SWORD – Metalized (1986 Aquarius/Capitol)
I was watching the Pepsi Power Hour one afternoon in the 10th grade when they debuted the first video from Quebec metallers Sword — a song called “F.T.W.” My best friend Bob and I were both watching that day, and we got into the song big time. I was recording and we went back and played the video two or three more times. Later on, lead throat Rick Hughes was in the MuchMusic studio live, and explained that some people thought that “F.T.W.” stood for something else; the chorus of of the song goes “Follow the Wheels”. The song is about bikers, but some assumed the song “F.T.W.” stood for “Fuck the World”. I discovered this first hand when I scrawled the Sword logo on my Math notebook, along with the initials F.T.W. The kid behind me didn’t believe me when I told him I meant it as “Follow the Wheels”.
We were blown away by “F.T.W.”, a galloping metal song with gritty vocals. Bob and I agreed that Rick Hughes had the power and grit of a guy like Dee Snider, but the music was borderline thrash metal. A couple years later, when I signed up for Columbia House music club, I ordered the album Metalized on cassette. It was every bit as heavy as “F.T.W.” and then some. It seemed to lie somewhere between W.A.S.P. or Anvil and Megadeth. It was on the heavier side of music that appealed to me but I gave the album a shot. (That is, until the cassette got eaten. Capitol Records were issuing some of the worst quality cassette tapes in Canada in the 1980’s and Metalized was one more victim.)
The second single was a track called “Stoned Again”. Hughes clarified on Much that the lyrics are not meant to promote drug use, which I was relieved to learn. Either way it takes the tempo back from breakneck for a bit, instead throwing in a heavy groove. “Stoned Again” was every bit as great as “F.T.W.,” and perhaps a bit forward thinking. A few years later, Pantera would be eating up and chewing out songs like “Stoned Again” at a furious pace.
The rest of the album stands up. It’s a bit singular in direction, the songs suffering from a certain sameness. The production is echo-y and typical of many albums of this period. The rest of the music is virtually all up-tempo, with vicious vocals and biting riffs. Each song is executed expertly, the guys were not slouches on their instruments, and Hughes could let loose some chandelier-shattering screams. On “Outta Control” he’s Ian Gillan during the Sabbath phase! Another highlight is “Runaway” which features a cool Maiden-esque intro riff and a decent chorus.
“Pee away, buddy!” – Dave Mustaine
Metalized is an enjoyable but non-essential romp through the tundra of heavy Canadian metal. Our winters may be cold but this Sword was clearly forged in fire.