Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Sword at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Kyle Shutt & John D. Cronise
Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, John D. Cronise first wanted to become a comic book artist. Inspired by Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, however, Cronise started playing guitar at the age of 13. He joined local rock and roll bands but then made a career move in 1999 to Austin, Texas. Cronise wrote and recorded music on his own for a few years until in 2003 he formed the Sword, first as a trio and shortly after as a quartet. The heavy metal band currently is composed of Cronise on vocals and guitar, guitarist Kyle Shutt, bassist Bryan Richie, and drummer Santiago "Jimmy" Vela III. Vela continues to live in Austin, but Richie moved 40 miles north to Tyler, Texas, Cronise moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and Shutt is relocating to Brooklyn with his fiancée in January 2016. The band's fifth album, High Country, was released on August 21, 2015.

Headlining tonight at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom, the Sword performed a blues-based stoner metal that seemed to hearken back to the earliest days of hard rock, when it was still experimental and jam-based. The guitar chords and riffs came hard and heavy, backed by a low-tuned bass and crashing drums. Cronise's vocals gave the songs a lighter melodic structure, but stepped back in favor of dark riffs and soaring guitar leads on every song. Although the band has slowly moved from its original metal sound to a more hard rock sound, the band remains a bit too rough-sounding for mainstream audiences. Nevertheless, a swelling core base should sustain the band.

Visit the Sword at www.theswordofficial.com.