I have to admit that initially I wasn’t a big fan of “stoner rock.” For years, most of it sounded like rehashed Black Sabbath gumbo to me. But, as bands like High on Fire, sHEAVY and Queens of the Stone Age slowly began to evolve the art form, unique bands have begun to break the stereotypical mold and step away from the crowd. By mixing equal parts of southern rock, stoner rock, doom and old-school thrash, The Sword is one of those bands redefining the genre — or perhaps making their own.
The Austin, Texas band’s sophomore effort, titled “Gods of the Earth,” mixes all of styles evenly into one big dirty headbanging collection. The production reeks of denim and sweaty wristbands, and J.D. Cronise’s guitarwork is a tribute to fuzzy power chords throughout the ages. Unlike many other stoner rock acts confined to a lumbering pace, The Sword picks up the pace from time to time with randomly sprinkled trashy riffs, keeping the package interesting and memorable.
Lyrically, the band keeps one foot deeply planted in Black Sabbath’s backyard, the other in H.P. Lovecraft’s grave. From Stygian visions to the River Styx, no creepy mythological reference goes untouched. Hell, track two is called “Frost-Giant’s Daughter.” That should pretty much tell you what’s in store for you.
Through a combination of memorable riffs, raw production, and a musical image that delicately balances “tribute” and “parody,” Gods of the Earth hits harder than a two-handed broadsword smashing into an Orc’s skull. Recommended to anyone who listened to Kyuss, played Dungeons and Dragons, or drove a Camaro.
02. Frost-Giant’s Daughter
03. How Heavy This Axe
05. Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians
06. To Take the Black
07. Maiden, Mother & Crone
08. Under the Boughs
09. Black River
10. White Sea