A doomy, retro-metal four-piece hailing from Austin, Texas, the Sword draw from a wide array of influences and hard rock subgenres. Combining lyrical themes from fantasy and science fiction, the band emerged in 2006 with the Black Sabbath-leaning Age of Winters. They adopted a more traditional hard rock style for 2012's Warp Riders, an aesthetic that carried over to subsequent efforts like the elemental High Country (2015) and the bluesy, fuzzed-out Used Future (2018), albeit with elements of stoner and progressive metal tossed in for good measure.
First conceived in 2003, the Sword really hit their stride about a year later, when founding vocalist and guitarist J.D. Cronise joined forces with guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie, and drummer Trivett Wingo, and made a much raved-about appearance at Austin's famed SXSW festival. National touring stints with everyone from Clutch to indie rock darlings ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead followed, and by mid-2005, the Sword had been picked up by New York-based indie label Kemado Records, with their debut album, the critically acclaimed Age of Winters, appearing early the next year. Before completing their second long-player, they contributed two songs (one original and one Led Zeppelin cover) to a split 12" EP with Swedish heavy rockers Witchcraft in November 2007. Gods of the Earth arrived in spring 2008 and became the band's first release to make an appearance on the Billboard Top 200 chart.
Changing their muse from fantasy to science fiction and their sound from metal to hard rock, the Sword released Warp Riders in 2010, a concept album featuring an original narrative written by the band. In 2012 they came back from their sci-fi journey with their well-received fourth full-length, Apocryphon, which blended the fantasy elements of their earlier work with a more far-out, metaphysical vibe. The group further tweaked their sound for 2015's High Country, eschewing some of the heavier doom metal tendencies of prior outings for a more streamlined, Southern hard rock feel. Low Country, a companion LP that saw the Sword further strip back their sound and deliver new acoustic versions of the songs from High Country, followed in 2016. The following year, the band issued their first concert album, Greetings From, which was recorded in 2016 during their fall tour supporting Opeth.
The group released the single "Deadly Nightshade" in January 2018, ahead of the release of the Tucker Martine-produced full-length Used Future, which leaned hard into brooding '70s hard rock and arrived later that March. In 2020, the Sword issued a massive two-part rarities compilation and career overview. The first installment, Conquest of Kingdoms, delivered a three-LP set of live, non-album, and previously unreleased cuts, while the second version, the three-disc Chronology 2006–2018, which also featured everything on the vinyl-only release, added 26 of the band's best-loved album tracks to the collection. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia & James Christopher Monger