The Sword, those fine purveyors of Texas retro metal, are back with a great new album Warp Riders. Their third studio album marks a moderate course change for The Sword. Gone is a good bit of the doom, gloom, sword, sorcery, norse mythology, and the like. Primary songwriter J.D. Cronise developed a sci-fi tale, in the golden age style, for a concept album. (You can read more about the story at their web site.) What remains that classic heavy metal style, but less on the side of doom metal. Bright and spirited might suffice, while still retaining heavy riffs and a hearty groove, and then with some near progressive psychedelia thrown in for good measure. More importantly, against the previous God of the Earth, the production is significantly more crisp, accenting the depth and breadth of The Sword's classic style.
Another significant Sword feature has been their impressive instrumental tracks over the past albums. These have often been more expansive than vocal pieces, allowing the band to stretch with energy and strength. Warp Riders is no different: Acheron/Unleashing the Orb and Astraea's Dream are premium stuff, electric and vigorous. But this imagination also infects breadth and depth of The Chronomancer II and The Warp Riders. Both are filled with The Sword rich and steady rhythm section, sizzling guitar leads and, quite often, some curious and entertaining musical shifts.
It all adds up to one mighty fine album. The Sword's Warp Riders is their best so far, and quite possibly the work by which they will be judged in the future. It's darn good, and strongly recommended.