By Fire and Sword - Glory
Angry Metal Guy 70
When Steel sees a band calling themselves By Fire and Sword with an album bearing the simple title of Glory, grand visions of an armored titan hacking his way through demon hordes on a burning, blood-drenched battlefield come to me. Thusly brimming with barbaric bloodlust, your Beloved Lord of Viking Primates seized the full-length debut by these mysterious men from Boise, Idaho. But a funny thing happened as I girded my hairy loins and sharpened my remorseless war grinder. You see, By Fire and Sword aren’t about the kinds of glory attained by disdaining fortune and splitting skulls. Imagine instead Styper’s bigger, meaner brother, Zebadyper, who’d fallen to drinking and drugging and left the faith only to suffer frightful visions and start an apocalypse cult. And now he wants you to join with him. In Jesus. Forevermore. Welcome to the other kind of Glory.
Opener “Leave a Little Room” was my first, best clue this was not the sword-core I got dressed up for. Did the title refer to an exploitable gap in the armor where I could bury my war axe, I asked myself. Was the little room for extra course salt to rub in my foe’s reeking wounds? No, it turns out the titular room is exclusively for Jesus, and he’s coming in, ready or not. With a guitar-driven sound akin to Wytch Hazel, you’re greeted by meaty, tasty riffs. When the vocals kicked in with a Papa Emeritus meets Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling vibe, my sword hand grew turgid with anticipation of bloody constraint. Then frontman the Reverend Tim Tom Jones (yes, really) started speaking of joining flocks and divine visions, doing so in the forceful, frenzied way a revival church’s proselyting preacher would, making things suddenly uncomfortable. But when the obscenely catchy, very Ghost-y chorus hits supported by sweet Iron Maiden-friendly harmonies, it’s a revelation that ensures the message sticks deep in your holy space. As I grew increasingly concerned that these Boisians were aggressively sincere God-metal types out to lay their testimonials on me, things took another unexpected turn towards the creepy, and bad touchy-grabby, thereby revealing the whole thing as one big, sacrilicious parody of organized religion. We can all get behind that, right?
Anywho, Glory is a shockingly entertaining collection of songs blending traditional and power metal as the band take massive cheap shots at the Christian denomination and splinter religious groups/cults.1 It’s all done with tongue planted firmly in the cheek of Jesus and with an ear for genuine hooks. Not only is “The Feast” a really good song with righteously galloping guitars and a charmingly 80s metal vibe, but the lyrics are some of the best and most hilarious I’ve heard in ages. You can’t help but root for them as they rock their faux-Jesus nut schtick to Hell and back. “Tithe (The Money Song)” Is comedy gold with the Reverend extolling the benefits of giving all your cash to the Lord supported by a Fvneral Fvkk-approved chorus somberly intoning, “You MUST tithe!” Elsewhere, “Glory, Love and Light!” is another infectious tune channeling Theocracy’s power metal energy to drive the party bus into the light, and “The Flood” reminds me of Dark Forest’s twee folksy metal. Every track works and brings an upbeat, God-fearing joy to the sinner’s heart. That said, the 5-plus minute instrumental, “A Moment of Silent Reflection” could stand humble trimming.
Considering the high parody level of the act, the players are very talented and write really good songs. Mike Ward and Artos are gifted guitarists who craft all manner of rollicking traditional metal leads and bring a vibrant power metal sizzle to certain tracks. You hear Maiden, Ghost, Wytch Hazel and Witchfinder General in their playing, and that’s fine by me. The Reverend himself brings a Holy Ghost-like vibe to the vocals, interrupting his Papa E.-esque crooning regularly to deliver dais-banging, fire and brimstone sermonizing. It makes for a uniquely nutty 49 minutes which fly right by. The band’s strength is knowing how to craft hooks that stick you to the cross for the long haul. You might even call the album a passion play of sorts.
I suspect the fallen angels behind By Fire and Sword were exposed to intense religion in their youth, and this is how they take their unholy revenge. I’m not the biggest fan of novelty acts, but this is more than just a joke album. They’re like Fvneral Fvkk — a hokey religious theme supported by legitimately good music and slick writing. Now include the God-tier entry in 2023s band photo sweepstakes above and the hysterical video below and they’ve performed a minor miracle! I’m scoring this a 3.5 because I can’t score it 3.69 or 7.77. Love your fellow man and leave a little room in your heart for these masters of pulpits.2
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse
Websites: byfireandsword.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/bfasboise
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2013
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