The Sword

Dec. 10 • The Mad Hatter

It might surprise you to learn that there was a time when Metal was the domain of badass guitarists and hammer-and-tong rhythm sections, well before spandex and hairspray became an accepted part of the presentation. Back in those days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth (and its stages), Metal was defined by thundering riffs, blistering solos, paint-peeling volume and a bottom end heavier than Pavarotti on Jupiter, exemplified by the likes of Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Budgie and their fist-pumping brethren.

Rising up half a decade ago from their unlikely birthplace in Austin, Tex., The Sword sets the controls for the heart of the 1970s and churns out a soundtrack as dense and dark as a black hole and every bit as gravitationally compelling. They've clearly proven that Metal audiences are ready to go forward into the past, as fans pushed the quartet’s 2008 sophomore album, Gods of the Earth, into the top slot on Billboard’s Heatseekers and New Artists charts in the album’s debut week.

With equal footing in Metal’s sludgy past as well as its contemporary Doom translation, The Sword also take a page from Prog Rock’s playbook. The band’s latest album, Warp Riders, is a concept album built around a science-fiction narrative envisioned by guitarist J.D. Cronise.

Expectations for the Warp Riders tour were certainly heightened by the album’s commercial success — it was the first Sword release to crack Billboard’s Top 50 in overall sales — but the tour was put on hold when original drummer Trivett Wingo decided against hitting the road again. Longtime friend Kevin Fender has joined the band to bring Warp Riders to Doom-laden life, and so the show goes on.

If Phil Spector invented the Wall of Sound, then The Sword should get credit for building the Great Wall.

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