The Sword, ‘Apocryphon’ – Album Review
The Sword caught the attention of critics and fans alike with their first three albums, and the band has steadily developed a strong following through relentless touring. Now, the Texas quartet is back with its fourth full-length effort, ‘Apocryphon.’
Their stoner metal sound is intact on ‘Apocryphon,’ but the Sword have stepped up their songwriting prowess. There are more hooks, and the songs are more direct while still leaving room for some experimentation and jamming. It’s a really good balance.
The opener ‘Veil of Isis’ is a good representation of the album. There are heavy riffs, tempo shifts and plenty of instrumental breaks. It’s also the longest track on ‘Apocryphon,’ clocking in at just under six minutes.
When it comes to tempo, the Sword are not your typical stoner/doom band. Instead of plodding, glacial songs, they keep the speed up, usually mid to up-tempo. Their sound is consistent, but the shifting tempos help add diversity. The faster songs also make them more appealing to those who might not typically listen to stoner metal.
Guitars are front and center on ‘Apocryphon, with Kyle Shutt and J.D. Cronise getting plenty of opportunity to showcase their fuzzy riffs and psychedelic solos. Cronise is also the band’s vocalist, and his voice is melodic with a slight edge. There’s a hint of Ozzy-era Sabbath in his croon, but Cronise has a smoother delivery.
The Sword’s rhythm section also deserves praise for ‘Apocryphon.’ Bassist Bryan Ritchie makes his presence felt and his rumbling rhythms are nice and high in the mix. Santiago ‘Jimmy’ Vela III is the newest addition to the band, and the drummer fits in perfectly, a rock solid anchor.
There are some subtle electronic elements on the album, including the title track. ‘Dying Earth’ has a trippy synth intro before kicking into a fairly straightforward and catchy song. Speaking of catchy, ‘Execrator’ is packed with memorable hooks. It’s lean and mean, and you’ll find yourself singing along to the chorus after just a couple of listens.
‘Apocryphon’ is the Sword’s best album to-date. Their existing fan base will love it, and it will be a big draw for stoner metal fans. In addition, fans of classic rock, hard rock and traditional metal will find plenty to sink their teeth into, as well.
You can also spend a couple of extra bucks and get the deluxe edition of ‘Apocryphon.’ It includes four live tracks and a cover of the ZZ Top song ‘Cheap Sunglasses.’