Queens, New York’s Sworn Enemy is set to drop their new album ‘Gamechanger’ via M-Theory Audio on April 5th, 2019. As veterans of the metallic hardcore game, the band consisting of Sal Lococo (vocals), Matt Garzilli (guitar), Mike Pucciarelli (bass), Jeff Cummings (guitar), and Taykwuan Jackson (drums) just celebrated the 15th anniversary of their debut album ‘As Real as It Gets’ last year. The new album, which will mark their eighth full length release, was produced by the one-and-only Robb Flynn (Machine Head) and engineered, mixed, and mastered by Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Fallujah, Warbringer). For fans of bands like Hatebreed, Biohazard, and Madball, ‘Gamechanger’ is an album that offers a similar street-level attitude and testosterone-fueled rage that is sure to quench the bloodthirst of old school loyalists as well as place Sworn Enemy prominently on the radar of new listeners.
The record’s sound, as a whole, is tight and crisp with a very biting and “metal”-sounding guitar tone that provides tons of attack without unnecessary muddiness – especially during the solos (which, to my surprise, this album features several). Following the short instrumental opener “Intro” that sets the aggressive tone with ominous riffing and thunderous drums, “Prepare for Payback” makes its intentions known right away with the opening lyrics, “Get the fuck back, before you get knocked out.” Lococo, whose mid-range, venomous growl is often reminiscent of Power Trip’s Riley Gale, makes a purposeful effort for his abrasive lyrical message to be understood with generally no help required from the lyric sheet. Gang vocals, breakdowns (which carry massive weight with the help of a well-balanced rhythm section, particularly on the low end), and some lethally Slayer-licious thrash riffage during the outro make this track the perfect recipe for a brawl-inducing moshpit.
“Seeds of Hate” takes an angry, mid-paced gallop through groove/thrash territory while offering some impressively melodic lead guitar work along the ride. “Coming Undone” abruptly shifts course with its smooth as silk classical guitar intro before transitioning into straight up adrenaline-pumping hardcore. The outro breakdown bursts with visceral intensity, thanks in large part to Lococo’s exorcism-like repeated screams of “I’m coming undone!” that literally evoke images of being ripped apart from the inside.
Other noteworthy tracks include “DOA,” which offers some of the album’s most brutal sounding moments; “Selling a Dream,” a catchy, groove/thrash banger; and “Integrity Defines Strength” which lays waste to all in its path as Sworn Enemy puts the best weapons in their arsenal to use for this destructive album closer.
Overall, ‘Gamechanger’ lives up to its title in its ability to continually blur the lines of thrash metal and hardcore in a way that seamlessly incorporates the best of both worlds. The album’s strongpoints are the riffs, which Sworn Enemy has sharpened with enough creativity and diversity to take a seemingly simplistic formula and hone it to a razor’s edge, resulting in virtually zero dullness during the album’s 38-minute runtime that will appropriately leave the listener craving more.