The Sword – “High Country” (Razor & Tie)
Yeeaaahh baby, this is something groovy! Guess touring in Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma with all that fresh air and open blue sky must have had a profound effect on the song writing of guitarist / vocalist John Cronise. When The Sword released their debut in 2006 it was all about traditional Sabbathy stoner mixed in with 70s sword n sorcery, but seven years on and that seems like a world apart on this album. For a start there are 15 tracks – I mean, that’s a muthaload – but even more shocking is the livelier more upbeat style – less deep with sunshine and feelgood everywhere! From Cronise’s own genteel vocals to the happy hippy harmonies the net is cast wide to include folk, synth pop, Texas boogie and even the blues on songs like ‘Empty Temples’, ‘Mist and Shadow’ and ‘Serious Mysterious’. Despite all of this The Sword are still a stoner band – at least at the lighter end of the spectrum – and that’s very much in their sound, from the trademark fuzz tone guitars right down to their rollin’ rhythms and still evidenced on songs like ‘Buzzards’ and ‘Suffer No Fools’ which is actually amazing considering the production was handled by Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma, a Grammy winning Latin Orchestra! Although heavy stoners may shy away from this, “High Country” keeps to the spirit of the original spirit of the band, which over the years has now grown and expanded its vision to include wider influences so I say kudos to Cronise for his boldness!