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Sword - Metalized Review

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Sword - Metalized

Sword - Metalized

Canada has given metal such icons as Voivod and Annihilator, yet bands like Betrayer have struggled to find a worldwide audience. It’s the same way all around the world, with some acts making it big and others resigned to obscurity. This week’s selection from Canada is Sword’s Metalized, an album so extraordinary that it’s inconceivable that Sword couldn’t draw a sustainable following from it.

For an album over 25 years old, there is a lack of retro haze that other underground ‘80s records possess. There aren’t awkward sexual innuendos or a low-quality production to have to adjust the ears to. The music on Metalized sounds relevant, a clear sign of a band who was not trying to fit into a particular genre.

When this album was released back in 1986, metal started to split into differing genres. Thrash metal was prevalent, death metal was getting its footing, and glam metal was the mainstream sensation. Most music fit into these neat, little descriptions. There were bands like Fates Warning and Queensryche messing around with progressive metal, but it was hard to find a band that didn’t squeeze in with the others. Sword, however, found a way to be distinguishable because of its aptitude in avoiding this pitfall.

There was a time where metal was metal, and not a fuzzy group of branching sub-genres. Sword doesn’t play thrash or speed metal exclusively, though some of the tempos on “Outta Control” and “The End Of The Night” may make that apparent. They aren’t a doom group, though “Stoned Again” and “Dare To Spit” rumble with the spirit of late ‘70s/early ‘80s doom metal. Every song works in this fashion, feeling like something heard before, yet comes off as its own entity.

Metalized is not a time waster, taking off with a howling fury of an opener in “F.T.W” and ending less than 35 minutes later with the haunting “Evil Spell.” The band finds a way to be catchy even with a few unsettling lyrics, like in “Children Of Heaven.” A convincing performance by vocalist Rick Hughes just bolsters the validity of the underlying evilness. Hughes is fantastic on this album, screeching like a madman, and getting rough on his voice when appropriate.

The rest of the band could be given recognition as well, from the uproarious solos from guitarist Mike Plant to the kinetic duo of bassist Mike Larock and drummer Dan Hughes. These four guys have that needed connection that any good band should have, and it’s no faults on their part that this album didn’t catch on.

The same can be said about Metalized’s follow-up Sweet Dreams, which did little for their popularity. Sword is still kicking around though, playing live shows and working on a new studio album.

If the past few paragraphs didn’t convince you already, pick up Metalized. It’s not even a difficult choice, and one that has endless value. Why this didn’t become an international hit back in 1986 is one of those great mysteries in heavy metal. The album has held up since its release, with nothing to make it feel dated or a relic of a passé sound. For being one of Canada’s best kept metal secrets, Metalized gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.

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