The Underworld was heaving last Thursday night as Austin metal merchants The Sword brought the Apocryphon tour to the UK.

First off, it has to be said that the place was more packed than I have seen it in a while and I was honestly shocked to see The Sword playing a venue that small. They may be on their fourth album but their rise has been steady and they have a lot of ardent fans in the UK as well as in the rest of Europe. The new album debuted in the US Billboard top twenty and they could be forgiven for upping the game to take in the Forum or Hammersmith Apollo type venues but, according to guitarist Kyle Shutt, they play the clubs to keep in touch with their people. Their people were out in force and there wasn’t a gap to mosh in on the packed floor.

The new album is simply awesome with new drummer ‘Jimmy’ Vela fitting in perfectly and giving the band a whole new set of abilities. What amazed me was just how well he fits in on their older material – the set included tracks from the ‘Warp Riders’ album as well as ‘Gods Of The Earth’ and ‘Age of Winters’ – bringing them into the new sound without sounding any less than ‘right now’.

The twin guitar lead of Shutt and J.D. Cronise gives the band real power, especially live, as well as a variety of sounds that most bands don’t manage and the crowd were treated to some real power metal as well as some great solos. The crowd, in turn, cheered every number and there was some serious getting down in the pit.

I am not going to pick out any numbers as favourites but this incarnation did a brilliant version of ‘How Heavy This Axe’ and ‘Tres Brujas’ worked even better as a live number than as part of the ‘Warp Riders’ album.

Hell of a way to start 2013!

1. Veil of Isis
2. Freya
3. Hammer of Heaven
4. Tres Brujas
5. How Heavy This Axe
6. Cloak of Feathers
7. Arcane Montane
8. Dying Earth
9. Maiden, Mother & Crone
10. To Take the Black
11. Seven Sisters
12. Lawless Lands
13. Ebethron
14. Apocryphon