Austin heavy metal band The Sword played last Friday night at Underground Arts in Philadelphia. The audience was what you might expect—a sea of black hoodies, Rizzo pin-curled hair, boys and girls touting dramatically dark lighter-burned eyeliner. Too cool for cosplay, one might easily place The Sword fan base at a fantasy novel or sci-fi book signing party.
“I could see them reading Jack Vance’s ‘Dying Earth,’” said a fellow concertgoer. Perhaps he was right since the coterie all but erupted as the band played a song with the same title, admittedly a nod to the late Vance.
Fans appeared to be constructing their own somber universe as the night stretched on, mesmerized by the band on stage, our Black Sabbath-inspired rockers of today. Yet The Sword seemed approachable—like just one of the guys—but acted as Sherpa’s to the imagination, guiding listeners through fantastical narratives the colossal circumference of Middle Earth.
Hypothetically, if votaries were at The Sword’s book signing for "Apocryphon,” they’d buy a mixed-genre text combining H.P. Lovecraft with the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien, an emulsion of high fantasy and epic horror, dooming readers with alternative settings where they travel between the real and imaginary, evoking the pantheon, the gospel.
No stranger to world building, The Sword’s fourth album "Apocryphon,” paints a shadowy era that has brought much deserved success to the band. According to Blabbermouth.net, the album sold nearly 17,000 copies in the U.S. during the first week of its release.
What’s more, the album is something like the band’s own revelation or confession. Members have commented on the biographical nature of the compilation as representing what they’ve learned from their past masked through metaphors. After all, art often imitates life and comes from pain, so why shouldn’t the album be inspired by the truth? Especially when the truth rocks so good.
The Sword’s landscape is full of nobility, secrets buried in stone, beautiful but dangerous maidens, and apparently giant gourds of man-eating yeast.
Who wouldn’t come along with them on that journey?