The Sword and Royal Thunder Rock Milwaukee’s The Rave 4-7-16

The Sword's John D. Cronise. - Photo by Dave Burke Photography

By Dave Burke

The Sword have been flying under the radar of the mainstream for ten years, and during  that time have released 6 LP’s that have not only scored well with fans of old school metal, but continually received praise from critics as well.

Their sound, with it’s fuzzed out riffs, twin guitar attack and fantasy and sci-fi lyrics, calls back to vintage 70’s & 80’s metal, but there’s more than just a re-hash of the past. Elements of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin and others are present, but not to the point of distraction .

Preceding The Sword on stage, Atlanta Georgia’s Royal Thunder had the daunting task of coming on to a near empty house. When I arrived just before the 8pm start time, I’d estimate that there were 50 people in a room that will hold several hundred.

With a tough, intense voice, that is part Ann Wilson and part Blackie Lawless, vocalist / bassist Mlny Parsonz lead the quartet through an 8 song set of impassioned psychedelic hard rock, focusing heavily on their most recent release “Crooked Doors”.  A layer of melancholy covered the driving rhythms and themes pulled from Parsonz’s real life, from here experiences in what she describes as a religious cult to her break up with band mate, guitarist Josh Weaver.

Taking the darkened stage with little fanfare other than the pre-recorded, almost Beastie Boys like funk of “Unicorn Farm” from their 2015 release “High Country”, The Sword lead off with the fan favorite “Night City” from their 2010 Sci-Fi concept album “Warp Riders”, before bringing out the new material with “The Dreamthieves”, it’s mid tempo groove playing out like a heavier space rock version of The Cars “Moving In Stereo”.

Delving back into the old with the cow bell infused tale of maidens fair, “Cloak Of Feathers”, the night would continue in much the same way working in a few oldies amongst the numerous new selections. Though at least half of the band’s set list came from the current release “High Country” the close to 200 in attendance reacted just as well to the new as they did the classics.

Making my way around to various spots in the room, singer / guitarist John Cronise’s vocals were struggling to be heard behind the thunders wall of guitar, bass & drums. I don’t know if anyone else took notice, it seemed like all in attendance were to engrossed in the music to care. Over the course of the night I noticed one particularly enthusiastic fan taking every opportunity to deftly headbang without ever once spilling a single drop of his beer.

The presentation as understated as it is, seems to work for the band and the fans and other than a few thank you’s there’s next to no stage banter just a tight 20 song set of old school yet modern metal.

The Sword will be on tour throughout the U.S. until the end of May. Head over to www.theswordofficial.com for news and tour dates.

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About Dave Burke 20 Articles
I'm a music photographer and writer from Oshkosh WI and have been obsessed with music for as long as I can remember. I hoping my photography will bring me closer to the music I love and create images that inspire others the way I’ve been inspired by my favorite bands & photographers. In addition to Facebook and twitter you can also follow me on Instagram @dave_burke_

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