Millennials are definitely awash in nostalgia influenced counter culture. It is pervasive throughout retro-themed fashion and music. Trends ebb and flow, and music seems to be drifting back to the raw sort of rock that was so common in the 1970s. The metal scene in particular seems to be following the retro trend without straying into the mundane, and one band in particular exemplifies this more than any other. The band is called The Sword, and they just released one of the best albums of 2012.
The Austin band's fourth album comes just after The Sword was signed to prominent metal record company Razor and Tie, and was forced to replace their long-time drummer. Still, these changes didn't daunt the doom metal quartet from producing, Apochryphon, a classic heavy metal influenced record that builds on the same formula as their previous critically-acclaimed release, Warp Riders. The album's 10 tracks(15 on the deluxe edition), feature titles and subject matter as arcane as the album's name.
Opening with solid, yet melodic riffing, the first track, “The Veil of Isis,” gives listeners a good idea of what to expect throughout the rest of the album. It is full of clear vocals reminiscent of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, and solid guitar work worthy of Led Zeppelin (not to mention lyrical content).
Some of the more notable tracks are “Cloak of Feathers,” a 5 and a half minute epic which features complementary guitars hammering out a ballad of a prototypical forbidden fantasy beauty; “Dying Earth,” which is equally long yet more foreboding and features much faster paced riffs overlaid with impressive lead guitars and heavy bass lines; and the closing “Apochryphon,” which completes the album while exemplifying everything that makes this album a great listening experience.
On the deluxe edition there is even a cover of ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses," a playful rendition that says as much about the bands' attitude as it does about its influences. Additional bonus tracks are classics played at various live gigs.
The music is ambitious without being pretentious, and the playing is as solid as it is talented. Each of the 10 tracks is played tight and fast, yet still evokes whimsical thoughts of the forbidden knowledge alluded to in the lyrics and album title. The entire album has an unprocessed sound which makes one think it would better on vinyl than on iTunes. Listening to the album one gets the sense that not only have the members mastered their trade and place in the metal scene, but they are also enjoying themselves from start to finish.
This is by far the band's best release to date. It is a great entry album for anyone wanting to get into not only the band, but metal in general. It provides a modern analogue for classic acts like Black Sabbath or Deep Purple while still standing on its own. All in all, it is an exceptional release from a band showing extreme promise.