May 7, 2013 The Sword – Apocryphon (Album review)
The Sword has worked tirelessly and effortlessly since their first album in 2006 – Age of Winters. Each album of theirs gets stronger and their progression is unstoppable. They have a natural talent along with a love of what they do: make jamming look and sound awesome. They continue to prove that they are here to stay and that they can go even further, deeper and stronger with their style.
In addition to their own tours, The Sword has opened for bands like Metallica. I had the pleasure to personally see them perform back in 2009 at the Prudential Center in NJ. Metallica has greatly supported The Sword and believed that with their talent they can go incredibly far. Lars Ulrich (drummer of Metallica) especially believed in them, since he straight up told them “We’re going to take you guys on tour”.
They have been called Black Sabbath meets Metallica or, Ozzy meets Hetfield. If you listen to them long enough you will see the close resemblance. The Sword has proven that with their consistent ambition, drive and dedication; hard work does pay off. Their relentless efforts is recognized in their fourth album, Apocryphon.
There is an old saying “everything comes in threes” and Apocryphon, is no exception. This is their first album with their new record label, Razor + Tie, their new drummer, Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III and their first album with no instrumental tracks. The Sword still has three of their original members J.D. Cronise on guitar and vocals, Kyle Shutt on guitar, and Bryan Richie on bass and keyboard. The original drummer, Trivett Wingo left due to the pressure and anxiety of it all. With that being said, having a full team on board, this is their most polished and heaviest album so far with no dull moments. The Sword has altered their niche adding electronic and heavier tones and despite the difference, they still manage to keep their 70s/Black Sabbath style from beginning to end.
Apocryphon is named after the meaning “secret writing”. The lyrics are intentionally written from their own experiences, struggles and where they are mentally and physically today. The lyrics end up being mythological, poetic and full of surreal dark imagery. As is shown in the album’s first song, “Veil of Isis”, “Tears of sorrow flood the land.. All that has been shall be again. The dead will rise and the living must depart. What if all you’ve seen are lies. When the veil is from your eyes. And you face the infinite with fear in your heart?”.
“Veil of Isis”, is filled with J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt’s heavy guitar riffs. This is a great start to the entire album; it’s heavy, it’s doom, it’s a sharpened Sword. The next track “Cloak of Feathers” shows that having too much power can cause torture and sadness. Not all beauty means happiness and not all power and money means complete serenity. Beneath all the makeup, costumes and designs there is real beauty. This track has impeccable guitar solos and jams between the lyrics.
Their diverse tempo keeps the listeners in tune to see “what’s next”. The use of the keyboard only adds to this album’s greatness and it’s not overpowering and redundant. “Dying Earth” has an electronic trippy opening immediately followed by a heavy introduction. The lyrics remain dark and metaphysical. The drums and guitar riffs remain up tempo that you just want to headbang all the way through this song. The next track, Execrator briefly opens electronically. The rest of the song is simply fun, crunchy and great to listen to. It’s the shortest track but it’s short and to the point. The title track is my personal favorite. It has a dramatic electronic intro which makes you crave more.
J.D. Cronise’s vocals have improved tremendously in this album. In fact the band as a whole has grown a lot stronger. They stick to their guns and never lose sight to where they want to be. The sword will slash its way to the top.
‘Apocryphon’ is a fantastic album from start to finish. They have great potential to become huge. They don’t plan to “sell out” and get weak. They are here for a long time to do what they love, perform, jam and have a good time.
It is highly recommended to get the deluxe edition of Apocryphon. It includes four live tracks “Arrows In The Dark”, “Barael’s Blade”, “The Chronomancer II: Nemesis” and “Ebethron”. and one cover of the ZZ Top song “Cheap Sunglasses.” What’s great about The Sword is they are not just a Stoner/Doom metal band; any Hard Rock fan would love to listen to them. And if they haven’t yet, they should run and buy all four of their albums now! You won’t be disappointed.
For this Texas native, quartet band – Cryptic Rock gives Apocryphon a 4 out of 5.
Written by Zenae Zukowski