That being said, there are a precious few bands that manage to be both heavy and interesting. Obviously, there's the universally-acclaimed Mastodon, but the other band that immediately comes to mind is The Sword. And guess what? They just happened to release their new studio album, Apocryphon, this week.
From the opening chords of "Veil of Isis", you know this record is going to pack a wallop. The bottom-end commands attention, almost literally tamping down the ground that the songs are built on. Guitars are clean and played by musicians you can tell actually know how to play them. It gives tracks like "Dying Earth" a Helmet-esque feel.
There's a nice variety of styles to the record too. The Sword step towards bluesy on "Arcane Montaine", and groovy (in a way) on "Seven Sisters". There's a punk energy to "Cloak of Feathers", which the band does a masterful job of keeping under control.
The occult elements of the songs is definitely a put-off. What's an Apocryphon anyway and who gives a shit (don't comment, I did look it up)? The Dungeons & Dragons aspect of metal, which is quite present here, still gives the genre a feel of childishness, which probably explains some of its appeal to angsty, disaffected youth.
Apocryphon is not going to change my opinion of metal music and it won't make me any more likely to listen to it in the future, but as far as the genre goes it's a pretty solid, listenable record.
Best tracks: "Cloak of Feathers", "Dying Earth"
Track listing for Apocryphon:
- Veil of Isis
- Cloak of Feathers
- Arcane Montane
- The Hidden Masters
- Dying Earth
- Seven Sisters
- Hawks and Serpents
- Eyes of the Stormwitch