*Special thanks and/or apologies to Infocom
You are standing in front of a table, on top of which is a dusty boombox. Next to the boombox is a copy of Age of Winters, the new album by Austin retro-doom metalheads, The Sword.
>EXAMINE THE CD
The front cover of the CD features art by Conrad Keely of And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, depicting a fantasy-art painting of a nymphet clutching a sword, whilst surrounded by imagery of knights and magic icons.
>PUT CD IN THE BOOMBOX
The CD is now in the boombox.
As if from nowhere, a menacing, dropped C-sharp tuned guitar crashes through the silence, a two-minute instrumental bit of Sabbath-influenced doom segueing into opener “Barael’s Blade,” a Vorpal sword referencing metal dirge hearkening back to metal’s heyday. J.D. Cronise and Kyle Shutt’s riffs practically create a deafening thunder of distortion, rarely venturing north of their bottom two guitar strings. “Freya,” likewise finds the two guitarists playing slightly faster, while drummer Trivett Wingo, one of the coolest named musicians in rock today, beats mercilessly at his cymbals. In “Winter’s Wolves,” the band even takes to imitating wolves, howling at the moon.
Though the album continues at a steady volume and pace, the guitar work becomes fancier on “The Horned Goddess,” the first minute or so of which contains some of the most righteous, harmonized soloing you’ve heard in quite some time.
You start to swing your head around like a maniac.
>PLAY TRACK SIX
In an unexpected change of pace, the low-tuned guitar chug has been temporarily displaced in exchange for a more hushed, mystical sound on “Iron Swan.” In no time, that quietness erupts into a hyper-speed metal shuffle, the likes of which are mostly absent from the album’s first half. After this song comes “Lament for the Aurochs,” an eight-minute epic beast of a song, transitioning from a four-four signature to a waltz, all the while retaining the band’s knack for pure evil riffage. In spite of some recent retro-metal records from the likes of Early Man and Wolfmother, you haven’t heard anything that rocked this hard in a long time.
>THROW DEVIL HORNS
You throw your horns into the air, looking like a true metalhead.
>PLAY AIR GUITAR
You shred away at your invisible axe, mimicking Shutt and Cronise’s axe work. All of this rocking, all of a sudden, has made you quite hungry.
You step into thin air, plunging down into the rock-filled chasm.
**** You have died. ****
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.