What can I say about The Sword that hasn’t already been said? That’s my task, as I tackle their new album, Apocryphon. The Sword is a juggernaut in what some call the stoner rock genre. Some even go as far as to call their genre doom metal. Whatever you call it, it’s working. Debuting recently at number 17 on the Billboard Top 200, The Sword is set to have a great tour to finish out 2012. I, for one, WILL catch a show on this tour. But back to the reason we are here though…in our Initial Thoughts series, I take you on the journey of the first trip through an album. I let you feel my emotions, and hopefully, we share a common vision. I’m ready to hit the highlights and get this thing started!
First up is the album opener, The Veil of Isis. In typical Sword fashion, a barrage of riffs greet you and welcome you to your newest ass kicking. Vocalist J.D. Cronise comes into the fold around 40 seconds in, and although I hate comparing bands to others, it’s absolutely impossible not to mention how much The Sword sounds like a modern day Black Sabbath. Believe me, I mean that with all the respect in the world. The song delivers a very triumphant return to form, and has a great groove and one of the catchiest choruses to date. A GREAT album opener, if I do say so myself.
Continuing the onslaught is Cloak of Feathers. This riff is crushing me! The song has a great stop/start aggression in the verses, and yes, that is a cowbell. I, for one, love this style of music, and no one does it better than The Sword. Bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III create a tremendous backbeat on this track, driving the song exactly where it needs to be. I’m two songs in, and I’m thinking I may have a strong candidate for album of the year. I’m completely entranced.
The Hidden Masters…now here’s a track that you simply can not ignore. Bassist Bryan Richie kicks off the song, building a nice low end groove that takes us up to the initial riff that ignites the song. A slow chug keeps the pace during the verses, while the chorus keeps the doom flowing. This song is a perfect example of who The Sword is. The vocals and story come together to create an audible canvas like few have ever been able to create. This song is one of the highlights of the album for me so far.
Exacrator is one of the shorter songs on the album. I’m going to guess that’s by design. Even though the way the Billboard charts are tabulated has changed, (read about that here) there is still power in radio play. This song is a blistering example of The Sword, and could easily captivate today’s “gimme now” culture. The song is relentless until the very end, and has an almost 80’s feel in the vocal delivery of the verses. There is one 80’s song that comes to mind, but I’ll spare you that one. This song leaves you longing for more, and I could easily see it being a single.
Eyes of the Stormwitch is another shorter song on the album. It conjures up old school Pepper Keenan era Corrosion of Conformity, and then quickly reminds you that this is the Sword’s world, and we just live in it. The dual guitar attack of J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt is played out to perfection on this track. While the tones are old school warm and fuzzy tube amp style, the album seems a very modern album. Kudos on the production, as it’s a great sounding record. It stays true to the sound of the band, making it sound like a “classic modern” record, but still staying away from all the bells and whistles. Good music doesn’t need all the shiny studio tricks to be appreciated.
There are plenty of other rockers on this album. The title track Apocryphon being one of them, but I feel you get the picture when it comes to this album. It’s simply tremendous. I highly advise picking up the deluxe edition, as it contains several live tracks, as well as a cover of the classic ZZ Top anthem, Cheap Sunglasses. Do yourself a favor…support the rock and buy this album. You won’t be disappointed.
★★★★★★★★★☆ 9 out of 10 Stars. UnsungMelody.Com Approved!!!!
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