The Sword performing in 2013. From left to right: Kyle Shutt, Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III (back), John D. Cronise and Bryan Richie.
|Origin||Austin, Texas, United States|
|Members||John D. Cronise
Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III
|Past members||Trivett Wingo
The Sword is an American heavy metal band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 2003, the band is currently composed of vocalist and guitarist John D. Cronise, guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie and drummer Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III. Originally signed to Kemado Records, the group released its debut album Age of Winters in 2006, the material for which had been largely written by Cronise prior to the band's formation. Gods of the Earth was released two years later, giving the group its first entry on the US Billboard 200 chart.
In 2010 the band released Warp Riders, a concept album centered on an original science fiction narrative, which marked the first time the group had enlisted an external producer – Matt Bayles. Original drummer Trivett Wingo left the group later in the year and was replaced briefly by Kevin Fender, before Vela joined in 2011. After signing with Razor & Tie in 2012 the group released its fourth album Apocryphon, which was promoted worldwide on the Apocryphon Tour. The band's fifth album, High Country, was released in 2015.
The Sword has been categorized as a stoner rock and doom metal band, and is influenced by groups such as Black Sabbath and Sleep. The band has toured with a wide range of fellow rock and metal artists since its formation, including Metallica, Lamb of God and Clutch, and in recent years has also headlined its own tours. The Sword's first album Age of Winters failed to chart, but subsequent releases have all gained increasing commercial success in the US and the UK, with High Country also charting in other regions.
- 1 History
- 1.1 2003–07: Formation, early years and Age of Winters
- 1.2 2007–09: Gods of the Earth and first chart success
- 1.3 2009–10: Change in style and direction on Warp Riders
- 1.4 2010–12: Drummer changes and Warp Riders Tour
- 1.5 2012–14: Record label change and return with Apocryphon
- 1.6 2014–present: International recognition with High Country
- 2 Style, songwriting and influence
- 3 Band members
- 4 Discography
- 5 References
- 6 External links
2003–07: Formation, early years and Age of Winters
After writing and recording music on his own for "a few years", vocalist and guitarist John D. "J.D." Cronise formed The Sword in 2003 with guitarist Kyle Shutt and drummer Trivett Wingo. Speaking about choosing the band's name, Cronise claims that he researched the moniker first and found it "unbelievable" that it hadn't already been used; however, two other bands did already have the name Sword, including a Canadian heavy metal band, and the frontman states he "narrowly escaped litigation hell" before The Sword was finalised.
The trio played their first show together on June 19, 2003 at the Beerland in Austin, and released their first demo Age of Winters before the end of the year. Bassist Bryan Richie joined to complete the four-piece lineup of the band in early 2004. Prior to the formation of The Sword, Cronise and Wingo had performed together in the group Ultimate Dragons in Richmond, Virginia, while Shutt and Richie had worked with multiple bands in Texas "united by a love of Led Zeppelin". Cronise had also performed with a local band called Those Peabodys, but left as he felt he "needed to do something heavier". After their first live performance together as a four-piece at Austin's Sound on Sound Records on March 17, 2004, the band released a self-titled second demo, which was followed the next year by an extended play (EP) entitled Freya.
After performing at the 2005 South by Southwest festival, The Sword was signed by New York-based record label Kemado Records, following a recommendation by Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton. The band released its debut album Age of Winters in February 2006, for which much of the material had been written by Cronise before the band's formation and featured on the band's early demos. In support of the album the band toured throughout 2006 and 2007, with support acts including Lacuna Coil and Trivium in the United States, Nebula and Clutch in Europe, and Lamb of God in Japan. In November 2006 a cover version of the song "Freya" was featured as a playable track on the video game Guitar Hero II, and the original track was later released as the band's first single in September 2007. Age of Winters did not chart, but received widely positive reviews from critics including AllMusic's Eduardo Rivadavia, who described the album as "remarkably well-balanced and almost suspiciously immediate".
