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I'm going to be completely honest here, going into this album I didn't really expect much. I mean, sure it's been a while since we've had an oldschool hardcore type of release; however, most of those kind of come off as formulaic these days, with minimal room for innovation. That being said, Sworn Enemy has made a comeback after nearly half a decade since the previous full-length and it seems the Queens, New York hardcore-thrashers are back at it again and...get this...better than expected and perhaps in their best shape and sound in a long while. Read on to find out why you too should be fired up and psyched for this one.
This new album being their eighth chronological release under the name Sworn Enemy, Gamechanger feels a lot like a rebirth of refreshing ideas packed with those familiar crossover riffs, assertive drumming and tough guy vocals that we've all come to know and love over the years. In many ways it lives up to its potential as well as its name, and the roughly 37 minutes of hardcore content broken down into the eleven songs that listeners will experience packs enough of a punch to make almost any nostalgic or newfound fanatic feel a sense of destruction as well as some goosebumps in between. The new release is made available via M-Theory Audio both digitally and physically.
The record starts off solidly with ringing power chords mixed with open note chugging and some pretty interesting drumming patterns. The intro soon takes form in an oldschool sort of crossover thrash/hardcore riff and breakdown that leads into 'Prepare For Payback'. This second track is about as vulgar and edgy as they come, with all the added touches and tough guy vocals/lyricism a mosher can ask for. The guitarwork all around is a fairly mixed bag, with thrash riffing being combined with core breakdowns and sometimes something a little different in the mix such as an acoustic section in 'Coming Undone' or some guitar solos here and there like in songs such as 'Seeds of Hate', both of which I can recommend as starters.
The drumming also shows some eclectic elements, with some blast beats and double bass a la extreme metal being utilized to an ocassional, brutal extent. 'Coming Undone' and 'Fragments of a Broken Life' are two of the largest standout songs on Gamechanger for their experimental buildups, emotional undertones and the nonstop riffing as well as outro breakdown in the latter mentioned. The track lengths are mostly modest, with the final song 'Integrity Defines Strength' being the longest, but for good reason to wrap everything up with a bang. Also, 'The Fall of Modern Man' is one song that I thought the band could've done a bit more with, given the interesting guitar fills and all. I kinda wish there were more solos sometimes but the ones that are already there really tie the songs and their structure together. And, for the most part, I was overall pleased with the results.
If any of the aforementioned wasn't enough to convince you, then I'm not sure what else to tell you except to really take a moment to think about it. The half and hour or so of heavy, hard-hitting and nostalgic tunes is easily worth a listen if you're an oldschool fan or even a newcomer to Sworn Enemy or the likes. Not too sure if I'd call it a 'gamechanger' per se, but it is a definite strong return from the NY hardcore collective and a good sign of greater things to come in the near future for the scene.
Fave Tracks: 'Coming Undone', 'Fragments of a Broken Life', 'Integrity Defines Strength'
For Fans Of: Incendiary, Madball, Terror
**This release is available now here and at other fine retailers!**
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-Review by: Dave Raffy
Musician, reviewer, fan & promoter
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