Lords [I]Swords[/I] Review

Louisville, Kentucky has been one of the most important cities in punk and hardcore for the better part of the last two decades, arguably contributing more to its continuing evolution than many other cities or even regions combined. Bands like Guilt and Endpoint tested the musical and emotional limits to which hardcore could be taken, while the Brothers Patterson (of Initial Records, Breather Resist, Coliseum, Black Widows, etc. fame) have been responsible for discovering, putting out or playing in just about everything worthwhile for the last ten years. Lords’ Initial Records debut last year turned quite a few heads with the band’s frantic combination of noise and punk into catchy, minute-long bursts, and with Swords, their second album (and first for Jade Tree), Lords have found the perfect fit of production and songwriting to highlight their unique musical approach.

At its most basic, Lords’ music is pure American punk rock, following in the footsteps of the Circle Jerks and Black Flag. However, laid upon that punk foundation are layers of everything from Fugazi to the Pixies to Le Shok. At the heart of nearly every discordant, abrasive track is an up-tempo rock beat, as suitable for dancing as it is for headbanging. Lords have tapped into an energy so fresh and pure that enjoying Swords wasn’t even really a matter of taste or choice; From the first listen, I was hooked. The complete lack of silence or breaks on this record kept me listening the whole way through each time, and its brevity (just over twenty minutes) lent itself to repeat listening.

While I woudn’t tout its variety as one of the strongest points of the album, Lords does mix things up enough in a short period of time to avoid being repetetive. "She Is The Last" slows down to a mid-tempo, which feels about twice as slow by contrast with the rest of the record. Tracks like "Snake It" and "Beauty Sleep" stand out thanks to particularly strong guitar lines. Chris Owens’ control of his voice, whether it be during a pained scream or an animalistic growl, often highlights Lords’ surprisingly good lyrics, particularly on tracks like "Two Lies" and "Curse of Clear Vision."

Bottom Line: I’ve heard dozens of records so far this year and few have grabbed hold of me as quickly and powerfully as Lords’ Swords. Fans of their previous material will be pleased with the band’s growth and first-time listeners honestly can’t know what to expect. With 2005 more than half over, this album is easily one of the year’s best.

OUR RATING – 9 /10

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