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The Sword - "Gods Of The Earth" (CD)

The Sword - "Gods Of The Earth" CD cover image

"Gods Of The Earth" track listing:

1. The Sundering
2. The Frost-Giant’s Daughter
3. How Heavy This Axe
4. Lords
5. Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians
6. To Take The Black
7. Maiden, Mother & Crone
8. Under The Boughs
9. The Black River
10. The White Sea

Reviewed by on April 16, 2008

"the entire album is one riff monster after the other!"

Austin, Texas’ metal merchants, The Sword, have been labeled many things by critics in their very short career. The most offensive would definitely be “hipster metal,” for which Decibel magazine even had a round table discussion dissecting the term. I’ve never been one to let a band’s fan base (no matter how offensive it may be) get in the way of how I feel about the music. So getting past all of the silly labeling, which I’ve been guilty of from time to time, The Sword is simply an old-fashioned styled heavy metal band. There are no breakdowns, screaming, or grind parts to be found in their material. This combo has more in common with forgotten bands like Trapeze, Witchfinder General, and St. Vitus than they do with anything remotely modern in sound. “Gods of the Earth” is the band’s second album of complete 70’s blessed guitar worship.

Things start off nicely with the death march of “The Sundering.” The instrumental features all the components that make these southern boys so highly touted. The whip-smart riffing of guitarists Kyle Shutt and John D. Cronise (who also takes up vocal duties), Bryan Richie’s fluid bass runs, and Trivett Wingo’s loose yet spot-on drum attack combine to bring the kind of instrumental attack most bands flooding the current scene couldn’t hold a candle to.

The Thin Lizzy styled guitar harmonies that start off “How Heavy This Axe” make way for a Dio-era Black Sabbath inspired stomp, and it’s the exact kind of song that was custom-made for Guitar Hero. Actually, the entire album is one riff monster after the other! The hurricanes that try to pass off as guitar parts on “To Take the Black” bob and weave through the song with as much attitude as the song title would suggest. It doesn’t let up for a second. The bluesy slugfest of “Lords” will have you reaching for the volume knob with its Marshall-stacked onslaught. The best part is that there aren’t any unnecessary space-fillers on the record. Every section, from top to bottom, makes sense within the structuring of the songs.

Cronise’s vocals are melodic enough to carry the melodies, but they never overwhelm the songs. He also knows when to step back and let the instrumental sections do the talking, so to speak. His phrasing is nuanced, economic, and ultimately tasteful on “Gods of the Earth.” His vocal hooks on “Maiden, Mother & Crone” could even help earn the band some rock radio airplay alongside bands like Wolfmother and Queens of the Stone Age. Cronise’s lyrics are largely inspired by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, so having that blare out of speakers all over the country would crack me up. What The Sword have done on this new album is prove they are much more than just a marquee name for some kind of revivalist movement or corny genre label. Sure, the band obviously is indebted to all of the other groups I've mentioned, but they do it with class and might. Check out the band when they hit your city as great as this stuff is on record, its straight-up lethal in a live setting.

Highs: The balls-out riff mayhem found throughout the entire span of the album.

Lows: With Cronise’s unique voice, it would be great to see the band branch out and do something softer like Black Sabbath did on “Changes” next time out.

Bottom line: If you love the sound of gargantuan guitars and infectious hooks, this one is a must-have.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)