Sound — 10
The Sword are one of the better known bands who are classified in a fairly modern sub-genre of Heavy Metal, the phenomenon called "Retro-Metal." The Retro-Metal sound is generally something of a combination of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath during the Ozzy Osbourne years, but somehow none of the Retro-Metal bands sound exactly like Zeppelin, Sabbath, or each other. It's rather difficult to explain anything more about the genre, so, I will now focus on the sound of The Sword. This band is extremely loud, but not annoyingly so: they have volume with a purpose, as opposed to simply turning the amplifiers all the way up to 11. The guitar is heavy, the vocals are surprisingly clear and the music is interesting.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics are based around fantasy and medieval themes, think a heavier, louder version of Dio. The problem with the focus of these lyrics, is that a fair amount of people will be turned away based upon the style of the lyrics alone. Not everyone enjoys epic fantasy, but if you are someone who does like that type of thing, then I can safely say you won't be dissapointed by anything you hear on "Age of Winters," either musically or lyrically. The singer has a good voice, you can plainly hear every single word he says, even if you are unaware of the meaning of some of the words. The guitar work is very clearly Metal, but it's obvious the player has artistic freedom: not every riff or chord sounds identical even within the same song. The bass/drums sound is very good at keeping up with the lead.
Overall Impression — 10
This is, in my opinion, one of the best mainstream debut albums of this twenty-first century. It has a certain charm to it, not many bands can mix so many old ideas and not end up sounding like a bad clone of whatever their major influences might happen to be, but these guys are without a doubt off to a solid start. Still, as I said earlier, if you're not a fan of fantasy-themed lyrics, then I cannot see any reason that you would even remotely enjoy this album or The Sword as a band. That theme is their trademark, it's clear to anyone who listens to more than two of the songs on "Age of Winters." I will say, however, that if you are a fan of Led Zeppelin, Dio, Wolfmother, and/or the first two Black Sabbath lineups, give this group a chance.