Archive for April 12, 2008

The Sword – Gods Of The Earth (2008, Kemado Records)

  1. The Sundering
  2. The Frost-Giant’s Daughter
  3. How Heavy This Axe
  4. Lords
  5. Fire Lances Of The Ancient Hyperzephyrians
  6. To Take The Black
  7. Maiden, Mother & Crone
  8. Under The Boughs
  9. The Black River
  10. The White Sea

Band Lineup:
John D. Cronise – Guitars & Voice
Kyle Shutt – Guitars
Trivett Wingo – Drums & Percussion
Bryan Richie – Drums

Producer: John Cronise

Total Time = 47:57

The Sword official website
The Sword MySpace page
Kemado Records

I picked up The Sword’s debut, AGE OF WINTERS, shortly after it was released in 2006 and I was unimpressed. There was a ton of press and hype surrounding this Stoner/Doom Metal band from Austin, Texas and I just didn’t get it. It’s not that the record was bad, it was just that there were other bands in the genre putting out similar albums. It got played, I got bored, I filed it away.

The press started heating up for the band’s sophomore effort, GODS OF THE EARTH, back in January so I went out and picked this up April 1st. I figured that this would be the make or break album between me and The Sword. Popped it in the car deck and was immeadiately hit with sonic blast from the opening instrumental ‘The Sundering’. Immeadiately I noticed that something was different this time around…..a hint of early Thrash!

‘The Frost-Giants Daughter’ has a leviathan riff and crashing cymbals all around but the vocals seem to be drowned by the ’70s Sabbath drone. ‘How Heavy This Axe’ has another chugging muddy Sabbath riff that the masters themselves would be proud of. When the opening guitar to ‘Lords’ pierces through the sludge is when that I think I finally “get” what The Sword is all about. These guys make no excuses playing heavy Doom and incorporating a little NWOBHM and early Metallica into their arsenal. Listen to the ‘Fire Lances Of The Ancient Hyperzephyrians’ and tell me that you don’t hear early Metallica. There’s a hint of KILL’EM ALL and RIDE THE LIGHTNING to the proceedings so far.

One of the best songs on the record to my ears is ‘To Take The Black’ with that thick acoustic opening and the ’70s Rock vibe of Truth and Janey and Night Sun. A little jam kicks in as the end for good measure complete with solos. Same with ‘Maiden, Mother & Crone’, a prime cut of thick and muddy ’70s groove Rock with a basic riff. ‘Under The Boughs’ sounds a but like early NWOBHM and Metallica rolled into one while ‘The Black River’ reminds you that Black Sabbath created everything and bands like The Sword can only build so high from such foundation. By the time I get to the album’s closer, ‘The White Sea’, I’m a little doomed out but this instrumental has some meaty runs and solos that keep things interesting.

Bottom Line:
So what is so different about this record compared to AGE OF WINTERS? Not really much, save for the early Metallica and NWOBHM influences in some songs. The songs are a little more complex even though a lot of Doom/Stoner Metal sounds the same to me after a while. I’m not sure about having two instrumentals on the album (one to open, one to close) but the eight songs in between are high quality and well written. Favorite songs here: ‘To Take The Black’, ‘Maiden, Mother & Crone’, ‘Under the Boughs’, ‘Lords’.

NOTE: There is an unlisted track on the CD. It’s an acoustic instrumental of ‘To Take The Black’. Very cool but almost a little Blackmore’s Night. That makes 3 instrumentals…..

Here’s the video for ‘Ship Of Fools’, the title track from American Speedway’s debut album:

‘Ship Of Fools’

American Speedway – Ship Of Fools (2008, Prophase Music)

  1. Ship Of Fools
  2. American Speedway
  3. One Foot In, One Foot Out
  4. Far Behind
  5. Drinkin’ And Drivin’
  6. Cocaine
  7. Don’t Tread On Me
  8. Make Some Noise
  9. No Control
  10. Same Old, Same Old

Band Lineup:
Michael Thursby Speedway – Lead Vocals, Guitars
Johnny Griswold – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Billy Angry – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Callahan – Drums

Total Time = 31:08

American Speedway official website
American Speedway MySpace page
Prophase Music

American Speedway hail from Philadelphia, PA and they play “high-energy, Kick ass Rock ‘n Roll”. Sounds good! Isn’t that what Rock ‘N Roll is all about?

So I put this album on having no idea what to expect and what comes blowing out of my speakers is one high-powered, angry, Motorhead styled assault! The opening of ‘Ship Of Fools’ is pure Motorhead with an AC/DC edge. Guitar blazing, cymbals crashing, the track screams irreverance. ‘American Speedway’ is a total Punk blitz while ‘One Foot In, One Foot Out’ continues the Lemmy worship. This is as far as I get…..

I could go through each track individually but I would be saying the same thing over and over again: “Motorhead meets AC/DC with and extra dose of Punk”. And that is really what the band, and the record, sounds like! Every track is high energy, every track has solid guitar, and that distorted and contorted voice. The comparisons can’t be overstated because they are obvious…..OK, I’ll add Nashville Pussy in for good measure but they have a Southern Rock flair to them as well.

Bottom Line:
Motorhead + AC/DC + Punk Rock = American Speedway

It’s not the most original music ever written but it is satisfying 3 chord Rock that tears it up with power, speed, anger, and sweat. The band plays with absolute fury – the rhythm section is a solid backbone, the guitar is driving, and the vocals are coarse and hoarse. I’ve heard it all before but it never seems to get old! Favorite songs here: ‘Ship Of Fools’, ‘American Speedway’, ‘No Control’ and the Lemmy-ish ‘Same Old, Same Old’.