Texan Riff-Lords The Sword Return With ‘High Country’ & A Different Retro Flavour
For the past ten years, The Sword have stood out amongst their peers. They’ve carried the torch for old school riff soaked heavy metal, relentlessly carving out a niche in which they’ve stood happily delighting those who crave that 70’s sound.
However, the Black Sabbath worship has taken a back seat on ‘High Country’ and what we are left with is an album of muscular 70’s style proto metal. Think bands such as Cream or Blue Cheer and you’re on the right track. John Cronise (Vocals, Guitar) comments, “I didn’t even intend for the demos to be Sword songs. But then I realized that I had taken on a sort of limiting view of what The Sword was, and that wasn’t actually what I wanted it to be. I think the new album is more reflective of the music I listen to and where our heads are at collectively. With each of our albums, it’s become less about fury and bombast and more about trying to write good songs. We realized that our music can go wherever we want it to go. There’s no pre-determined course here now, and there never was.”
There is plenty of variety and depth on show. Alongside crunchy proto metal songs such as “Early Snow” and the title track, we are also treated to the nebulous trip that is “Mists And Shadow” and the instrumental piece “Suffer no fools”. All instruments are mixed well and are loud enough to appreciate properly. The highlight is the synth-y delight that is “Agartha”, breaking up the stoner riffs while maintaining the somewhat psychedelic vibe.
Ultimately however, this album is a little repetitive and many songs are easily forgotten. Lacking any great feeling of cohesion, this is a great collection of mid-tempo retro metal but not one that I’d recommend over the work of their contemporary’s in musical spirit. Nevertheless, I expect this album will become the soundtrack of many people’s summer, which is all the praise The Sword need.
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Words by Adam Dernie