The Stars Remember: Ten Years of THE SWORD's ‘Warp Riders’

Staring back into the temporal rift that was a brilliant benchmark Space-Rock LP.

Cover art by Dan McPharlin

Words by Jake Sanders (@themetalscholar):

More than ten years ago, there existed a group of Austin-based myths known simply as THE SWORD, a group that as one reviewer once phrased it, ‘played circles around virtually all of their competition’. After two phenomenal, groundbreaking releases that forever changed the world of retro-sounding heavy metal, the Texan boys jumped back into Wire Recording in Austin, Texas to create their third step on a staircase to Valhalla, a magnificent concept album, titled simply: Warp Riders (2010).

This sci-fi album took a powerful leap forward in many areas; world-building, accessibility, and even production. It was THE SWORD showing off how much they could accomplish while stepping into territories previously untouched. Featuring Matt Bayles on synth and organ, this album touched on all the right points of an ambitious space rock album without compromising the spirit of who THE SWORD was to the world.

Part One: The Archer and the Orb

"Upon the forsaken world of Acheron,

the Archer is exiled from his tribe.

In his solitary wanderings, he makes a

singular discovery within an ancient ruin..."

The Archer, a character known as Ereth, ascends from the ruins of his tidally-locked planet, Acheron, with an artifact of mysterious origin. An orb, glowing and alive with the voices of the divine, guides him away from the ruins and the people who exiled him, sending him on a journey to the far side of his planet, where mystical herbs, three witches, and danger would surely await him.

On his quest, he is brought to the edge of the darkened side of Acheron, led on by the orb and its beckoning power of seduction. There, he discovers a tribe living in the dark — a violent group wary of outsiders that seeks to slay Ereth, who has wandered into their sacred ruins and has tampered with an ancient altar. While it's not entirely evident what the purpose of this altar is, one can surmise that the plot brewing belongs to the being who is bound to the orb itself.

The Chronomancer, a being of immeasurable power and ageless wisdom transmits his spirit into the orb itself. Whether his face is known to the archer or not, is another story, but it's implied that there is a deception afoot that seeks to use Ereth as a pawn in order to free the Chronomancer, as well as his partner in celestial domination, a being known only as Astraea. For his knowledge of time travel and defying the natural order, he was sealed away in the depths of the planet. Knowing he was on borrowed time, the Chronomancer created for himself an artificial immortality — an orb, to seal his soul away and guarantee a chance at freedom later. Until his day of awakening, he would be sealed in stasis within his chamber, waiting patiently for favorable circumstances and the hands of fate to align and free him from his bondage.

Across the scorching wasteland, resources dwindling, and without shelter, Ereth treks back and forth, searching for days on end for the source