April 1, 2019 Sworn Enemy – Gamechanger (Album Review)
In the late 1990s, the New York City Hardcore scene was stacked with rebellious bands who represented an aggressive subculture of Heavy Metal and Punk that took over small clubs in and around suburban towns. Without a care in the world for anything but the music, bands like Madball and Agnostic Front spread an abrasive message of angst and social awareness that struck a vital chord with impressionable kids who needed a positive outlet for their anger.
As one of the most notable Hardcore acts to emerge from this movement, Sworn Enemy hail from the streets of Queens, New York led by Vocalist Sal Lococo. Never giving up on the music, Sworn Enemy are set to release their new album, Gamechanger, on Friday, April 5, 2019 via M-Theory Audio.
After spending a few years molding a name via an unrelenting assault of Hardcore spirit, Sworn Enemy released their first EP, 2001’s Negative Outlook, produced by Hatebreed Frontman Jamey Jasta. Later, in 2003, Sworn Enemy landed a recording contract with Elektra Records and released their debut LP, As Real as It Gets. That same year, Sworn Enemy was graced with the opportunity to tour with Ozzfest and blew everyone away with daunting live sets.
As the 2000’s rolled on, Sworn Enemy has continued to provide an escape for those who go against the grain with albums like 2006’s The Beginning of the End, 2008’s Maniacal, 2009’s Total World Domination, and 2014’s Living on Borrowed Time. On the road, Sworn Enemy has toured with celebrated acts like Anthrax, Mastodon, Fear Factory, Sepultura, Suicide Silence, Dying Fetus, Earth Crisis, Madball, Biohazard and Hatebreed.
After seeing a slew of members come and go over the years, the current line-up of Sworn Enemy has been in tact mostly since 2012, as Lococo is joined by Guitarist Matt Garzilli, Guitarist Jeff Cummings, Bassist Mike Pucciarelli, and Drummer Taykwuan Jackson who was hired in 2015. Ready for the next chapter, Sworn Enemy entered the recording sessions for Gamechanger and hired another big name in Metal, Robb Flynn of Machine Head, to produced the album.
Brand new East Coast Hardcore for 2019, Gamechanger starts off with an intimidating intro of Metalcore drums, guitar, and bass, letting you know something brutal is about to go down. With that, the first full track, “Prepare For Payback,” is nothing less than fierce as Sworn Enemy puts the naysayers to bed. Without a doubt, Gamechanger immediately displays raw power, showing the world what Sworn Enemy is all about. Having said that, the relentless “Seeds of Hate” will not give up as the acoustic opening of “Coming Undone” is reminiscent of classic Thrash Metal.
Charging in, “Justify” exonerates unnecessary madness, “DOA” speaks of things being over before they begin, and “Fragments of a Broken Life” deals with the agony of a collapsed existence. Then, as “The Fall of Modern Man” describes the world we currently reside in, tracks like “Selling a Dream” and “The Consequence” will convince you to do the right thing all the while gifting some rattling riffs. Lastly, Gamechanger closes with “Integrity Defines Strength” and the song title alone is the perfect culmination to a brazen album of guts, honor, and respect.
Literally trying to change the game, Sworn Enemy are defiant in their mission to influence change through music. Defining a memorable time period in Metal, Gamechanger finds Sworn Enemy holding ground on the music and sound that defined a generation still very much alive. All in all, fans of late 1990s Hardcore will want to check out Sworn Enemy’s new album Gamechanger and maybe start up a circle pit while they’re at it. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Gamechanger 4 out of 5 stars.