I love me some Doom Metal and Doom Metal this is. Now, sure, a lot of Doom sounds pretty much exactly the same, but every so often a band comes along that just has it. What is it? I have no idea, but whatever it is, THE SWORD's got it in abundance and they're not afraid to flaunt it.
So yeah, you might have heard this before. Take the blueprint of SLEEP's "Holy Mountain," especially the vocal melodies of Al Cisneros and tack on some CLUTCH and HIGH ON FIRE riffs. Increase the level of fantasy in the lyrics, up the tempo a bit, make it even heavier and you've got yourself one "Age Of Winters." It's strange, because were this any other genre, I'd call it a rip-off, but when it comes to Doom Metal, it's a mere respect for tradition. The vice of derivation in other genres is Doom's virtue of hailing the Old Masters. Does this make me a hypocrite? Probably - no, definitely - and I don't care. I know how I like my Doom and this record is mighty tasty.
"Age Of Winters" will take away your free will and make your body do all sorts of unexpected things. Just listen to the riffs in "Barael's Blade" and try not to let yourself fall to the ground, crushed under its massive weight. You'll have to manually restrain yourself from headbanging during the explosion of Thrash riffs in "Iron Swan," but be careful - the urge might be so strong that resistance will cause your neck to snap in two, resulting in your head flying off and headbanging away into the horizon. On your first listen, you won't know the lyrics yet, but that doesn't matter because you'll be shouting along unintelligibly with the Cisnerosian vocal melodies in no time. For Doom, this is unbelievably catchy and fun, but don't consider that a strike against the band. Not all Doom has to wallow in the dark pits of despair. Like REVEREND BIZARRE'S "Crush The Insects," the Doom here is not about admitting defeat, but about slaying the weak and spreading Doom unto others. This is a soundtrack to triumph.
This is raw, old school Doom Metal. Fans of SLEEP will love this. If SLEEP's Stoner influence turned you off in the past, don't worry, as this is what SLEEP might have sounded like if they never discovered the mighty bong. THE SWORD have no frills and make no apologies for their brand of Heavy Metal and for this, as well as for their incredibly Metal monicker, they have my respect. (Online March 27, 2006)