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The Sword @ Underground Arts.

January 20, 2014

The-Sword-3Text and images by Chad Sims.

The Sword show at Underground Arts was, in a word, packed.

The best way to describe being in the audience was sardine-like. I honestly haven’t been to a show this crowded since clandestine punk shows of high school, but in the end it was worth it because the show was awesome.

The evening started with not one but two great Philly bands Sunburster and Serpent Throne. While I had seen both of the names before, this was my first opportunity to experience either band live.

Sunburster kicked things off with a set of doom metal laced with some type of “core” vocals (I don’t know hard, grind, metal, deathcore?). Usually, I am not a fan of this particular type of vocal delivery and on first impression it seems like an odd fit for the music, but singer Mike Murro’s particular voice and the way he fit the phrases to riffs made me a believer.

Next up was Serpent Throne. They play somewhat more traditional jamming, stoner rock but that isn’t a bad thing. This band has been around for a while having just released their 4th album Brother Lucifer on Prophase Music. It is fun to see a band where everything has been rehearsed to death. Serpent Throne leaves plenty of room for improvisation and that on-the-edge energy is fed directly to the audience.

Finally, Austin’s The Sword rounded out the night. Until their most recent album, Apocryphon, I liked but didn’t love this band. I thought they were good but I didn’t understand the vast amount of praise heaped upon them. Well, I suppose all those bloggers and music writers had seen them live because they are unbelievable in person. These guys just shred and they make it look so easy. As soon as they started playing people began nodding their heads to the throb of the music and within a few songs, the audience was singing along (something that is not very common at metal shows).

This was a great show but I hope next time The Sword comes through town they play somewhere else. Not because I don’t like Underground Arts (it is one of my favorite venues), but simply because this band’s following demands more as this show was clearly and rightfully sold out.

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