Cloak of Feathers
Label: Razor & Tie
Neither as stoner nor as hipster as they get pigeonholed, Austin's The Sword acknowledge metal's Sabbath and Thin Lizzy beginnings without sounding remotely retro. On their fourth album, a new drummer adds plenty of rock, skate, roll and bounce to the meaty riff duels; J.D. Cronise's multiplied singing can come off distanced, but lets up lines you'll remember in almost every song. Pick hits: Goddess epic "Cloak of Feathers"; matched dystopian-ecology eulogies "The Hidden Masters" (dirge) and "Dying Earth" (banger); staccato alien invasion "Execrator"; analog electro-blipped coda "Apocryphon."