The Sword

High Country

Written by: BV on 07/09/2015 16:49:21

Quite a while ago, I had my debut as reviewer for this very site and stumbled upon an album that I have treasured ever since; “Apocryphon” by The Sword. It marked the first thing I had ever written a review of, and it also rekindled my love for monolithic riffs, stoner rock and bands with even a hint of an explorative edge. Now, the band has returned with a new effort titled “High Country” – meaning that I obviously also had to give this one a go to see how The Sword have progressed since then.

A strange intro titled “Unicorn Farm” sets the proceedings in motion with an almost Rush-sounding groove reminiscent of “2112” or even “Moving Pictures” which was not all what I had expected. The track makes sense in context though, as it segues into “Empty Temples”; a groovy mid-tempo rocker with plenty of boogie to go around. My immediate thoughts (thoughts that have since lingered) were that this particular piece is nowhere near as heavy as I remember “Apocryphon” being. What this tells me, is that The Sword have indeed changed since I last got acquainted with an album of theirs. “High Country” as a whole seemingly conveys a far more boogie-rock oriented sound reminiscent of bands like Horisont, Kadavar and the like whilst the heaviest moments on the album remind somewhat of Mos Generator due to the persistent grooves all around the tracks.

What I most noticed (and struggled somewhat with) on “Apocryphon” was the abundance of strange synthesized effects. These are not quite as present on “High Country” although they do make appearances throughout – most noticeably on “Seriously Mysterious” which is driven by something sounding like a mono-synth groove and drums sounding oddly similar to a sample or even a drum machine. It’s a somewhat awkward R&B/stoner rock fusion that never fully comes to life, even though it would have been a quite interesting thing to have on the album. There’s an abundance of playfulness on “High Country” which makes it so very unlike “Apocryphon” in many different ways. The heaviness has been exchanged for a blooming flirt with groovy 70’s tinged rock and the electronic playfulness of “Apocryphon” has been channeled into strange tracks trying to fuse R&B and the like with the aforementioned groovy 70’s stylings.

“High Country” is many things, but it is not as remarkable as “Apocryphon” or the stunning “Age of Winters”. What it is, however, is something that could potentially be something close to a hit with its straightforward grooves. I could easily see it tapping into the core audience of bands like Graveyard, Kadavar, Horisont and the like and finding a new, larger audience there. All in all it is a fairly successful effort with a few duds along the way. The low points of the album are still above average, but the highs sadly don’t come near previous efforts.


Download: Empty Temples, The Dreamthieves, Tears Like Diamonds
For the fans of: Kadavar, Horisont, Orchid
Listen: Facebook

Release date 21.08.2015
Razor & Tie

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