Metalocalypse descended on Belly Up Tavern in sleepy Solana Beach on Tuesday, July 18. Its weapon of choice? None other than The Sword.
The crowd was an assortment of dads in Black Sabbath T-shirts, mid-30’s gents, and women in flowy goth garments and band T-shirts. One thing I’ve always noticed about metal shows is how polite the fans are. As the numbers piled in, there were calm lines at the bar, lots of “excuse-mes” and “thank yous,” and bits of pleasant conversation here and there of friends greeting each other.
Southern gentlemen Big Jesus kicked off the night with early 2000s inspired riffs and surprisingly angelic vocals. The crowd listened and swayed attentively, but we were all left wanting something heavier.
The Sword barreled into their hour with “Maiden, Mother & Crone,” (from Gods of the Earth) trampling the mundane world like the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Blistering guitar leads and thunderous bass lines reminiscent of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Wolfmother washed over the crowd.
“Let go of all that binds you; your kind will always find you,” sang singer John Cronise. Tones sweet-as-peaches transported the venue back to the 70s—no longer were we in Solana Beach 2017. Their set was filled with fan favorites from their albums High Country, Apocryphon, Warp Riders, and Age of Winters, along with a Blind Willie Johnson cover of “John the Revelator” yet fans wanted more.
These groovy gents were happy to oblige. Closing the night with “Cloak of Feathers” and “Freya,” The Sword certainly knew how to please. With a set so clean, it’s like they are on a mission to make metal shiny again.