Metal and Hardcore Brings the Beginning of the End
By Annemarie Taddeucci
Carrying the torch of bands like Biohazard, D.R.I. and Anthrax, Queens’ own Sworn Enemy blends metal and hardcore in a subgenre known as metal-core, a term come to define heavy music styles from Nuclear Assault to Killswitch Engage to Trivium to Lamb of God. Sworn Enemy’s latest CD, The Beginning of the End,” was released on Abacus Records on January 24, 2006. And according to guitarist, Lorenzo Antonucci, “…this album is…a true definition of metal-core.”
And sure enough, the group’s sophomore full-length studio record delivers on this promise. With guitar riffs
suggestive of Sick of it All, vocals calling to mind the likes of Obituary, bass lines that evoke Minor Threat, drums
that could rival Over Kill’s and lead guitars that scream Slayer, this disc has something for fans of every category
of heavy music. The double bass drums are like a barrage of machine-gun fire. The bass lines are a rush of
racing, deep tones. Sal Lococo’s scratchy voice is the quintessence of aggression. And the guitar solos,
compliments of Lorenzo Antonucci, -- most notably on “All I Have” -- howl an emotive elegy.
Whereas Sworn Enemy’s past efforts are more hardcore leaning, The Beginning of the End combines both the
influences of metal and hardcore, though with a more metal prone bent. As Real As It Gets (2003), for example,
features more of the short, punchy rhythms and customary breakdowns associated with old-school hardcore. The
influence of the most recent disc’s producer, Tim Lambesis (As I Lay Dying), may be cited for the increased metal
presence on The Beginning of the End; in contrast, Sworn Enemy’s earlier EP, the more hardcore sounding,
Negative Outlook (2002) was distributed on Stillborn Records, Jamey Jasta’s (Hatebreed, MTV’s Headbanger’s
The Beginning of the End opens with the uncompromising metal assault of’ guitar, bass and drums of “Forgotten”. The breakdown on “Absorb the Lies” is particularly compelling, alternating choral shouts and Lococo’s now rhythmic growls. “After the Fall” is irresistible, with its heavy grooves and deep throttle. The track is lent profundity as it finishes with the line: /We all fall down/, quoting the nursery rhyme inspired by the bubonic plague. Snare drums pop and kick fervently in true hardcore fashion on “Weight of the World”. And the lead guitar weaves hauntingly in and out of “Scared of the Unknown” and “Here Today.”
On the downside, Sal Lococo’s vocals, although reminiscent of the speed metal and hardcore tradition, are wanting in many areas the backing chorus to break up the otherwise constant rasp, which in this case, starts to sound like incessant barking. Also, “We Hate,” which pokes fun at other bands that claim to be hardcore, with the right approach may be amusing, but with its repetitious and simple breakdown, it may have you momentarily saying, “I /…really think/Your music sucks/ ”.
But overall, The Beginning of the End is an ear-catching incorporation of metal and hardcore. Unlike other groups of this crossover genre, the hardcore influence can be heard in more than just the lead vocals. It is also very evident in the rumbling, yet energetic, bass lines and start and stop rhythms of the songs. Also absent are the obligatory, intermittent placement of melodic vocals, often associated with bands of this category. What is left is a blistering fusion of metal and hardcore.