Despite the fact that they release albums every two years, like clockwork, I wasn't prepared for the newest offering from The Sword. Honestly that's probably a good thing because I loved their last album so much that I would have hyped this thing up in my mind beyond acceptable levels. Looking back it wouldn't have mattered because Apocryphon would have exceeded any ridiculous expectations I set up for it.
I guess, in certain circles, I'm not supposed to like The Sword? I've heard the term "hipster metal" thrown around a lot. Can someone please explain to me what the hell "hipster metal" is supposed to be? Because if it's supposed to be a band that writes killer songs loaded with bowel movement inducing riffs and lyrics about Norse gods, science fiction and mysticism then I'm down with whatever you want to call it. Seriously, how any self-respecting metal fan can not like this band based solely on their look, their label, their popularity, etc. is just ignorant and short-sighted. The Sword write songs that hearken back to a golden age of proto-metal replete with such god-like figures as Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Pentagram, and Sir Lord Baltimore to name a few. (Just listen to the Sabbath and Blue Cheer worship on that intro and riff in "The Hidden Masters"!) Toss in a little St. Vitus and Trouble worship and you have the recipe for some serious stoner rock/doom metal. How, in the name of Odin, could you not like that?!?
The Sword's 2010 album, Warp Riders, was a definite change in musical direction from their previous two full-lengths. There was a little more refinery to their sound. Instead of a straight-forward, pummeling approach they experimented more with their sound. They softened the edges a bit but not nearly enough to keep you from headbanging through the whole album. Aprocryphon is a direct extension of Warp Riders. There's even more experimentation with the occasional synth and various other sounds and instrumentation. (Was that the sound of birds chirping at the end of "Cloak of Feathers"? Why yes it was.) But at it's core this is still a balls out rock fest of the highest order. I'd argue that this album, more than any of their other offerings, serves as the most poignant tribute to the creators and pioneers of the early days of metal who came before them. Highly recommended for fans of all things heavy.