THE SWORD
Doom Metal • United States

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US band THE SWORD was assembled on the initiative of composer J. D. Cronise (vocals, guitars) in 2003, with Kyle Shutt (guitars) and Trivett Wingo (drums) hooking up with Cronise the same year, while Bryan Riche (bass) followed in 2004. They had their live début on March 18th of 2004, and shortly after released their first demo tape, "The Sword".

A gig at the important South by Southwest festival landed the band a contract with New York-based label Kemado Records, and shortly after they hit the studio.

In February 2006 the result of these studio sessions was issued as "Age of Winters", a production first and foremost assembled by compositions penned by Cronise prior to the formation of The Sword. Extensive gigging followed to promote the, with concerts in Europe and Japan besides their native US, opening for bands such as Lacuna Coil, Lamb of God and Clutch. This was very
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THE SWORD Discography

THE SWORD albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.25 | 7 ratings
Age of Winters
Doom Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 4.16 | 6 ratings
Gods of the Earth
Doom Metal 2008
.. Album Cover 4.25 | 4 ratings
Warp Riders
Doom Metal 2010
.. Album Cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
Apocryphon
Doom Metal 2012

THE SWORD EPs & splits

THE SWORD live albums

THE SWORD demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

THE SWORD boxset & compilations

THE SWORD singles (3)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Freya
Doom Metal 2007
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Fire Lances of the Ancient Hyperzephyrians
Doom Metal 2008
.. Album Cover
3.50 | 1 ratings
Tres Brujas
Doom Metal 2010

THE SWORD movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

THE SWORD Reviews

THE SWORD Warp Riders

Album · 2010 · Doom Metal
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Warthur
On Warp Riders, the Sword shift their lyrical outlook to embrace cosmic SFnal concepts whilst they musically stay on a broadly stoner rock-oriented trajectory. Continuing their efforts to move beyond the Black Sabbath-inspired sound of their debut album, this time around they draw on a broader hard rock palette of influences - I personally detect more than a little Uriah Heep here and there. Cronise and Shutt do their usual excellent job on the riffs, and whilst it isn't a release which is dripping with originality and doesn't grip me to the same extent that Gods of the Earth did, it's still a strong entry in the Sword discography.

THE SWORD Apocryphon

Album · 2012 · Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Conor Fynes
'Apocryphon' - The Sword (6/10)

Something I’ll never quite be able to understand is the fascination with the throwback riff metal sound. Although I’m as much a fan of Black Sabbath as the next guy, the idea of taking the sound of the 1970’s and reviving it forty years after the fact has rarely appealed to my taste as a listener. Mind you, as this sort of music goes, The Sword have long been at the top of their class. With each album leading up to “Apocryphon”, they have managed to up their game somehow, whether it was through developments in their style or improvements in the way they brought their retro-rock to the recorded medium. On “Apocryphon”, this experience and momentum has certainly paid off, and as a result, it’s one of the tightest-sounding records you’re bound to hear this year. Sadly, The Sword fail to back up their expert craft with the sort of innovation I’d hope for from a band with such a bold reputation. For the listener looking for some swell riffs and rich guitar tones, “Apocryphon” is ideal. Regardless, I’m left feeling a little underwhelmed.

First, I’d like to say that The Sword are masters when it comes to the execution and presentation of their product. In both the production- which is organic and expertly mixed- and the gorgeously psychedelic artwork, The Sword have a perfect frame to present their tunes through. Although the studio has translated the gritty guitar distortion into something very clean-cut, there’s no shortage of heaviness in their riffs. The drums and bass are equally powerful, with Santiago Vela’s percussion coming across as especially impressive. Stylistically, I found myself almost instantly reminded of Black Sabbath, as if “Apocryphon” was picking up where the first three or four Sabbath albums left off. There’s tons of Iommi worship in these riffs, although the heaviness is offset by a moderately psychedelic atmosphere and extremely melodic set of clean vocals, both reminiscent of where Mastodon took their sound last year with “The Hunter”. Although the riffs tend to stick to the bluesy pentatonic realm of classic metal canon, there’s plenty of meaty energy behind each lick and power chord.

Of course, The Sword are not the only ones who have narrowed in on this particular way of doing things. Although it’s been executed with excellence, there’s little else about “Apocryphon” that helps it stand above the hordes of other stoner metal records out on the market. Although “Cloak of Feathers” and the closing title track each distinguish themselves for their strength of songwriting, the songs on “Apocryphon” tend to rehash the same increasingly tired tricks. Granted, there are a few curveballs thrown along the way- I definitely wasn’t expecting a synth intro to the closer!- but The Sword’s songwriting generally tends to play it safe, eschewing any sort of intent to grow beyond what they have done on albums past.

Although the album seems to trail off anti-climactically, therein lies one of The Sword’s most brilliant ideas on “Apocryphon”: it feels the structural intention of the album is to listen to it on cyclical repeat, rather than an ordinary ‘start-to-finish’ affair. With the band playing the album tracks in reverse live and certain lyrics (“The serpent eats its tail”) as clues, The Sword seem to have very subtly incorporated a conceptual element to the album. Of course, it may simply be e looking for an added layer of cohesiveness in an album that feels lacking something important. In spite of its killer production values and impressive musicianship, “Apocryphon” feels bland, and in need of something to break the blues riff-induced monotony. It makes for an enjoyable afternoon, but I think some innovation to the style could have made the album great.

THE SWORD Gods of the Earth

Album · 2008 · Doom Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
The Sword's first album was a solid piece of throwback metal; the very capable followup, Gods of the Earth, is a crushing stoner metal classic which manages to sound simultaneously ancient and modern. On the one hand, the recording and compositional approach taken here clearly draws on both the bands and the general thematic moods of the 1970s metal scene, whilst on the other hand they are no longer out to merely mimic old bands but seem determined to carve out their own sound. Raucous, rowdy, and fast, this is almost outside of the doom metal category altogether were it not for a few slow and punishing riffs here and there. Recommended for any doom or stoner metal fans who like a big dose of proto-metal on the side.

THE SWORD Age of Winters

Album · 2006 · Doom Metal
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Warthur
The Sword's debut album Age of Winters is a credible piece of retrogressive doom metal which will please most fans of Black Sabbath, Budgie and other early practitioners of doomy, fuzzed-out proto-metal. The band's dual guitar lineup allows them to add a bit more complexity to their material, so the end result, whilst quite true to their influences, also sounds different enough to give them their own musical niche and an appeal which extends beyond the mere nostalgia which less capable retro-doom bands sometimes slip into pandering to. As evidence that this style of proto-metal has a future decades after its original inception, Age of Winters is compelling stuff.

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