The Sword @ Academy 3, Manchester
They follow up a pungent opener with a slew of fan favourites: Tres Brujas and Cloak Of Feathers shifts through the gears, Freya’s cannoning riffs ending the early siege.
Before a packed Academy 3, which tries its best to emulate some kind of rock n’ roll sauna, Texan four-piece The Sword are on a mission to silence the doubters. Many diehards, brought up on the grit and gruff of Age Of Winters’ dingy sludge metal, have cast off new album High Country for its softer countenance and sparkly production. But from the instant the thick, dirty riff of Buzzards rears its head, turning the place into a bobbing sea of flailing hair and swinging hips, their new music sounds right at home alongside older cuts.
They’re quick to follow up that pungent opener with a slew of those fan favourites, Tres Brujas and Cloak Of Feathers shifting them through the gears, Freya’s cannoning riffs ending the early siege. They never slow the momentum, never even stopping for phatic chit chat; riffs are their language and they converse to the crowd with a sharp tongue.
Songs like Mist & Shadow are telling of the band’s recent evolution as Kyle Shutt lead the way with a twangy country that touches their home state’s musical roots before morphing into a doom rock blast.
Throughout the set, drummer Santiago Vella, with a hint of Keith Moon, makes use of any conceivable breathing space to rumble and rattle his toms.
Speaking to The Sludgelord, frotnman/guitarist J.D Cronise stated that they weren’t “trying to make an album that people wouldn’t like, but when we were recording High Country we were very aware that there would be fans who like our older material who would maybe not quite get this new one. But that’s okay, that’s gonna happen, you can’t please everyone.” And you can’t criticise a band driven by such integrity. As one area of the crowd starts the first of many chants for Iron Swan, they continue to blend new material – Ghost Eye sounding as classy as it does vicious – with the likes of Lawless Lands and the shadowy energy of Maiden, Mother & Crone they refuse to bow to nothing but their own will.
They never play Iron Swan and good on them for not doing. They close their one song encore of Dying Earth with a quip along the lines of ‘if you wanted to see a band for one song you should have looked elsewhere.’
As you reflect on the past 90 mins – of genius riff after genius riff – it shows that this band has a veritable feast of top class songs. Iron Swan can suck it, there’s so much more to this band than those five minutes and forty six seconds.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Anthony Firmin
Support came from Hang The Bastard, photos of their set can be seen in the gallery below.