Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Sword - Warp Riders

Album number three from Austin, TX band The Sword finds them downplaying the heavy Sabbath influence of their first two and adding a lot more classic rock to their sound. The new direction definitely works in their favor. Debut album Age of Winters was a very solid entry into the Sabbath worship sweepstakes but the follow up Gods Of The Earth seemed to stretch their creativity a bit thin. Despite accusations of “hipster metal,” The Sword is a good band it’s always worthwhile to check out what their up to.

First off, the production on Warp Riders is much improved. Producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Pearl Jam) gives their sound much more clarity. The guitars are still tuned low but the tones are never mushy or lack definition. The other big improvement is with the vocals. J.D. Croncise has never had a great voice and his vocals were always buried in the mix on previous albums. His voice is still not very strong but his singing has gotten better and it sounds like they worked really hard on getting him to sound good.

 “Acheron/Unearthing The Orb” follows in the tradition of Iron Maiden influenced instrumentals that open Sword albums. The single “Tres Brujas” follows and sets the tone for the rest of the album. With a nod to ZZ Top in the title and a riff pinching their classic “Precious and Grace,” The Sword have a chance to win over classic rock fans who aren’t really into metal. “Lawless Lands” and “The Chronomancer I: Hubris” are further Texas boogie stompers.

The other big discernable influence on Warp Riders is Thin Lizzy. “Night City” has some trademark Lizzy guitar harmonies and arrangement flourishes that would sound great on classic rock radio. Fans of the heavier side of Thin Lizzy like “Thunder and Lightning” and “Warriors” will love the songs “Arrows In The Dark” and the title song.

Warp Riders is some sort of sci-fi concept album involving a planet locked in perpetual darkness. Honestly, this type of thing is not my cup of tea, but the music and vocal melodies are strong enough to ignore the sword and sorcery role playing. Fans of ultra heavy doom should skip this one but those who aren’t afraid of a little Foghat boogie in their metal should definitely check this out. They’re touring the US with Karma To Burn and Mount Carmel in October.


Buy here:  Warp Riders
mp3: Warp Riders
vinyl: Warp Riders

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