Austin, Texas-based metal band The Sword (J.D. Cronise — guitar/singer, Kyle Shutt — guitar, Bryan Richie — bass, and Trivett Wingo — drums) sounds like either a fantasy novel or a pro wrestling name, which surprisingly suits them fine because their music encompasses elements of both.
Metal is one of those genres that can instantly detract listeners not used to or attracted to loud music. Heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums can often drown out even the lyrics, leading to their labeling as noise and garbage. It’s unfortunate that some bands simply suck enough to ruin the genre for others, but heightened testosterone levels and manly experiences can result when the good bands are found.
The Sword‘s sophomore album Gods Of The Earth is filled with the fantastical and storybook imagery normally reserved for The Hobbit or Legend. When the lyrics are composed with the instrumentals and stylings, tavern tales are told, as in “Fire Lances Of The Ancient Hyperzephyrians” (download mp3 here) with the lines “We’ve crossed the burning wastelands / Sought out forgotten tombs / Within this shattered planet.”
Lyrics are probably the most underrated aspect of the metal genre. While some may seem arbitrary and simple, others are illuminable and poetic, as in “Lords” with “Hear the horns, pounding hooves / Visions of cities aflame / Wailing cries, dawn of doom / Die by the sword or in chains.”
It’s interesting that The Sword chooses to begin and end the album with two non-lyrical musical tracks (“The Sundering” and “The White Sea,” respectively). The opening track starts with a pleasant melody that entices you to believe the song to be something different, but soon reveals its true self. The closing track extends the melodies heard on previous tracks.
Surprisingly included as a hidden track is a non-lyrical track with quasi-Irish and definitely non-metal melodies. A precursor to what the band’s third album will bring?
The Sword’s Gods Of The Earth doesn’t offer just glimpses, but rather a full-blown view of what the band is capable of.