You can accuse AC/DC and Iron Maiden of essentially having made the exact same album for the past two decades, but seeing as they all but invented the hard rock template, you just shut up, buy your copy and sing along like a good little Hessian. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Austin, TX quartet The Sword, whose sophomore effort, Gods of the Earth, feels like a regression rather than a refining of the sound they honed so perfectly on their battleaxe-wielding debut Age of Winters. The Sword's world is one filled with mystical creatures and wizards galore, but whereas songs like "Freya" and "Barael's Blade" roared with the fire of a thousand dragons, "How Heavy This Axe" and "Under the Boughs" collapse under the weight of their own riff-heavy mysticism; sounding half-baked and listless, they're hindered by the improved production values that should, by all rights, make them utter behemoths. On occasion, they hit their mark; "Lords" and "The Black River" are epic thrash-metal proclamations worthy of their album's self-anointed moniker; but, by and large, the majority of Gods of the Earth is quotidian stoner metal-by-numbers, which, while fine for a lesser band, seems a tragic waste of The Sword's obvious talents.
Listen to The Sword's album via their ecard.