We first clapped eyes on Alunah not far off two years ago. Since then they have released the “White Hoarhound” record and are developing very nicely. Opening at an early time tonight the crowd is a little thin, but the local stoner mob have a nice line in slow, Sabbathy tunes. The title track of the new album is perhaps the highlight of a set that not even the loss of vocals halfway through and frontwoman Sophie struggling with a sore throat can spoil too much. Here is a Brummie band playing traditional Brummie metal and doing it well.
Lonely Kamel were a new one on us. Not really surprising considering that it was, according to frontman Thomas Brenna, their first time on these shores. They Norwegian’s bill themselves as “Blues Boozers” and although they are broadly – like the rest of this bill – a stoner outfit, they are one in the same vein as RTM faves Stone Axe. Rather than Sabbath, they take their cue from classic rock bands like Thin Lizzy. It also helps that they give the appearance that they live in a van.
Their sound is built around the superb guitar work of Brenna and lead axeman Lukas Paulsen and such is the fun they are having in their 45 minute set they carry the audience with them. “Rotten Seed” and “Blues For The Dead” have an instant appeal, but really, the whole thing was a copper-bottomed triumph. One of their songs is called “Roadtrip with Lucifer” for goodness sake, how does it get better than that? Our new favourite band to bore everyone about – bet your last pound on it.
Austin, Texas foursome The Sword have plenty to look forward to right now. Tonight is the first show on their European tour and this is not just any tour either. It is one to celebrate the majestic “Apocryphon” record and happily they play most of it during their frequently brilliant set.
It is with the album’s title track that they kick us off this evening, before moving us right back to their debut record “Age of Winters” for “Freya.” Indeed it is a well structured show which sees the song “How Heavy This Axe” from the second and the fourth “Tres Brujas” being from 2010’s “Warp Riders.”
“….Brujas” neatly sums up the band. It’s verses about “the sacred smoke” wrapped up in an extremely catchy and tight track. It is a style that the “Apocryphon” album has built on superbly and its second track “Cloak Of Feathers” sounds incredible in this setting as does set closer “Veil of Isis.”
There is a time for an encore of “Winters Wolves” with frontman John D Cronise explaining it was the only choice for a gig in a place called Wolverhampton. At its end you are left to reflect on the jaw-dropping power of the group.
There is nothing remotely flashy or gimmicky about The Sword, indeed, if they suffer from one flaw it is a slight lack of charisma. They are a group, though, that rather like obvious brothers in arms Red Fang and Mastodon, prefer to let the music do the talking. It didn’t so much talk tonight as shout very loudly.
A quite superb way to start 2013.