Austin's South By Southwest (SXSW) showcase, the Guitar Hero video game, Metallica and Motorhead figure in The Sword's success.
J.D. Cronise recruited Trivett Wingo and Kyle Shutt to form the Austin band in '03. Cronise and Wingo's had been in a band called Ultimate Dragons. A bit later, Bryan Richie was added.
In short order the Doom Metal band issued an EP, "Freya," which preceded their '05 SXSW appearance. That got them signed to New York's Kemando Records where they released their debut full-length set, "Age Of Winters," the following year. The song "Freya" was featured as a playable track on Guitar Hero II.
'07 saw the arrival of the band's sophomore effort, "Gods Of The Earth." While this was the first album by The Sword to chart it only peaked at #102 on the Billboard 200. Still, The Sword toured extensively, as they had following their debut, as an opening act.
A big break came when The Sword was selected by Metallica to support the latter's '08 European Vacation Tour and the subsequent World Magnetic Tour. The Metallica connection also got "Gods Of The Earth" included on Guitar Hero: Metallica. Selected tracks were also heard in other video games, films and TV shows ("Barael's Blade" on American Dad!).
For their third album, "Warp Riders," Cronise developed a sci-fi concept. In a break from the past, producer and engineer Matt Bayles was brought in. Cronise had produced the band's first two albums.
Before "Warp Riders" was released in '10 The Sword returned to SXSW where they opened for Motorhead.
2006 Age Of Winters
2008 Gods Of The Earth
2010 Warp Riders
2015 High Country
The Sword has been compared to Black Sabbath and Deep Purple - not to mention countless other '70s Metal and Proto-Metal bands. Cronise can come reasonably close to Ozzy and the band rings up Sabbath faithfully. But "Age Of Winters" and "Gods Of Earth" also lean toward early Deep Purple when the band was fronted by the competent but pedestrian Rod Evans. In those days, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (and the other band members) felt obligated to cover the shortfall with impressive solos and elongated instrumental pieces. When Evans was let go and Ian Gillan brought in, Blackmore no longer had to over-extend and did some of his best work. The Sword went through a similar process, though it didn't require a new singer, before finding their footing.