1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Apocryphon (Deluxe Edition) (Audio CD)
It starts with amazing cover art and doesn't relent until the feedback drenched final chord. This is the album that The Sword have been working toward and represents the apotheosis of their incredible talent. Composer/guitarist/singer JD Cronise weaves science fiction and fantasy motifs into this heavier than god masterpiece. His vocals are reminiscent of Ozzy but with more range. He completely avoids the cookie monster growl of which I've just never acquired the taste. One might go so far as to say this is the best album Black Sabbath never made. Still, this is uniquely The Sword. The riffage is jaw dropping in its unrelenting intensity. I think the missing piece between this and their previous releases is new drummer, Santiago Vela. Previous drummer, Trivett Wingo was a serviceable percussionist but lacked the chops to fuel Cronise's maelstrom. Like Bill Ward with Sabbath, Vela provides the thunder to perfectly accompany the lightening of the other band members.
The deluxe edition contains ten tracks that make up "Apocryphon," four live tracks, and a cover of "Cheap Sunglasses," a nod to fellow Texans, ZZ Top. For what it's worth, I'm a fan of progressive rock. Lyrically, these guys definitely fall in that genre. Musically, there might be some arguments against that categorization. But one thing I really like about this band is that while they're definitely competent musicians, there's not an ounce of fat, no noodling, no look at how fast I can play showmanship. The playing, from all of the band members, serves the songs.
Like many previous reviewers I have seen The Sword live. The mix at the House of Blues in New Orleans was among the worst I've ever heard. (And that goes back to seeing Cream on their farewell tour.) I think Kevin Fender was drumming with them on an interim basis at that time. Anyway, on the strength of "Apocryphon" and the recommendations of other reviewers, I will plan on catching them again.