Lovers Lane
Rialto Square Theatre
Avondale Music Hall
ATT Internet 75

The Sword Live!

| July 26, 2006

The Sword
Subterranean, Chicago
Monday, July 24, 2006

A funny thing happened after The Sword finished their second song Monday night: An audience member, standing toward the front of a packed Subterranean crowd, yelled “Black Sabbath” loud enough for everyone to hear. Sword frontman/guitarist J.D. Cronise smiled as he quipped, “No. We’re The Sword.”

That in itself isn’t funny if you haven’t heard the Texas-based band. If you have, it is. Plenty of bands proudly claim their allegiance to Sabbath, but maybe nobody in recent memory has latched onto the prime-years Sabbath sound like The Sword. “Ebethron” and “Iron Swan” not only dripped with the sludgy Iommi-like riffage of Cronise and Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Trivett Wingo provided the same heavy-handed groove Geezer Butler and Bill Ward perfected in Sabbath’s heaviest heyday. Even the way Cronise phrased his lyrics, synchronizing his swords-and-sorcery lyrics with the riffs, on songs such as “Barael’s Blade,” was incredibly Ozzy Osbourne-like, even though their voices sound nothing alike.

Do The Sword have no personality of their own? Onstage, no. Osbourne’s manic behavior and natural connection with the crowd kept people from noticing Iommi and Butler were nailed to the floor. Cronise isn’t that guy. He introduced a few songs, informed the crowd “Under The Boughs” was from The Invaders compilation album, and gave the mandatory “you’ve been great” after an encore run through “Lament For The Aurochs,” but interaction was minimal. Cronise, Shutt, and Richie were content buried behind their shaggy mops of hair as they bobbed their heads in unison during beefy moments like instrumental opener “March Of The Lor” and the frantic “Freya.”

If you’re going to model yourselves after a band, the Sabbs aren’t a bad choice. But caution must be exercised because often emulation becomes imitation. That’s the line The Sword tip-toed Monday night and are tight roping in their young career. There is a lot of hype swirling around Cronise and co: future of metal; band to watch; next big thing. The future of metal? Maybe . . . if they can loosen their grip on the past.

— Trevor Fisher

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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