The men of the Sword are so devoted to vintage werewolf-rock touchstones that it's hard to know whether they're celebrating the style or satirizing it. After all, Austinites J.D. Cronise, Kyle Shutt, Bryan Richie and Trivett Wingo describe themselves using classic Dungeons & Dragons-style verbiage ("Before forging the blade, the Swordsmiths underwent fasting and ritual purification"), and the illustration of a winsome wench on Age of Winters, their new disc for Kemado Records, recalls the sort of wall hangings sold in '70s-era magic shops. Moreover, numbers such as "Iron Swan" hew so closely to the rudiments of the genre -- mammoth mounds of guitar, galumphing grooves, puncture-proof vocals -- that they could serve as official anthems for Hesher Nation. In the end, though, the Sword-wielders' intentions matter not a whit, since the sheer pleasure Cronise and his cohorts exhibit when slashing through songs is just as infectious whether they're joking or not. To put it another way, the Sword, which shares this bill with Early Man, Priestess and Invisible Orange, is definitely double-edged.
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