2007–09: Gods of the Earth and first chart success
In June 2007 the band contributed a new song, "Under the Boughs" (which was later included on their second album), to the Kemado compilation Invaders. The group also released a split EP with Swedish doom metal band Witchcraft the same month, contributing new track "Sea of Spears" and a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" to the record. Gods of the Earth was the band's second album, released on April 1, 2008. The album, which is much more of a collaborative writing effort than its predecessor, provided the band with its first Billboard 200 chart entry, reaching number 102. In support of the album, the band completed the Gods of the Earth Tour supported by artists such as Machine Head, Lamb of God and Clutch; the quartet also supported heavy metal veterans Metallica on their 2008 European Vacation Tour in July, and returned as the opening act for a number of legs on their 2009 World Magnetic Tour.
A two-disc box set containing the band's first two albums Age of Winters and Gods of the Earth was released on November 25, 2008, and the song "The Black River" from Gods of the Earth was later included on the 2009 video game Guitar Hero: Metallica. The band's music was also featured in the 2009 films Jennifer's Body ("Celestial Crown") and Horsemen ("Maiden, Mother & Crone"), and in March 2009 The Sword won two local music awards: the High Times Doobie Award and the Austin Music Award for Best Metal Artist.
2009–10: Change in style and direction on Warp Riders
The Sword spent the rest of 2009 writing material for their third album, which took the form of "a concept album centered around an original science fiction narrative", and had more of a hard rock sound than the band's previous releases. Some of the new songs were debuted at the 2009 Fun Fun Fun Fest in November, and were also played on "a short regional tour showcasing the new songs" in January. Recording for the follow-up to Gods of the Earth began in February 2010 with Matt Bayles, marking the first time the band had worked with an external producer or engineer (the first two albums were produced by Cronise and engineered by Richie). Recording of the album, titled Warp Riders, was completed by April.
In May, the band contributed to a split release for the second time, covering Thin Lizzy's "Cold Sweat" for a Volcom Entertainment Vinyl Club release with Year Long Disaster, who covered The Sword's own track "Maiden, Mother & Crone". In July, Warp Riders lead single "Tres Brujas" was released as a digital download, and a live EP entitled iTunes Festival: London 2010 (recorded at the iTunes Festival in London on July 3) was also released as an iTunes-exclusive download. Released in August, Warp Riders surpassed the commercial performance of Gods of the Earth when it debuted at number 47 on the Billboard 200, selling almost 9,000 copies in the first week of its release. The band supported Metallica again on a series of September tour dates in Australia, New Zealand and Japan as warm-up for their own Warp Riders Tour, which began the following month.
2010–12: Drummer changes and Warp Riders Tour
Five shows into the opening North American leg of the Warp Riders Tour, The Sword was forced to postpone all dates due to the departure of drummer Trivett Wingo. Explaining his decision to leave, Wingo commented that he felt "physically and emotionally unable to continue on as part of [the band]", and later revealed that he had predicted he would eventually leave the band for "probably a couple of years", justifying his decision by explaining that "my level of anxiety pertaining to being on tour got to the point where medication was not the answer." Upon Wingo's departure from The Sword, the remaining members of the band released the following statement:
|“||We wish Trivett nothing but the best, and it is with heavy hearts that we bid him farewell ... We wish he could continue the adventure with us, but we understand that the life of a touring musician is not for everyone ... The show must go on, though, and will be back on the road as soon as humanly possible.||”|
For the later rescheduled tour dates, Austin-based drummer Kevin Fender, formerly of Employer, Employee, was enlisted as a temporary touring member. The second single from Warp Riders, "(The Night the Sky Cried) Tears of Fire", was released as a limited edition picture disc at the beginning of November backed with previously unreleased B-side "Farstar", and later in the month the video for "Lawless Lands" – part two of the Warp Riders trilogy – was released online. A number of European dates were rescheduled for May 2011, and the third and final Warp Riders music video "Night City" was released in March. The band toured with Kyuss Lives! and MonstrO in the summer of 2011 with new drummer, Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III, formerly of Austin based band, Recover.
In October 2011, Fender was replaced with Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III, and the band saw out the rest of 2011 touring in the US. Guitarist Kyle Shutt later spoke about the drummer changes in an interview in 2012, claiming that Wingo "took a shit all over [the band]" when he left and that Fender was chosen as he already knew how to play the group's songs.
