The Sword - High Country
Listening to The Sword’s new album is like taking a time machine back to the 1970’s with music, playing and recording that harks back to that golden period. Even the album cover is a throw back to 70’s Tangerine Dream.
The Austin, Texas stoner metal quartet are more than Black Sabbath copyists – a label it would have previously been hard to defend them on as the band has previously dealt out some serious Iommi influenced riffage and brutal guitar feedback along with some shaking bass and solid drumming. But interestingly, like Sabbath, the band has evolved with and synthesizers now play a big part in the album as the band move forward, as do horns adding to the sound on Early Snow. There are also experimental synth tracks such as Unicorn Farm which is way too short as it finishes just as you are getting into it.
But traditionalists need not worry as there is more than enough riffing to keep everyone happy. Empty Temples steels a twin lead guitar sound straight from Thin Lizzy and the Sabbath influence is still there in abundance, most notably on Suffer No Fools. Intriguingly the song The Dreamtheives has embraced some vocal harmonies right out of the Crosby Stills and Nash songbook and mixed them with some heavy riffs that you just know live is going to rattle your rib cage, it sounds a strange combination but it works. The short, sweet and catchy Seriously Mysterious has a bass synth sound that is so deep that you can almost count the cycles.
High Country is a serious undertaking of a band that are now on a voyage of discovery ultimately becoming more progressive (with a small p) and expansive which will make their next album even more intriguing. So sit back and soak up all those fat, lush synth sounds as they wash over you and around all the heavy riffage.
Words: Anthony Firmin