Austin metal quartet The Sword is keeping it simple. In 2010, the band had its greatest commercial success to date with the dazzling Warp Riders, a high-concept album that was the metal equivalent to a sci-fi novel. For Apocryphon, the band's newest release for indie label Razor and Tie, singer/guitarist JD Cronise says the biggest challenge wasn't following up on the deep themes of Warp Riders or integrating new drummer Jimmy Vela III; it was keeping up with recording deadlines. "That's the nature of being a professional musician," Cronise says, "having to be creative, which is something that is supposed to have no constraints, and having to work with a bunch of constraints while pretending they're not there." The result is a focused album of 10 scorching tracks like "The Veil of Isis," a combination of Sleep-style chugging and pinched Sabbath leads. However, the stoner metal tag has grown too vague for Cronise. "It's just rock music," he says simply. "I think heavy metal and dance music seem to be the bigger sinners of over-categorization; there's so many subgenres it gets confusing." In fact, Cronise has a rather sturdy theory about the genesis of the stoner metal label. "Quite honestly, I think it's all because Black Sabbath wrote a song called 'Sweet Leaf.'"
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