There's no denying rock and all its bastard children existed before videogames, but more and more there's a feeling that music and electronics are locked in a developmental standoff. This isn't even computer-aided composition being talked about, but rather salt-of-the-earth metal. Because throughout these latest 11 tracks by the Sword — the Austin dungeons and dragons and doom quartet's sophomore full-length — there's a feeling like threading through the latest iteration of an adventure shooter. We've been down this craggy corridor many times, barreling from one epic bulkhead to the next.
Of course, the Sword holds more than a tenuous relationship to platform gaming; "Freya" from 2006's Age of Winters appeared in PlayStation2's Guitar Hero II, and these latest tracks sound perfectly suited yet again for expert-level exertion. But, the most common downfall of a franchise is repetition; you can't just match ferocity and velocity.
The Sword has been brought back in with a theme that's more H.P. Lovecraft than renaissance fair gone feral, featuring production that's cleaner while assertive. Yet Gods of the Earth is merely one unto-the-breach boogie after another, traveling through the fields of Black Sabbath and New Wave of British Heavy Metal, from Norwegian black to Blue Öyster Cult. High on Fire and Saviours have already fiercely blazed this trail. The Sword is playable, sure, but if there's to be another sequel it needs additional innovation, escalation, and equal parts mettle to metal.