Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Black t-shirts at the ready, the intrepid trio you see above; Jake (left), myself, and Andy (right), headed off to a local haunt called the Valarium to see an amazing lineup of various metal bands. The metal was all over the map; ranging from Ragnarök, Stoner rock, Doom, Indie, and even some retro psychedelic inspired heavy jams.
Tickets were an amazingly low $16 bucks, which was an absolute steal considering how much music there was to go around. There were a total of four bands:
Never Got Caught: This three piece band packed a lot of sound in with their power-rock antics. They were the opening act, so only had a handful of songs, the first one of which started out great and showed a lot of promise. The rest of the set wasn't bad, just not fantastic, about what you would expect from the show opener. They were solid, and gave inspiration to anyone who wondered if their own garage band was worth the effort.
These guys came out of nowhere, looking like a skinny Allman Brothers back in '67, talking in a mix of Swedish and heavily accented English, and with a sound that shook the pillars of heaven. The bassist looked like a prototype from the vaults at Jim Henson's studios, the lead guitarist, I'm pretty sure, was one of the barbarians in the 13th Warrior, and the lead singer sported a vintage wide body straight from Chuck Berry. I shouldn't forget to mention that the drummer had quite the Burt Reynolds 'stache too. But enough of looks, these guys could play. Their songs would be 5-8 minute romps through a barrage of tempo changes; from the slow jam to the aggro rock, and it all wove together effortlessly. It had a huge retro vibe to it, as if modern metal had been transported back to the Vietnam era.
The Sword: Wow. I can't say enough good things about these guys. Most people have heard of them actually, well, if you have ever played Guitar Hero 2 anyway. Even then, they stood out among the other lesser known tracks on the game. The Sword has a purity to their music that makes them stand above the rest, they don't hold anything back, and they have a singular vision which is brought out in everything they play. Invoking imagery of a time when the world was young and mankind scratched out their existence with grit, determination, and strength of arm. They weren't the headliner, but they stole the show for me.
Clutch: Even though the Sword stole the show for me, it was these guys I was most keen on seeing originally. This prolific band has about fifteen or so albums and has been rockin' out at least since 1990. They fall squarely into the 'stoner rock' genre, but their music has changed a lot over the years as they try new directions and really can't be classified. One thing remains, and that's the distinctive Sci-High feel to their lyrics and albums. Their lead singer is darkly charismatic, prowling the stage, spitting out vocals like he's giving a fire and brimstone sermon while perched atop a post-apocalyptic mountain top during the end times. My one disappointment for these guys was that given so much material they've got, they didn't play for a very long time, and my favorite song by them, A Shogun Named Marcus, didn't make the cut.
A surprisingly older crowd lines up before the doors open...
Filing out after Clutch's encore...
Andy, fresh from the pit, rock on brother...