The Sword - Warp Riders
The Sword have had quite a rollercoaster journey the past few years, having been taken under the wing of Metallica on their most recent tours and given the chance to play to thousands of people a night. Despite this the bands profile hasn't risen a great deal at all, and despite the quality of music on offer on their latest full-length Warp Riders, it's unlikely this is going to change. The Sword are a band firmly stuck on the retro side of metal, sticking closely to a formula of riffs, riffs and a few more riffs.
Taking the classic heavy metal subject matter of science fiction, fantasy and epic battles between good and evil, The Sword have made their first steps into concept album territory. The band talks of Operation Mindcrime being an influence, and while this may not be as detailed as the Queensryche classic, it does tie the whole album together nicely both lyrically and musically. You can also imagine charging into some bloody war with the machine gun guitars of 'Astraea's Dream' as your soundtrack. J.D Cronise's vocals have that classic metal tone, sounding very much like Ozzy Osbourne, who the band have recently toured with. His rallying cries on the title track are rousing and fit brilliantly with the songs rolling groove.
The involvement of Mastodon and Pearl Jam producer Matt Bayles has done them a world of good too, giving each song that extra kick and letting each member rock the fuck out. Despite all these positives, one can't help but think that this is a little too rooted at the vintage end of things. While this is by no means a bad record, and for all accounts it's the best thing The Sword have produced to date, it's difficult to imagine this appealing to a bigger audience than they already have. At the end of the day though, this is a record that riffs its way to the end without looking back, and they most definitely give not a shit about what I or any other critic has to say.