2012–14: Record label change and return with Apocryphon
In March 2012 it was announced that The Sword had signed a worldwide deal with record label Razor & Tie, with plans for a fourth album starting with recording in June and a projected late-2012 release. In May the band released the single "Hammer of Heaven", a song originally recorded in 2003 for the Age of Winters demo and later submitted for inclusion on the soundtrack to the film The Avengers. In the run-up to the recording of their next album, the group only played a few shows in 2012, most notably the Metallica-curated festival Orion Music + More in June, where the band was introduced by Robert Trujillo. 
Working with producer J. Robbins, the group recorded the follow-up to Warp Riders at Magpie Cage Studios in Baltimore, Maryland between June and July 2012. The resulting album, Apocryphon, was released in October 2012 and debuted at number 17 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling over 16,000 copies in its first week and providing a new chart record for the band. The promotional Apocryphon Tour commenced the following week in the US, and continued across the world throughout the rest of 2012 and 2013.
2012 and 2013 also saw The Sword expanding into business ventures outside of music, beginning in September 2012 with the release of the band's own brand of hot sauce called Tears of Fire. The sauce, which is made with the 'ghost pepper' Bhut Jolokia, was first announced and revealed on the Travel Channel series Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on September 3, before going on sale to the public the following day. This was followed in October by the release of the band's first line of beer, Winter's Wolves Beer, produced by Baltimore, Maryland-based brewery Oliver Ales, and in July 2013 by a second line of beer, Iron Swan Ale, produced by Texas-based Real Ale Brewing Co. A series of release shows for "Iron Swan Ale" were held in Texas. In 2014, "The Hidden Masters" and "Arcane Montane" were released together as a set of 7" vinyl singles, with electronic remixes of each song by artist Dylan C (Dylan Cameron).  Later that year the band collaborated with BMX company Subrosa Brand on its own branded BMX model, a first of its kind, featuring artwork by Apocryphon artist J. H. Williams III and named "The Stormwitch" after the song, "Eyes of the Stormwitch". The bike was designed by Subrosa Brand and drummer Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III, a former BMX rider. 
2014–present: International recognition with High Country
Writing for The Sword's fifth album began in late 2014, which was then recorded between March and April 2015 at Church House Studio in Austin Texas with former Grupo Fantasma guitarist Adrian Quesada as producer, and Grammy Award winner Stuart Sikes engineering.  Prior to starting recording, the group also embarked on a short tour between March 11 and 14, visiting four cities in Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma. High Country was released on August 21 and the High Country Tour began in Europe on the same day. The album was the band's first to chart outside of the US and UK, reaching number 74 on the Australian Albums Chart and number 91 on the German Albums Chart. It reached number 30 on the US Billboard 200. On December 21st, 2015, The Sword partnered again with Real Ale Brewing Co. for a Texas-wide release of their 3rd official beer, "Ghost Eye Oatmeal Stout", named after the song, "Ghost Eye", with a release show held at Paper Tiger in San Antonio Texas.
In April 2016, the band released a 7" of "John the Revelator" a Son House classic, for Record Store Day. On September 23rd, 2016, the band released "Low Country" via Razor & Tie. "Low Country" features stripped down, acoustic versions of ten of the songs from "High Country", produced by bassist Bryan Richie at The Bend in Austin Texas and The Berry in Taylor Texas. It was mixed by J. Robbins at Magpie Cage Studios in Baltimore Maryland. The band released an exclusive "fall foliage" colored vinyl version of "Low Country" via their merchandise distributor Indiemerch, hand stuffed and numbered and limited to 500, with artwork by Richey Beckett. 
Style, songwriting and influence
The Sword has been categorised as doom metal and identified as an example of the 'classic metal' movement of stoner rock artists influenced by early metal bands such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer. With the release of Warp Riders, members of the band acknowledged that fans with a more "narrow-minded" view of heavy metal may feel alienated by stylistic changes. Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic described the band on Age of Winters as being "at the forefront of … the 'heritage' or 'retro metal' movement," comparing their style to that of heavy metal veterans Black Sabbath and vocalist Cronise to Ozzy Osbourne. Rolling Stone has also likened the band to Sabbath.
