@Manchester Academy 3, September 16 2015

The Sword are carving their way round the UK on the back of the release of High Country.

When you have as many riffs and rolls in their repertoire as the Texan four-piece do, it’s hard to put on a disappointing show.

They left Manchester with mission accomplished. 

On its release in August, RUSHONROCK gave the The Sword’s fifth album and experimental change of direction a strong 9/10.

While songs such as Mist And Shadow, The Dreamthieves and Ghost Eye absolutely translate well live, the set highlights that really set the room off come from previous releases.

Cloak Of Feathers, Freya and Maiden, Mother & Crone stand out for their heavy licks and more anthemic moments.

Diminutive frontman JD Cronise can’t help but stand out as cropped and clean shaven among his long-maned, muscular bandmates.

A man of few words, often even within his own songs, the singer’s only chat line of the show is to check everyone is enjoying themselves at the midway stage.

Guitarist Kyle Shutt takes the lead on crowd interaction, strutting and posturing through his solos and the rest of the band get more involved as the show reaches its climax.

An encore of Dying Earth and Arrows In The Dark is not necessarily an obvious one, but the latter’s huge solo and outro is a satisfying finish.

Overall it’s a remarkably tight and impressive set, with the lasting feeling of watching quality musicians going a level beyond their already excellent studio sound.

Mike Fuller