From it’s inception in 2003, Austin, TX metal outfit The Sword’s sound has constantly evolved. Originally labeled a doom/stoner metal band, the band’s sound has progressed with every album into something that more resembles classic rock bands of the 70’s like Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but the obvious comparison would be that of the almighty Black Sabbath. Their newest endeavor “Apocryphon,” is a quantum leap forward in songwriting and is a culmination of all their previous efforts.
The songs are stripped down in length from previous albums, but somehow manage to sound bigger than ever. The poignant imagery provided by the lyrics is matched by the ethereal melodies and lush layering of instruments. The albums title translates into “Secret Writing” and finds the band composed of Kyle Shutt on bass, Santiago Vela on drums, Bryan Richie on guitar and John Cronise on vocals & guitar posied at the precipice of greatness. Lead singer John Cronise states “The album was written with the hopes of transporting people away from the stresses of everyday life” and it does exactlly that.
“The Veil Of Isis” kicks things off on a very powerful note. It’s kentic guitar riff is trademark Black Sabbath. “Cloak Of Feathers” is equal parts Led Zeppelin, Clutch and C.O.C. While the towering guitar riff of “Arcane Montane” makes me think of Electric Wizzard and Orange Goblin. The bluesy bass guitar intro of “The Hidden Masters” takes a sharp turn into a slow muscular riff that will please Monster Magnet and Sheavy fans alike and the hazy psychedelic intro of “Dying Earth transistions into a viseral groove that will have disciples of Fireball Ministry foaming at the mouth.
The pummeling guitar riff of “Execrator” remined me of vintage Melvins or Fu-Manchu. All that needs to be said about “Seven Sisters,” is that it should have been on Sabbath’s “Master Of Reality” album. The haunting track “Hawks & Serpents has a High On Fire meets Thin Lizzy feel to it and the hypnotic melody of “Eyes Of The Stormwitch,” sounds a lot like Blue Cheer combined with Sleep. The disc closes with the lumbering giant “Apocryphon.” It too sounds like vintage Black Sabbath crossed with “Ride The Lightning” era Metallica. If you bought the deluxe edition, you are treated to 5 bonus tracks. Four are live, but the real surprise is their take on ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses.”
Here’s the bottom line. If you like classic rock or are a fan of the new stoner metal movement, then this cd is essential listening. It takes the listener on an out of this world journey. So sit back and enjoy the trip.
Solid 9 out of 10.