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The Sword - "Apocryphon" (CD)

The Sword - "Apocryphon" CD cover image

"Apocryphon" track listing:

1. The Veil of Isis
2. Cloak of Feathers
3. Arcane Montane
4. The Hidden Masters
5. Dying Earth
6. Execrator
7. Seven Sisters
8. Hawks and Serpents
9. Eyes of the Stormwitch
10. Apocryphon

Reviewed by on October 30, 2012

"The Sword has oiled and sharpened its instrumental weapons and is ready to wage war on the airwaves with 'Apocryphon.'"

Having already toured with chart-busting artists such as Metallica, and with stoner rock gaining momentum as one of the hottest styles in today's heavy rock market, The Sword has oiled and sharpened its instrumental weapons and is ready to wage war on the airwaves with “Apocryphon.” While record labels rush to sign assembly-line knockoffs of stylistic innovators, The Sword swirls its influences together in a distinct, nebulous fashion. One doesn't require a telescope to recognize these influences, but the myriad sounds and exquisite song-writing skills are what make the group a titanic force in today's stoner scene.

J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt combine up-tempo, grit covered guitar rhythms to initiate the album on “Veil of Isis.” Single-guitar harmonies and bucking-bronco gallops smoothly push the song along, while Cronise croons memorable vocal lines. Latest skin-bashing addition, Santiago Vella III, is the driving force behind speedy numbers such as the thrash-and-smash rhythms of “Execrator.” The title track shows the group ending the album on a bang via chugging guitars: highly recommended for speed-metal addicts!

Each track on “Apocryphon” follows strong song writing formulas created through churning grooves, doom-metal ring outs, slow-burning blues, and unforgettable chorus lines. Cronise's ability to infuse The Sword's music with sing-along segments elevates the group above hippie-jam artists that often comprise this sub-genre. Because Cronise sings with clean tones, listeners can follow his magical tales spun from mythological stories, thus giving the group an advantage over growling and screaming bands. Quiet intros such as the spacey, '70s-style synth on “Dying Earth” and the Sabbath-y bass intro and clean, bluesy tones of “The Hidden Masters” further enhance the album's enchanting vibe.

“The Apocryphon” should hook in most fans of stoner rock, classic hard rock, and early heavy metal. While many of the tones relate an older, tube-amp sound, the voluptuous mastering job and clear production, including the vocals, lends the album a modern feel. This album really exhibits the characteristics needed to gain a large, diverse audience. Put “Apocryphon” in your player and slay your ears!

Highs: The band's ability to distinguish itself from the rest of the stoner rock genre.

Lows: While the group superbly mixes tempos and moods, it could use more spacey effects.

Bottom line: “Apocryphon” is one of the stronger stoner rock albums of recent memory by one of the stronger heavy rock acts of today.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)