The Sword's John Cronise: Metal Fans Deserve Better Than the New Black Sabbath Album
By Darryl Smyers
Formed in Austin nearly a decade ago, The Sword is one of the heaviest bands to emerge from that scene. Full of monstrous guitar riffs and typically bombastic sci-fi themes, the four Sword albums are intense, thought-provoking and filled with good humor. The band's most recent effort, Apocryphon, is a diverse collection of doom metal that should expose the band to a bigger audience.
From his home in North Carolina and in anticipation of Sunday night's show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, guitarist/vocalist John Cronise spoke with DC9 about leaving Austin, digging science fiction and not digging the new Black Sabbath album.
You live in North Carolina, but the rest of the band still resides in Austin. Does that make practicing difficult?
I've not lived in Austin for only two years now. We've been playing together for so long that regular practices are not really a requirement. We just need a little bit here and there.
Why the move to North Carolina?
I am from this region. My folks live here. I missed this sort of culture and terrain. It's not really the same in Austin. I mean, I love Austin. I moved to Austin about 13 years ago and it's gone through dramatic changes since then. It got to the point that it was almost unrecognizable. I needed a change of scenery.
When you think about Austin, you certainly don't think about a heavy metal scene. Was it odd being a metal band in Austin?
At first, yes. There are a lot more heavier bands now; not that there are a great number. There are so many bands and musicians. It is so diverse. It's not uncommon for someone to be in three or four different projects. I don't know of a great concentration of any particular genre. There is so much going on there. When we first started, we were definitely an anomaly. Now, there are bands like Eagle Claw and Sharks and a little bit of a scene there for harder rock and heavy metal. I think that helped us stand out.
Why does metal have so many sub-genres? You guys are often grouped under Doom Metal and Stoner Metal. That seems offensive.
I agree. I attribute that to the fact that metal is a genre largely appreciated by white male nerds who love to categorize things. That's just what they do. It is a little out of hand. A lot of what people relegate to these sub-genres is just hard rock. It is all just describing slight variations on the same sound. I think the only scene that has it worse is dance music. They have micro-genres where if one little element is different, then it is a totally different genre. It's all just music. People are too obsessed with their categorizations.
Why do metal bands have this fascination with science fiction?
I think science fiction and fantasy, those genres of literature and movies, they appeal to heavy metal fans because metal is dramatic, over-the-top kind of music. It can be kind of cartoonish in a way. We are very epic in how we sound. Those two things seem to go hand in hand. There are more metal fans that would rather read Lord of the Rings or watch Game of Thrones than watch political debates. It is an escapist sort of genre.
I love your song "Tres Brujas." Do you speak Spanish?
I speak about as much Spanish as your typical white Texan who absorbs it from it being around. I can understand some Spanish.