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THE SWORD: Gods of the Earth (Album Review)

In the great debate over what constitutes hipster metal, the Sword, along with Early Man, and probably soon enough Dead Child, are a lightning rod for controversy. Either the musicians are sincere in their heaviness, or they’re nothing but hipster leeches trying to scavenge some cool from metal. It’s a funny argument, given that the Sword’s brand of stoner metal isn’t exactly cool.

But what really seems to get lost in all this discussion about intents and purposes is the music itself. Luckily, the Sword has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump and delivered a CD that builds on its debut with heavier riffs and a better sense of dynamics. J.D. Cronise’s vocals are still the same — reedy and menacing, on songs populated with guttural riffs and lyrical imagery drawn from Norse mythology — but that’s part of the charm.

From the opening salvo of “The Sundering” to the final one-two punch of “The Black River” and “The White Sea,” they have delivered another masterly work of metal, one that should silence critics for now.
— Thomas Pizzola