I first became familiar with Austin metal masters The Sword thanks to a recommendation from a musician friend of mine. One day, not long after I started writing and blogging about music, I was wandering the aisles at Waterloo Records in search of something new to try out. While I was there I got a phone call from this friend, whose taste in music I trust, and they asked me what I was buying.
"I don't know", I said, "I kind of want to pick up some local stuff." "Have you heard of The Sword?" they said. "They're this great new metal band from Austin, and they just put out their first album."I thought...metal? I am a casual fan of the genre, but I don't really buy very much metal. At the time, the last metal album I remembered actually purchasing was Black Sabbath's greatest hits. I was due to break that streak, so I picked up Age of Winters, and the rest is pretty much history. I popped in the album on my way home, and by the time I reached my driveway I was a Sword fan.
Singer-songwriter and guitarist J. D. Cronise recruited guitarist Kyle Shutt and drummer Trivett Wingo to form The Sword in 2003. Bassist Bryan Richie joined the band in 2004, and the New York-based record label Kemado Records signed the band after their SXSW performance in 2005. Age of Winters found its way onto several Austin Top 10 lists in 2006, the song "Freya" was included as a playable song on the 2006 video game Guitar Hero II.
The band achieved their first commercial success with their second studio album, Gods of the Earth, which peaked at #102 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2008. Guitar Hero once again came calling, featuring their song "The Black River" in the game Guitar Hero: Metallica, while also including the track "Maiden, Mother & Crone" in Guitar Hero 5.
Influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, the Melvins, and Iron Maiden, The Sword has gradually become one of the most recognized metal bands on the planet. Along with being featured in the popular Guitar Hero video game series, the band has gigged with Motörhead, toured the world with Metallica, and were chosen as the sole opener for Ozzy Osbourne at the iTunes Roundhouse Festival in London earlier this summer.
The Sword are set to release their highly anticipated third album, "Warp Riders", on August 24. Anchored by an epic science-fiction narrative, the album was recorded with Pearl Jam/Mastodon producer Matt Bayles. According to a press release, the producer saw the band "expanding its range from pure metal to include bone-crunching hard rock at large. Rather than dampening its sound, the band actually sounds more amplified than ever, spewing out some of its most scalding riffs to date and channelling an unearthly bellow from its low end."
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*photo by Ryan Pollack