SWORD - III (Album Review)

SWORD – III (Album Review)

I’m not sure what classifies as a “cult” album. I have my own idea, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter. In my eyes, Sword‘s Metalized album from back in 1986 falls into the “Cult Classic” vein. Many folks in my circles know the band when mentioned, but rarely are they talked about. And outside of my circles, I can’t say I’ve ever seen much mention of Sword. Sad, really as Metalized was one of my favourite albums in days of youth.

Sword are a Montreal, Canada band (actually from Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec south of Montreal) formed in the early 80s by brothers Rick (vocals) and Dan Hughes (drums). Mike Plant handled guitars and bass supplied by Mike Larock. The debut album, Metalized arrived in 1986 with sophomore Sweet Dreams the following year. Failing to make much headway outside of Canada, the band retired shortly after. Rick Hughes formed the glam metal band, Saints & Sinners, in 1992, releasing only one Aldo Nova-produced album before fading away.

According to Encyclopedia Metallum, Sword began life as a “KISS tribute band“. And the ever-reliable Wikipedia reports that “In 2006, Rick Hughes released a solo album called Train d’enfer. Mike Plant plays guitar for the band Porn Flakes“.

Everything Old Is New Again

Now here we are some 36 years later and Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville’s Sword are poised to unleash a brand new album! SwordIII arrives on November 25 via Massacre Records and is available for pre-order now. And even more amazing is that the entire original lineup are all back in the fold for III. Here’s what the press release states:

After years of silence, the guys from SWORD never thought that a box of demos and company rejects from the late 80s would light a fire under their asses, hot enough to want to revisit this (new old stock) in order to actualize it with the vengeance it deserved. The result? You be the judge!

And we now have received an advance listening copy of III around here at CGCM Towers…..and judge is exactly what ye olde Meister shall do!

SWORD – III

I’m excited and a little trepidatious TBH, but I sit down and open up the promo email, poised to click play on SwordIII. First things first, however. Cold beer open and ready, volume jacked up for the neighbours to listen as well, lights off, sitting relaxed and mind clear…..it’s time.

The album begins with “Bad Blood“, some atmospheric air-blowing/whooshing sounds perpetrated with blasts of thundering drums and guitars in periodic attacks. The tune opens up after a few of these blasts. Right off it’s evident that Rick Hughes still has the same vocals prowess and ranges he possessed way back in the 80s. However, sadly “Bad Blood” doesn’t excite me overall as I struggle to see eye to eye with the song.

But by song #2 III is going full tilt with the advance single “(I Am) In Kommand”. I’ve been playing this one a fair bit since I found it. It’s appeared in my radio shows the past few weeks and is also featured in rotation on CGCM Rock Radio station. If this doesn’t give you old men out there a veritable rock boner, you truly are dead. Not even the little blue V pills could save you now. A delicious riff, pounding beat, high-speed pace and by the PR, lyrically concerning “assertiveness, living life without fear or regret“. It’s a “Meister Mantra” to be certain!

Watch the video clip for “(I Am) In Kommand” below.

You Dirty Pig

Wow, track three literally explodes out of my speakers and I reach for the volume even though it’s already loud as hell, it’s not enough. Take that neighbours….or grab a beer and c’mon over! That explosive riff just keeps grinding throughout the track, boring its way into my ear holes. Absolutely love the groove it shows off. “Dirty Pig” lyrically, as reported by the PR, “deals with a very current subject: the abuse of power and trust“. I’m not a dude to deep dive into the lyrics a lot of times, but my air-drumming skills are wildly shown off during “Dirty Pig“. I do, however, love the line “You’ll be the pride of your species rolling around in your feces“.

Surfacing” proves to be a 1:30 interlude. Or an intro to “Unleashing Hell” maybe? No idea, but it’s completely and utterly useless IMO. I hate these things at the start of albums, and even moreso randomly set as a pace break halfway through the album. If it’s meant to be a lead-in intro to the song, then make it part of the song! And FFS, shorten it up so it doesn’t murder the awesome pace that you were ramping up to.

Sword – photo by Richard Chartrand

Unleashing Hell

Absolutely hands down the winning track on SwordIII for me right here! In two words, “fucking incredible“! The opening riff worms its way instantly into the grey matter and the foot is tapping and head nodding even before the rest of the band kick in. It’s an autobiography of sorts, easily sussed out by the opening lines. And according to the PR I’m correct on that: “the group remembers its beginnings:1986 in Montreal making music and rattling walls, in our twenties and standing tall, setting fires in every hall. (1986 in Montreal. Making music and shaking the walls. Twenty-something full of confidence. Setting fires in all the halls).”

Holy monkeys, Rich Hughes has obviously taken good care of his pipes and he delivers some tremendous high-pitched screams embedded here alongside the gritty, gravely, raw verse lines. The rhythm section is absolutely thundering and the riff maintains its deliciousness all the way. What a great track. I can’t wait till I can showcase this one in my radio show….maybe Sword will even want to guest on the show for that! Well, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right?

Spreading The Pain Or The Love?

The vocal venom is abundant here in “Spread The Pain“, another great banger of a track. Man, III overall might even be better than my prized Metalized album!

Took My Chances” is a heavy, slower-paced plodding along-style of composition. Sitting back in my chair here in the dark, I draw a long sip of my cold beer and allow the track to wash over me. It’s actually really heavy, I’m just not a particular lover of slower-paced fare. About halfway through it switches gears a little and ramps up the tempo, finishing off in a crashing climax as it fades out on the screams of Hughes. All the while showcasing the fretworking finger talents of Mike Plant. Extremely well-written track and I can see this one growing on me with repeated listens.

The album closer, “Not Me, No Way” exhibits a frantic pace, thundering along and loaded with meaty riffs, thick beats and wondrous vocals. The track also features a great sing-along-able chorus that I can easily picture as a fist-raiser and shout-along in a concert setting. Something I never do, “Not Me, No Way“…lol.

Meister’s Final Words

At only 8 songs in length and a total runtime of about 35 minutes, this is what an album should be. We don’t need 18-song-long albums (Scorpions I’m talking to you!). Ok…we could have easily done with 2 more to hit up about 45 minutes in length. But overall, I’m extremely happy with SwordIII. In fact, as I said earlier there, I may just mark this one as BETTER than Metalized for my ears! A definite contender for the top 10 favourite albums of the year in 2022! Well done Sword….now to figure out how to see you live somewhere in the world.

Watch the video clip for “(I Am) In Kommand” below.

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SWORD – (I Am) In Kommand (Official Video)

“(I Am) In Kommand” is featured on SWORD’s album “III” – out on 25/11/2022 via Massacre Records – get it here ” https://lnk.to/swordIII Directed by Mike Plant Filmed by Daniel Blackburn & Francis Forcier Drone operator: Francois Girard Edited by Dave Adams https://www.swordmetalized.com * https://www.facebook.com/Sword.Metalized + + + LYRICS +