Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Initial Impressions: The Sword: Gods of the Earth

I saw The Sword in concert awhile back. They were the opening band in a three band concert that included Down and Metallica. I was actually fairly impressed with the band at the time, although I did not pick up their album until just recently. It was clear that The Sword were not nearly as experienced in large concert venues as the other two bands, but they still managed to do a decent job.

The Sword came under fire early in their careers when they were attached to a major label seemingly without doing anything to deserve it. They were at the forefront of the retro rock movement along with Wolfmother and people were turned off by them not adding anything new to their music, just rehashing old ideas. They were also branded "hipster metal" due to the band members not being involved with metal their entire lives leading up to the formation of the band. I do not know whether any of these arguments have merit or not. It's not my place to judge these things. I only hear their music.

The Sword played stoner/doom metal on the band's first album. This album still retains a lot of the doom and stoner metal elements, but also adds NWOBHM and other 1980's metal styled riffing to the mix. The band has expanded their sound a little more on this release while retaining the overall retro feel of their first album. Their musicianship and songwriting skills have also improved.

The band is known for their extremely heavy, monolithic riffs and powerful drumming. Both elements return with greater vitality here. J.D. Cronise has a very distinctive voice that many have compared to Ozzy Osbourne during his Black Sabbath days. I am not sure I agree, but it is a decent style nonetheless.

The Sword's songs are long and tend to meander a little at times. They are nevertheless good, in general. They are very catchy. The lyrics tend towards the fantasy and swords and dragons side of things.

This is a very good sophomore album by the band which hopefully replaced any doubt in the band's metal credibility. I guess we'll find out when their third album is released this year.

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