Review by Ian Morales.
|Rating: 9.0 of 10.|
Austin metal heavyweights The Sword have just created their most polished and epic record to date. For the first time ever, the band worked with a professional studio producer in Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Pearl Jam, Isis). Fear not, Sword loyalists, they still sounds very much like your beloved Sword of old but sharper and tighter musically. Most of you current Sword fans will love what you hear, although some of you will prefer the sound of their previous releases. The debate lies not in whether the new album is good or not, because it’s epic. The debate about which Sword album is their best begins with the release of Warp Riders.
Broken up in two parts, Warp Riders is the group’s first concept album. It is a science fiction epic about a planet that is experiencing a tidal locking. This sci-fi theme sets up some lyrically vivid imagery throughout the whole album. When you purchase the vinyl or hard copy CD, read the lyrics. It is like reading sci-fi poetry about a being named Archer from the planet Acheron.
Going with the telling of the sci-fi epic described above, the songs are ordered sequentially according to Archers’ tale. As the album plays, the next song in the rotation begins another chapter of the tale. With each chapter, the song’s arrangement provides the setting of each dimming orb (“The Chromancer II: Nemesis”), each witch (“Tres Brujas”), each armada (“The Night Cried: Tears of Fire”), etc. No riff is untouched or out of place. No breakdown is missed and the progressions are flawless.
The lone criticism of their previous albums was always how some listeners could not hear or understand clearly what lead vocalist J.D. Cronise was singing. Only reading along to the lyrics solved that for some people. With Bayles producing, hearing or understanding Cronise is no longer an issue. Cronise is loud and clear.
Saying anything more about Warp Riders would spoil the story for you. Overall, understand that Warp Riders is the battle of good versus evil set to the music of the galaxy’s best young metal band. While the band has already sort of broken out with their two previous releases, mass tour exposure with Metallica and one-offs with Motorhead and Ozzie, Warp Riders is the record to finally finish their quest for world domination The Sword started back in their old Room 710 gigs in Austin. This is The Sword fans old and new have been waiting for.