The Sword unleashes another work of art and, spoiler... it is mostly great.
Here are quick reactions to listening to each song (note, I listened to the album five times before writing down these thoughts). I should state upfront, for those who don't normally read my reviews or listen to the podcast that I rarely give two shits about lyrics. I am all about the riffs and vocal melodies. So while The Sword has some great lyrics and their songs tell stories, I base the song reviews purely on the riffs, beats, and melodies.
01 “The Veil Of Isis“ - 97 out of 100
Opening track gives away the game-plan. This is going to be an album full of riffs and cool melodies. Love hearing the bass just underneath it all, still audible, giving it that perfect live vibe but not overpowering. Final minute breakdown is all kinds of sexy. Yeah, that's what I said. Sexy.
02 “Cloak Of Feathers“ - 91 out of 100
Often, when I listen to a new album where the opening track is great, the second track suffers as it has to live up to it. It takes a bit of time for this one to hook me in but I love the use of clean vocals as the music fades out. And the Thin Lizzy style dueling guitar harmonies are beautiful.
03 “Arcane Montane“ - 93 out of 100
There is some cool funky shit going on in this one. Great bass middle and a subtle breakdown that accentuates the main riffs when they kick back in. The couple of bluesy breaks in this are just really fun and unique. This could easily be a long-cruise track.
04 “The Hidden Masters“ - 95 out of 100
Holy Black Sabbath Batman! Beautiful and one I can see becoming a favorite track for a lot of people. I will admit that I had to look this track name up to see if it was some Sabbath song they were covering that I didn't remember. Yeah, so that happened.
05 “Dying Earth“ - 93 out of 100
The song starts off promising but really takes off around the 1:45 mark. Interesting vocal melody, beat, and riffs. Best part is the final 2 minutes with some dueling guitars, classic metal riffages, and two leads that kick into the coolest ending in the history of mankind! Or 2012. Whichever.
06 “Execrator“ - 94 out of 100
Haunting, dark, doomy vocals and riffs. It pumps out and into my ears like blood draining out of the sliced vein of a dying combatant. Short, to the point, and killer.
07 “Seven Sisters“ - 90 out of 100
Really impressed by the clean break at the one minute mark. Everything on this album feels so organic. Like they didn't try to toss anything in just because it was cool. The songs naturally go in a direction because whatever it is that inspires genius willed them there. This one has a nice Sabbath feel to it while retaining that modern touch that defines The Sword. So far, these guys haven't made any mistakes. Could this be the album of the year?
08 “Hawks & Serpents“ - 75 out of 100
This seems to be coming from a very different head-space from the rest of the album. If there is a track that doesn't feel like it belongs, it is this one. I just can't get into it. Reminds me too much of music a lot of local bands that never made it wrote in the 80s. Uninspired.
09 “Eyes Of The Stormwitch“ - 84 out of 100
I dig the melody and the music is good but there is no real moment of holy-shit-this-is-awesome like with the first seven tracks. That's not to say it won't grow on me and in a year end up as my favorite track, but as of this writing it doesn't do that.
10 “Apocryphon“ - 93 out of 100
The kitchen-sink song where they just toss everything at you. And it works. Gallopgallopgallop8bitmusicsabbathgroovegallopgallopmelodygallopphaserdrumsgroove!!! Now that's how you close out an album! Greatness earned!
91 out of 100
Fantastic stuff. And to think, I may love it even more in a year. So, as an initial rating, that is pretty impressive. Where does it rank when compared to other The Sword albums? I don't know. Talk to me in five years.