Back to the Future: The Musical Lineage of the Sword

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Craig Hlavaty
The Sword at Free Press Summerfest 2009
This Sunday night, Austin's The Sword pulls into Warehouse Live to lay waste to our city's collective eardrums. The band was in town last August for Summerfest and was shit-hot, coming right off of an opening slot for Metallica over in Europe. The sound was the same but somewhat leaner and more feral. We guess touring behind Hetfield and the guys for almost a year would do that to a young band.

The Sword's stoner-jams are a part of a healthy lineage of bearded and hirsute boys conjuring demons with dangerous low end and enough lyrics detailing mythical creatures and torrential death. Of course you have to link all this back to some sketchy guys in Birmingham, England, watching too many Hammer films and overdosing on Blue Cheer and Cream. Black Sabbath paved the way for the countless bands that would influence The Sword and many, many others.

Black Sabbath

We will always wonder what the world was like before goth rock and the outright evil of Sabbath. True there were quasi-spooky garage bands like the Count Five and even Screamin' Lord Sutch, but Sabbath did it the most wickedly.

St. Vitus

The best thing about St. Vitus was that they toured with and were labelmates of Black Flag. It makes sense seeing that Greg Ginn and Henry Rollins were metalheads at heart. Lead singer Scott "Wino" Weinrich has become one of doom-metal most celebrated voices, playing on 2004's Probot record and the recent Shrinebuilder project.

Sleep

Sleep was known for endless stoner jams, most notably the hour-long, one-track Dopesmoker LP. Lead singer Matt Pike went on to form the beastly High On Fire, which has a new album hitting stores next month.

Deep Purple

Many people may scoff at Deep Purple considering the poppish tones of "Smoke On The Water", but behind that one song the Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore-fronted band laid some very dirty and heavy riffs. You can hear strains of "Highway Star" and "Space Truckin'" on most of The Sword's debut Age Of Winters.

Kyuss

Before he became the boss hoss of Queens Of The Stone Age, guitarist Josh Homme was just the wunderkind in Kyuss playing his down-tuned axe through a bass amp. Everytime we hear of a new QOTSA, Desert Sessions or even Them Crooked Vultures we know that a proper Kyuss reunion is just that much further out of reach.

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