While every member of the band contributes to the musical compositions, Cronise is the primary writer of the band's lyrics. He often uses Norse mythology as a topic in his lyrics, notably in the song "Freya", but cites literature as his main influence, identifying such authors as George R. R. Martin, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft and Arthur C. Clarke as inspirations. On Warp Riders, Cronise was again credited for writing all the lyrics, and only guitarist Kyle Shutt was added to the credits for the musical compositions.
The band has cited Black Sabbath as a major influence, in addition to doom trio Sleep, sludge band the Melvins, thrash veterans Slayer, and heavy metal icons Iron Maiden and Deep Purple, among others. The band's guitarists, in discussions of their musical influences, have identified 'classic' metal guitar players such as James Hetfield of Metallica, Pantera's Dimebag Darrell and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, and Cronise has also described Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) as a "huge influence." In an interview with entertainment newspaper The A.V. Club, Cronise also revealed that local metal band HRM, rock musician Bob Seger and R&B singer Michael Jackson have been influences on The Sword's sound.
- Age of Winters (2006)
- Gods of the Earth (2008)
- Warp Riders (2010)
- Apocryphon (2012)
- High Country (2015)
- Ziemke, Mark (March 4, 2008). "The Sword are Gods of the Earth". Ground Control. Archived from the original on March 8, 2008. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "The Sword: Biography & History". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
- "The Sword". Kemado Records. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved September 27, 2008.
- Harris, Chris. "The Sword". MTV. Archived from the original on April 15, 2006. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
- "Past Shows". The Sword. Archived from the original on May 29, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- "Craftsmanship". The Sword. Archived from the original on September 29, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- McLennan, Scott (October 5, 2006). "The Sword takes a slice at vintage heavy metal". Telegram & Gazette. New Media Investment Group.
- Pierce, Leonard (December 29, 2008). "J.D. Cronise of The Sword". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- Schroeder, Audra (February 3, 2006). "Winter's Wolves: The Sword's land of ice and snow". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 19, 2009.
- "The Sword". Encyclopaedia Metallum. Retrieved September 14, 2008.
- "Past Shows". The Sword. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
- Roper, Chris (October 9, 2006). "Guitar Hero II Final Tracklist Revealed". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved October 11, 2008.
- "Freya/Iron Swan - The Sword: Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved October 11, 2008.
- Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Age of Winters - The Sword: Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
- Jurek, Thom. "Invaders - Various Artists: Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Billboard 200: The Sword Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Show Archive". The Sword. Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword To Support Metallica In Europe". Blabbermouth.net. April 8, 2008. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Harris, Chris (August 11, 2008). "Metallica To Embark On First North American Tour In Four Years". MTV. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- "The Sword Release Limited Box Set, 2008 Winter Tour with Metallica". Ground Control. November 19, 2008. Archived from the original on January 8, 2009. Retrieved December 8, 2008.
- "'Guitar Hero: Metallica': Complete Track Listing Revealed". Blabbermouth.net. January 23, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Phares, Heather. "Jennifer's Body - Original Soundtrack: Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Horsemen (2009) - Soundtracks". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- Cowan, Darren (March 20, 2009). "2009 High Times Doobie Awards". Blistering.com. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- "Best Performing Bands". Austin Music Awards 2008. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- "The Sword Almost Done Writing New Album". Blabbermouth.net. August 20, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Exploring Sci-Fi Concept On New Album". Blabbermouth.net. March 9, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword To Debut New Material At Fun Fun Fun Fest". Blabbermouth.net. October 17, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword 'Nearing Completion Of Writing Process' For Next Album". Blabbermouth.net. December 10, 2009. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Taps Producer Matt Bayles For New Album". Blabbermouth.net. February 11, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Completes Work On New Album". Blabbermouth.net. April 9, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Covers Thin Lizzy's 'Cold Sweat' For New 7" Single". Blabbermouth.net. February 20, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword: New Song Available". Blabbermouth.net. July 12, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword: 'iTunes Festival: London 2010' EP Available". Blabbermouth.net. July 20, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword's 'Warp Riders' Lands In U.S. Top 50". Blabbermouth.net. September 1, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Fear Factory, The Sword To Support Metallica In September". Blabbermouth.net. August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Drummer Quits". Ultimate Guitar Archive. October 12, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Ex-The Sword Drummer: 'I Reached My Own Personal Breaking Point As Far As My Panic And Anxiety'". Blabbermouth.net. October 13, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword: Temporary Drummer Announced, U.S. Tour Dates Rescheduled". Blabbermouth.net. November 4, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "Monster Magnet 'Mastermind' Box Set, The Sword Picture Disc Released Through 'Metal Club'". Blabbermouth.net. October 28, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Derogatis, Katie (November 23, 2010). "New Sci-Fi Video from the Sword". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
- Belton, Greg (February 27, 2011). "UK tour for The Sword". The Music Fix. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
- "The Sword Announce UK Tour Dates". Rock Sins. February 23, 2011. Retrieved March 1, 2011.
