This is the debut from the Sword who are a band from Austin, Texas. They seem to be getting a great deal of hype from certain circles about this album, but I will touch on that towards the end of this review. This band is getting a lot of comparisons to a number of different bands and some are correct and some are off base.Ultimately no comparisons are totally accurate because this band does have some of their own sound mixed in with some other influences. There are slow heavy, plodding riffs that remind me of Black Sabbath and Sleep and there are some faster songs towards the end that don't remind me of any band in particular, but they seem partially reminiscent of say some late 80's speed metal. They have a very tight sound and are in the pace changes seem very calculated. I think the parts of this album that are like Sabbath are more influenced by Sabbath rather than sounding directly like the band. I think the Sword may have more in common with Sleep than Black Sabbath. Sleep had a Sabbath influence in their music, but they were slower at times and little less traditional in their pace and the vocals were more purposely uneven. The Sword do fit that mold on a few songs. However, I think the Sword are different from Sleep in that they have a much fuller, sharper sound. Only some reviews have tagged the Sword as stoner rock, but that is only partially correct. Although they have some slower early 70's influenced riffs here and there, they still lack the ultra fuzzed out sound or psychedelic sounds that are characteristic of many bands that get the stoner label slapped on their music. Unlike some other bands that are playing this style of music today, I can certainly say that the Sword manage to maintain my interest and not be overlong which is a fault with some bands that play in this style. The album has certainly grown on me with repeated listenings and it's probably the album I have listened to the most over the last two weeks.
I promised a few weeks ago to talk some about lyrics in my reviews. So the lyrics here are fantasy style lyrics that may draw influences from one or more of the following:
A)Ronnie James Dio
B)Playing Dungeons and Dragons
c)Watching way too many crappy early 80's fantasy movies like Beastmaster and the Sword and the sorcerer.
It's a very good, enjoyable album overall and a promising start for this young band. The only thing that is curious to me is that they seem to be getting a lot of notice from indie rock circles and very little notice in metal and stoner rock circles. Maybe I am completely off base on this, but that was what I noticed when I looked for reviews on the album before I bought it and one reviewer made note of this as well. So enlighten me if you know anything about it. Oh, my copy was $9.99 new which was a great bargain.