Championed and produced by Hardcore luminary Jamey Jasta , New York’s Sworn Enemy have drafted in Rob “opinion on everything” Flynn to twiddle the knobs on Game Changer.
“Step the fuck back , before you get knocked out…..Step the fuck back. I’ll bring the hammer down” opines “Prepare for Payback” thus revealing the blueprint for the album. Tough guy metallic hardcore with big beat downs, chugging riffs and gang vocals, this is business as usual for these lads. Packed with 80’s thrash segments and spiralling solos it is evident that these boys still mean business. “Seeds of Hate” opens with some Machine Head style early 2000’s chunky riffage and continues with lots of shouts of “Fuck You” for angry men and women to primal scream along to. It’s a bit RATM for me but still bandannatastic. Jeff Hanneman style solo’s keep the thrash vibe going.
“Coming Undone” opens with a Spanish guitar before the Metallic hardcore train comes chugging in blowing out blood spit and piss from its funnel. Strange then that Sworn Enemy appear to have lifted lines from Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” – “Sometimes you’re better off dead, when the gun in your hand is pointed straight at your head” . Unfortunately as a fan of the pantomime gods of electro pop I spend the rest of the song trying to sing Neil Tennant’s lyrics to the brutal riffs. (it doesn’t work ). Before I know it Sworn Enemy have segued into “Justify” which is a big riff King Canute roar at the tide. An angry whinge at the current world situation without any suggestion of a solution – “We need a better tomorrow. We seek the truth .” etc etc. Cheap anger with no examples or specific targets. The bedrock of rock and roll rebellion since the 50’s. All good fun though. Fuck you I’m not cleaning my bedroom! It’s at this point that I wish Sworn Enemy had a hook to hang their anger on. Anti capitalism, Animal Rights, Gender Equality, Working Class politics, Anti hipsters , hell even free donuts for the obese. Just something to back up the vitriol. It feels a little empty without it. However, my issues with the lack of conviction lyrically should not detract from the music which is consistently chunky and ballsy throughout. I can imagine lots of folk spin-kicking and crowd killing to this – “DOA” particularly has some bone-breaking breakdowns that will make many a ball sack bulge.
It’s at this point I notice the back of the CD booklet. It depicts a UFC fighter, his eyes censored , poised to punch his opponent who lies at his feet. His victim’s head has exploded into rubble. A picture paints a thousand words.
“The Fall of Modern Man” is a rip roaring gallop through crossovers finest moments. The spoken word part is clunky but will go down like tattooed elixir live and “Selling the Dream” continues where it left off with vocalist Sal Lococo channelling his inner Jon Tardy by the end.
“The Consequence” is a doubter’s hymn to a god that has forsaken him. Delicious leather clad solos spike from the bombast.
Closer “Integrity Defines Strength” sounds like it could be the name of a Pantera tribute act. The chorus is a gang chant of “IDS – Instant Death Squad” – can someone play this when Ian Duncan Smith enters Westminster? Trouble is – he might get off on it! I can just see him turning to Kirsty Wark as he defends austerity and Tory cuts to Disability Living allowance – INSTANT DEATH SQUAD MOTHERFUCKER!.
Game Changer is what you want from Sworn Enemy . They are an aural protein shake. Just hammer to the head, explosive Hardcore and good visceral fun.
(7/10 Matt Mason)