Warp RidersFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 02, 2010 3 of 13 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Sword, the metal band out of Austin Texas that throws listeners off guard with their newest album, Warp Riders. The sound of the album is fantastic. Every song has perfect mixing, with guitar parts panned out to each headphone, and everything else sounding sharp in the stereo sound. Nothing is too loud, and no riff ever gets too murky. The instrumental song at the beginning, Acheron/Unleashing The Orb, showed this perfect mixing. The guitars on the album are wonderful. Not very often do metal bands throw in different styles with different distortion types. Take the song Lawless Lands, sounding more southern rock than heavy metal, upbeat and edgy, it has just enough heaviness to give off the metal feel. The solo's flow with the song because they are not meant to be 100 miles per hour fast. A couple songs earlier The Nechromancer Part I: Hubris, has a darker distortion with a slower more blackish metal riff. The riffs and leads on this album can be described as something new. The drums are always keeping the beat, as well as setting the groove for changes in the songs. They do not stand out as fills are not as common as just the regular beat. The bass is pretty general as well, keeping grooves and adding a heavier sound to the lighter distorted guitars. This is a generic sound, with great guitar work! // 7
Lyrics: The singing in this album through me off guard to be honest. It was unbelievable, the album was listed as heavy metal to Itunes, and immediately I thought "Oh boy here comes some raw screams." No. This was not the case at all. The singing is more melodic and actual singing. To describe it, imagine a higher pitched Sully Erna with a comprehensive sounding Ozzy Osbourne, if that would be a real explanation. Just get the hint, the singing has its own melodies on top of the guitar and musical melodies, and it was a new change. It kept me interested to be completely honest. The album's lyrics are written in that of a concept album, and boy those are always fun to read! The concept is mainly following a story, with certain songs giving details of the story, but a story that involves philosophical ideas, such as time, light, death, etc. This was a change to the metal scene indeed. // 8
Overall Impression: This album is a fun listen. The two instrumental songs Acheron/Unleashing The Orb and Astraea's Dream, are really the highlight of the album. They have beautiful compositions and create a great intro/change in the album. The music is generic but catchy, the singing caught me off guard and kept me listening to the melodies. Any stoner metal fan/southern metal/generic metal fan would love this album. The more aggresive metal fans would find this kinda soft, but give it a quick listen anyway, it is soemthing to the metal genre. The Sword's third album, Warp Riders, is a success in my books! // 8
Vinushka, on september 02, 2010 3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Sword, for those of you who don't know, are a band who masterfully blend together all the best elements of heavy, doom and stoner metal. If Black Sabbath and Mastodon had a child, The Sword would be its name. They are built around driving riffs, classic tones and overdriven solos. Vocalist J.D Cronise has been compared to a latter days Ozzy on more than one occasion, although I consider Cronise's vocals to be much stronger and varied, especially on this, their third album.
One thing that struck me about this album was the production. The guitars sound incredible, huge and crushing - as they should. The vocals cut through the mix but don't overpower, the drums are clear but not distracting, the bass is a little lost in the mix which is a sad occurrence, but it can be made out if you listen closely. Overall the production is very, very good with the perfect balance for this bands style.
Warp Riders is a concept album, based around a story Cronise came up with concerning a traveller leaving his home planet and travelling through space. However, each track can stand up on it's own or as part of a whole. The band decided to go in a more hard rock direction, there is less of the sludgy, doom influenced trudging and more driving riffs, but the influence from their earlier work is still present.
The instrumental opener "Acheron/Unleashing the Orb" is laden with fuzzed out riffage which serves as an excellent example of what The Sword do best. They have excellent timing and pacing, swiching from riff to riff, with licks thrown in everywhere, it's interesting, exciting and pretty damn impressive to boot.
Next comes Tres Brujas, the lead single from the album. Again, solid, hand-banging riffing, overlapping solos and the first example of Cronise's stronger vocals.
Other highlights of the album are The Chronomancer I: Hubris. Which, as well as having the most concept album-y name, is also the longest song at just over 7 and a half minutes. This gives the band time to shift gears several times and pump out more deliciously fuzzy riffs.
Astraea'a Dream shows the band at their most experimental on this record, even featuring some synth. It is a dark and atmospheric song, kept short and effective. No vocals, it's pretty much a big ol' guitar duel. And I love big ol' guitar duels.
From start to finish this is a crushing behemoth of an album. There's no slowing down, no nice mid-tempo ballads, no acoustic numbers. Just brazen, pumping metal. Riffs, licks, solos, all that good stuff that'll leave your head banging and your ears bleeding. // 9
Lyrics: In all honesty, I've never paid much attention to the lyrics. The music has always been structured in such a way as to shift the focus away from them and onto the musicianship. However, as I've mentioned before the vocals on this album are different from the previous two. Stronger and clearer, which makes them easier to understand and consequently increases my interest in them.
As would be expected from a concept album, the lyrics tell a story. They are steeped in mysticism and fantasy/sci-fi. Telling of a wandering adventurer, or a scorched planet or an evil villain. The meanings are perhaps ambiguous at times, but I think this is good as you can add your own interpretation to the music, deepening your involvement with it.
Cronise isn't a soaring, virtuoso sort of vocalist. His Ozzy-like wails add another layer to The Sword's sound and I honestly can't imagine this sort of music working with another kind of vocalist. It adds to the doomy, droning sound perfectly. // 8
Overall Impression: There are a lot of bands I would compare The Sword to. Black Sabbath, Mastodon, Dozer and Baroness spring to mind. But they are not a carbon copy of any other band, past or present. They borrow well-known elements from a variety of genres and blend them together excellently. The guitar work is excellent, the phrasing and timing of the solos is spot-on. The dual guitar work of J.D Cronise and Kyle Shutt is what The Sword's sound is based around. The rhythm section of Bryan Richie (bass) and Trivett Wingo (drums, and owner of an awesome name) keep the pace perfectly and provide that sludgy, driving feeling behind a lot of the songs. It's simple, effective, it's been done 40 years ago and it's still being done today, just as well.
