Sound — 9
The Sword is a band that I have only listened to occasionally, but Warp Riders will definitely change that. The Sword formed in 2003 and have been touring relentlessly ever since. Warp Riders is The Sword's latest album and their third full-length. It is also their first concept album; one that features a unique sci-fi storyline similar to Mastodon's concept albums. If you've heard the single, Tres Brujas, than you already know that it is a catchy and solid tune. While this is true, Tres Brujas does not give you an idea of what the rest of the album has in store. Warp Riders really shines when The Sword step out of their comfort zone. The two instrumentals, Astraea's Dream and Acheron/Unleashing the Orb are excellent efforts and provide some variation to the album. Both of these songs are fairly technical for The Sword as they rely more on heavy, groovy riffs. The end of the last guitar solo in Astraea's Dream was unexpected and sounds like something off of Ride the Lightning. Lawless Lands is a very inspired effort with its hard rock feel and bluesy guitar playing. The production of the album compliments their old-school style of metal nicely. The overall sound is still really clear despite being a little raw as you can hear everything with ease.
Lyrics — 8
Vocalist and guitarist John "J. D." Cronise has been criticized before for his vocals. Warp Riders might change these people's opinions as he demonstrates more range and versatility in his singing. They fit the style of music well. With that said, the vocals could improve in some areas. Tres Hubres would benefit from some higher octaves instead of staying in the same range for the majority of the song. In the future, I expect the vocals to only get better.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, Warp Riders is a fun listen with an interesting storyline. It is near the top of my list for favorite metal albums of the year so far. Heavy riffs, scorching guitar solos and pounding drums dominate the album throughout. Warp Riders is a thrill ride from top to bottom.