NOVEMBER 17th 2012

Review by Barretticus

The Best Sword album yet! I was worried for a while there. This band started off with a great album in Age of Winters with great songs, a unique sound and voice and an excellent eye-catching Art Nouveau cover. I was easily seduced by the catchy riffs and the high level of hard rock that teeters on the edge of metal. It was also helpful that Freya got put into the Guitar Hero II song list and I rocked that out in my living room, throwing out kicks and shapes… oh yeah, great album. I still listen to it all time.

Gods of the Earth and Warp Riders seemed to decline from there, however. Gods of the Earth was still really good but not as good as its predecessor. Warp Riders is by comparison to what came before was not up to my standards of what I love about their music. Perhaps it was the change in direction, or lower quality of sound, or my lack of knowledge about the source material the concept album came from. Maybe I would have had a better appreciation for this album if i had done a bit of research. About the only thing that I really liked was the early seventies nostalgic Rock'n'roll graphic design Frazetta/Vallejo-styled fantasy art for the cover. Not that I'm saying this was a terrible album either. It's just less good than it's predecessor.
Thus, I was a little worried about this new one, I am not worried anymore. Right away I could tell there was a different drummer. Steadier beats and tighter rolls and better overall writing make the drums a standout from the get go. The bass playing is better and there is are a lot more stand out bass riffs in-between guitar breaks. the guitars have a better sound than they have previously; clearer for the sake of a little less crunch. The playing of one guitar against the other during verses and then joining together for the chorus riffs, is really great and shows growth. 

I think that's it. Everything about this album feels like "growth." Better writing and riffs; arrangements and solos feel and sound better. They have just grown. They have matured a bit and become a better musical unit and I think it shows. I have always enjoyed the lyrics thematically, though if i did have one complaint it would be trite, but it would be that JD's melodies could be a little more experimental or something instead of always ending a line on down-note. But that his style and helps give the band a more recognizable identity.

The deluxe edition has an extra 5 songs. 4 live, and one cover. The cover is pretty cool. I have always loved ZZ Top's songs and hearing Cheap Sunglasses as performed by The Sword was pretty fun. A really suitable song for them to do. 

When I said "best album yet," some may disagree with me but I don't mean its exponentially better than or miles above Age of Winters, I just mean its just that extra little bit better; that growth I was mentioning, that thing that happens to really good bands as they get older, that maturity. Apocryphon remains very much The Sword, and thats what I like. It brings their catalogue back up to the level that I like it and shows me that they can.