Damn You're Hot" in particular), their songs win over the crowd with immediate effect. It's just over half an hour of stoner rock excellence of the sort that makes you wonder what exactly it is that makes it so thoroughly enjoyable without being able to put a finger on it. I suspect Lonely Kamel succeed both by virtue of their music - particularly the awesome rhythms therein - and their laid back, casual attitude and dreamy demeanor on stage.

8

Kyle Shutt of The Sword

The Sword

The Sword have reputedly canceled more shows than they've played on Danish soil. So I suppose tonight is something of a rare occasion, because they do, in fact, emerge on stage just as the clock strikes 10PM with a trio spanning across four years of career: "Apocryphon" from last year's LP of the same name, "Tres Brujas" from 2010's "Warp Riders", and "How Heavy This Axe" from the fantastic 2008 album "Gods of the Earth". It speaks at some length about what kind of band The Sword is that the latter is actually based on George R.R. Martin's successful saga of fantasy novels titled "A Song of Ice and Fire", and that "Warp Riders" tells the conceptual story of Ereth, an archer banished from his tribe on the planet Acheron. Indeed, this is a collective of nerds, musical and otherwise, that caters first and foremost to an audience of similar nerds.

To emphasize this point: following a riveting double take from "Apocryphon" in the grooviest picks off that record, "Cloak of Feathers" and "Arcane Montane", I venture out to the bar to tank up my pint, and there overhear a British concert goer loudly and angrily decrying the band as an uninteresting live band with songs that all sound exactly the same. Presumably this is his first encounter with The Sword, possibly with the Sabbath worshipping genre as a whole, and it makes me want to drive the palm of my hand through my face. This person is clearly missing the point: we are not watching the Chariot or the Dillinger Escape Plan; we're watching a band whose virtue stems primarily from their riff-craft! Each to his own of course.

But if you can appreciate the power of the riff and look past any pre-conceptions you might have about what constitutes a great performance (and understand that there are various ways in which such a performance can be achieved), The Sword are absolutely fucking ripping it tonight. If the bewildered, full capacity crowd isn't enough proof, then the four gentlemen on stage - guitar-toting mainman John D. Cronise, his colleague Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago Vela - surely are. Seldom does one witness such passion as the facial contortions of Shutt, who doesn't restrict himself to merely playing the music - he's living and breathing it; or the maniacal stick pounding of Vela in the live setting.

Bryan Richie of The Sword

Watching a band like this live is also an experience in its own right if you've checked them out on record prior, as the retro production there rarely gives any sort of clue as to what the band actually sounds like in real life. It's loud, it's heavy and it's thoroughly captivating, the sold-out venue headbanging in glorious unison as The Sword work their way through an expertly composed setlist that encompasses each of the band's four albums. "Freya", "Maiden, Mother & Crone", "Seven Sisters" and "Winter's Wolves" are just a few picks off a show composed almost entirely of highlights - and the cheeky cover of ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" toward the end is a nice little additive.

Setlist:

  • Apocryphon
  • Tres Brujas
  • How Heavy This Axe
  • Cloak of Feathers
  • Arcane Montane
  • Dying Earth
  • Freya
  • To Take the Black
  • Maiden, Mother & Crone
  • Execrator
  • Seven Sisters
  • Night City
  • Arrows in the Dark
  • Eyes of the Stormwitch
  • Veil of Isis
  • Cheap Sunglasses (ZZ Top cover)
  • Winter's Wovles

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