Essential New Music: The Sword’s “Low Country”

sword

Last year, the Sword issued High Country, its fifth album of ’70s-inspired, five-o’clock-shadow stoner metal. After nine solid months of touring said record, the subsequent and inevitable ear ringing led the band’s members to wanting to tone it down a smidge without going all sappy and syrupy like Zakk Wylde when he steps away from Black Label Society. So, electrics were swapped out for acoustics, and High Country was arranged for a fireside strum-fest. The moments where added bongos/hand drums, backing vocals, percussion and effects (title track, “Mist & Shadow”) and especially the gospel/R&B edge provided by horns on “Early Snow” demonstrate an understanding that simply playing the songs acoustically is the easy way out while making up for the subtraction of their customary swagger and boogie. In spite of these alterations, however, Low Country’s appeal will definitely be mostly embraced by those already familiar with the tunes in their original guise.

–Kevin Stewart-Panko

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