The Beach Shall Rise Again

Give Mark Van Fleet and Aaron Hibbs the keys to the Rock HOF, the MOMA, the Smithsonian, every club in town, because not only are they Columbus' most intriguing/important artists and musicians, they are also impeccable curators.

Last Saturday's Entrance release party, built by Sword Heaven, starring Sword Heaven -- kinda felt like the center of the musical universe -- if just for that moment. It was a battle, not of good vs. evil, but of black vs. white. I've puffed on plenty of death metal in my time...some strands of Norwegian and South Floridian. Nothing is as dark (and emotionally heavy) as Sword Heaven. They are the complete absence of light. The sound of coal miners choking through inevitable suffocation in endless night. Demon exorcisms given in Arctic Ocean submarines. Whenever I encounter a Sword Heaven virgin, I usually guide them towards this clip, which is as good an introduction as I can think of...

Yet...this is not even close to what they've evolved into. On Saturday they added one tiny chirp, skree, clip, sample, scream to their anti-mantra and it was enough to send them into a completely different realm. I was compelled to call it hip-hop even, if in fact early BDP instrumentals were being screwed and chopped at the gates of hell. Heads simply bang, then roll, then chant, then cry, then you start searching for your own core while your standing their, mouth agape. Inner-soul music.

Well, Van Fleet and Hibbs know their cosmic opposites, Times New Viking, the white hot heat, the beacon light in this equation. The Outer-soul music -- you search for energy bouncing off the tips of your fingers and hairs of your head. Like I said, this night, two of the world's most important bands were absolutely on, and where Sword Heaven were the nuclear holocaust of color, TNV funneled every bit of the rainbow and prism, the crystal and clouds, into their blistering set. I've got to stop with the pre-requisite "I'm biased" bullshit, the nights up late debating whether I should include Paisley Reich in some worthless year-end, top-ten, just because I know the drummer used to hide his dinner in his underwear drawer when he was seven. This is a trio that has criss-crossed the USA a few times this year and come back to Columbus, hobbling, in debt to their eyebrows, bruised, scarred, cocky and wise. But what a wonder it did to those songs. A sticky, oozing, psychedelic gel -- ecstatic and buzzing, hippie-swirls and Manchester pogos -- every piece a thousand new ideas, every break as precise and calculated in the best way possible. These is tight. Shoegaze made rebellious melody. Idiosyncratic noise rock made nursery rhyme timeless. They're dumbing it down, dulling the sharper edges, so that you'll sing along. Funny that guitarist Jared Phillips seems to always pluck the beginning of "Paranoid" between songs, then I realize the monstrous ending they've tacked onto "Fuck Books" is Sabbath. Little Sabbath for now, but in the confines of Bourbon St. I'd like to think it's the Royal Albert Hall or something like that.

"We've never played Mexico before so we'll play all the hits."

So I forgot to count the other ways in which the fellows from Sword Heaven made this world/beach a better place; Swamp Leather (send me something, I'd like to think you're the worthy substitute to a town without Lambsbread), Deadsea (you should already know my love for America's greatest metal band), and the Providence kids that were squirming around like extras from Fraggle Rock -- you all made the night one to write home about.

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