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The production on this album is similar to that on their last EP -- crisp and clear, with emphasis on the jangling bass and lead guitar. The growled vocals are a bit lower in the mix, but still powerful and easy to distinguish, and the same goes for the drums, which underpin everything without losing their impact.
The songwriting here is a perfect blend of the styles from their first album and EP: Broadsword combines the straightforward catchiness of songs like "Chain Mail" (included once again on this record) and "Northmen" with the complexity and unpredictability of shorter songs like "The Iron Shield" and "To Plunder". The songs here are dense with insane heavy-metal solos and complicated bass & guitar lines, yet each has a unique melody and atmosphere that'll have it stuck in your head for days. I especially enjoy the "The Iron Shield", packed with frantic riffing and tempo changes, and "Commander", with its bouncy guitar lines and rumbling vocal parts. The "destiny!" section is particularly great!
The band's lyrical excellence is also worth mentioning; few Viking songs are better than "Commander" or "Broadsword", and "God Slayer" is one of the best anti-Christian songs I've heard in some time, perfectly encapsulating the triumph of reason and atheism over superstition and unexamined belief.
Broadsword is easily one of my favorite albums of 2009; the nimble, memorable guitar lines, shout-along vocals, and a bass-heavy production make this one easy to spin on repeat for hours at a time. Those who like their death metal both heavy and complex should look no further than this! Highest recommendations.
Standout tracks: "Broadsword", "The Iron Shield", "Commander", "God Slayer"