I have closely followed The Sword since the band started in 2010. But with its newest album release, “High Country,” I have to wonder whether my decision to back the band is still a good idea.
Don’t get me wrong – The band’s first two albums will always be two of my favorite records. “Age of Winters” and “Gods of the Earth” are masterpieces.
They are well-balanced and heavy, holding true to the heavy metal sound with soaring melodic voices and harmonies.
But when it comes to The Sword’s newest albums, such as “Warp Riders” and “Apocryphon,” the band seems to take more of an electric sound and tries to blend house music melodies with heavy metal.
It flat out doesn’t work; it has too much pop.
With its newest piece, the band seems to have forsaken both of those styles to make an eclectic return to pre-’80s rock ‘n’ roll.
In short, it sounds like Zepplin’s weird cousin.
Don’t get me wrong – Led Zeppelin will forever be one of the more innovative and influential bands to have ever played rock music. But in the end, The Sword is not living up to its reputation or abilities. It has moved away from heavy metal and made a shift toward folky rock.
I am always for growth with bands, but when you forsake your genre completely, I have to ask why. And the only answer I can come up with is the need for monetary success and the pursuit of fame.
Heavy metal has not been a genre that makes a ton of money outside radio hits. But I have seen The Sword live, and it makes sense to me that its members are rock stars. At least that is the feeling and label they put on themselves.
They see themselves as rock stars and, in doing so, they have let themselves fall into the money-pit of music.
By pursuing music‘s monetary aspect, they have changed gears so drastically that they no longer are the band I have grown to know and love. They have become pop-rockers.
Although “High Country” seems to be on the declining side of the band, it has some serious merits.
Lead singer and founder of the band J.D. Cronise has done some serious good with this album.
While it may not conform to the parameters of its previous work, it still has stellar vocals played over a monstrous assortment of riffs that are designed to melt your face off.
The heaviness of the band’s previous albums is alleviated, but the overall feeling projected onto you as a listener is something else.
The lyricism is the same. The mythic poetry that backdropped past albums is still there.
The riffs that held me captive appear in a just a couple of songs. As far as The Sword’s atmosphere, I have to say it has been lost in its last few albums. The progression that is usually the culprit of that change is nonexistent. This is a change that seems to regress the band instead of make it greater.
Many bands make a difference in music through their progression. I emphasize the word progression.
While The Sword’s sound might be different, it doesn’t seem to push the band past its previous parameters. That alone is why I find this album to be a disappointment.
The Sword’s talent is being squandered in a harkening to the past, instead of a blazing of trails into the future.
The Sword’s album is $11.99 on iTunes and $10.83 on Amazon.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via tmrtvchannel.com