Mount Carmel - This classic power trio hails from Columbus, Ohio, a place I lived for a stretch (but really did not call home). They do the basic blues rock that is well mined territory in the Cream/Blue Cheer style. The sound ends up being memorable only in the Savoy Brown category for me. Nothing terribly new here. But, it was well played and they banged it out nicely for just under a half hour. So, on a cold, cold night, the crowd was sufficiently warmed.
Karma to Burn - I had to make sure I didn't combine these bands into Mount Karma and Caramel to Burn which could make just as much sense. Well, maybe not as this band's incredible blasts of psyche rock did prove they had plenty of karma to burn. Really good sludgy opening caught my attention and held it through a couple of instrumentals before some vocals kicked in on the third song (vocals were used lightly, like Kinski). There were two guitars going and they kept up a good psyche rock roar that had metal touches, but stayed out of a simple category. I was hearing some Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss along with Black Mountain and even some instrumental fury of the Monomen. Plenty of classic psyche moves, but a total modern hip metal feel to it all. By the middle of the set I thought they were brilliant, although they did taper off a bit in my mind. Still, a powerful winning set by an interesting band.
The Sword - There was a modest crowd tonight with the stage pushed forward. This was a rescheduled show as the band had to replace their drummer and took a few weeks to get that together. That worked for me as I could not make the previous show and I was in the mood for a smart and talented metal band. I have seen these guys in Denver and at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel. Since they have opened all over the world for Metallica, they have grown their fanbase enough to hit the bigger clubs which they richly deserve. They have plenty of metal chops for metalheads everywhere but they have a great rock sensibility and tunefulness for us border walkers. One key is that they do real world vocals which I believe kind of stems from Metallica where the best singer of the instrumentalists of a band sings in a natural voice, as opposed to trying to find the best Robert Plante/Ozzy?Rob Halford clone they can find. Nothing wrong with those great singers and if you can find one that doesn't sound second-rate, go for it. But it is nice change to see a vocalist here that sounds closer to Ronnie van Zant than Ronnie James Dio. The set of just over an hour was great tonight and really built in drama and power. the new drummer seemed to be locked into the band as well as you would want. The stage patter was direct and natural and there just is not any pretension with this band's approach. A deserving success on all levels.
Quote of the Night: From the Sword... "Sorry for being late." What? You started at 10:03, only 3 minutes after the posted time? Oh, you mean a few weeks late. Duh. A little slow tonight on my end. It may have affected attendance a bit, but this is a steadily growing band that a few hiccups like this hopefully will not slow down.