Rating:
6.9
The Sword - Warp Riders
24 August 2010


01. Acheron / Unearthing The Orb
02. Tres Brujas
03. Arrows In The Dark
04. The Chronomancer I: Hubris
05. Lawless Lands
06. Astraea's Dream
07. The Warp Riders
08. Night City
09. The Chronomancer II: Nemesis
10. (The Night The Sky Cried) Tears Of Fire


Imagine that Black Sabbath meets Trouble. They take a nostalgic ride in their meticulously restored 1977 Ford Mustang Cobra II. On the way they pick up some guys from Sleep. They listen to doom metal and some stoner rock all the way to their destination. Once they arrive, they open a big closet with a huge "The 70's" sticker on its doors. There's a lot of stuff on the shelves. They rummage around and take the heaviness of Black Sabbath. Just below is the shelf labeled "tempos." After a moment's consideration they decide to take just a little bit more than doom would normally require. They're a bunch of chilled out dudes, so they take a ton of that cool, relaxed atmosphere that oozes tranquility, amusement and weed. Someone takes a pinch of stoner rock, just enough to hint at the taste of it. Once the ingredients are put in a crucible, they're ready to be ground into a dish called Warp Riders.

My little imaginary trip describes how I feel when I listen to the latest album of The Sword. Worshiping the 70's is these guys' favourite pastime. It was eminent on their debut, Age of Winters. It was refined and perfected on Gods of the Earth, which I thought was one of the strongest releases of 2008. Warp Riders stands somewhere in between those two. While a little better than the debut, it doesn't top their sophomore effort. But let's focus on the pros first.

The first and foremost advantage of this album is a high number of catchy and memorable guitar riffs. Take "Tres Brujas," "Astraea's Dream" or "The Chronomancer II:Nemesis" - the riff fest presented by The Sword is plain cool to listen to. The riffs seem to fluently follow one another, their logic and harmony is a pleasure to behold, if you can behold with your ears that is. Another strong point is J.D. Cronise's singing. He successfully mimics the style and idiom of the singers of the 70's, almost sounding like young Ozzy Osbourne in some songs. His style is not my favourite, but I have to admit that he does his job well. He doesn't have the strongest of voices, but it's mixed in with the music in such a clever way that it fits.

So much for the pros. The cons are here as well, unfortunately. As much as I admire The Sword's knack for good riffs, I can't help noticing that they were even catchier and more memorable on Gods of the Earth. It may be unfair to make such direct comparisons, but it's the band's fault - they got me used to the excellent, so now I'm not sated by the very good. Another weaker feature is the production. It's somehow smooth and polite, it lacks the sting and kick of Gods of the Earth. Sure, the guitars are crunchy, the cymbals crisp, the bass drum sufficiently low, but as a whole, the production isn't so wonderfully old school like it was before. It doesn't pack a punch like Gods of the Earth did. I have a stinking suspicion that someone had radio stations in mind much more than before.

I'm a bit torn on this album. I like The Sword and I would like to give them a much higher mark, but it would be dishonest to anyone that reads this review to get the idea about Warp Riders. This is a decent release with some cool riffing, but it only delicately glides over the glory of The Sword's previous album, and never reaches its depth and excellence.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: The Sword
Album: Warp Riders


 


written by Daniell | 18.09.2010



Comments

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Daydream Nation - 18.09.2010 at 17:51  
Hahaha 6.9.
JÄY - 18.09.2010 at 18:10  
10/10 fer me!
Merchant of Doom - 18.09.2010 at 18:47  
My dad plays with The Sword.. he's 96...
Derwood - 19.09.2010 at 06:05  
"...it's the band's fault - they got me used to the excellent, so now I'm not sated by the very good."

Hmm, according to the MS rating system, very good = 8. 6.9 = Slightly less than good. So which is it?

I actually prefer this album to Gods of This Earth. I find it more cohesive as a whole.
Daniell - 19.09.2010 at 13:30  
Riffs are 8, the rest isn't. Simple
advent - 19.09.2010 at 17:42  
I didn't even like the riffs , plain songwriting .
theBlackSaint - 21.09.2010 at 00:19  
6.9 ? Really? It's a 10/10 for me. It's the most original concept album this side of Mastodon's Crack the Skye.
Meller - 29.09.2010 at 21:43  
Daniell_p, I have to disagree with your views of "Warp Riders" a bit. Personally I think originality, as it is usually inerpreted, is damn overrated in music. Since the concept is thought out, the riffs and songs work (at least most of them) and the whole package feels and sounds strong production-wise, I find it hard to criticize the album very much. My main criticism would be that it feels a bit softer than tough-as-nails-and-as-mean Gods of the Earth: instead of Motörhead, you hear more of 70's Hard Rock in it. But in this case, after several re-listenings, I'm beginning to find it's not a bad thing. As Derwood stated, the album is more cohesive this way. The minus side is, it looses some of it's punch on the change. But just some.

I share every ounce of your love towards "Gods of the Earth". However, it doesn't make me feel disappointed when listening to a bit weaker, if you will, "Warp Riders". hell, if "Gods..." is the only absolute masterpiece The Sword ever produces, I can live with that, since there are loads of bands (also in the ones I listen to regularily) who can't do a single one. And compared to this, there are millions who spew out unlistenable gunk...
Daniell - 29.09.2010 at 21:45  
Well, fair enough. This review reflects my disappointment after hearing "Warp Riders", because I expected much much more.
Chainer - 03.10.2010 at 10:50  
Originality gets a 6? really? Ok the sword love that old school feel and sound but for fucks sake! Give me one recent concept album with an original story line, o yea and make sure that it sounds completely unique.
The Sword has a sound that is unlike any other band, that old school feel with a modern crunch and crazy song material to boot. If that earns you a 6 than a 8 or 9 must break the boundaries of music as we know it. Shit, listening to something of that caliber must melt your skull from the inside out.
Im no fan boy, and I agree that Warp Riders is no Gods of the Earth, but a 6 for originality and such a low overall rating is just bullshit.
Dangerboner - 07.10.2010 at 01:32  
Agree with the review - this is their worst album, but still enjoyable here and there
alleycat - 01.12.2010 at 20:11  
Huh..i kinda liked it better that the first 2, the vocals sound not as cheesy...to each their own, i'd give it at least an 8
BudDa - 01.04.2011 at 18:35  
I extremely enjoyed this album. But then again, I see your point. I got into the band through here and I have worked my way backwards. This is still a fantastic release. atleast 8/10 for me
Guib - 04.04.2011 at 01:38  
Lol You don't expect anything when you listen to a new album... you listen to it, enjoy it... then try to figure out if you like or not. Expectations lead to disapointment.
Slinx - 04.04.2011 at 04:30  
I've listened to this about eight times through and it's an average album. The vocals are forgettable, just like the story. The riffs are okay, the best riff was probably seven seconds long in the first song, and after that it went downhill.

Worst of all this is supposed to be stoner rock, and I've listened to it stoned, drunk, stoned drunk, and sober and each time it was less appealing.

Then again, my two favorite songs while stoned are Kamelot's 'Karma' and Therion's 'Black Sun'.

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