Venue: House of Blues
Source: Yours truly
So here is the belated set list and gig report for this show.
Short back story: I was actually thrilled when I heard that the tour had to be postponed and re-scheduled due to the departure of The Sword's drummer - not because the original drummer was bad, but because I wasn't able to make the original date for the show. As the tour dates were re-scheduled, it wasn't immediately obvious whether Karma to Burn would be added back to the bill (they were as much a part of the reason I had originally wanted to attend as The Sword was). However, when Karma was finally confirmed, and then I found out I could actually make this date, I was super-stoked. It felt like things had worked out perfectly...for a reason.
So anyway, I was really geared up for this show because I have wanted to see the reunited Karma to Burn ever since Appalachian Incantation came out. The album is a rager, by the way. If you like (mostly) instrumental stoner rock that's packed to the fucking gills with killer riffage, then this album is for you. I defy you to not bang your head to it.
Anyhow, K2B's touring line-up (which is the same as their album line-up...more on that later) is now a four-piece with vocals. The original power-trio line-up of guitarist William Mecum, bassist Rich Mullins and drummer Rob Oswald is now complemented by vocalist / guitarist Daniel Davies. For those of you thinking to yourselves, "wait, isn't that the exact same line-up as Year Long Disaster?" The answer is yes. Apparently, the two projects will be folded into one soon, as the foursome is working on a new album (three songs of which were played during this show), and my guess is that they will be keeping the Karma to Burn moniker.
At any rate, on to the music. In short, these guys absolutely fucking killed it. They are a perfect opener for a band such as The Sword, because frankly, they play very similar music, just primarily without vocals. Thus, they get people's heads banging bigtime but they don't detract from what The Sword is about to do because the (almost) lack of vocals makes them different from the headliner. They played stuff from their two best albums: 2001's "Almost Heathen" was covered first, and then they went a bit further back to 1999 for some tracks from "Wild, Wonderful...Purgatory" - interspersing some of the new material in between. Of course, the perennial "20" closed the headbanging festivities with a knockout punch. That song fucking rocks so hard - especially now, with not one but two guitar parts raging in full effect. Holy fuckballs.
This was their set:
Karma to Burn
"Jimmy Dean" (new)
...and then came The Sword.
So like I said, their original drummer Trivett Wingo had to leave the band just five dates into the original tour, but the band quickly enlisted the help of Kevin Fender for touring duty, and as far as I'm concerned, they should offer this guy a full-time job. I mean, if I wasn't aware of the back story behind their drummer, I would have sworn that this guy was around when the songs were written, and had possibly even helped in the writing process himself. He was that good.
So drumming aside, the rest of the band was fantastic as well. As I mentioned above, The Sword's songs are just chocked full of riffs, and whether you think the somewhat milder direction that the new album seems to have taken is better or worse than their old material, one thing is for sure: The Sword have not forgotten that big, bad riffs are their raison d'Ítre as well, and the entire set - from new stuff to old stuff - was just packed full of fist-pumping, slam-dancing, head-banging goodness.
I've heard it said that there are other bands out there who do what The Sword does better than The Sword, but I would beg to differ. There may be bands such as Wolfmother who have more of a mainstream curb appeal or Sabbath-like tendencies, or bands who are heavier and more bombastic than The Sword, or whatever, but I would argue that this group of guys strikes just the right balance of Sabbath-ness, not-too-heavy-but-certainly-not-fucking-weak, bang-your-head, rifftastic songs about fighting and mythology and space travel and whatnot...to make them just a little different from the rest of the pack of bands who are clamoring to cash in on the current craze for stoner rock / metal. The Sword is heavy - at times, REALLY heavy. Their songs are fun to listen to and headbang to - and obviously, judging by the crowd - worthy of some major moshing. Most of all, their songs are MEMORABLE...and so was this show.
So for my money, this show was a very nice one-two punch of stoner metal that had me banging my head until my neck was sore, and grinning from ear to ear as I left the venue...and what metal fan could ask for more than that?
Here is what they played:
Acheron / Unearthing the Orb
Arrows In The Dark
How Heavy This Axe
The Chronomancer I: Hubris
Fire Lances Of The Ancient Hyperzephyrians
Maiden, Mother & Crone
The Chronomancer II: Nemesis
The Horned Goddess
The Black River
(The Night The Sky Cried) Tears Of Fire
By the way, I regrettably had to miss the opening act, which was Mount Carmel from Columbus, Ohio. We got there just in time to hear the last riffs of their final song. I know from listening to their samples on MySpace that they are a competent outfit who would have probably been fun to watch, but the traffic and weather and my work schedule and such just didn't allow it. C'est la vie.