Austin’s metal revivalists The Sword release epic new album Warp Riders
By Joe Kovack
The sky is dark and ominous. Clouds mask what light the moon does create. Evil is afoot and dangerously close. The hero walks to the top of the hill with determination and grit, burdened by his task and the weight of his scepter. As he contemplates the fate which may be, a torrent of wind begins to encircle the mound, creating a vortex of uncertainty. With the preternatural presence approaching, the hero grabs his weapon and thrusts it into the sky with the might of many, unleashing the power which can destroy all: the sword.
It is this type of mental scenery that The Sword evokes when one listens to their ambitious style of heavy metal and classic rock. Their pulse pounding riffs lead the charge with an energetic percussion that fuels the beast. It is a presence that has been somewhat lost in the age of mainstream rock and metal, the infusion of the grand styling of classic rock with the energy and guts of the new progressives, and it places The Sword in a cast of a few bands whose sound is as reminiscent of the old as it is original.
Forming in the early 2000’s, the Austin, Texas band established themselves quickly as a hard-hitting force of metal in a town where rock bands seek, yet don’t always find, glory. Dispelling a rumor that the band formed while watching lead singer/guitarist J.D Cronise perform a solo show, drummer Trivett Wingo spoke to The Marquee during a recent interview about the band’s beginnings. “J.D. and I went to high school together and played in another band before The Sword for a couple years. He did do a solo show, but that had nothing to do with the band forming. Kyle [Shutt] joined up, then I moved to town. But, Bryan [Richie] was at a Sword show where we asked if anyone in the audience would like to play bass, and then he joined after that,” Wingo said. Humble beginnings for a band that conjures the very spirit of hard rock at its core.
Having spent the past two years recovering from the success of their second album Gods of the Earth, The Sword released their third album just this August. Warp Riders is an evolution in songwriting and storytelling, with the band calling this “their most ambitious album to date,” a statement fans will no doubt agree with after just one listen. Riddled with lore of science fiction and mythological imagery, their first concept album is a journey of grand proportions musically and lyrically, and was created out of the desire for change and Cronise’s literary influences. “You would have to ask J.D but I think the idea was partly that it’s a lot easier to write an album when it’s about one big thing rather than having to come up with 10 different unrelated little things. This is the first album that we didn’t almost entirely record ourselves, so the producer we hired, Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam/Mastodon), definitely left his imprint on it sonically. We did a lot more tuning and a lot more takes and spent a lot more time making everything clean and smooth,” Wingo said.
The change is clear when one listens to Warp Riders. It’s a portrait of a band that has developed and honed their sound to the point of almost perfect execution and precision. Cronise’s vocals compliment without overshadowing, and with his and Shutt’s guitars sharing the lead, each impose their dynamic style that drives their sound to soaring heights. They’ve even garnered comparisons to monstrous classical rock acts, most notably Black Sabbath. “Black Sabbath is a flattering comparison. I don’t think anyone would deny that. They have influenced probably every great metal band, but there are countless other influences too numerous to name, many of which are about as important for us,” Wingo said.
The Warp Riders Tour began in September and reaches Denver in early October. Though the band hasn’t had a headlining tour in two years, recently opening up for Metallica and Motörhead have helped keep the band on their toes and ready to execute their own fiery brand of ubiquitous, galloping-at-a-frenzy metal. “It is very exciting. A little bit scary. We really have to get back in shape and take command,” Wingo said. “On this tour we’re really gonna lay it down with lots of old ones and lots of new ones so everyone should be pleased. And we love Denver, it’s on our top-five U.S. cities list.”
With their enthusiasm mounting and a self-proclaimed “best record to date,” the Ogden on October 6 will be transcended from a twentieth century theatre to a mythological land of epic riffs and galloping beats that conjure the hero in all.
:: The Sword ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: October 6 ::