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Sword, The: High Country

The beloved Texas stoner/doom act The Sword last graced us with new studio material on 2012s strong Apocryphon, and as has always been the case with this band, they've once again mixed things up a bit for their latest Razor & Tie release, High Country. Sure, much of the swampy, Black Sabbath inspired stomp remains, but there's a bluesier sense, a somewhat funky, Southern Rock-ish approach to many of the songs here, with a smattering of psych & space rock, that makes High Country an altogether different beast from anything we've heard from The Sword previously.

"Tears Like Diamonds", "Empty Temples" and the title track adorn the front half of the album with a fascinating blend of ZZ Top raunch, the weaving guitar interplay of Thin Lizzy & the Allman Brothers Band, and doomy Black Sabbath inspired thunder. "Mist and Shadow" contains a never ending amount of groove housed within a bluesy, psych inflected metallic framework, while "Suffer No Fools" is a manic, shuffling instrumental stoner romp with some of the best rhythms on the album. Interesting to see the band toss in some Hawkwind-meets-Zombi styled space rock on shorter tracks like "Agartha" and "Seriously Mysterious", adding a different element to their otherwise lumbering attack, but if it's that massive, slow footed punch that you really prefer from this band, check out the crunchy "Early Snow", a Southern tinged, beer tinged rocker filled with plenty of dinosaur riffs and whiskey soaked vocals. For another change of pace, check out the catchy pop hooks housed within dark, sinister psych-metal arrangements on "The Dreamthieves", as the band seems to channel their inner Blue Oyster Cult, while they go for a Lynyrd Skynyrd-like vibe on "Ghost Eye" as well as The Doors on the haunting closer "The Bees of Spring".

Overall, High Country is incredibly strong, varied, and tosses in some new sounds for a band we probably all thought we knew all too well. At 15 songs, there's a tad too much material, and a few of the shorter tracks amount to little more than filler, but the bulk of what's on display is indeed quite mighty. The fact that The Sword have added some new flavors to their sound, but can still deliver crushing tunes like "Buzzards" is reason enough to celebrate, and High Country will no doubt be on many Best of 2015 lists when it's all said and done.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing

  1. Unicorn Farm
  2. Empty Temples
  3. High Country
  4. Tears Like Diamonds
  5. Mist and Shadow
  6. Agartha
  7. Seriously Mysterious
  8. Suffer No Fools
  9. Early Snow
  10. The Dreamthieves
  11. Buzzards
  12. Silver Petals
  13. Ghost Eye
  14. Dust
  15. The Bees of Spring

Added: August 25th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1853
Language: english

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