Sunday, October 21, 2012

Melt Down Your Ploughshares

The Sword – Apocryphon

Razor & Tie Recordings – 2012

Muthas, that other little band from Texas, The Sword, is back with another album of crushing awesomeness – Apocryphon.  The band’s previous LP, Warp Riders, was a concept album, but thankfully, the new album is not because concept albums tend to suck ass.  Warp Riders was an exception to this rule because the story was muted and did not get in the way of the music.  Warp Riders did feature a more straight-ahead style of Metal, and Apocryphon continues this trend.  Some elements of Doom remain but The Sword is no longer primarily a Doom band. They have expanded their sound to incorporate many other 70s Hard Rock/Metal conventions. 

Overall, Apocryphon is superior to Warp Riders because of a complete lack of any shitty tracks.  This is one tight, focused album, packed with hooks.  The LP also flows beautifully due to the attention the band paid to sequencing, which is something most bands don’t seem to care about.  Further, the album is the perfect length at ten tracks, totaling forty-four minutes.  This is not some bloated, turgid victim of the CD age, but instead reflects the superior ethos of vinyl. 

 Tracks featuring the The Sword's signature sound include “The Veil of Isis,” “Arcane Montane,” and “Cloak of Feathers.”  All are excellent and should make it into their live set (“The Veil of Isis” already has been performed live.) “Execrator” is an under three minute blast of fury that recalls another The Sword classic, “Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians.” (I just mention this song so I could type it out!)  It’s quite the face-ripper and should get the rivetheads moving in the pit. 

The band has added some interesting keyboard garnishment to some tracks, namely the title cut and “Dying Earth.”  Don’t worry, as these aren’t some fruity, happy, power-metal keyboards, but rather something straight out of a 70s sci-fi film.  They fit the music excellently and really help get across the fantasy and science fiction themes favored by The Sword. Listening to The Sword is akin to finding a big stack of old Weird Tales Magazines and reading the amazing stories of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and Jack Vance for the first time.  Their albums are all about fantastic settings, sinister magic, space travel, and post-apocalyptic landscapes. Check out the lyric video for “Apocryphon“ and hear the awesome!

We are well aware here at The Metal Blog of Metal that some denizens of the Metal Universe consider The Sword to be secret hipsters and poseurs, who are either a completely fabricated band, or are only in it for the huge profits.  This is complete bullshit considering that (1) the band has been around for over a decade and (2) there is NO FUCKING MONEY in Metal!   Are you kidding me??  Why should anyone give two shits if a band is fabricated or not, or in it for the money or not, as long as the music is excellent?  If you are one of these TROO METUL RULZ!!! morons, do me a favor and click on the red x in the upper right hand corner of your screen and fuck right off.  You are too dumb to read this blog. 

The Bottom Line:  Do you like the retro sounds of the 70s with a touch of Doom and much rocking?  If so, buy this album and enjoy life.  It’s another superb addition to The Sword’s burgeoning discography and well worth your coin. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's Going Down Tonight

Gypsyhawk – Revelry & Resilience

Metal Blade Records – 2012       

Muthas, how many of you love Thin Lizzy and miss their brand of soulful, street-wise rock and roll?  The answer should be all of you!  Well Phil Lynott is long gone but there is a band from So-Cal that’s keeping that style of music alive and well in 2012 – Gypsyhawk.  The band has just released their excellent second album, Revelry & Resilience, on which they have taken that Lizzy sound, along with other great ideas from the 70s and 80s, and the result is a head-banging, toe-tapping triumph! 

Gypsyhawk is fronted by bass player Eric Harris, who is also in Huntress, and was formerly in Holy Grail and Skeletonwitch.  Harris has a rough and ready vocal style that matches the classic rock influenced cuts perfectly.  The songs frequently feature those snakey, intertwining, twin lead guitars that were a hallmark of Thin Lizzy.  Check out the tracks “Frostwyrm” and “The Fields” for a taste of that Lizzy sound. 

We are not saying that Gypsyhawk is some Thin Lizzy rip-off band, but rather that they drank deep of the heady brew offered up by Phil and the boys, and they allow this influence to show.  Lyrically, the album features songs about fantasy, science, science fiction, and plain old rockin’.  “Overloaded” is one of those  tracks that blasts the listener's face off with a sweet-ass anthem about living in the now.  Hells yes! 

The band ares obviously huge fans of George R.R. Martin's fiction, with many songs about his fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” AKA “Game of Thrones.”  The first single, “Hedgeking” is one of those cuts that is infectious, heavy and must be played repeatedly.  Check out the kickass video for it below:

Other highlights include the speedy "State Lines," the crunchy "Galaxy Rise," and an ode to the Buckeye State "1345." The album wraps up, appropriately enough, with a cover of Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo,” and is a fine interpretation of that rip-roaring 70s anthem.  Hop in your van with a barbarian painted on the side, lay some rubber down the highway, and blast this album at top volume!  Ditch your black/death/disco/nu/symphonic/operatic/hipster horseshit and listen to some real damn music!

The Bottom Line:  If you like classic rock, Heavy Metal, Thin Lizzy or music that doesn’t sound like shit, then you should definitely run out and grab Revelry & Resilience.  Also, Gypsyhawk will be out on tour this fall with The Sword which is a hell of a pairing -- two rock solid bands that understand how to lay it down 70s style.  Get a ticket to the tour if you can, and buy these guys a beer.