The Sword: Warp Riders

RIYL: Priestess, Black Sabbath, Wolfmother, vans with airbrushed graphics

The Sword’s first two albums were steeped in J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired mythology, with songs about goddesses, demons, frost giants and, of course, swords. In other words, they were totally fucking METAL.

Now the Sword leap out of the land of wizards and warriors and into outer space with Warp Riders, a full-on concept album about space travel, intergalactic demons and beings that live out of time. According to the band’s official website, the album tells the story of Ereth, a tribal archer from the planet Acheron. The planet is in a tidal lock, leaving half the planet in perpetual darkness and the other scorched by three oppressive suns. He’s on a mission to, like, save stuff.

Like all concept albums, the narrative kind of gets lost in the music, especially since large portions of Warp Riders are instrumental passages, with great emphasis given to non-stop pounding riffage by dual guitarists Kyle Shutt and J.D. Cronise (who also contributes his trademark monotone vocals). This may be a concept album about space, but it sure as hell isn’t a prog record. There are no keyboards to be found here, and the seven-minute epic “The Chronomancer I: Hubris” has more in common with Metallica’s “One” than anything Hawkwind ever put out.

Of course, the Sword’s biggest influence remains ’70s classic metal. Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy and even a little bit of Nazareth can be found all over Warp Riders, whether it’s in the sludging riffs of the title track, or in the oddly radio-friendly sound of “Lawless Lands” and the excellent “Night City,” which, when taken out of context, could totally be the soundtrack to any metalhead’s night out on the town.

Warp Riders might just be the Sword’s heaviest and best album yet, and proof that there’s more heavy metal in meteors than there is in an orc’s axe. (Kemando 2010)

The Sword MySpace Page