With another line-up and label shuffle now behind them, Sworn Enemy have resurfaced to belt out another 10 tracks of ferocious metal. "Maniacal" is an album that not only saw As I Lay Dying frontman Tim Lambesis team up with Life Of Agony guitarist Joey Z. to handle the production duties, but also one that features guest studio drumming from As I Lay Dying's Jordan Mancino as well.
While the As I Lay Dying influence and input is obviously noticeable, "Maniacal" more or less continues Sworn Enemy's evolution from a faceless, though wholly violent, tough guy metalcore outfit into a modern thrash unit that pay as much homage to the late 80's bay Area scene as they do the late 80's NY hardcore scene. The balance is still tipped in hardcore's favor though as the bands thrashy riffs and whirring solos seem more like foliage in the veritable concrete jungle foundation that frequently offers gang shouts and hearty breakdowns.
However, unlike previous efforts Sworn Enemy have begun to actually shake the stigma of being Hatebreed's mini-me. There's a density and dark energy present on this album that moves them beyond the rather standard fare metalbore they have been pedaling in the past. As it goes though, a revelation for a band in a genre as crowded as metalcore is not exactly a revelation for the scene as a whole. Thus, "Maniacal" may be Sworn Enemy's finest to date, but in today's climate that merely puts them at above average rather than mediocre.
(3 / 5)