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New millennium metal
revisits the past

The Sword - Gods of the Earth
(Kemando Recorrds)
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: April 2, 2008
The Sword

Review by Tony Bonyata

Wow, you mean to tell me they're still making stuff like this? Plundering rhythms, blistering lead guitars, foreboding minor key power-chords and themes of overlords, demons and wizards that would surely have the recently departed Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax shaking his 20-sided dice with a smiling nod of approval. Yes sirree. kids, this is The Sword - heavy metal of the new millennium.

On the Austin-based quartet's sophomore effort, Gods of the Earth, The Sword have crafted an album cloaked in plenty of gloom and doom that will surely please fans of classic metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and, even later, Pantera and Mastodon. This ain't your brother's metal, but rather the hard stuff culled straight from dad's old record collection, that is, assuming your dad was into black studded leather and reading fine literature such as Kerrang! magazine. Eschewing the retro-metal sounds of newer bands like Australia's Wolfmother (whose music is capable of crossing over beyond the realms of metal, and into those of hard, classic and even indie rock), The Sword's sound is, for better or worse, 100% pure, unadulterated headbanger's heavy metal.

While frontman J.D. Cronise's riffs are fast, furious and in the forefront of the mix on this effort, his limited vocals, which clearly ape Ozzy Ozbourne's from his early Sabbath days, sound as if they're buried beneath a layer of topsoil through the entire record. Even a bigger gripe is that despite the fact that many of these songs are performed with a lockjaw precision, there is little that is actually very memorable after one run through. It all comes off a bit heavy on the form without enough attention to the function of their songcraft.

At the end of the day, The Sword's flights of fantasy are high-cheese, while their bludgeoning style of stoner rock has become a clichZ, but, let's face it, true metal heads wouldn't have it any other way. Like it or not, in the realm of doom-metal, these guys are the real deal (Lemmy warts and all).

Watch The Sword - "The White Sea" video

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