The Austin Chronicle

ACL Live Shots

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, October 15, 2010, Music

The Sword

Zilker Park, Oct. 8

Metal at ACL? A prop plane circling high above Zilker Park's Zync stage while trailing a banner for RocNation Aviator that prompted festivalgoers to "Text 'Skull'" as the Sword began its 55-minute ACL debut laid out the red carpet. Kicking off with the opening volley from its third and most recent album, Warp Riders, the local quartet's thrash gallop reared up from its instrumental preface into new greatest hit "Tres Brujas," armored ZZ Top for a harder, faster millennia. "We're from over there," motioned lead metallurgist J.D. Cronise, and if the large hometown audience had mostly left its black metal tees back in its fleet of muscle cars, the band brought its best: "How Heavy This Axe"; the cascading riffs of "The Warp Riders," which even elicited a smile from Cronise; and "Maiden, Mother & Crone," from the band's second sundering, Gods of the Earth. The set peaked with the new direction from Warp Riders, "Night City," a 1970s strutter eschewing the lambasted tonnage of modern metal for a sleeker gallop. What's next ACL, Rush?

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