Review Summary: Black Sabbath + Lord of the Rings + faster, thrashier sound = The Sword's second album.
Black Sabbath, as most people know, were the first heavy metal band (although that is debatable but I won't get into that). They often had very politically driven lyrics, as several of their songs, most notably War Pigs, were anti-war. They sang about many other topics, including Christianity, but what Sabbath were most known for was their incredibly heavy guitar work. Many bands have attempted to emulate the droning, doomish riffs of Black Sabbath, and the heavily Sabbath influenced band I'm talking about in this review is The Sword.
To some, The Sword may seem like a typical Sabbath ripoff. The vocalist obviously tries to sound sort of like Ozzy Osbourne, and the guitar work is like the album Paranoid, except much faster. Whereas Sabbath sang about war and such, The Sword have Dungeons and Dragons themed lyrics that are, unlike Dragonforce, very well written and all around cool. Although songs about axes and wizards and dark rivers get old after a while, the band keeps things interesting with stunning musicianship. The guitars are easily the best thing about Gods of the Earth. As I mentioned earlier, it's like Black Sabbath except sped up. The Sword incorporate a thrashy sound to their music, so it's like an Ozzy-era Black Sabbath/first two albums by Metallica hybrid. The drumming is like Bill Ward, except faster and a bit more insane. There are several parts where the drummer just goes crazy, although I feel the drummer was in the spotlight, therefore better, on the band's previous album, which was also their debut, Age of Winters.
The best song on the album is the opener, which comes along after the insanely heavy instrumental, How Heavy This Axe. It's everything good about this band: It's heavy, it's fast, it's got great vocals, amazing musicianship, and a memorable chorus. It too sounds very thrashy, much like many other songs on the album. I feel that the biggest improvement over their debut was the addition of a thrashy sound. It's not like Overkill or D.R.I., but it's got a thrash feel to it.
One thing that The Sword excels at is making well-thought out, awe-inspiring instrumentals. So far, each of their albums have opened with an instrumental song and of the two, the one found on Gods of the Earth is easily my favorite. A lot of times, the instrumental opener is usually a softer set-up for the heaviness that is to come, but not on this album. This song is a two minute explosion of unrelenting heaviness and crushing riffs that could make one's ears bleed, but in a good way. The closer of Gods of the Earth is also an instrumental number, entitled The White Sea, which is an epic, seven minute masterpiece with everything about The Sword all in one song. Some parts of so heavy they could smash you, and some parts are soft and melodic, but no matter what, the song is consistently stellar, and is the second best song on the album.
The Sword definitely has potential to become the next big thing in metal. Their second album, Gods of the Earth, is the band's best album so far, and I have high expectations for upcoming releases. The Sword isn't for everyone. Some will see them as a shameless rip-off of the glorious Black Sabbath. However, I find them to be an excellent band that uses their Black Sabbath influences in a good way while adding their own sound into the mix. I highly recommend them.