Originally published in Beat Motel issue 8
This was a gig I had been looking forward to for blimmin’ ages. I first saw The Sword was totally by accident in this very same venue (a medieval church) about a year ago supporting Clutch. I’m not even sure why I went to that particular gig in the first place, I’m not exactly the world’s biggest fan of Clutch.
I wouldn’t turn them off if they came on the radio, but as I listen to Radio 4 that’s not something that’s very likely to happen, so I think you could safely say I was nonchalantly ambivalent about going.
But when the support band (The Sword) came on I damn near shit myself with joy. Well not literally of course, it was a metal gig so I had a certain ‘tough guy’ persona to try and maintain, and if you’ve ever met me in person you’ll know what a challenging deception that is for me to attempt.
My mate Lee Culture who was stood next to me got so excited he managed to tip his pint over me, something his younger brother Leon managed to do to me when we were watching Pelican in London a couple of nights later. Must run in the family I guess, weddings must be a right messy palaver.
So the point of that rambling intro is to try and instil in you a sense of just how much I dearly love The Sword, the album I bought that very night became one that I had to end up hiding from myself and I simply wasn’t listening to any other music! The new album only added to my near adolenscent obsession with the band.
So onto tonight’s show…
Black Cobra ambled on stage, seemingly very comfortable with the relaxed atmosphere that Colchester Arts Centre seems to instil in both crowd and performers. With a muttered, “hello”, this guitar and drums duo proceeded to make one of the loudest and heaviest noises I’ve ever heard in my life.
I would like to mention at this point my growing anxiety at the number of bands popping up without bassists, it’s against nature I tells ya. I’d like you to overlook the fact that I’m a bassist that has just realised my kind could be made extinct by effects pedals. I went to the front to try and take a photo but approaching the PA stack the wall of sound nearly made me retch!
They were like a really heavy version of Torche, and that’s really saying something! Sadly the volume was so high Black Cobra (once the novelty wore off) were a bit of a muddy drone, even when you could see the guitarist moving his hand from the bottom to the top of the fret board it appeared to make no discernable difference to the sound! Next up were Saviours, who sounded like an early 80s southern metal band, like a more enthusiastic Lenard Skynyrd, and I’m not just saying that because the singer was wearing a Lenard Skynyrd tee shirt! Not really my thing, a bit heavy on the widdly widdly rather than the groove but they played with such joyous enthusiasm that before long the entire venue was infected! I know I was enjoying them more than I let on (deep down); because when they announced their last song I felt some genuine disappointment!
In what seemed like no time at all the four residents of Austin (Texas) that go by the collective name of THE SWORD were on stage and tuning up/ making grindy noises with their guitars. One reason for their speed in setting up may have been their sobriety; the bassist approached one of my mates earlier in the evening in keen need of some weed!
In much the same way as the last time I saw them they pulled no punches in starting their set, going straight into one of their pounding riff stained rock monoliths, (Me? Scared of reviewing cliché? Nah!) If you’ve never heard this band before then I guess I could loosely describe them to you as a cross between early Black Sabbath and a slowed down Metallica, but with FAR better production. But after I’d told you that I may be just as likely to put a hand on your shoulder and give you a patronisingly pitying look.
Every one of their songs tonight was arse clenchingly tight and the sound in the venue was utterly fantastic (as it always is). Although they were at the same volume as the opening band (possibly louder) nothing was lost in the mix, mainly because the many stops and starts that this band pull out of their arses would sound good on any PA. They are more dynamic than Hong Kong Fucken Phooey.
Half the reason I’m writing so much guff in this review is that reviewing what you consider to be a perfect gig is like trying to describe perfect shag; it’s hard to pick out the mechanical reasoning behind the excellence, and it’s also a little personal! Toward the end of the set I was laughing my arse off at a large group of white males charging about the floor in front of the stage playing air-guitar, what made this scene all the more hilarious was the fact that the floor was slipperier than a New York mayor’s alibi!
It was like watching some sort of mad head banging ballet, albeit a ballet filmed with a pissed cast and crew, and on the set of Mad Max. The absolute crowning moment of this limb flailing (and falling) was when a woman tried to walk through the middle of the mob carrying two fresh pints (I know, I know) in those flimsy plastic cups you get given at some venues.
Some long haired lad slipped and fell face first towards this beer carrying maiden. I don’t know if he didn’t want to spoil his ‘air solo’ but he did nothing to break his fall, the net result was that his face smashed right through the middle of the two pints of lager utterly destroying the cups! He got back up and was clearly suffering some sort of temporary blindness, and he gasped for air like he was drowning! The woman holding the remains of the cups had a look on her face that made it look like she considered the loss worth it for such an excellent few seconds of entertainment.
The chap shook his head about and rubbed his eyes for a bit, nodded and stuck his thumb up at the woman and dived straight back into the mosh. Pure class! After a raging set The Sword briefly hid behind the back curtain for a few seconds before returning for an encore. Before they started the bassist stepped forward to ask what is one of the funniest questions I’ve ever heard from stage,
“Can anyone get us high after the show?”
Saving the crowd pleaser for last they ripped into ‘Freya’, the track used on ‘Guitar Hero II”, and of course, the place went wild. There was suddenly twice the number of people playing air-guitar, and I couldn’t help but wonder if in telepathic unison every player was thinking, “red button, blue button, red , red, red, wang wang, red, red, yellow button!”
The whole scene was framed perfectly by the fact the huge ancient stained glass window behind the stage was now gloriously lit up. Colchester Arts Centre is easily the most metal venue I’ve never been to! I’ve never gotten the impression that The Sword are up their own arses, and this was proved by the fact that as soon as they were done with the encore they pilled off the front of the stage to chat to people that were throwing questions, and with an odd politeness were baying for answers. Mind you, I guess they could have been continuing their search for weed!
- Andrew Culture
Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Leave a Reply