Bladerunners: The Sword cracks the sky with new album ‘Warp Riders.’ (Photo by Brian Tamborello)

A grinding storm of heavy axes rolls forth from Austin, Texas this evening when sludge-metal thunderlords, The Sword, get medieval on your ass. Besides being Lars Ulrich’s favorite band (he’s asked The Sword to tour with Metallica three times now), The Sword celebrates tomorrow’s official release of its third album, “Warp Riders,” at 7 p.m. CST tonight (Monday) with a free gig in the parking lot of Austin’s famed Waterloo Records. Helmets are strongly advised and chants for a Thin Lizzy cover are highly encouraged.

“Warp Riders” (again on Kemado Records), follows The Sword’s previously acclaimed albums, “The Age of Winters” and “Gods of The Earth.” The latest opus stands apart as being the first time The Sword has worked with an outside producer, namely Matt Bayles (Pearl Jam, Mastodon, Isis). Billed as a “psychedelic space opera that explores temporal themes of death and rebirth,” “Warp Riders” finds The Sword expanding its sound from Sabbath-style stoner metal to flare-bottomed, Zig-Zag boogie. Check out “Warp Riders” and the rest of The Sword’s catalog to hear why these Austin gladiators have won opening slots with such heavyweights as Metallica, Motorhead and Ozzy.