The Sword – Chronology 2006-2018 (Craft Recordings)

Rushonrock’s first stab at The Sword was 2009.

We arrived sharpish to catch the band opening up for Metallica on the latter’s polarising World Magnetic tour.

And what a decision that turned out to be.

It’s testimony to The Sword that they set the bar – and cleared the bar – that night.

The Texan rockers were a revelation.

Their Sabbathian riffs and soaring solos cut through the idle chatter of the non-plussed latecomers.

And our love affair with the quartet’s muscular grooves was sealed.

Apocryphon, from 2012, was a Rushonrock Top 20 Record of the Year.

Three years later and we couldn’t fault the experimental High Country.

In fact, there’s not much we don’t like about The Sword’s boundary-stretching metal blueprint.

The career-spanning Chronology is a lesson in heaviness.

It’s a brain melting battery of focused chaos.

And this catch-all triple CD treat captures a band in all of their flamboyant glory.

Forget, for a minute, the fact that there are no fewer than 52 tracks here.

It’s not so much the quantity, as the quality.

And, in some cases, the rarity.

Sure, there are the bona fide fan favourites including Freya, Iron Swan, Cloak Of Feathers and Deadly Nightshade.

But this rewarding deep dive into the band’s storied history reveals some real treasures.

Take the truly special (and previously unreleased) live version of Sea Of Spears.

Or the 2008 take on Freya.

Then there’s a seriously intriguing remix of Seriously Mysterious.

And a brilliant live take on Barael’s Blade.

But all of this is just scratching the surface.

Exclusive liner notes from the likes of Lars Ulrich, Mark Morton and Neil Fallon reinforce The Sword’s reputation as precious metal.

On hiatus since 2018, the band will be back alongside Primus later this year – celebrating the music of Rush.

But with no hint of any new music any time soon, Chronology fills a gaping chasm.

It fuels the fire.

Gets the blood pumping.

And proves heavy metal – in its purest form – still possesses a unique and unifying power.