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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The Sword
Age of Winters
Kemado Records

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

February 6, 2006
Paid-up Sabbathophiliacs will be doing somersaults over The Sword. Thumbing their noses at recent indie-metal propriety, this Texas band calmly refuses to slap 3-or-so mollusk-slow barre chords together and proclaim that they've cornered the doom metal market, a tactic pioneered by St. Vitus on SST before Sleep tried to make an honest living out of it. The Sword's nemeses are deconstructive stoner modernists like Sunn0))) and Phobos, who sacrifice complexity and musicianship at the altar of ambiance by offering undiluted strains of the base Marshall guitar sound and simply allowing the rhino-mating-calls to ring out, adding nothing to it save for some Crypt Keeper vocalizing and incidental percussion for duty's sake. Sunn0))) in particular is on a roll with it, having been surprised with good reviews in the likes of Pitchfork and Village Voice, whose scribes insisted that they'd gotten something other than splintered eardrums out of the clatter and spectacle of a few guys standing around for an hour doing what every guitarist does just for giggles once in a while, exploring the sonic bursts like a toddler with a newfound pair of lungs.

Anyhow, unlike these hawkers of Muzak To Boil Lead By, The Sword reads straight from the blueprints of Ozzy's old band, punching out not just cataclysmic tonalities but honest-to-gawd riffs with knuckleball time signatures and the sort of near-prog elements that have Generation Z buying 35-year-old albums like "Master of Reality" more often than new releases whose buzzes have sputtered their way into the breakdown lane.

Unlike Sabbath, the lyrical talking points here aren't political (a sad irony given that we're presently under surveillance by a White House that makes Ozzy's Nixon administration look like the cast of Seventh Heaven), but if you're a fan of, well, swords, you got the right one, baby. As for what you'll actually hear, this record has been unfairly lumped as a reincarnation of Sabbath's Volume 4 by half-interested parties who heard "Cornucopia" a few times (kickoff song "Celestial Crown" is its slow brother), but that's not the only worm-eaten tome from which cues have been taken, nor is Sabbath the lone influence bandied about. Soundgarden and Molly Hatchet anime can be found lurking in and around the woodwork, and "Freya" ramps up with the head-bobbing riff from Pearl Jam's "Evenflow."

Probably the most welcome aspect is the singing, which, unlike Obsessed, Vitus and their various catamites, doesn't nick every physiological nuance of Ozzy but has instead a different brand of looseness - the dude's a dead ringer for Offspring's Dexter Holland.

Age of Winters is an enticing debut that takes risks with a successful formula, and if they're sentient enough to take it forward and throw in just a smidge more modernity, there's a better than good shot at getting their own line of bongs someday.

Reviewed by Eric Saeger
An LAS staff writer based in New Hampshire, Eric Saeger was named alt.flame\'s Newbie of the Year in 2000.

See other reviews by Eric Saeger



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