I have a small confession to make. I never thought SWORN ENEMY was going to make a record that could top their 2003 debut, “As Real as It Gets”. I was fucking wrong! Over fifteen years later, Sal Lococo and company released “Gamechanger” on April 5th and IDIOTEQ.COM got to take a listen. Five years in the making, and you can see that Sal hasn’t been sitting on his hands with this effort. He’s even recruited the likes of Rob Flynn from Machine Head who produced the record and Zack Ohren (Suffocation, Warbringer) to record, mix and master it. What we have here is pure hardcore bliss. The two things that stand out for me about this record from previous recordings is that it seems quite a bit less metal, and more hardcore. Also, Sal’s vocals seem to have taken on more depth and dimension.
The album starts with a heavy ass, Cro–Mags style, INTRO that gives you a small taste of what you’re getting yourself into. “Step the fuck back, before you get knocked out!” Sal informs you with a menacing scream that kicks off the first song, PREPARE FOR PAYBACK. A good song of revenge is like yoga for me, so that blended well with the pulsating riffs and pounding drum beats courtesy of Taykwuan Jackson, who is handling the kit these days. Great way to officially kick off this album. SEEDS OF HATE is up next, which sort of blasts right in without letting you come up for air. Another set of powerful lyrics that describe the struggles of avoiding self-destruction. This song has an amazing stomp part at the end and excellent back up vocals. Another solid track that showcases the band’s new dynamics of their sound.
COMING UNDONE begins with a soft acoustic guitar intro that, I have to admit, had me thinking I was going to get hit with a metal song. Wrong Again! When the heavy part kicks in with the gang vocal right behind it, make no mistake. That is hardcore all the way. This is my favorite track on the album because, it takes the musicianship to the next level without losing any of that “hardcore feel” that we all know and love. Not to mention that most of us have felt the way Sal describes in the song’s heavy lyrics. Between these two guitar players, Matt Garzilli and Jeff Cummings, there’s a good amount crunch to last a lifetime on this album. So, it was cool to see a different approach on this one.
JUSTIFY is another heavy-hitter that alternates between slow breakdowns and fast circle pit style riffs. A spoken word intro from Sal launches off this track. A great guitar riff reminiscent of the band, 108, hit the spot as well. Mike Puciarelli’s bass sound on this song just destroys everything in sight. This album has not taken a breath at this point. It just keeps hitting you and hitting you.
Midway through this release, DOA, gets things moving back into high gear like any good hardcore song should. I hear a ton of All Out War going on with this song and I am totally okay with that. FRAGMENTS OF A BROKEN LIFE is simply another great hardcore track with more self-tortured lyrics that we can all relate to. There are plenty of dark lyrics on this record, and this song is no different from the rest.
More great lyrics coming from THE FALL OF MODERN MAN. “Hurtful and callous, heart full of malice. Blood of the innocents he drinks from his chalice” paint a vivid picture of the frightening state of our modern-day world. A lot of metal influence and a growl at the end keep this track solid. SELLING A DREAM is no different. Powerful lyrics, heavy riffs, fast riffs, gang vocals, and heavy drumming were all properly utilized in this song before, perhaps, the heaviest breakdown on the whole record reveals itself at the end.
A good “Hey!” chant to start off THE CONSEQUENCE was in good taste. This is the fastest song on the record. Even the breakdown is worthy of a circle pit! Another great mix of metal and hardcore to continue this album’s trend of relentlessness! And for the grand finale, the album closes with INTEGRITY DEFINES STRENGTH” I don’t want to ruin the big surprise for this one, but let’s just say that this tune may sound a bit familiar to some Sworn Enemy fans.
Overall, A+! Aside from being a production masterpiece, this album just punishes everything in its path. Sworn Enemy have proven with their latest release, that they have joined the ranks of bands like Madball and Wisdom in Chains, that can grow musically as artists while taking 0% of their integrity away from the music. Pick up this record and catch them on tour!