(Rebellion Records)

A windswept atmospheric intro gives way to the title track which starts with some beautiful sounding guitar melodies before kicking into some nice solid crunchy riffing. The vocals then come in with an immediate commanding presence, clean sung yet rough and ready in style and quite deep in tone which are also very strongly accented and raw in delivery. The band’s sound lies somewhere between thrashy Black Metal and traditional Heavy Metal with a clearly abrasive Punk vibe in quite a few places too. There is a good mix of tempos, from all out uptempo Black Metal influenced parts with tremolo picking, to slower more atmospheric passages with sublime guitar melodies that are definitely folky in parts to all out stomping punky Pagan Metal! The production is very organic and earthy sounding, nothing sounds overproduced, but you can hear every instrument clearly. The snare drum really pops out through the production and the aforementioned guitar melodies really come to the forefront of these epic Metal hymns. The band manages to sound very familiar yet it’s hard to compare them to any one band. There is a mix of Metal / Rock / Punk styles going on and the band obviously has a vast and big melting pot of influences from which they draw from. Elements of old ’80s Metal and Rock, Punk, Black Metal, Pagan Metal and Thrash all rear their ugly heads, LIVE BY THE SWORD have it all. The album cover and back cover featuring a forest in a striking atmospheric blueish mist would definitely instantly make you think they are a Black Metal band and whilst there are definitely obvious Black Metal elements and influences musically here, this is definitely not Black Metal. The inlay also uses atmospheric artwork to great effect too with more blueish mist enshrouded forest and lake imagery. There’s a great use of acoustic guitars too, especially in the track ‘Sundawn’, a sublime acoustic instrumental number, which ends with the sound of a crackling fire that makes this writer envision embers flying off into the dawn sky at sunrise with trees in a forest as the backdrop! ‘Primordial Forces’ starts off with guitar melodies before going into a folky yet abrasive punky Black / Pagan Metal stomp, the tremolo pickings used to good effect again as is the double kick drumming, which really propels those parts. LIVE BY THE SWORD deliver a unique and diverse sounding album that takes you on a journey through many different musical soundscapes. The song ‘Sacrifice’ is definitely a fist in the air type song with its rousing vocals, which see some of the most melodic vocals on the album in parts, which shows that vocalist Erick has more than just one arrow in his vocal armoury. The closing track ‘Voyage To Constantinople’ again has some nice hooky folky flourishes riff and melody wise mixed with an uptempo energetic punky and thrashing vibe musically. This is a very enjoyable listen and the more you listen to it the more hookier it seems to get, definitely a grower and one that takes a few listens to really get into and appreciate properly. LIVE BY THE SWORD manage to be atmospheric and abrasive in equal measure, mixing melody and harshness throughout and are forging their own style of Metal with a punkish edge. Definitely one of those bands who can easily crossover between fans of Black Metal / traditional epic folky Pagan Metal and curb stomping Punk Rock! Pagan Punk Metal?! Whatever it is, this writer enjoyed this album a lot!,

Kat “Shevil” Gillham

Kat "Shevil" Gillham

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