Sworn Enemy – Living on Borrowed Time (Rock Ridge)Tuesday, 29th April 2014
After an uncharacteristically long period of studio dormancy, New York metallic hardcore vets Sworn Enemy are back on the ‘ole horse with Living on Borrowed Time. And yes, lots inferred to the album title; the band has moved away from Century Media, shed its long-time guitarist/songwriter Lorenzo Antonnuci, and endured a general state of uncertainty. However, vocalist/founding member Sal Lococo has assembled a new hardline crew, one that flexes all the things the band does well, thus, making Living on Borrowed Time a worthy return. Or even comeback.
As beatdown-adverse as the band is (there are perhaps two total across 11 songs), there’s ample amount of persuasive mosh riffs or thrash battering, which is essentially how the band has operated since the mid-00’s. The knuckle-punch and grit of “Do or Die” and “Hard Way” are immediate call to arms (love the nods to “Hell Awaits” in the intro for “Do or Die”), while the fervent punk-on-metal stylings of “Slipping Away” showcase how far the band is able to dip into the melting pot that is New York City metal. Additional highlights come by way of the chug/ninja-time groove of “Never Forget,” as well as the frothy “Nothing Changes.”
Their formula long in place, Sworn Enemy didn’t need to do much tinkering to get back on track with Living on Borrowed Time. Fact is, they, moreso than Hatebreed, are the everyman’s hardcore band for metal. They’re perpetually devoid of the clichés and generic elements that are a turn-off for ‘bangers, which explains their ability to hop on any bill with any variety of metal bands. Beyond that, Living on Borrowed Time is a heated, ultra-sharp offering that should help Lococo and team reclaim their rightful spot near the top of the metal-on-hardcore heap.