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RichardDeBenthall
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:46 am
Posts: 300
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 4:15 am 
 

So I was reading through some of the reviews for The Sword, one of the first 'stonery' doom bands I got into, back when I was about 13/14.

The first album I bought was The Age of Winter and it's long held a sort of special place in my memory but now I've gotten more into the genre and am much more familiar with the heavy hitters of the sub-genre I accept that the Sword are kind of regarded as a big 'entry level', which is fair. However I know a lot of guys that are really into this genre and go to Desertfest etc. They all still really love the Sword and compare their early efforts to Sleep and I get what their saying.

When I saw the reviews I was quite surprised to see a rating of 45% to say the least. Now of course its fair that sometimes people have differing opinions than yourself, hell that sort of shit makes the world go around right? But even so, 45% seems a little low for what I consider their best album bar Warp Riders.

But upon reading some of these reviews, I'd like somebody to tell me wtf was going on in the 'metal scene' when this album hit? There's talk of 'hipster infiltration', the bastardization of our metal. I was into metal in 2006 when it came out but hell I was 14 and not particular internet savvy or up on reading the metal press.

What are people going on about? Does anybody remember?

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BastardHead
Magic Mike

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:53 pm
Posts: 8819
Location: Elgin, Illinois
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:40 am 
 

Basically, before Deafheaven was around and back when Wolves in the Throne Room were still generally looked at as creative pioneers instead of "the band that enabled hipster bullshit like Liturgy", the big outside outside threat was perceived to be The Sword and their ilk. I had a similar experience, I came across them mostly by chance a few months before Age of Winters came out and was blown away to learn everybody hated them. It probably had a lot to do with a couple things:

A) The vocalist (and maybe some other members, I can't remember) was part of a mellow indie rock band before forming The Sword. It gave a lot of people the impression that he and his group of short haired indie kids didn't actually give a shit about metal and were just trying to be hip in some way.

B) The Sleep/Sabbath sound they play was seen as totally lazy. The fact that even as a fan I can recognize how god fucking awful the lyrics are just added to it. There was a perception that they didn't actually care for what they were doing and were just churning out easy effortless crap to capitalize on the metal niche.

C) Their popularity was baffling. They came out of nowhere with a non metal background to make a mediocre album and yet were beloved by mainstream music channels and publications and had a song in Guitar Hero 2 when they had barely gotten their feet off the ground. It was mystifying how they blew up based on an album that most seasoned metal fans thought was nothing special at best and it caused obvious backlash.

D) This is really dumb but I noticed more than one person point it out back in the day, but when the second album came out, they didn't really expand or improve anything BUT they grew their hair out. For some reason that was proof positive for some people that they were all about image and were fishing for acceptance on a superficial level.

Really it just came down to the perception that they were a band trying to play metal music with zero metal spirit. They were phonies, posers, and had no place next to the classics they tried to emulate but somehow got popular anyway, and that only intensified the distaste they would have received regardless.
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RichardDeBenthall
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:46 am
Posts: 300
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 7:51 am 
 

Ah that makes sense. I definitely get what they mean by laziness in a way because it's not like they were doing anything new to justify their popularity. I was just surprised as I thought Age of Winters was full of riff gold, Lament for Aurochs, Freya, Winters Wolves and Baraels Blade still get regular spins on my playlists.

I remember a similar feeling in the UK when a lot of emo/scene-kids were starting to like Metalcore bands like Parkway Drive and Bring Me The Horizon, us 'trve' metal fans hated it basically saying it was an attempt to make metal music more palatable to popular audiences etc.

In reality, I think we just hated it because it was a new and different development of metal that was hip and that we weren't invited to the party.

They got all the girls and we sat there with our spots, greasy long hair and Slayer t-shirts hating it with all our might. Seems funny in hindsight.

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BastardHead
Magic Mike

Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2005 7:53 pm
Posts: 8819
Location: Elgin, Illinois
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:14 am 
 

Eh, don't really know if I agree with that second half of your post. The thing is, those mid 00s metalcore bands really were kind of at odds with metal. Similar to why nu metal was so reviled, it kinda sorta sounded like metal, especially to the untrained ear, so fans who shun accessible music were obviously going to hate accessible music that was sonically similar to their beloved fringe genre. I don't think it's necessarily because it was new and cool, and more that it was constantly mislabeled as some form of metal when it's roots were most post hardcore in nature. Even the heavier bands like As I Lay Dying or Shadows Fall didn't immediately strike metalheads as metal bands, more whiny hardcore kids trying to be something their not.

I dunno, it's harder for me to really explain that whole thing because my view is a little tainted, since I was a teenager and totally bought into the whole DEATH TO FALSE METAL thing back then. I just hated them because everybody else did. Kids are stupid.


But yes, Age of Winters is still a solid album if you ask me. It has plenty of flaws (awful lyrics, the drummer's annoying tendency to keep the best with the crash) but it has some rocking riffs on it. On the rare occasions I pick up my bass, there's a good chance I'll jam on the riffs to Iron Swan or The Horned Goddess.
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RichardDeBenthall
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:46 am
Posts: 300
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 8:27 am 
 

Without wanting to go off topic with it, my personal opinion is that it was an image thing.

Sonically I can completely hear the links between 'Metalcore' bands and Gothenburg style death metal. Loads of similar riffs, similar production, more traditional hooky choruses but mixed in with loads of late hardcore style breakdowns.

I was very blinkered by it all for years as when I was 15/16 I was just discovering extreme metal and had settled quite nicely into the whole DEATH TO FALSE METAL thing myself!

But when I look back I can't help but think it was just a scene/style difference. Sure the music WAS different in a lot of ways, but it was still mostly metal to my ears. I think a band like Suicide Silence or Thy Art Is Murder have more in common with modern Death Metal than they do with proper hardcore bands like Black Flag or Minor Threat or post-hardcore bands like Fugazi.

