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  Conan's Pub  
  Portland, OR  
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NW Metal Fest 2004 kicked into full gear Friday, September 10th at Conan's Pub with the well-tuned sound-cannon that is the group Swil. Swil was booked to open for a show including Hyperthermia, Lerker, and Metal Church. Metal Church had to cancel for some reason, but I think the folks at Conan's didn't mind. The place was nearly full during Swil and Hyperthermia, and I must say that I was sufficiently rocked during the night.

Swil has a signature sound. It is tight, focused, emotional, and dramatic at times. They captured my undivided attention with dynamics and changes which could make people who might be hesitant to listen more open to the edgy sound that this band provides. The audience followed these changes well and, when Swil's swelling music turned the corner, the people cheered and begged for more.

Swil has a better idea (whether they know it or not) of the ingredients needed to prepare for and feed a rock-hungry audience. All of Swil's members were in rare form this night, and were not noticeably drunk. In my humble opinion, Jason has fantastic vocal skills and sings in key with an undeniable energy. When Jason's vocals transformed into more of a screaming style, they still remained complimentary to Swil's sound, where such screaming done by someone else may have been grating to the senses. Guitarist Mr. Sampson lends his unique sound, drawing from many different styles, to further enhance Swil's originality. He makes his guitar speak more languages than a confused translator. Sometimes he pulls from it a sweet smooth voice whereas other times he brings forth an axe-grind that slaps you as hard as a side of beef to the face. Mr. Sampson was well behaved on stage and remained upright for most of the performance. I found that his controlled stage antics added to this night's show, as opposed to being so outrageous to detract from it. Bill and Klan were as solid as ever. They provide the foundation in a rhythm section that is a rock-solid platform for Swil to stand tall upon.

Swil's set list was as follows: Intro (Death March), Failure, Juggernaut, Swil Anthem, Rabbit's Hole, Father Time (2 part song), Ode, SlapSong, No Compromise, and Can't Feel My Face.

I enjoyed more of the songs than not, and found myself keeping time with nearly all of them. They played the almost an hour and never let up with their furious cavalcade of "Swil-brand" sound and energy. This was my second time at a Swil show. I had a great time and really enjoyed their musical offerings. I generally have tastes in music that seldom include the style Swil brings, but I am converted. I look forward to seeing Swil again, and hope to get a Swil CD to rock out to.

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