As if by magic, The Sword swirls and sways throughout its heavy landscape with a flourishing melodic ease amid its own crushing thunder. Clearly disciples of Black Sabbath and its ilk, the Austin-based band colors way outside the lines and restrictions put upon them by the casual or lazy listener.
The Sword shuns the prison of the pigeonhole, and has done so since its inception in 2003. "Stoner" gets thrown around, and so does "doom" and "metal." But this band is as thoughtful as it is dark — especially on its most recent Razor & Tie album, "High Country." There are hints of psychedelia, but with restraint when most bands would simply pin it in the red. This fearsome foursome rides the clutch.
The guitars cascade and collide at times, weaving in and out of the chug and subtle pastel synthetic wash. It's deadly and dynamic, with thoughts provoked mid-head bang. There is a story going on here; there's a lyrical narrative. The band has charted in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, had its music featured on "Guitar Hero," and was handpicked by Metallica to open its European Vacation Tour back in 2008.
We shot some questions at guitarist Kyle Shutt. He answered like this...
City: Where are the best fans of your music? How about the best cities worldwide to play?
Kyle Shutt: I would say that the West Coast of the US has been consistently some of the biggest shows we've played from the onset of our career, but we do have great fans everywhere. From Calgary to Oslo to Mexico City, we have really great crowds.
How has your sound evolved?
We've tuned our guitars up a few half steps, and turned the amps down a touch. We all sing now, and have added more synths to the live show.
How has the sound remained the same?
We're still a kick ass rock band who doesn't take shit from anyone, and I think that comes through in our sound. We play by our own rules.
How has the music scene changed over the years?
People stick their phones in your face throughout the entire set if you don't tell them to stop, but the moshing has died down. A lot more bands sing rather than scream. And Orange amps dominate the scene, which is why I play Big Crunch.
What is your writing process? Influences?
We all write in different ways. Personally, I try to listen to the universe and play what I hear.
What are some of the influences in your music that aren't necessarily apparent to the listener?
Non-musical influences like books, movies, meeting people all over the world and listening to their perspective.
What is a misperception of your band or sound you'd like to clear up?
We're not a metal band.
List a few recent live show highlights.
A riot broke out during our set in Nottingham last September, a full on bar brawl like I've never seen. We had to leave the stage.
What are you most proud of?
Having lasted this long through so many changes in the industry. It's a game of having to constantly adapt, and we've been one of the lucky ones. I never take that for granted.
What's next for The Sword?
We recorded some alternate versions of "High Country" songs that we hope to have released this fall.