- "The Sword: 'Night City' Video Released". Blabbermouth.net. March 31, 2011. Retrieved April 7, 2011.
- "Monstro: New Song Available For Free Download". Blabbermouth.net. June 28, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Robinson, Joe (October 17, 2011). "The Sword Name Santiago 'Jimmy' Vela III as Permanent Drummer". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
- "The Sword Announces New Drummer". Blabbermouth.net. October 17, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- Magnotta, Andrew (November 14, 2012). "An Interview with Kyle Shutt from The Sword: Here We Go Again". The Aquarian Weekly. Arts Weekly. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- "The Sword Sign New Worldwide Deal with Razor & Tie". Guitar Player. NewBay Media. March 26, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword: Previously Unreleased 'Age of Winters'-Era Track Available on iTunes". Blabbermouth.net. May 1, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Steffen, Chris (June 24, 2012). "Metallica Bring Thrash and Power to Opening Day at Orion". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Lazar, Rachel (July 27, 2012). "The Sword On 'Huge Sounding' Fall Album 'Apocryphon'". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword's 'Apocryphon' Cracks U.S. Top 20". Blabbermouth.net. October 31, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
- "The Sword Announces U.S. Headlining Tour". Blabbermouth.net. September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "The Sword Partners With Real Ale Brewing for Iron Swan Beer". Blabbermouth.net. June 10, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- Colwell, Matthew (August 30, 2012). "The Sword releasing their own hot sauce, Apocryphon due out October 22". Alternative Press. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- "The Sword Release "Hidden Masters"/"Arcane Montane" 7" Remix Set". Theprp.com. February 9, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2014.
- "The Sword To Release Their Own BMX Bike 'The Stormwitch'". Theprp.com. October 17, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- "The Sword Preparing New Album". Theprp.com. November 17, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- "The Sword To Enter Studio In March". Blabbermouth.net. February 2, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- Bowar, Chad (February 2, 2015). "The Sword Book Mini-Tour + Upcoming Studio Time for New Album". Loudwire. Townsquare Media. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
- "The Sword To Release 'High Country' Album In August". Blabbermouth.net. June 2, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
- Ryan, Gavin (August 29, 2015). "ARIA Albums: Disturbed Debuts At No 1 In Australia". Noise11. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
- "28 August, 2015". Top 100 Albums Charts. GfK Entertainment. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
- "The Sword Release Vinyl 7" Of "John The Revelator" For Record Store Day". Razor & Tie. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- "The Sword To Release New Acoustic Album "Low Country"". Theprp.com. August 11, 2016. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
- Harris, Chris (November 24, 2009). "The Sword 'Will Absolutely Alienate' Some Fans on Third Album". Noisecreep. Townsquare Media. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
- "Gods Of The Earth: The Sword". Rolling Stone. May 15, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
- Owen, Rhonda (November 21, 2008). "Crediting forebears, The Sword plays old-school 'hipster metal'". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. WEHCO Media.
- DeRogatis, Jim (October 15, 2006). "A 'Winters' tale: How a bunch of metalheads got together and cranked out some buzz". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group.
- Warp Riders (Media notes). The Sword. Kemado Records. 2010.
- DeMasi, Vincent (March 1, 2006). "The Sword". Guitar Player. NewBay Media.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Sword.|