IMO, we hated them because they looked different and refused to accept/respect the usual metal bands that we were all into at the time e.g. Slayer, Iron Maiden, Megadeth. It was an Us vs. Them thing. Ironically, as we all grew up we all became friends and the two scenes bands became rather incestous.

I spent time playing rhythm guitar in death/thrash band and bass in a Deathcore band and many of the bands that were -core c. 2010 have now moved over to a more mature groove metal/melo-death sound.

I may be wrong ofc, but that's my two cents.

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hells_unicorn
Veteran

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:32 pm
Posts: 2509
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2016 6:03 pm 
 

I checked out that album at the time mostly due to Noktorn's review because I found it a bit odd to see the sort of revulsion that he expressed towards it targeting a doom/stoner act. I wasn't terribly familiar with the style at the time apart from the seminal Black Sabbath albums that were credited with pioneering both styles, and a few occasional albums by the likes of Budgie and Count Raven that maybe had some peripheral similarity to what they were doing. I basically made a point of trying to sample some better known outfits before reviewing "Age Of Winters", and I particularly focused on bands like Sleep, Electric Wizard and High On Fire. Upon taking to listening to The Sword's controversial album, it became fairly clear that I didn't need all that much experience with the style to fully get what they were doing, and that was sort of my first indication that I was dealing with something pretty vapid.

I managed to blast that thing out 4 times before I started writing about it, and I honestly felt nothing but boredom the whole time I was listening to it. Everything sound extremely contrived, particularly the vocals, which had no real personality to speak of. I may have reached outside the sub-genre a bit for some of the contrasts I was making both in terms of vocals and musicianship, but the whole thing just came off as purposely generic and lazy. It was a different kind of negative listening experience than most of my other extremely negative reviews, in which I'd liken the listening experience to nails on a chalkboard; but rather an LP's worth of air conditioner noise.

I never really bothered with any of their later material, but I was told that their second album was exactly the same so I opted to skip it. Maybe at some point I will give the band another go just to see what I opted to miss out on, but for now I'm not feeling particularly inclined to do so.
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RichardDeBenthall
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2016 2:46 am
Posts: 300
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2016 3:02 am 
 

hells_unicorn wrote:
I checked out that album at the time mostly due to Noktorn's review because I found it a bit odd to see the sort of revulsion that he expressed towards it targeting a doom/stoner act. I wasn't terribly familiar with the style at the time apart from the seminal Black Sabbath albums that were credited with pioneering both styles, and a few occasional albums by the likes of Budgie and Count Raven that maybe had some peripheral similarity to what they were doing. I basically made a point of trying to sample some better known outfits before reviewing "Age Of Winters", and I particularly focused on bands like Sleep, Electric Wizard and High On Fire. Upon taking to listening to The Sword's controversial album, it became fairly clear that I didn't need all that much experience with the style to fully get what they were doing, and that was sort of my first indication that I was dealing with something pretty vapid.

I managed to blast that thing out 4 times before I started writing about it, and I honestly felt nothing but boredom the whole time I was listening to it. Everything sound extremely contrived, particularly the vocals, which had no real personality to speak of. I may have reached outside the sub-genre a bit for some of the contrasts I was making both in terms of vocals and musicianship, but the whole thing just came off as purposely generic and lazy. It was a different kind of negative listening experience than most of my other extremely negative reviews, in which I'd liken the listening experience to nails on a chalkboard; but rather an LP's worth of air conditioner noise.

I never really bothered with any of their later material, but I was told that their second album was exactly the same so I opted to skip it. Maybe at some point I will give the band another go just to see what I opted to miss out on, but for now I'm not feeling particularly inclined to do so.


That's a fair criticism I'd say. I'd check out Warp Riders though, really good concept album imo.

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SlevinKelevra
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:56 pm
Posts: 540
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Oct 16, 2016 1:27 am 
 

there was a great story in LotFP about Cronise and how that crappy hipster carpetbagging Kemado records came up with the idea of thrusting the Sword onto the "scene"
sadly, it doesn't appear online anymore.

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Twisted_Psychology
Metal freak

Joined: Sat May 16, 2009 8:22 pm
Posts: 4121
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:54 pm 
 

In hindsight, I find it interesting how The Sword has really come to be rather influential in the stoner/doom scene over the last decade. I've been meaning to write a review on this album for some time now...
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xexyzl
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 12:38 pm
Posts: 246
PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:07 pm 
 

I've always found Stoner Doom to be irritatingly trendy, whether it's Sleep, Electric Wizard, or any other lazy deadheads-turned-Sabbath-worshippers band that forms every few weeks now. It's less that they're "false" more that they're just insanely boring.

This is coming from an 'aughts' teenager who listened to Rammstein exclusively for a few years though, so make of that what you will.

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hells_unicorn
Veteran

Joined: Tue Feb 15, 2005 8:32 pm
Posts: 2509
Location: United States
PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 12:07 am 
 

xexyzl wrote:
I've always found Stoner Doom to be irritatingly trendy, whether it's Sleep, Electric Wizard, or any other lazy deadheads-turned-Sabbath-worshippers band that forms every few weeks now. It's less that they're "false" more that they're just insanely boring.

This is coming from an 'aughts' teenager who listened to Rammstein exclusively for a few years though, so make of that what you will.


There's definitely something to the observation that Stoner Doom has become heavily saturated of late, and unlike some other styles it doesn't lend itself well to saturation, mostly due to it's highly limited scope of possibilities. I consider myself an occasional consumer of it, but I can't take it in large doses, which is odd considering that I've done so over various points in the past 8 years with just about every other metal sub-genre including ambient black metal, which is arguably about as limited in scope.
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