Artist: Bastard Sword
Album: Bastard Sword I
Release Date: March 3, 2023
Location: Athens, Greece
If you like your guitar work like your BBQ (low and slow) then Bastard Sword may just be the band for you, but don’t worry if you like it fast and heavy they’ve got you too.With their almost self-titled album Bastard Sword I the band really bring the heavy and with that heavy an extra serving of gloom, despair and in other cases raw infectious power and energy.
The band’s sound is somewhere between Black Sabbath, Conan, Orange Goblin and Warning but with some added psychedelic elements thrown into the mix. The album kind of transcends time in that you’ll hear elements ranging from the 60s to 70s mixed in with modern, heavier elements. The transitions between these varied styles are seamless, as if they were meant to be combined. Heavier doom-laden moments open up to free flowing, crisp psychedelic shredding, which transitions into sludge style crushing heaviness. This wide variety of influences gives us some impressive texturing across the tracks, with spacey psych-tinged effects accompanying high energy galloping riffs that would cause even the most reserved listener to begin headbanging in a public place. For me though it’s the band’s ability to take the catchiness of Sabbath influenced riffs and work them into music that is far more varied, heavy and complex. This shows some serious skill not just as musicians, but also as song writers.
Vocally the album has a solid level of variety on display, ranging from more traditional heavy metal style vocals to more gloomy and dramatic doom style vocals with some faded/echoed effects that give it a more mysterious sound. Then we have powerful and commanding harsher, gruffer vocals that are more shouted in nature, almost reminding me of bands such as Orange Goblin.
For me though what really makes the album a standout is the guitar work. Goddamn does this band bring it in this area. Their sound is absolutely massive, and I can’t even imagine how much reverb we would get if we saw them live in a small venue. From the psychedelic shredding to the powerful, plodding, downtuned moments, it’s all just killer. Its extremely obvious that these players know their stuff, they’ve been listening to these genres for a long time and have a clear understanding of what makes them so special. As cheesy as this sounds it was no easy feat to do a favourite tracks selection here, each song is so different and brings its own unique elements to the table.
On the whole though the two main tracks that stood out to me for their heaviness and their old school sound were Il Gigante and Ghost in the Beehive, just killer music from start to finish. As far as the instrumental tracks on the album go I loved Anthropocene and Tooth Rattler, just absolute stunners.
Overall, this is one hell of an album and a solid debut from the band. Seeing as it has 1 in the title it has me hopeful that the band are just getting started and leaves me excited for what will come next. If you like old school fuzz, or modern fuzz or any era of fuzz then do not miss this.
Listen to and order the album: