The Sword Reviewed
The SwordGods of the Earth (Kemado)
"Hear the horns, pounding hooves," prophesies JD Cronise in "Lords," as galloping guitars conjure "visions of cities aflame." "Die by the sword or in chains." The omen could pass as a mission statement for Austin's premier alchemists, who live by the code and take no prisoners on sophomore LP Gods of the Earth. Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Sword seeks and destroys, carving chronicles of serpents and sorcery without retracing the Nordic frost of 2005 debut Age of Winters. From the opening preface, "The Sundering," it's apparent that Gods transcends the Sabbath worship of its contemporaries, a clearer sense of control and pacing underscoring the biblical tales of wrath and retribution. The intricate, intertwined guitars of Cronise and Kyle Shutt lead the ventures for "The Frost-Giant's Daughter" and "Maiden, Mother & Crone," while "How Heavy This Axe" and "To Take the Black," not to mention its acoustic reprise (included as a hidden bonus), veer into a void of classic metallurgy. Devastatingly brutal yet altogether timeless, the doom-laden onslaught of "Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians" and "Under the Boughs" pillage the remains before closing with an epic, two-part suite, the turbulent tidal rush of "The Black River" and "The White Sea," a seven-minute instrumental odyssey that unearths a leviathan. Choose your fate.