The Sword
High Country


2.5
average

Review

by emester USER (15 Reviews)
August 22nd, 2015 | 55 replies


Release Date: 08/21/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The answer was right in front of The Sword and they squandered it

Boredom is quite an irritating thing. It manifests and makes tasks even harder to do. Time goes to a crawl while in a state such as this. Heck, no one, in essence, is completely safe from boredom. So imagine what it must feel like to be anticipating something, only for it to finally happen and in the end wanting it to conclude as quickly as possible" This is exactly how I felt about High Country.

The Sword’s past discography is quite consistent in musical style: Black Sabbath-inspired songs with fantasy or sci-fi inspired lyrical content. While the band wasn’t exactly the most original group around, they exemplified some of the best music that the recent explosion of heavy 70’s rock worship had to offer. By the time their previous LP, Apocryphon, released, The Sword succumbed to the consequences of their decision to stick to their guns for such a long time. In the end, that record, while competent, was completely forgettable. It was about time the band changed things up.

On High Country, The Sword decided to create a much more mellow album where their original influences take a backseat in favor of drugged out stoner rock. Gone are the groove-inducing, energetic riffs and epic scale. Everything now seems more modest, going for less bombast than before. The Sword definitely sounds different then before. The guitars traded in their previous chunkiness and heft for a more fuzzy tone. The drums trot alongside the riffs, creating a much more loose sound in comparison to the pounding, epic percussion that the band exhibited on previous records. Almost all elements on the record sound considerably simpler as well.

While a change is always nice to see, here The Sword execute their new progression in sound in one of the worst ways possible: they do nothing to distinguish themselves among their hoards of contemporaries. On certain tracks, such as “Tears Like Diamonds” and the title track, a listener can easily predict the progression of the song, leaving no thrill to the songwriting on here. Weird effects such as on “Agartha” are used throughout the entirety of the album seemingly just to be as trippy as possible, making the transitions between some tracks completely jarring. One minute you have the music trying to engulf the listener in a psychedelic haze, only to be whiplashed by the twang of a sudden guitar or beat of the percussion in the next song.

While not being distracted by the wonky transitions, High Country continuously creeps along on through its runtime, doing nothing to distinguish certain moments from one other. Next to nothing stands out in the record. It fails to induce a trance, captivate a listener, or even sound original in that matter. It’s all ground covered by bands in the past, who honestly did a better job anyway. Being bored by something you were actually anticipating is especially painful, making the journey for me through the fifteen tracks on the record even more difficult. Then, at the very tail of album, there is this tease of sorts. On the final minute of the track, “Bees of Summer”, the song kicks into a more energetic tone, sounding similar to something that wouldn't be out of place on a Thin Lizzy album. It’s the sound High Country should have gone with, being less grand than before but at the same time be something that could be traced back to The Sword’s roots. It’s the gold at the end of the tunnel only teasing you that the band could have done something better all along.

In regards to an evolution in The Sword’s sound, High Country feels more like the band trying a different style rather than building on what they played before. So, in essence, The Sword's latest LP isn’t really a progression but rather an experiment that somehow failed when the band had all the materials they needed to be successful.



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user ratings (146)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
TheFlatsFan09 (4)
The Sword channels bands such as Thin Lizzy and ZZ Top for their fifth LP to create a southern stone...



Comments:Add a Comment 
emester
August 22nd 2015


8249 Comments


I was a bit ranty on this but w/e this album ticked me off pretty bad.

TheCharmingMan
August 22nd 2015


484 Comments


Did you mean to say they in the summary?

emester
August 22nd 2015


8249 Comments


yeah gotta fix that thanks

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2015


4637 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

Wasn't impressed by the teasers, I have to check it out. Warp Riders and Apocryphon were awesome, I had high hopes for this one...



Anyway, great review, pos!



PS: You should've mentioned less the name of the album in the review, replace it maybe with: record, album, LP, effort, affair, etc. There are too many High Countries written.

Digging: The Ocean - Phanerozoic I: Palaeozoic

TheCharmingMan
August 22nd 2015


484 Comments


Entertaining read. Keep writing!

Lord(e)Po)))ts
August 22nd 2015


39731 Comments


https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/11/Dive_tycho_album.jpg

emester
August 22nd 2015


8249 Comments


@Insomniac Warp Riders was really good but the previous one befor this didn't really impress me. Also will change the wording a bit like you said. Thanks for the feedback!

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2015


4637 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

I am listening to Apocryphon right now lol. Started jamming this until I get High Country. I hope it is better than you say though, IT SHOULD BE BETTER DAMMIT!!!

emester
August 22nd 2015


8249 Comments


Honestly man, I wish I could say that it is. I really do enjoy The Sword quite a bit but this was just devoid of any enjoyablity save for a couple of moments

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 22nd 2015


28373 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Right on review. I enjoy this more, but it was definitely a let down.

Digging: Julia Holter - Aviary

EverythingEvil2113
August 22nd 2015


1326 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

First listen through and I was kind of thrown off by the change. Second time through I really enjoyed it and felt it a 4 (which I still have it as). Subsequent listens haven't been as enjoyable. May have to drop to a 3.5. I appreciate the change though and not just releasing the same sounding album again. Hopefully this one is a stepping stone to something better.

emester
August 22nd 2015


8249 Comments


Im all for them changing up their sound, but it makes the listen even more frustrating when moments of brilliance and evolution from their previous sound are outnumbered by a completely new, and albeit shakey approach.

Will admit tho I get that same Thin Lizzy vibe that I really enjoyed from Empty Temples. Other than that and the end of The Bees of Summer, this was pretty tough and unenjoyable to sit through.

Also yay feature

TheSupernatural
August 23rd 2015


1741 Comments


I don't like most stoner rock/metal. All I want out of it are seriously sexy riffs and The Sword has generally delivered those in the past. Sad that this doesn't

Also, pos'd. This is definitely a good review

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2015


4637 Comments

Album Rating: 2.9

This is too tame and yeah, it sounds like the band's going through motions.

WhereTheSkyEnds
August 23rd 2015


40 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Disappointing release in my opinion. Apocryphon was pretty good with a lot of riffs but this is so boring to me.

Happy2review
August 23rd 2015


208 Comments


I was looking forward to this review, I saw in the other thread that you were planning on reviewing this. I listened to the stream on spotify and I think i might like this more than Apocryphon, but we'll see. Good review.

emester
August 23rd 2015


8249 Comments


Cover art for this kinda blows too. Miss the fantasy and sci fi shtick

rockandmetaljunkie
August 23rd 2015


7475 Comments


band is sooo overrated

Comatorium.
August 23rd 2015


4844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

cover art is the best part of this unfortunately.

emester
August 23rd 2015


8249 Comments


@junkie for Warp Riders and Gods of the Earth, these guys definitely deserve acclaim, but I will agree the rest of their work is passable at best



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