Blades of gory 

As Austin outfit The Sword would tell it, it’s a good time to be a heavy metal band.

“People are finally trying some different stuff in heavy metal and hard rock,” frontman J.D. Cronise said. “All too often, bands rely on the traditional way … but traditional metal is funny to me because it’s a tradition lasting all of 30 years. To me, that’s still a relatively new art form, and musicians have realized that we can do something different than the same old thing. There’s a lot of good stuff happening right now.”

It’s with bands like Mastodon, Baroness and Pallbearer that The Sword has helped forge a new, more broadly appealing path for metal, crossing the bounds from metal diehards content with the same old power chords to people who don’t even own a Metallica record.

The Sword made its first strike with 2006’s Age of Winters, following that up with 2008’s Gods of Earth and 2010’s Warp Riders. Its latest, Apocryphon, hit shelves a year ago and comes inspired by the lost books of the Bible.

“It just seemed to sum up perfectly what I try to do lyrically,” Cronise said of the album’s title. “It means ‘hidden teachings,’ and it is the biblical text excluded from the official cannon for various reasons. A lot of the time, it had to do with church elders not wanting their flocks to have access to that knowledge — either thinking they couldn’t comprehend it or that it was a bit too dangerous — and possibly subvert their power over the congregation. That’s perfect for what I want to do. My lyrics are mostly symbolic, but there are still real ideas behind them, and they are meant to stimulate peoples’ imaginations.”

The effort was produced by J. Robbins (Jawbox) and is the band’s first released through the Razor & Tie imprint (Brand New, P.O.D.). The Sword has plans to tour behind the album through the first part of next year, including Saturday’s show at Diamond Ballroom with Clutch.

Cronise is proud to play the songs live in and out each night, thinking it’s the truest Sword album to date.

“When going into it, I said I wanted this album to sound like a sasquatch: big, hairy, tough and heavy, but mysterious as well,” he said. “We wanted something that sounded both powerful and shadowy, and I think we achieved that. A lot of times, I feel like the recordings weren’t capturing our live sound. This one has the balls that our live show does.”

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The Sword interview

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