Hard rock group, The Sword, just released their fifth studio album called High Country. Although it’s receiving great reviews from both music critics and fans, many die hard supporters of the group are not happy with their latest effort. 

In 2003, vocalist and guitarist John D. Cronise formed The Sword in Austin, TX. He and other eventual band members sought to create a heavy metal group that drew on the inspiration of influential metal pioneers like Black Sabbath and Slayer. It was in 2005, after a show of theirs at the South by Southwest music festival, when they began to attract a larger following and were signed to a record label. 

Their style typically falls under the stoner metal sub genre of heavy metal. This variety of music is one that is quite obviously more laid back than traditional heavy metal. It blends aspects of metal with components of psychedelic rock, blues rock and acid rock. For those not familiar with the group, they should know that their music is typically known as loud and heavy. Ferocious guitar riffs, piercing drums and darker lyrics written by Cronise sum up what fans are used to from The Sword. 

When comparing The Sword’s latest album to the ones from years prior, it is clear why some of the fans they accrued over the past decade are upset with High Country’s sound. In the creative process for the record, the band chose to take a slightly alternate musical route. While still loud and heavy, the tracks from this album are often played at a much slower pace than what’s expected. Through the unpredictability that comes from song to song, the group clearly tried to have fun with this recording. Many brands of loud rock and alternative rock appear at various stages of the album. This is most noticeable on tracks 7 and 8, “Seriously Mysterious” and “Suffer No Fools”. “Seriously Mysterious” is in no way a metal song and much more closely resembles that of funky alternative rock.  The very next track though, “Suffer No Fools”, is what fans are used to – fast paced heavy metal. 

Regardless of how you feel about The Sword and their latest album, much respect needs to be given to these artists for breaking away from their comfort zone and creating a well orchestrated, highly eclectic recording. It appears their concern with this project dealt more with advancing their musical legacy and evolving their sound rather than churning out massive sales. 

“Seriously Mysterious” – The Sword

“Suffer No Fools” – The Sword