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Razor & Tie
Release Date: August 21, 2015
There are few bands out there as interesting as The Sword right now. While they are firmly rooted in the Rock and Roll Revivalist movement, they also keep one foot in the progressive pool (musically and lyrically). High Country, their latest release, is no exception.
While the album opens with the electronically driven dance beats of “Unicorn Farm,” it’s meager fifty seconds are up quickly and the band launch into the groovy guitar work of “Empty Temples.” the big guitar leads drive the song as the rhythm section hold everything down amidst a backdrop of sugary melodic goodness. The funkier album endcap, “The Bees of Spring” features many similar elements.
“Seriously Mysterious” is hands down my favorite track here. It fuzzily grooves along with just the vocals and the rhythm section for the most part (although tinged with some background electronics and a little bit of lead towards the end as well). It’s even-keeled throughout and catchy as hell which makes it pretty different from the other songs on the album.
Another of the album’s best moments for me is the gentler “Dust.” It starts of slowly with a haunting guitar piece that reminds me of a creepier/slower “Hell’s Bells” and a distant sounding vocal. Together they set a dark tone that crescendos with an excellent solo. The “playing in the dark basement” feel continues throughout the entire song before it abruptly ends (which is the only part of the song I don’t love!).
Much like bands such as King’s X and Atomic Opera, The Sword understand that the vocals don’t always have to be the thing that carries the melody. Although the band are superb musically and mildly progressive, High Country is also very much a classic rock album. This may be my favorite release of 2015 so far and certainly one of the most fascinating.
Reviewed by Mark 1340