Straight out of the Black Sabbath vault comes Austin’s The Sword with “Age of Winters,” a celebration of the heavy metal of the seventies and eighties, riff-heavy and filled with mysticism and magic, as the vocals soar and tell tales of goddesses, wolves and forests. The band, its record, its live show, approach and delivery are all so wholeheartedly awesome it’s disturbing. Distorted guitars are shredded at a breakneck pace, matched with doomy, thunderous pound-outs. Where have all the guitar riffs gone? Right here.
“When JD [Cronise] put the band together, he definitely had a specific idea [for what he wanted it to be],” says bassist Bryan Richie. “When I joined I was given a CD with seven songs on it, five of which are on the record… .We’re just five dudes who all lived in Austin that wanted to play this kind of music and got along well enough.”
Richie says that the band intends on bringing back “traditional” songwriting. “I don’t think a lot of dudes are writing songs these days,” he says. “It’s not that necessarily we’re doing a throwback to a time period as much as we’re trying to write songs, write riffs. People have lost the art of the riff, we’re filling the void that we saw was there. There aren’t a lot of bands doing this—everyone’s trying to shred circles, and while that’s technically impressing, it’s sometimes difficult to jam out.”
The band, which has toured with …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and is, on this tour, opening for Trivium, didn’t know what to expect from audiences at first. “We just wanted to put out a record,” says Richie, “we didn’t know how people would react. I think people love it. [There are] dudes everywhere who are super stoked on it. We’re a big surprise to a lot of people. We’re just a foursome at a constant 100 bpm.”
A big surprise? “Well, we’re seeing lots of little gaping mouths.” (Tom Lynch)
The Sword plays October 17 at Metro, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-0203, at 6pm. $18.