The Sword was long ago stamped with the epithet “hipster metal,” and that isn’t going to change with the release of Warp Riders. The purity police weren’t happy when J.D. Cronise and crew were doing straight-up head-cracking heavy metal, and they aren’t going to be any happier now that The Sword has strayed further into psychedelic and hard-rock territory.
That’s fine, though; it just leaves more for those who are more interested in the music than the label. The concept of Warp Riders, as is the case with most metal-tinged pseudo-rock operas, is a bit impenetrable, but that shouldn’t make a bit of difference, as the music is gripping, intense, and unimpeachably heavy from the psyched-out mania of “Acheron” to the end.
There isn’t a bad song on the record, and it delivers solid stand-outs (“Tres Brujas,” the first single, is a monster) while remaining a surprisingly unified whole. — Leonard Pierce, Onion A.V. Club
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