By Dr. Abner Mality
One absolute truism of the metal business is that no band ever breaks up forever. They can be on the shelf for 40 years and still come back. It hasn’t been quite that long for Canada’s SWORD, but it’s been plenty long enough. Some comebacks are a joke. Not this time. These guys were known for pure metal power in the 80’s and “III” proves they still have that knack without missing a step.
This really is the pure stuff. There’s no nod to thrash or speed metal or grunge or any other sub-genre. This is unalloyed steel. The sound on this album is so rich and powerful, it just about blows your head off. Amazing production on all instruments! And the sharpest weapon in SWORD’s scabbard is the platinum larynx of Mr. Rick Hughes. This guy was born to be a metal singer. Clear, crisp and clean, his voice just rings like a bell and has melody that lasts for days. And there is a definite melodic edge of the band, reminiscent of the early DOKKEN. They take that sound and beef it up with the heft of a METAL CHURCH or ACCEPT in full flow. The result is the straight metal glory of “III”.
The album is brief and they don’t overstay their welcome. The riffs start coming with “Bad Blood” and there’s a lot of thundering metal to go around, with guitarist Mike Plant laying in some hot solo work. Very hard to pick a top track here, but there was something about “Dirty Pig” that just loosened every muscle in my neck. Pure power! “Unleashing Hell” chugs along like the best of ACCEPT, a definite cruncher. “Took My Chances” has more of that early DOKKEN feel, but speeds up to a real headbanger in the mid-section. It’s all good, as the hippies say.
There are actually a lot of good “true” metal bands and albums out there, but few cut deeper or harder than SWORD.