Sworn Enemy: Living on Borrowed Time review

There is no denying that the music industry has drastically changed over the last few decades. It is the dawn of a new era and with the advent of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter bands have more ways and avenues than ever to connect with fans and get their music out there and heard by the metal masses.

Because of this constant barrage, it is all too easy and frequently that amazing bands like Queens, NY hardcore veterans Sworn Enemy get lost in the shuffle. After taking a short sabbatical, the band are back and have their sights set on Total World Domination.

Their newest offering for Rock Ridge Music, entitled Living On Borrowed Time should change all that and finally earn them the respect they so richly deserve.

The band established themselves in 2001 with their debut album Negative Outlook on Jamey Jasta’s Stillborn Records and from day one, have always played by their own set of rules. Even with an ever changing line-up, the music has remained consistent and just as Maniacal as ever.

Living On Borrowed Time is no exception and picks up where previous effort like Maniacal and Total World Domination left off while still expanding on their evolution of sound. The guitar squalls, turbulent double kick and overall song structure of lead single and opening salvo “Do Or Die” fools you into thinking you just hit play on the new Slayer album, but you’d be dead wrong.

Brutal tracks like “Hard Way” and album closer “Rise Above” are just brimming with relentless old school 80’s era thrash aggression and the band’s “Fuck your self-righteousness attitude” while “Broken Hope” is a blackened, atmospheric abomination that will unleash the wrath and fury of your inner demons. At the same time, the mammoth riffs and rhythmic violence of “Slipping Away,” create a dystopian symphony of twisted brilliance that is both abrasive and defiant.

The “Stay true to yourself and never lose focus” message behind “No Apologies” pays tribute to the unwavering musical vision of supreme metal overlords Anthrax and their seminal masterpiece “Be All End All,” from the State Of Euphoria album. By stark contrast, the Southwestern Spanish flavored guitar intro of “One Eye Open” recalls the old Spaghetti Westerns and features enough dramatic twists and turns to keep the listener engaged and guessing.

“No Mercy” and “Stand And Deliver” are stunning musical propositions that escalate into madness. They are unfathomably heavy and vacillate effortlessly between 80’s thrash and modern hardcore. Not only will you “Never Forget” the song that bears the same name, its lacerating hooks and sledgehammer riffs will be burned into your cerebral cortex for the rest of your life while “Nothing Changes” is an endlessly punishing labyrinth of complexity that transcends the predictable and leaves a lasting impression.

Here’s the bottom line- Living On Borrowed Time is a musical extravaganza that ravages several musical landscapes, allowing Sworn Enemy to escape the drudgery of expectation. This is without a doubt the band’s finest hour and an album that should thrust them onto the global stage.

Rating: 8.5/10

-Eric Hunker

Sworn Enemy frontman Sal LoCoco talks Living on Borrowed Time: