Early Man: Closing In, The Sword: Age of Winters

Early Man
Closing In
Matador Records

The Sword
Age of Winters
Kemado Records

Have you heard the news? Heavy metal is the new indie rock (which means black is the new black). Out: short hair, sensitivity, lyrics about girls. In: long hair, aggression, lyrics about drinking wine from the serpent's vine. Toronto, New York, Australia--they're all getting in on the action, spewing forth hipster metal acts at a rate not even committed metalheads can keep up with. (Good thing, since committed metalheads hate most of these bands. Hey, how'd you like your universe reduced to a page on LastNightsParty.com?) Is hipster metal here to stay? Of course not. Is it fun while it's lasting? You bet.

You know Early Man are from Indieland (also known as Brooklyn, where they relocated from Ohio) because they've only got two members: singer/guitarist Mike Conte and drummer Adam Bennati. Like every other rock duo in the known universe, they don't sound like two men. On Closing In, their debut full-length, Conte and Bennati thrash in a full-blooded manner that suggests the presence of three guys, maybe four. Most of their songs--with titles both great ("War Eagle") and shitty ("Raped and Pillaged")--sound like Judas Priest's "Breaking the Law," which is not so easily accomplished. Early Man's best trick is playing meaty and speedy at the same time--particularly neat when you consider that they don't have a bassist. They could do with more in the way of tunes, but what metal band couldn't? Oh yeah--Judas Priest. And Iron Maiden. And Metallica.

The Sword are from Austin, which is kind of like Brooklyn but with real rednecks instead of pretend ones. They're slower and heavier than Early Man. Listen carefully to their debut, Age of Winters, and you can hear traces of the humid swamp-boogie tradition every Southerner is born into. Again, memorable tunes are where you find them, but drummer Trivett Wingo--if this is not his real name, he must never tell a soul--drives the thing with enough swing to earn the band a Black Sabbath comparison or two. Cherish them, dudes.

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