The Sword – High Country (Razor & Tie)

Genre: Hard Rock/Stoner Metal

When 2012’s Apocryphon nudged into RUSHONROCK‘s Top 20 Albums of the Year eyebrows were raised. Brows were furrowed. Lips were pursed, quizzically. Our regulars wanted to know why The Sword’s swashbuckling release wasn’t top five. Or even number one. It’s a fair point.

And where The Sword are concerned we adore just about everything that the doom-laden Texans have ever done. That love affair started way back in 2009 when the riff meisters opened up for Metallica at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena and we caught a glimpse of heavy rock’s glorious future.

Fast forward to 2015 and High Country isn’t exactly how we imagined things panning out.

It’s a curveball by The Sword’s standards and a record surely designed to spark debate within doom metal/stoner metal/heavy rock communities the world over.

It’s not exactly experimental but it does ask questions of a fan base expecting familiar Sabbath worship at every turn. Early Snow and The Bees Of Spring are brilliant songs – just not your typical Sword songs.

Seriously Mysterious is exactly that with it’s synth pop sensibility and yet the switch in tone and texture suits adroit frontman JD Cronise.

The title track is more predictable – if this band could ever do predictable – and the scuzzy riffage underpinning Tears Like Diamonds is classic Swordplay.

High Country is not so much a complete departure from the norm as a brave step into the unknown. And, yes, it’s a contender for that end-of-year top spot. Simon Rushworth

RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Country Music