The Sword - Gods of the Earth
Record Label: Kemado Records
Release Date: March 24, 2008
The next time somebody tells you that hard rock is dead, you can shake your defiantly long-haired head “no”, because The Sword have come to crush all of the trends. Bow now before these HP Lovecraft referencing sludge machines, for they are the new Gods of the Earth.
After their first album Age of Winters spawned the Guitar Hero 2 bonus track “Freya” in 2006, it would have been easy to sit back and ride out the royalties for a while, but The Sword adhered to the rule of no rest for the wicked, and so here they are again. The question is whether or not the sophomore sinks or swims in comparison to its highly acclaimed predecessor. And for the most part, it manages to stay afloat.
It’s impossible not to compare Gods of the Earth to the works of Black Sabbath. The yowls of singer John Cronise reflect Ozzy at his best (i.e. before he talked like Marlon Brando in The Godfather) with a pint or two of Helmet’s Page Hamilton mixed in for good measure. The riffs are palm-muted battle cries more concerned with matching the stomp of the drums beat for beat than showing off with overly technical lead patterns. The result is an album based in groove, not in over-the-top showiness – a great follow up to Black Label Society for your ultimate drinking soundtrack.
At times the riffing seems pretty hollow and downright boring, as in the lead-in to “Lords” which pretty much sounds like the bagpipe melody from “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys. But extreme! And there are plenty of examples of scale-exercise type riffs to be found throughout (“The Frost-Giant’s Daughter,” etc), a crime that groups like Coheed and Cambria are frequently guilty of, but few thrash metal groups.
What The Sword lack in melodic skill they make up for in heavy doses of solid rhythmic triplets, which there’s totally enough of here to please any Iced Earth fan jonesing for John Schaffer’s next metal opus. There’s no argument about it: they’re authentic enough. This is no cash-in to the pseudo-metal craze of the past few years , it’s the real deal. I mean, no bandwagon-jumper would put out a track called “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians,” would they?
But even though The Sword can and will kick your ass, Gods of the Earth lacks originality overall and plays like a really lame version of a Mastodon release (or, it plays like a Down album). It’s all been done before, and it’s all pretty forgettable. If you’re interested in the prolonging of vintage metal’s life, than this is your album. If you need something to push on that Beer Pong Tournament, then dig this. But, no matter what the Scientologists are saying, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if you missed it.