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Sworn Enemy - "Manaical" (CD)

Sworn Enemy - "Manaical" CD cover image

"Manaical" track listing:

1. Ignorance
2. Time To Rage
3. A Place Of Solace
4. Weather The Storm
5. Destroyer
6. The American Way
7. Fear For Failure
8. No End To This Nightmare
9. Talk Is Cheap
10. Said And Done

Reviewed by on February 8, 2008

"'Maniacal' has a thrash-metal flavor that reminds me of Testament or Exodus"

Sworn Enemy came out of the highly influential and fertile ground of late '90s New York hardcore. From their beginnings as Mindset, they displayed a facility for blending the best of old-school hardcore punk with new-style breakdowns and an in-your-face attitude. They caught the attention of Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta, who signed them to his Stillborn Records label and released "Negative Outlook," followed by "Integrity Defines Strength." After signing with Elektra they released the heavily thrash-influenced "As Real As It Gets." Moving over to Abacus Records, a metal and hardcore imprint of Century Media, they released "The Beginning of the End." This year finds them poised to release "Maniacal" in the U.S on February 12, 2008.

“Maniacal” has a thrash-metal flavor that reminds me of Testament or Exodus. They do a credible job of incorporating metal influences with their aggressive, hardcore roots to come up with a really intense, heavy sound. The CD starts out strong with "Ignorance" and the tension and intensity don't let up until some nice, melodic guitar work closes out “Said and Done."

The production by Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying), Joey Z (Life of Agony), and Dan Castleman is top-notch. The drumming is prominent in the mix without being distracting and the guitars have some nice separation, which makes for an enjoyable listen. I detected a black-metal influence in the vocals, both in delivery and the way they were recorded. I especially liked the tracks "Weather the Storm" and "Talk is Cheap" for the expressive vocals, solid drumming, and crisp guitars, but there's not a weak track on this release.

"Maniacal" contains influences that I enjoy. There's a nod to New York hardcore as well as good, old thrash like Exodus, Testament, and early Megadeth. I think this CD would appeal to open-minded hardcore fans as well as fans of straight-up thrash.

Highs: Solid drumming, great guitars, and strong vocals

Lows: At around 32 minutes, it's a bit short.

Bottom line: Good songs, stellar production, and great playing makes for a CD I'll be listening to on a frequent basis.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)