The Sword produce music that is the soundtrack to a barbarian hacking enemies in the heat of a battle. For three albums, The Sword has delivered unadulterated heavy rock. Will their fourth release prove them worthy, or will it be disregarded as Dungeons & Dragons frivolity? 411's Andy Rackauskas rolls the polygonal dice to determine the fate of “Apocryphon”.
Record Company – Razor & Tie Recordings, LLC
Manufactured By – Razor & Tie Direct, LLC
Recorded At – The Magpie Cage, Baltimore, MD
Mastered At – Sterling Sound
Engineer – J. Robbins
Mastered By – Greg Calbi
Mixed By – J. Robbins
Producer – J. Robbins, Sword, The
John "J. D." Cronise – vocals, guitar
Kyle Shutt – guitar
Bryan Richie – bass, synthesizers
Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III – drums, percussion
The Sword is brutal. Not that kind of brutal. Brutal, like a blow to the cranium. These guys from Austin, Texas make no bones about it. They play metal. They mean business and they take no prisoners. They’ve been doing so, since hitting the scene in 2003. Their music sometimes feels like progressive metal, doom, stoner rock, heavy metal, or just plain hard rock. But it’s always relentless. And on, “Apocryphon”, they continue that tradition.
“Apocryphon” is loaded with all the swords & sorcery imagery the band has been known for. They are called The Sword after all… Let’s leave subtlety to other bands please. One noticeable change from previous efforts is that the vocals sound stronger and more pronounced. You can actually make out most of the lyrics without the help of the liner notes! Additionally, some of the vocals have some mild harmonization and some attempt at some melodic moments. However, please breathe a sigh of relief! This by no means heralds that the band has gone soft. It’s not the dreaded “they’ve matured”; a.k.a…”we’ve sold out to try to get a bigger audience”. It’s far from it. They just have all gotten better as musicians.
The album kicks off with “Veil of Isis”. It’s slow doom metal at its finest. Yet, it has a tinge of a Fireball Ministry vibe to it. The hard rock element seeps past pure doom. This song provides some of the biggest examples of some of the harmonization mentioned earlier. The next few songs, “Circle of Feathers” and “Arcane Montane” really lean heavily on pure hard rock riffs. The fourth track, “Hidden Masters” is almost on homage to Black Sabbath. Its super heavy riff is one of the real highlights of the album and is seriously infectious. “Dying Earth” starts off with a really trippy intro, kicks in to a faster pace, pulls back, and then explodes for the finale. “Execrator” is just a pure and simple fast and relentless Sword jam. It’s a really good example of what the band is all about. “Seven Sisters’ has the band slow it down a bit after the bombardment of “Execrator”. The next cut, “Hawks & Serpents”, keep that relaxed (if I dare use that term when describing The Sword’s music…) pace going. Its strong hard rock riff has an almost straight forward groove. The track is not complex in the least. But, the change of pace is really a nice break in the sonic assault. “Eyes of the Stormwitch” is probably the only mild disappointment on the album. It’s not that the song is bad. It’s just not on par with all the others. However, it’s a nice set up for the grand finale! The title track, “Apocryphon” is simply awesome! It’s pure Sword! It starts off with a weird and trippy spacey prelude which quickly bursts into an explosion of furious kick ass metal. It’s heavy and it’s unforgiving. Everything a true metal fan would eat right up!
If you like metal, hard rock, doom, or just about anything with an edge, give “Apocryphon” a chance. It’s bound to please. It’s a worthy addition to The Sword’s amazing and uncompromising catalog.
The Sword – “Apocryphon”
The Sword – “Veil of Isis”
The 411: “Apocryphon” rocks. Hard. The Sword simply create some amazing metal music. Like all their previous efforts, “Apocryphon”, takes no prisoners. It’s a sonic assault lead by four fellas from Texas that may rock harder than any band out there barring a select few.