Monday night concerts are brutal. You just finished catching up on all the work you put off last week, so you're already a day behind. You're tired, slave again to that tyrannical alarm clock, too tired to cook but too broke to order in. All you want to do is watch some House of Cards until it's not too early to pass out for the night.
Unless, that is, Mr. Smalls has a badass hard rock triple bill for less than $20.
Let's start with one of the openers, Big Business. They've recently added a guitarist, but the band is essentially a product of Jared Warren (bass) and Coady Willis (drummer), one half of The Melvins. Their new release, Battlefields Forever, came out last October on Gold Metal Records, a label they created for the sole purpose of releasing this album.
Big Business is probably the most metal of the three bands that will be performing, or at least the sludgiest. Jared Evans growls like Lemmy at the mic, and the way Coady Willis punishes his kit makes you wonder why The Melvins ever needed two drummers. They are another one of those bands that seem to whip up more sound than three men should be capable of producing. If the term "noise metal" wasn't an oxymoron I'd use it here. Here's the ass-pummeling track "Heavy Shoes" off of their new album:
The other opener, O'Brother, hail from Atlanta. The five-piece have toured with Manchester Orchestra and Junius, and comparisons to the latter wouldn't be unfair to either band. They come across as more "alt-metal" than their two touring companions – think Deftones rather than Danzig - and rely upon swells of sound and a quiet/loud dichotomy more so than the chugging riffs of the headliners, The Sword.
The Sword is made up of four dudes from Austin who crank out music that straddles the imaginary line between hard rock and heavy metal. Their most obvious influences are Black Sabbath (musically) and Led Zeppelin (philosophically). They perform songs about mountains, and witches, and women on horseback. There's a section of their website devoted to "lore," and they even do the whole "zoso" symbols for each member of the band.
But there's a lot more going on with The Sword than repackaged classic rock. The band's first couple albums were straight up stoner rock in the vein of Sleep and Kyuss. More recent albums find the tuning and the pace cranked up, as well as the production values. 2012's Apocryphon and the excellent Warp Riders from 2010 are both albums you keep in your car to play before a night of partying. (Odds are you won't be listening to The Sword while fighting Balrogs, but that doesn't mean that a soundtrack shouldn't be made to match Balrog-sized ambitions.) Here's the title track off of that Warp Riders album, complete with riffs and licks o'plenty:
Did we mention The Sword has their own beer?
We are pleased to announce that we have two tickets to giveaway to see this great trio of bands. To enter, email us at "pghmusicreport [at] gmail.com," and put "The Sword" in the subject line. We'll announce the winner Friday night, if we remember. Tickets are available at Ticketweb for $16. That's a bargain any day of the week.
– B. Conway