The Sword

The buzz surrounding the release of Metallica's new album has centered on one — and only one — argument: Does Death Magnetic succeed in its attempt to recapture Metallica's glory days? The answer, as most discerning music fans know, is irrelevant. Metallica's glory days were more than 20 years ago, and in that time, the metal universe has continued to expand. Meanwhile, bands like the Sword have nonchalantly come along to reclaim the sonic mantle of aggressive, modular thrash metal that is epic in scope without being ostentatious. This Austin-based band is shameless in its admiration of metal's '80s golden age, but it's equally serious about putting that sound in a modern context. In fact, the Sword's easy evocation of the era's magnificence makes it all the more surprising that it was tapped to open some dates for Metallica's Death Magnetic tour later this year; the way the band guilelessly bashes out its metal is in stark contrast to Metallica's belabored efforts. Need proof? Just compare the Technicolor stomp of "The Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians," the first single from the Sword's new album, to the waffling blah of "The Unforgiven III" on Death Magnetic and it should be clear whose time has come and whose time has passed.

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Jason Ferguson