I can't honestly pick any REAL favourites from this album. The Sword have this wonderful habit of making every song on an album strong for its own reasons. Both their previous albums are solid and cohesive, with no bad songs among them.
In conclusion, this another brilliant album from a band that I can only pray get more attention as their career continues. They're a breath of fresh air in the world of something-core. Their music is huge and dominant, their sound is massive, their tone is vintage fuzz and heavy metal overdrive. They are The Sword, and you should go listen to them immediately. // 9
wbjackson517, on november 02, 2012 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Sword continually put out great music and "Warp Riders" is no different. It is a concept album and it is very damn good. This band has a retro groove and I have listened to this album a lot. I don't even know the names of most of the songs and don't really care. I have heard this album so many times that I love every riff and the album just has an excellent groove all the way through. "Gods Of The Earth" is an excellent album, but this album is written, produced, and delivered better. // 9
Lyrics: This is a concept album and has two instrumentals on it. The lyrics and the music fit very well. I love the fact that these guys play vintage Les Paul's and Orange amplification. The Sword can effing play. They play awesomely. JD Cronis is extremely creative and you can tell this is his band, but the rest of the band belong there. Kyle Shutt is a shredder even though this is a classic rock band, this dude can play unbelievably. "Warp Riders" is their original drummer's last album, and he delivers on every song. The vocals kind of have a Sabbath meets ZZ Top meets Zeppelin. Excellent music, excellent lyrics. Well done boys. // 9
Overall Impression: There is nothing I dislike about this album honestly. Even the instrumentals are excellent. There are no other metal bands out there like these guys. Metallica has taken them on the road and they played the Orion Festival that Metallica put on. Very different than all the "core" bands out there. You put these guys on a tour with High On Fire and Mastodon and that might be the best metal tour on the planet. Even if this is your first experience with The Sword, don't let it be your last. I bought their latest album "Apocryphon" and it rocks too. Check these guys out. Excelllent band and a great album! // 9
unregistered, on september 02, 2010 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 9
Lyrics: 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. // 8
Overall Impression: 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. // 9
goest, on september 02, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: So here we find ourselves with a new Sword record. I can't say that I very much expected a change in sound, seeing as 'Gods of the Earth' was almost identical in production, progression and just overall ass-kickery to 'Age of Winters'. However, I am both pleasantly surprised and mildly disappointed. The disappointment lies in my wanting another bone-crushing, Sabbath-worshipping riff fest, and it still delivers the riffage in all it's loveliness (I.E. Arrows in the Dark, (The Night the Sky Cried) Tears of Fire). However, a large part of the album is executed in a much more Texas-rock style than I expected (The Chronmancer I: Hubris, Night City), as if ZZ Top decided to try their hand at recording 'Paranoid'.
The first single, 'Tres Brujas' is actually probably the best cut to introduce anyone to the album's hybrid sound. It mashes the two camps of Sabbath and Top into each other pretty perfectly. And with more listens it becomes a pretty cool change up.
Also, Matt Bayles' production (FINALLY) pushes Cronise's vocals through the mix so that the entire package can be heard in crisp, non-muddied glory. // 9
Lyrics: This is also the first Sword record to have a (moderately) cohesive storyline concerning an archer exiled from his tribe on the planet of Archeron, with one side lying in perpetual darkness while the other lies in perpetual light. The story itself is actually pretty easy to follow when compared to, say, the cluster-f--k that is Coheed and Cambria's 'Amory Wars' saga. The lyrics follow one of two paths: either directly setting up the scene and playing it before you eyes (or ears) or playing off as some kind of dialogue between the main character and the assorted inhabitants of the story. However, when the dialogue sections happened upon my ears, I found myself cringing at their B-movie quality. And lyrics, while usually pretty "METAL", have never really been a strong point with the Sword. Usually it's all about dedication to the riff. And I'm just fine with that. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall, we've been given another fine offering by the Texas quartet, and the self-respecting stoner metal fan would already own this gem. It's not on the level of perfection that 'Winters' was, but tracks like 'Tres Brujas' and 'The Chronomancer II: Hubris' make it come pretty damn close. // 8
BearCaveEcho, on september 03, 2010 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Damn, this sound is straight out of Austin, at it's finest. It isn't exactly what I expected for them to dive into REALLY far, but hell, it sounds just as wicked as anything else on the block. They are from Texas, eh? The singing has gotten better since Gods of the Earth, the guitar has stayed mildly the same, no major changes other than the toning down from the more shredding side. // 8
Lyrics: Can this guy belt it or what? I really think he did one hell of a job, has definitely gotten better. But who am I to judge HOW he sings? He melded his style, and that's important for a band to have their own style. Not anything close to most new wave "Metal" bands out there, but it's just as unique as Ozzy, Geddy, and hell, even Brent Hinds. // 8
Overall Impression: It's kicking my ass as I type. Oh Lordy, they do a good job of bringing back GOOD Metal to the table. Nice, original, and classic, that's just the key here. Maybe not Crack the Skye, maybe not the Blue Record, but it's up there on my list. We need saviors in the music industry, and these guys are helping 100% percent. I've go to say, the opening song floored me, and all of them just slipped into one another, and that's important in an album, the coherency of the songs. Let's hope this is a great seller, and that they can continue their classic metal comeback. // 9